With the cherry tree blossom season fast approaching, what could be better to shake off your winter doldrums than to enjoy these colorful flowers. After all, Americans across the country are more than ready for the warmer weather that springtime can provide. However, you don’t even have to wait until the official day of spring as the blooming season has already begun in some parts of California. As much as California gets an early start, you don’t have to wait long in other parts of the country. But by the same token, you may have to act fast as peak blooms don’t last too long. With any further delay, here are 10 of the best cities in America for you to see these beautiful cherry blossom blooms.
The famous cherry blossom trees around the Tidal Basin in Washington D.C. gets the most attention in the National Capital Region. However, another top spot for you to see sakura trees is near the northern section of the Capital Beltway. As a matter of fact, the peak bloom is just days after the Japanese cherry trees in the nation’s capital. In more detail, there are some 1,200 Yoshino cherry trees in the Kenwood neighborhood of Bethesda in Montgomery County. On the other hand, Kenwood doesn’t have a cherry festival or specific public space in which you can view these flowering beauties. Nevertheless, Kenwood is somewhat of a hidden treasure and well worth a visit if you don’t mind traveling on neighborhood streets. For the best spots, Montgomery County recommends you travel along Dorset Avenue, Kennedy Drive and Kenwood Avenue.
In Ohio, the most typical type of cherry tree is black cherry although its blossoms aren’t like the common cherry blossom or prunus serrulata. On the other hand, in Cincinnati you can see over 1,100 Japanese cherry trees at Ault Park. The most distinctive trees you can see are the weeping trees that can grow up to 30 feet tall and wide. In the event you visit Ault Park, the blooming season is from March to April. It’s about a 20-minute drive from downtown to reach the city’s fourth largest park. While Ault Park is the main attraction, you can see cherry trees elsewhere in Cincinnati. For example, Bellevue Park and Eden Park are great suggestions as well as Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum.
In America’s second most populous city, there is no doubt you can find several cherry blossom blooms in LA. Of the many spots, the one that gets the most attention is Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge. In particular, you’ll want to visit the Japanese garden, where the cherry trees tend to bloom in February and March. Other notable spots are Huntington Gardens in San Marin and Grand Park near Little Tokyo. However, the largest collection of blossom trees you can find is probably at Lake Balboa in Van Nuys in the San Fernando Valley. Covering 27 acres, Lake Balboa is known to have over 2,000 Japanese cherry trees. In addition, some LA communities are hosting cherry blossom festivals, like West Covina and Monterey Park. Lastly, if you visit Little Tokyo, your best chance to see blossoms is at James Irvine Japanese Garden.
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Macon, Georgia (Cherry Blossom Capital of the World)
Macon may be best known as the former home of musicians like Otis Redding, Little Richard and the Allman Brothers. On the other hand, this city in the literal heart of Georgia is also famous for its 350,000 Yoshino cherry trees. To put that in perspective, Macon has more cherry trees than any other city in the country. Moreover, it’s known as the Cherry Blossom Capital of the World and host of the International Cherry Blossom Festival in March. By the way, this festival coincides in late March with the bloom of these Japanese flowering cherry trees. Held over 10 days, the festival features several events, including a Cherry Blossom Ball and Parade.
Did you know that Music City is one of America’s best places to see cherry tree blossoms? Indeed, Nashville that’s best known for the Grand Ole Opry and Country Music Hall of Fame has at least 1,000 Yoshino trees. Furthermore, there’s also the Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival on April 15, which includes a cherry blossom walk. If that’s not enough, Nashville hosts special events during Japan Week leading to the festival although details are not currently available. While Nashville Public Square is your top spot to see cherry blossoms in this vibrant city, there are other recommendations. For example, Riverfront Park and Shelby Avenue Arboretum are both known for these flowering pink beauties.
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New York City
In America’s largest city, there are several locations where you can see beautiful cherry blossom trees. For instance, Central Park is quite popular to see blossoming cherry trees as is Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens. You also shouldn’t overlook Randall’s Island in the East River near East Harlem. That’s not to mention lesser-known spots like Hunter’s Point South Park, Riverside Park and the aptly named Sakura Park. Above all, however, the best spot in New York City may be Brooklyn Botanic Gardens near Prospect Park. Unfortunately, the Gardens will not be hosting its popular Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival this year. Nevertheless, a visit to the Garden’s Cherry Esplanade will be well worth the price of admission. In case you go, the blooming season lasts from about mid-March until late April.
Newark, New Jersey
If you in the New York metropolitan area looking for other cherry blossoms blooms, head over to Newark, New Jersey. More specifically, you should visit Branch Brook Park about 10 minutes from downtown Newark. That’s because this Jersey park has over 5,200 Japanese cherry trees in 18 varieties. In other words, no other spot in America has a larger concentration of these cherry blossoms. The park is also known to be the first country park in the United States. That’s not to mention that the park hosts the Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival from April 1-16.
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San Francisco has had a long connection with Japan and its culture. After all, the city was once home to the west coast immigration station on Angel Island, processing thousands of Asian immigrants for 30 years. What’s more it’s home to one of the three remaining Japantowns in California. In fact, the San Francisco Japantown is the oldest and is one of the city’s best places to see cherry blossoms. Equally important is the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival, held over two weekends in April. First held in 1968, the event draws over 220,000 visitors, making it the largest Japanese festival in California.
Japanese Tea Garden
In addition to Japantown, you should visit the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park for cherry blossom trees. Originally an attraction the 1894 world’s fair, it’s the oldest Japanese-style garden in the country. In case you visit the Tea Garden, don’t forget to also visit the Botanical Gardens, just a short walk away.
While Michigan leads the country in cherry production, Washington produces America’s most sweet cherries. Whereas most of the cherry farms are in the Cascades and Yakima Valley, Seattle is also a top spot to see cherry blossoms. If you ask a local where the best place to see blossoms, chances are it’s the quad at the University of Washington. However, there are other great spots in the Emerald City, such as the Japanese Garden at Washington Park Arboretum, reopening March 1. That’s not to mention Seward Park and Jefferson Park, among others. Lastly, you must visit the city’s top attraction Seattle Center, which features the Space Needle iconic symbol of the city. In April, the Seattle Center will host the annual Seattle Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival, one of the city’s 24 free cultural festivals.
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Traverse City, Michigan (Cherry Capital of the World)
What better place for you to see cherry blossoms this spring than the Cherry Capital of the World? That would be Traverse City in Northern Michigan and in a region that produces about half of America’s tart cherries. Because of this, you can see an estimated two million cherry trees within the region. The top spot for you see cherry blooms is along the Old Mission Peninsula overlooking Grand Traverse Bay. However, you shouldn’t overlook a drive to the Traverse Wine Coast along the Leelanau Peninsula. The blooming season in Traverse City typically occurs by mid-May and last for a few weeks. That’s not to mention the Traverse City Cherry Festival drawing 500,000 visitors over eight days in July.
Of all the best American cities to see cherry blossoms this spring, Washington D.C. may be the most famous. That’s mainly because of the gift of friendship from the mayor of Tokyo to America’s capital city of over 3,000 cherry trees. Each spring, visitors flock West Potomac Park for the blooming season of these beautiful Japanese cherry trees. What’s more, the city hosts the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival at the park’s Tidal Basin, which includes a festive parade. If you are thinking of visiting, the average blooming season is from late March into early April. While it’s too early to tell when the peak bloom will occur, your best bet is the last week of March and first week of April.
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About The Author
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across 23 CBS websites, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. During his peak years with CBS, Randy had a reported digital audience reach of 489 million and 5.5 million monthly visitors. Additionally, his stories have appeared in the Daily Meal, CBS News, CBS Radio, Engadget, NBC.com, NJ.com and Radio.com. He earned a Media Fellowship from Stanford University in 2012.