13 Beautiful Places to See the Cherry Blossoms in America
Don't miss these flowers in full bloom.
Come spring, cities across the country are covered in pink and white flowers. But these cherry blossoms aren't just a signal of the new season—they are also a symbol of peace between the U.S. and Japan. In 1912, Tokyo's former mayor, Yukio Ozaki, gifted 3,000 cherry trees to be planted in Washington, D.C. Today, states from sea to shining sea host festivals and celebrations dedicated to the colorful buds (called sakura in Japanese). So, if you want to participate in hanami, or flower-viewing, read on for the most fragrant gardens and parks to see the cherry blossoms in America—and the peak time to visit while they're in full bloom.
Brooklyn Botanical Garden, New York City
When: April 25-26
Sakura Matsuri, the Brooklyn Botanical Garden's annual cherry blossom festival, celebrates the beauty of the flowers as well as other Japanese traditions. From sword swingers and folk dancers to anime cosplayers, this annual event gives visitors a unique insight into the country's colorful culture.
Cost: Tickets are $40 for adults and free for children under the age of 12.
Dallas Arboretum, Dallas
When: Mid to late-March
While Texas may not be the first place you think of when it comes to spring celebrations, don't discount the Lone Star State's floral collections. During its annual Sounds of Spring festival, the Dallas Arboretum attracts visitors with its 150 cherry blossom trees, live music, and wine tastings.
Cost: Tickets range from $12 to $17 per person.
Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
When: March 15 to April 15
The zen five-acre Japanese Tea Garden is an amazing tribute to Japan's ancient architecture and craftsmanship. Make sure to stop by the Tea House for a cup of meditative green tea and some rice-crackers or mochi cakes. Plus, the park is celebrating its 150th birthday this year, making it the oldest Japanese garden in America.
Cost: Tickets are $12 for non-resident adults and $7 for San Francisco residents.
International Cherry Blossom Festival; Macon, Georgia
When: March 27 to April 5
This 10-day festival is arguably the biggest and pinkest cherry blossom bash in the country. There are also tons of activities such as neon-pink amusement park rides, a lantern walk through the city, outdoor movies, and even a pink-pancake breakfast. The fair will end with a massive fireworks display and hot air balloon rides.
Shofuso Japanese Garden, Philadelphia
When: Late March to early April
This historic site and museum was originally built in Japan and brought over to the U.S. in 1958. Cherry blossom petals can be found everywhere inside the garden from late March to peak bloom around early April. Since 1998, the people of Philadelphia have gathered here annually to celebrate the city's Japanese cultural connections during the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival. Although attendance is limited, try to reserve a spot in one of the garden's exclusive tea ceremonies.
Cost: Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for children between the ages of 5 and 17.
When: March 20 to April 12
Nothing signifies the arrival of spring in the nation's capital more than the blooming of the Japanese cherry trees. Head to the Tidal Basin in the National Capital Park, and you'll see more than 3,700 trees of 11 different species in their full glory. The National Cherry Blossom Festival also boasts 40 different activities, such as kite-flying and a parade. It's no wonder more than 1.5 million visitors come every year.
Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis
When: March through early April
It's hard to miss the hundreds of cherry blossoms while walking around the 14-acre Japanese Garden inside the Missouri Botanical Garden. There are so many different variations you can find here, from the Kanzan species that blooms long and frilly flowers to the Higan cherry trees with hanging flowers and dazzling green leaves. Don't forget to walk over to the George Washington Carver Garden, which is filled with rare white cherry blossoms similar to those found at the base of Mt. Fuji. While botanical gardens are indeed beautiful, nothing really beats seeing true nature in their true environment.
Cost: Tickets are $14 for adults and free for children under the age of 12.
Branch Brook Park; Belleville, New Jersey
When: April 4-19
The Branch Brook Park Cherry Blossom Festival focuses more on athletics than aesthetics. The first two days of the festival feature a bike race around the park followed by a 10K cherry blossom run. For those wanting a less intense exercise, join hundreds of others on a mile-long walk, then settle down and enjoy the Family Day bazaar with food and entertainment. Bloomfest's main attractions happen on April 19, with a packed schedule of events showcasing Japanese cultural traditions, live music, and a craft marketplace.
Charles River Esplanade, Boston
When: Early April
An oasis in the middle of bustling Boston, the 64-acre park is the best place for New Englanders to get a glimpse of the cherry blossoms. In the springtime, this three-mile-long esplanade across the water from MIT is filled with a few dozen cherry blossom trees. The largest grove is on Fiedler Field and near the Harvard Bridge.
Ohio University, Athens
In 1979, Chubu University in Japan gifted Ohio University 175 cherry trees as a symbol of their relationship as sister colleges. Today, the university has more than 200 trees, which are honored every year with lighting ceremony (between 8 and 10 p.m. in April). The Japanese Student Association also hosts a Sakura Festival, with traditional dances, performances, and meals.
University of Washington, Seattle
When: Late March to early April
For a few precious weeks, you can find the 29 Yoshino cherry trees in bloom at the University of Washington's Liberal Arts Quadrangle. While you walk around the lawn, you'll find students hanging out and studying right underneath these magnificent trees.
Japanese American Historical Plaza, Portland, Oregon
When: Late March
The Japanese American Historical Plaza is a monument to where Japantown once stood. Now, Portlanders stroll under its cherry blossom trees planted along the Willamette River. Engraved poems and scriptures also nod to the history of hardships suffered by Japanese Americans during World War II.
Cherry Blossom Festival, Nashville
When: April 4
For the last 11 years, the city of Nashville has planted more than 1,000 Japanese cherry trees in its inner-city parks and neighborhoods. Japan Week (March 23 to April 3) culminates in the Cherry Blossom Festival, which features a wide array of cultural events. You can join the annual 2.5-mile cherry walk around the city, test your skills at sumo wrestling, or participate in a traditional tea ceremony.
For more incredible places to add to your bucket list, check out the 33 Utterly Amazing Travel Destinations in the U.S. You've Never Heard Of.