Washington, D.C. may draw most of the cherry blossom hype on the East Coast, but New York City also puts on a good show each spring with hundreds of cherry blossom trees in Central Park alone. To take the guesswork out of timing your visit, the Central Park Conservancy just launched a new interactive map that tracks—in real time—where the cherry blossoms have peaked in Central Park.
“With this year’s warm winter, they’re blooming much earlier than usual,” according to the Central Park Conservancy.
How early exactly? According to the tracker, one grove of Okame cherry trees along the west side of the reservoir is already in peak bloom. The area’s main walkway of Kwanzan cherry trees here haven’t bloomed yet, but if you head to the park between 86th and 96th streets between the reservoir running track and the bridle path, you’ll see the dark pink petals of the Okame cherry trees peaking this week. (As a Nor’easter moves through New York on Tuesday, March 14, only trace amounts of snow have been falling in Central Park, according to the National Weather Service. Thankfully, snow isn’t known to damage cherry blossoms, but heavy winds, which are predicted to start Tuesday evening and continue on into Wednesday, can.)
Right now the cherry trees in other parts of Central Park are not yet in peak bloom. Keep your eye on the tracker in the next few weeks to make sure you don’t miss peak bloom. (If Tuesday’s storm doesn’t have major effects on the cherry blossoms, expect blossoms sometime in late March.) Here’s what to look forward to, according to the tracker:
- A grove of white-pink Yoshino cherry trees on the east side of the reservoir between 86th and 96th streets
- The iconic weeping boughs of Higan cherry trees on the southwest corner of the Great Lawn
- More Yoshinos at Pilgrim Hill on the east side of the park at 73rd Street
- Cherry Hill is full of—you guessed it—Yoshino cherry trees in the middle of the park (enter at 72nd Street and walk to the southern end of the lake)
- More Higan cherry trees on the west side of the Sheep Meadow (enter the park between 66th and 69th streets)
Of course, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden has tracked its cherry blossom bloom online for years now via its popular Cherrywatch. As of March 12, 2023, only two of its 200+ cherry trees are in first bloom with the rest in prebloom. “We only have a handful of cherry blossoms in bloom now, so though today’s rain and snow has knocked off some petals, the majority of the collection was not impacted because they’re not in bloom,” a representative from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden told AFAR on March 14. Unlike Central Park, which is free to visit, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden charges admission: $18 for adults, $12 for 65+ and students 12+. Children under 12 can enter for free. During peak bloom, advance tickets are recommended since it does get quite busy.
Where to stay in NYC during cherry blossom season
Several of New York’s most exciting new hotels offer not only close proximity to the city’s cherry trees but also special deals during cherry blossom season. The Park Lane New York hotel is located right on Central Park South and its Park View rooms offer views of—aha!—Central Park. Its City in Bloom package gives 15 percent off stays of two nights or more and includes breakfast for two daily at Darling, its rooftop restaurant with both indoor and outdoor sections.
Roosevelt Island—sandwiched between Manhattan and Queens—isn’t a place most first-time visitors end up in New York, but it has its own grove of cherry trees at its southern tip. The island’s one hotel, the Graduate New York, is offering a Beneath the Cherry Blossoms package, which includes two cherry-inspired cocktails from Anything At All, its lobby bar and restaurant.
For those looking to plan a longer stay that includes Brooklyn (which you absolutely should), the Ace Hotel Brooklyn is a great base. It isn’t offering any special deals, but it does place you within walking distance of the shops and restaurants of Boerum Hill and is just five stops away from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden on the 2/3 train.