Japan isn’t the only place to see cherry blossoms. From the iconic blooms of Washington, D.C. to lesser-known groves like those that line the roads in Traverse City, Michigan, there are many places in the United States to see the pale pink blossoms each spring.
Although it’s difficult to anticipate exactly when they will make their annual appearance, most areas will see peak blooms in March or April. However, they can appear as early as February in some places, like San Francisco and Los Angeles, or as late as May, in Traverse City, Michigan, depending on the weather. Once in bloom, these iconic flowers don’t stick around for long. But historically, that’s part of their allure. In Japan, where the world’s infatuation with these flowers originates, the cherry blossom (called sakura in Japanese) symbolizes the fleeting nature of life. The Japanese counteract this notion of imminent decay with hanami, a long-standing tradition of gathering beneath the blossoms with food, music, and friends to celebrate rather than mourn.
If you dream of witnessing a bloom but a flight to Nagano isn’t in the cards, consider heading to one of these 12 places throughout the United States to see cherry blossoms.
Portland, Oregon: Tom McCall Waterfront Park and the Portland Japanese Garden
Tom McCall Waterfront Park sits on the edge of the Japanese American Historical Plaza, built in 1990 to honor those forced to endure Japanese internment camps during World War II. The 100 cherry trees planted in the park are a striking spring attraction, but visitors are also encouraged to explore the rest of the Plaza, which is dotted with poems about the Japanese American experience.
At the Portland Japanese Garden, visitors also get a chance to experience Japanese culture alongside a handful of cherry trees, each artfully arranged throughout the space to create carefully considered views—a key characteristic in traditional Japanese gardens. Reservations for timed entry are recommended and tickets cost $13–$19 per person (children under six enter for free). Just make sure to leave time for tea and mochi at the garden’s Umami Café or one of many cultural offerings, such as koto (Japanese harp) performances or ikebana (flower arrangement) demonstrations.
Dallas, Texas: The Arboretum
Come springtime in Dallas, horticulture enthusiasts eagerly anticipate the bloom festivities at the Dallas Arboretum. When the trees are in full bloom, visitors can enjoy them by walking or sitting among its equally impressive tulip displays. The Arboretum’s “Dallas Blooms” festival, running from February 19 to April 10, 2022, also coincides with the cherry blossoms. With a roster of activities and events that changes each day, visitors can also enjoy live concerts, wine, and beer at the same time.
San Francisco, California: Golden Gate Park Japanese Tea Garden
Although you can find cherry trees throughout San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, it’s worth the detour to the park’s Japanese Tea Garden, where a handful of trees are scattered among the historic garden’s bridges, pagodas, and iconic teahouse. Peak season for San Francisco’s cherry blossoms is typically around mid-March to mid-April (although the city is already seeing some trees bloom). Each year, the season culminates with the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in Japantown, which will take place April 9–17, 2022.
Seattle, Washington: University of Washington Quad
Since 1962, Seattle locals have known that spring at the University of Washington is synonymous with one thing: cherry blossoms. The dozens of trees that line UW’s central quad look so ethereal that stressed-out students, harried professors, and those simply passing by can’t help but stop and stare when the flowers are in bloom. In fact, the highly anticipated cherry blossoms even have their own Twitter account.
Washington, D.C.: The National Mall
No list about cherry blossoms in the USA would be complete without a mention of Washington, D.C. In 1912, the mayor of Tokyo gifted 3,000 trees to the District as a symbol of Japanese American friendship.
A visit to the National Mall while the flowers are in bloom is the most popular way to experience them. However, locals who think the Mall is old hat will visit in the evening after the crowds have gone, or stroll through Dumbarton Oaks, a beautiful (and relatively tourist-free) historic estate in D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood. While it’s still too early to predict when exactly the flowers will be in peak bloom, forecasts for D.C.’s cherry blossoms will begin in early March.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Fairmount Park
Philly turns into a magnificently pink city come springtime, when its thousands upon thousands of cherry trees come into full bloom. The beautiful Shofuso Japanese House and Garden in Fairmount Park is the pinnacle of the sakura display, but many other viewing spots in the city don’t require an entrance fee. We love the rows of pink trees behind the Please Touch Museum in West Fairmount Park and the stretch of Kelly Drive behind Boathouse Row.
Brooklyn, New York: Brooklyn Botanic Garden
No spring in Brooklyn is properly spent without a visit to the Botanic Garden. (Advance tickets are recommended and proof of vaccination is required for indoor spaces.) Once in the gardens, visitors can stroll among rows of over 200 blossoming trees at the enclosed Japanese Hill-and-Pond garden or the aptly named Cherry Walk, a meandering path lined with Prunus “Kanzan” cherry trees, a spectacular variety with fuller than normal flowers.
Boston, Massachusetts: Charles River Esplanade
There aren’t many places in Boston to see cherry blossoms, but bloom season along the Charles River Esplanade in Back Bay is truly spectacular. If the weather is warm enough, onlookers can float down the river in a kayak or paddle up close for a view from the water.
Newark, New Jersey: Branch Brook Park
There are approximately 4,000 cherry trees in Branch Brook Park—that’s 1,000 more than the country’s most famous springtime display in Washington, D.C. Since 1927, the remarkable number of blooms at this Essex County park has been a primary draw for visitors.
This year, the park will host a free Cherry Blossom Festival from April 2 to 10 that culminates in Bloomfest! on the 10th, a celebration of Japanese culture featuring demonstrations, live music, and a craft market.
Athens, Ohio: Ohio University
The 200 cherry trees that line Ohio University’s campus were a gift from the school’s Japanese sister campus, Chubu University, in 1972. In the 50 years since the trees were initially planted, the pink blossoms that decorate Athens’s Hocking River in late March through April have become a symbol of spring for students and faculty, as well as a commemoration of the long-standing friendship between the two institutions.
Traverse City, Michigan: Highway M-37
Because Michigan is the capital of all things “cherry,” it’s only natural that the fruit-bearing trees put on a spectacular spring show throughout the state, generally around mid-May each year. There are some scenic drives, like Highway M-37 by Grand Traverse Bay in Traverse City, which takes visitors through roughly 2 million cherry trees. Although you can’t walk in the orchards, the bikeable, 17-mile Leelanau Trail, which includes several sections that go by cherry trees, is perfect for those who prefer to view the blooms at a slower pace.
Los Angeles, California: Descanso Gardens
About 20 minutes outside of downtown Los Angeles, Descanso Gardens is considered a museum of living collections and is known for its seasonal horticultural displays. There is even a What’s in Bloom resource page, which allows you to see which flowers are budding, blooming, or past their peak (pssst, cherry blossoms have already started to appear).
Around March and April, the cherry trees here are a burst of color, and the Gardens often hold cherry blossom–themed programming, such as guided walks, origami demonstrations, and flower-arranging workshops. But you might simply want to pack a picnic and enjoy the array of flowers—you’ll also get to see one of the largest collections of camellias in the Western Hemisphere blooming.
This article originally appeared online in March 2017; it was most recently updated on February 17, 2022 to include current information. Jessie Beck contributed to the reporting of this story.