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The 10 Best Places to Celebrate Cherry Blossom Season Across the United States

United States New York City Georgia Denver Seattle Traverse City Portland Nashville San Diego Outdoor Festivals
by Matador Creators Mar 6, 2024

Cherry blossoms signify the coming of spring. The white and pink petals promise the end of winter and bring a sense of vibrancy and life to gardens and parks that have been dormant during the cold months. In Japanese culture, sakura (cherry blossoms) symbolize two contradicting elements: life and death. The flowers indicate the resurgence of life, yet the ephemeral bloom period is short — typically one to two weeks from bloom to flower fall, unless a strong wind takes them earlier.

Japan is most famous for its cherry blossoms. The flowers have been an important symbol for warriors, farmers, artists, and more in the country for centuries. There’s even a word for going out to look at cherry blossoms: hanami, which loosely translates to “flower viewing.” Every year, parks fill up as the flowers come out, helicopter tours over vast cherry-blossom-covered hills take off, and scenic flower-filled train rides depart. But it’s not just a beloved phenomenon in Japan. Today, people around the world celebrate cherry blossom season, from the cherry blossom festivals in Vancouver, Canada, to gorgeous tree-lined streets in Bonn, Germany.

In the United States, a number of cities have stunning cherry blossom displays every spring. The country is even home to the “Cherry Blossom Capital of the World“: Macon, Georgia. While an hanami trip to Japan is an unmatched experience, you don’t have to leave the States to soak in the season.

From coast to coast, these are the best places in the US to see cherry blossoms.

Contributors: Katie Scott Aiton,, Jori Ayers, Alex Bresler, Morgane Croissant, Eben Diskin, Suzie Dundas, and Tim Wenger

We hope you love the places we recommend! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay. Listed prices are accurate as of the time of publication.

Washington DC

Photo: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock
Photo: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock
Photo: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

DC’s cherry blossom story began with a gift of approximately 3,000 cherry trees given to the US from the mayor of Tokyo in 1912. Today, DC’s blossom display is one of the most spectacular in the nation.

The best time to see the trees in bloom is typically between the last week of March and the first week of April. There are many places around the capital to enjoy cherry blossoms and get the best photo opportunities. The most popular locations are the steps of the Jefferson Memorial, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the Japanese Lantern, the US National Arboretum, the Dumbarton Oaks Gardens, Hains Point Loop Trail, The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and the Tidal Basin.

DC also celebrates spring with a four-week National Cherry Blossom Festival. You can partake in events such as a family-friendly kite festival; the annual parade; 10 mile, 5k, and kids runs; Japanese culture and art happenings; and the glossy Pink Tie Party. If you’d like to visit the original cherry blossom trees and the commemoration plaque, you can see them at the terminus of 17th Street Southwest.

Macon, Georgia

Photo: Macon, Georgias International Cherry Blossom Festival
Photo: Macon, Georgias International Cherry Blossom Festival
Photo: Macon, Georgias International Cherry Blossom Festival

Cherry blossom season starts earlier here than areas that have colder winters. From mid to late March, a staggering 350,000 Yoshino cherry trees bloom in the city, announcing the start of spring in earnest. With that announcement comes a party — “The Pinkest Party on Earth,” as it’s called.

In 2024, Macon’s International Cherry Blossom Festival officially starts on March 15 and ends on March 24. Unofficially, it starts way before. In an effort to pump people up for the nine days of festivities, the windows of Macon’s businesses and people’s car windshields are decorated in pink and floral motifs several weeks before the event, and the town’s fountain is dyed a bright shade of fuchsia.

The event itself has themed markets, pancake breakfasts, a scavenger hunt, a golf tournament, a 5K run, fair rides (and fair foods), a ball, a parade, hot-air balloon rides, wiener dog races, nightly concerts, and more. Among all of those things to see and do, don’t forget about the actual flowers. Carve some time to walk the city’s official Cherry Blossom Trail and get an eyeful of what makes Macon so special at this time of year. (Make good use of the Bloom Cam to plan a trip when the flowers are at their peak.)

If you’re planning to stay in Macon for a few days, book one of its newest and best-rated hotels: Hotel Forty Five. Opened in February 2022, Hotel Forty Five is located in the city’s Historic Central Business District downtown, close to all the action during the festival.

Denver, Colorado

Photo: Visit Denver
Photo: Faina Gurevich/Shutterstock
Photo: Visit Denver/StevieCrecelius

Unlike Washington DC, the Mile High City isn’t exactly the first place that comes to mind when you think about the best destinations for cherry blossoms in the US. But when Denver’s cherry blossom trees were replanted after World War II, the city’s Cherry Creek neighborhood started to come alive with pinkish hues every spring. This appropriately named residential and shopping district is the best place in the city for cherry blossom viewing, with tons of pink and white flowers along the Cherry Creek Bike Path, and Cherry Creek State Park is also home to plenty of blooms. Elsewhere in the city, Speer Boulevard is lined with cherry trees, and the Denver Botanic Gardens has colorful displays as well.

While the best time to see cherry blossoms in Denver is from late March to early April, plan on a summer visit if you want to take advantage of all the activities at the Denver Cherry Blossom Festival. Held in Sakura Square in downtown Denver on June 22 and 23, the festival celebrates Japanese culture and heritage through live entertainment, exhibits, and performances, including traditional taiko drumming, folk dancing, Japanese cuisine, and a craft marketplace.

Newark, New Jersey

Photo: Sean Patrick Doran/Shutterstock
Photo: gary718/Shutterstock
Photo: Branch Brook Park Alliance

From April 6 to 14, the Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival takes place at the Essex County Branch Brook Park in Newark. The nine-day festival is chock full of family activities, games, food, and events. Guests can take part in the annual bike race on April 6, a 10K run on April 7, Family Day on April 13, and live music throughout.

Essex County Branch Brook Park aims to embody the Japanese lore surrounding cherry blossom season. The Branch Brook Park Alliance celebrates with kid-friendly origami activities, cultural performances and dance, and general revelry in the season of rebirth. The park’s 360 acres and the town of Newark itself host more cherry blossoms than Washington, DC — a fact locals will be quick to tell you at the festival. Bring your phone and embark upon a historic walking tour of Essex County Branch Brook Park with hosted stopping points and info provided via a scannable bar code at each stop along the way.

Food vendors and artists set up shops throughout the park during the festival to keep guests nourished and inspired. Essex County Parks also encourages families to bring picnic supplies, a blanket or lawn chairs, and sunscreen to the park.

If you go, plan to arrive during the early part of the festival. Peak bloom is expected from April 1 to 5. Bloomfest — the one-day celebration that encapsulates the best parts of the festival — takes place on April 14. If you can’t make it but still want to see the action, livestream cameras will showcase the beauty of the bounty 24/7 on the park’s website.

Seattle, Washington

Photo: paxan_semenov/Shutterstock
Photo: Checubus/Shutterstock
Photo: Dan Lewis/Shutterstock

Seattle is among the best West Coast cities to see cherry blossoms. You’ll see the flowers bloom in several parks — including Seward, Angle Lake, Jefferson, and Point Defiance — as well as botanical attractions such as the Seike Japanese Garden and Washington Park Arboretum, notably along Azalea Way. But what really makes Seattle’s cherry blossoms stand out are two notable festivals that the city throws in their honor.

Perhaps the biggest celebration of cherry blossoms in Seattle takes place on the University of Washington campus. Blossom viewing centers on the quad, but the festivities extend throughout the University District. Held between March 16 and April 1 in 2024, the U District Cherry Blossom Festival brings together dozens of businesses to supply themed food and drinks, a 5K or half marathon Seattle Cherry Blossom Run, and a Saturday farmers market for those who prefer to appreciate the blooms at a slower pace.

Elsewhere, at the Seattle Center’s Armory and Fisher Pavilion, the Seattle Cherry Blossom and Japanese Cultural Festival takes place over the course of a weekend every year (April 12 to 14 in 2024). The festival places just as much emphasis on celebrating Japanese culture as it does the nation’s signature blooms, from programming like taiko drumming and martial arts performances, to kimono displays featuring traditional Japanese dress, to hands-on activities such as ikebana (flower arranging) or shodo (Japanese calligraphy).

Traverse City, Michigan

Photo: Sean Patrick Doran/Shutterstock
Photo: Gary R Ennis Photos/Shutterstock
Photo: Traverse City

Traverse City has hosted the National Cherry Festival for 98 years. It’s also nicknamed the Cherry Capital of the World, so it’s hardly surprising that it’s a great place to see cherry blossoms during the month of May.

There’s no big festival celebrating the beauty of the blooms in this corner of the country. Instead, it’s up to you to drive and seek out the orchards where the delicate white flowers herald spring and the future juicy cherries. That said, Traverse City has made it easy by highlighting three of the best areas to see the cherry blossoms in a handy brochure: Old Mission Peninsula, Leelanau Peninsula, and Benzie County.

Old Mission Peninsula’s orchards are not the only attractions worth your time. The Old Mission Peninsula Wine Trail ensures there are plenty of delicious pit stop options. If you drive all the way to the point of the peninsula, you’ll get to see Mission Point Lighthouse, which doubles as a magnificent viewpoint.

Leelanau Peninsula also has a wine trail, a must-see lighthouse at its tip which you can visit (Grand Traverse Lighthouse), and the beautiful Leelanau State Park with its miles of trails waiting to be explored in between blossom viewing.

If you make it to Benzie County, check out the blooms, but don’t ignore the stunning 25 miles of shoreline on Lake Michigan and the county’s two iconic lighthouses: Point Betsie and Frankfort North Light. Sleeping Bear Dune National Lakeshore is also shared with Leelanau Peninsula.

If you plan to make a weekend trip out of cherry blossom season in Traverse City, book a night at the highly rated Alexandra Inn. Located right on the beach, with panoramic views of Grand Traverse Bay from its rooftop terrace, this recently opened boutique hotel is home to only 32 rooms, which is perfect for an intimate, upscale stay.

New York City

Photo: Kristjan Veski/Shutterstock
Photo: Brooklyn Botanic Garden/Michael Stewart
Photo: NattyC/Shutterstock

Spring in New York City is magical. There are many spots to see cherry blossoms in the city. The length of the season is quite short, so if you’re tight on time, visit the places known for the best displays: Central Park, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Green-Wood Cemetery, and Sakura Park.

Central Park has several locations where you can see cherry blossoms, including the Bridle Path on the west side, Cherry Hill near the reservoir, and the Conservatory Garden. The bloom times can vary depending on the type of tree and weather conditions. You can usually expect to see Yoshino cherry trees in early to mid-April, and Kwanzan cherry trees in early May. Central Park Conservatory has a handy cherry blossom tracker that maps the area and lets you know what stage the trees are at.

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is home to a large collection of cherry trees, which typically bloom in late March or early April through mid-May. A tracker map helps anyone trying to plan around peak blooms. The abundance of trees are located in the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, the Cherry Cultivars Area, Cherry Walk, Cherry Esplanade, and the Osborne Garden. On April 25, 2024, you can celebrate the beauty of the blooms at the gardens for the Cherry Esplanade event. It kicks off at 5 PM, and you can enjoy the blossom in lights as the sun goes down with food and drinks and live performances.

Green-Wood Cemetery has over 170 cherry trees, with two prominent varieties: pale pink Yoshino Cherry and deep pink Kanzan Japanese Flowering Cherry. The trees line the winding paths of the cemetery, and the backdrop of Green-Wood’s historic architecture and sculptures makes for a peaceful place to enjoy the changing season.

Another great spot is Sakura Park. Located in Manhattan along the Hudson River, the green space is named after the Japanese word for cherry blossom. As the name suggests, the park’s main attraction is its collection of over 2,000 cherry trees, a gift from the Committee of Japanese Residents of New York in 1912. The cherry trees in Sakura Park are primarily Somei Yoshino cherry trees, known for their delicate pink blossoms that typically appear between late March and early April.

Portland, Oregon

Photo: Portland Japanese Garden/Jonathan Ley
Photo: MOTOKO/Shutterstock
Photo: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

The temperate climate of the Pacific Northwest makes for ideal growing conditions, especially for cherry trees. You can see them across the city, but the best place to take them in is over the waterfront at The Japanese American Historical Plaza. It’s the most popular spot in Portland to see cherry blossoms, and for good reason. The Japanese American Historical Plaza — with a backdrop of the Willamette River and the city skyline — features over 100 Akebono cherry trees lining the waterfront, creating a stunning display of pink blossoms in the spring. It’s located within Tom McCall Waterfront Park and is the perfect place for a picnic, stroll, or bike ride.

Cherry trees also dot the landscape throughout Washington Park, particularly within the Portland Japanese Garden. While it’s not the most concentrated area for cherry blossoms, it offers a serene setting to appreciate them alongside other spring blooms. The trees — including Yoshino and weeping cherry trees — are peppered throughout and hang over the garden’s glass-fronted Umami Café, where you can enjoy a range of Japanese teas and sweet treats like matcha and hojicha brownies.


Photo: NCSchneider_Images/Shutterstock
Photo: Vol de Nuit/Shutterstock
Photo: Tennessee Tourism

The city famous for its country music and hot chicken may soon become known for one more aspect: its cherry blossoms. When the Japanese consulate general for the South-Central US moved its location from New Orleans to Nashville in 2008, they gifted the new host city 1,000 cherry trees. Now, those trees bloom all over the city each spring, most notably in the Nashville Public Square, First Avenue, Riverfront Park, and Centennial Park. They’re also a staple of the Shelby Avenue Arboretum.

The city’s relatively newfound love affair with cherry blossoms is made particularly obvious by the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. Held in 2024 on April 13 in Nashville Public Square Park, the festival consists of a 2.5-mile Cherry Blossom Walk to view some of the city’s most beautiful blossoms, arts and crafts vendors, a puppy parade, and Japanese musical performances. The festival coincides with Japan Week, a weeklong celebration of Japanese culture that includes sumo wrestling, an anime convention, martial arts, and more.

San Diego

Photo: Gary Yim/Shutterstock
Photo: Japanese Friendship Garden and Museum
Photo: Japanese Friendship Garden and Museum

Balboa Park in San Diego is one of the most popular attractions in the city, with museums, gardens, restaurants, performance halls, and more. But what some people may not know is that Balboa Park only exists because it was built to host the 1915 World’s Fair, officially called the “Panama-California Exposition.” It was around this time that the park constructed its lovely Japanese Friendship Garden and Japanese tea house, designed to introduce Japan’s centuries-old tea and garden cultures to fair attendees.

Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. In 1941, the garden was dismantled and the existing cherry blossom trees were removed during World War II due to rising anti-Japanese sentiment. However, in 1955, Southern California locals decided to revive the idea of a Japanese garden, and pushed to rebuild the garden to celebrate the announcement of San Diego’s then-new sister city: Yokohama, Japan. In 1977, 100 cherry trees were sent from Japan to Balboa Park, and so began the building of the new Japanese Friendship Garden.

Today, the garden has more than 150 “pink cloud” cherry trees. The park’s annual four-day San Diego Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the ephemeral beauty, offering a window into Japanese culture through performances, art exhibits, a food and craft marketplace, and workshops. The festival also includes activities like a cosplay contest (San Diego is the home of the original Comic Con, after all), sake tastings, and docent-led garden tours.

The festival in 2024 runs from March 7 to 10, and tickets are available in advance online until March 6. Starting March 7, you’ll have to buy tickets at the door.

Even if you can’t make the festival, the cherry blossom trees are expected to be in bloom for roughly two weeks, from (probably) the last two weeks of March. But the exact dates change every year. The garden, however, is open year-round, as is the tea house, from 10:30 AM to 4 PM daily.

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