Where are you going?
Or, let us surprise youSpin the Globe ®

11 Places to See Cherry Blossoms in the United States

Seattle: University of Washington Quad
11 Places to See Cherry Blossoms in the United States
It’s difficult to anticipate exactly when cherry blossoms will make their annual appearance in the United States—and when they do, they don’t stick around for long. But historically, that's part of their allure. In Japan, where the world’s infatuation with these ephemeral blooms originates, the cherry blossom (called sakura in Japanese) symbolizes the fleeting nature of life. Sure, it’s a little morose, but 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 is out of reach for you this spring, there are several places throughout the U.S. that offer equally beautiful views of these flowers. But remember: an ideal visit is about more than just that perfect Instagram backdrop; so grab some pals and soak in the moment under the sakura.
By Alina Polishuk, AFAR Contributor
  • 1 / 12
    Seattle: University of Washington Quad
    Seattle: University of Washington Quad
    Since 1962, Seattle locals know that springtime at 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 cherry blossoms are so highly anticipated each year that they even have their own Twitter account.


  • 2 / 12
    Portland: Tom McCall Waterfront Park
    Portland: Tom McCall Waterfront Park
    In Portland, Oregon, the best place to see blossoms is Tom McCall Waterfront Park, situated on the edge of the Japanese American Historical Plaza. The Plaza was built in 1990 to honor those forced to endure Japanese internment camps during World War II. The cherry trees are a stunning spring attraction, of course, but visitors are also encouraged to explore the rest of the Plaza, which is dotted with poems about the Japanese American experience.

    Photo by brx0/Flickr
  • 3 / 12
    San Francisco: Golden Gate Park Japanese Tea Garden
    San Francisco: Golden Gate Park Japanese Tea Garden
    In the zen enclave known as the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, there are only a handful of cherry trees. But what the Tea Garden lacks in pink-hued grandeur, it makes up for in its nod to Japanese culture. Visitors can wander around the historic garden’s many bridges, pagodas, and ponds or simply soak in the colorful view from the grounds's iconic teahouse.

  • 4 / 12
    Dallas: The Arboretum
    Dallas: The Arboretum
    Come springtime in Dallas, horticulture enthusiasts eagerly anticipate the bloom festivities at the Dallas Arboretum. Once the flowers in these botanical gardens have fully blossomed, visitors are invited to learn about Japanese culture—or to simply pack a picnic and celebrate the blossoms—during the Arboretum’s annual hanami event.


    Courtesy of Dallas Arboretum
  • 5 / 12
    Athens, OH: Ohio University
    Athens, OH: 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 40-something years since the trees were initially planted, the ethereal pink blossoms that decorate Athens’s Hocking River have become a symbol of spring for students and faculty, and a commemoration of the long-standing friendship between the two institutions.
  • 6 / 12
    Traverse City, MI
    Traverse City, MI
    As 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. There are some spectacular hikes and drives in Traverse City that showcase the region's heavenly clouds of pale pink, although visitors can’t walk actually among the area's orchards, which boast roughly 2 million cherry trees.

  • 7 / 12
    New Jersey: Branch Brook Park
    New Jersey: Branch Brook Park
    There are approximately 4,000 cherry trees in Brook Branch 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. Nowadays, the park hosts a three-week-long Cherry Blossom Festival in April that culminates in Bloomfest!, a celebration of Japanese culture. The exact time of bloom is tricky to predict, but those who are especially eager can track the trees’ progress on this live feed.
  • 8 / 12
    Brooklyn: Brooklyn Botanical Garden
    Brooklyn: Brooklyn Botanical Garden
    No springtime in Brooklyn is properly spent without a visit to the Botanical Gardens. Visitors can stroll among rows of over 200 blossoming trees on a free tour or join Sakura Matsuri, an annual celebration of Japanese tea, music, and contemporary culture.
  • 9 / 12
    Boston: Charles River Esplanade
    Boston: Charles River Esplanade
    There aren’t that 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.
  • 10 / 12
    Philadelphia
    Philadelphia
    Philly turns into a magnificently pink city come springtime, when the thousands upon thousands of cherry trees throughout town come into full bloom. The beautiful Shofusu Japanese House and Garden in Fairmount Park is the pinnacle of the sakura display, but many viewing spots in the city don’t require an entrance fee. We love the rows of weeping pink trees behind the Please Touch Museum in West Fairmount Park and the stretch of Kelly Drive behind Boathouse Row.
  • 11 / 12
    Washington, D.C.
    Washington, D.C.
    No list about cherry blossoms 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. Visiting the National Mall while the flowers are in bloom has become an attraction for millions. For D.C. locals who think the Mall is old hat, a stroll through Georgetown’s Dumbarton Oaks is a beautiful (and relatively tourist-free!) sight to be seen.
  • 12 / 12
    What's Next...
    What's Next...
    Photo by Sacha Fernandez / Flickr