Visiting New York this spring? Then you’ll love this fun guide covering all the best places to see cherry blossoms in NYC, from parks to festivals and more!
Originally Published: May 1, 2013 | Last Updated: April 16,2019
When I moved to New York from San Francisco, I was so excited to experience my first spring in over six years.
And after a long, cold NYC winter, everywhere I turned something seemed to be blooming … including a gorgeous cherry blossom tree right outside my apartment door. The pretty flowers only lasted a week, but every time I left the building, someone was taking a picture.
Soon, I started seeing sakura (cherry blossoms) blooming everywhere in NYC and became obsessed with seeing each and every tree … or at least as many as I possibly could! And they’re everywhere once you start looking.
If you’re searching cherry blossoms in NYC, too, look no further! I’ve rounded up the BEST places to see these gorgeous trees (with at least one location in every borough), plus all of NYC’s cherry blossom festivals.
Where to See Cherry Blossoms in NYC
If you’ve ever dreamed of visiting Japan during cherry blossom season or attending the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., you may be surprised to learn that NYC also has quite a few of these trees!
In fact, when the mayor of Tokyo gifted those famous cherry trees to Washington, D.C. in 1912, he also gave 2,500 trees to New York City. The trees, which were meant to enhance the friendship between Japan and the U.S., were planted in Central Park, Riverside Park, and Sakura Park, a small park located near Grant’s Tomb.
You’ll typically see two varieties of Japanese cherry blossom trees in New York: Yoshino trees, which bloom first and produce light pink flowers that create a fluffy, cloudlike appearance when in full bloom; and Kwanzan trees, which bloom later and have pink, double-petal flowers.
Cherry trees typically live about 60 years, so most of those original trees are gone. But the trees have been replanted, and these days, you can find cherry blossoms throughout the city.
Find a Cherry Blossom Tree Location
Are you ready to start exploring? Keep scrolling to discover all the cherry blossom locations (grouped by borough), a list of festivals, an interactive map, FAQs, and more … OR use the links below to jump to the section you’re looking for:
Bronx: New York Botanical Garden
Staten Island: Snug Harbor Cultural Center
New Jersey: Branch Brook Park
If you’re looking for cherry blossom trees in NYC, Central Park is one of the best places to see them!
You’ll spot sakura throughout the park, but my favorite place to view them is on the path around the Reservoir. The trees surround the reservoir, and the lovely blooms, combined with the water, make for a gorgeous sight and wonderful spring walk!
The reservoir isn’t the only place to view Central Park cherry blossoms though. Here are the best places to see the two main cherry blossom species:
Yoshino Cherry Trees
- Reservoir (east and west sides)
- Cherry Hill
- Pilgrim Hill
- Nell Singer Lilac Walk (northeast of Sheep Meadow)
- Delacorte Theater
Kwanzan Cherry Trees
- Reservoir (east and west sides)
- Cedar Hill
- The Glade (just south of Cedar Hill between 74th & 77th Streets)
- Behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Great Lawn
Looking to stretch your legs and see some beautiful blooms on the Upper East Side? The East River Greenway is a great place to do it!
This path follows (you guessed it) the East River. As you walk or run along the path, you’ll enjoy views of the river, bridges, and a few blooming trees, too. The photo below was taken near 71st Street East.
If you’re planning to visit the Flatiron District, make sure to stop by Madison Square Park.
This popular park boasts a number of Kwanzan Cherry Trees, as well as one Yoshino Cherry Tree located along 5th Avenue. And if you angle your camera just right, you can get a shot of the blossoms with the iconic Flatiron Building in the background.
This expansive park / island in the East River is the perfect place to view cherry blossoms in a unique setting that’s convenient to Harlem, the Bronx, and Queens.
To view the cherry trees, head to Fields 62 and 63, as well as the Urban Farm. Randall’s Island Park also plays host to one of NYC’s cherry blossom festivals … more info on that below!
For my favorite cherry blossom viewing spot in Manhattan, head to Riverside Park on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. I love this park’s picturesque location on the Hudson River!
Though this park is well-used by locals, it doesn’t get as many tourists as other popular city parks. Which means you may have those stunning sakura trees all to yourself.
Go on a weekday for the best chance of a private viewing, and look for the trees between W 100th and W 125th Streets.
For another unique viewing location, take the tram or subway to Roosevelt Island.
As you walk along the promenade lined with Japanese cherry blossom trees, you’ll also enjoy spectacular views of Manhattan and the East River. And make sure to stop by during the Cherry Blossom Festival, too … more info below!
If you’re visiting Riverside Park to view the cherry trees, make sure to stop by pretty Sakura Park.
This petite park is located near Grant’s Tomb on the Upper West Side, and it’s one of the locations where the original 1912 cherry blossom trees from Japan were planted.
You’ll find a number of trees planted on the lawn here, as well as a Japanese lantern donated by the city of Tokyo in 1960.
Did you know that you can visit the United Nations headquarters in Midtown Manhattan?
Taking a tour of the U.N. is a great way to learn more about this fascinating organizations history. Before you leave, make sure to check out the grounds which are find planted with a number of gorgeous sakura trees!
We can’t talk about NYC cherry blossoms without mentioning the Brooklyn Botanic Garden!
These beautiful gardens are the #1 destination for viewing sakura in New York City. You’ll find over 200 trees and 26 species to ogle in the Cherry Esplanade, Cherry Walk, and Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, and they are stunning!
Make sure to check the cherry watch tracker before your visit to see what’s in bloom. And for the full experience, plan on attending the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s cherry blossom festival, Sakura Matsuri … more info below.
A visit to mesmerizing Green-Wood Cemetery, with its hills, valleys, glacial ponds, and paths, will leaving you feeling like you’ve stepped back in time!
No ordinary cemetery, Green-Wood has been designated a National Historic Landmark. Its popularity helped inspire the creation of NYC’s most popular public parks, including Central Park and Prospect Park.
As you wander the collection of 19th- and 20th-century statuary and mausoleums, you’ll find many lovely cherry blossoms planted amongst the graves.
After you’ve visited the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, head next door to Prospect Park.
This huge park has plenty of places to view cherry blossoms. For the best cherry-tree-spotting luck though, look for them near the Grand Army Plaza entrance, as well as the path by the Long Meadow.
Planning a visit to Queens? Stop by one of my favorite NYC destinations, Flushing Meadows Corona Park!
The expansive park, which was home to two World’s Fairs, is also a prime cherry blossom viewing location. You’ll find numerous trees surrounding the Unisphere, as well as near the Queens Museum, the Queens Theatre.
Also worth a visit? The park’s annual Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival … more details below!
This historic building was once home to Lewis Latimer, a noted African American inventor.
The museum itself is worth a visit, and while you’re there, make sure to check out the backyard garden which is free during museum hours. It’s filled with a jaw dropping display of cherry blossoms!
This large botanical garden is the perfect place to view spring blooms in Queens!
You’ll spot a variety of blooming flowers here, but for cherry blossoms, you’ll want to check out Cherry Circle.
If you’ve never been this lovely botanical garden in the Bronx, then spring is the ideal time to visit!
The New York Botanical Garden is home to more than 200 cherry blossom trees. Look for the bountiful blooms along the curving path in the Cherry Collection, nestled between the evergreens in the Arthur and Janet Ross Conifer Arboretum, in front of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, and among the daffodils and crabapple trees on Daffodil Hill.
Before your visit, make sure to check out the garden’s cherry blossom tracker.
Would you like to view cherry blossoms in an authentic classical outdoor Chinese garden? Then you need to head to the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden on Staten Island!
This beautiful garden was based on the design of Ming Dynasty gardens, and all of the architectural components you’ll find there were built in Suzhou, China using traditional Chinese construction methods.
Okay, this park is not located in New York. But we can’t talk about cherry blossom trees without mentioning Branch Brook Park, which stretches through Belleville and Newark, New Jersey.
Branch Brook Park has more sakura than you’ll find in Washington, D.C., and it’s just a quick hop, skip, and a jump (about an hour drive) from NYC!
In the park, you’ll find over 5,000 cherry blossom trees of 18 varieties. Start your trip at the Cherry Blossom Welcome Center to discover where they’re all located.
For peak blossom viewing, make sure to plan your visit during the park’s cherry blossom festival … details below!
The following NYC cherry blossom festivals are a wonderful way to view cherry blossom trees at peak bloom, while also learning about Japanese culture.
When planning your day, keep in mind that most of these festivals will be VERY crowded (go as early in the day as possible). In fact, the subway to this year’s Roosevelt Island festival was briefly shutdown due to overcrowding!
Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival (April 6 – 14, 2019)
View the largest collection of cherry blossom trees in the east at this week-long event in New Jersey! The festival features a bike race, fun run, a Family Day with free kid-friendly activities, and Bloomfest, featuring Japanese cultural demonstrations, live music, a crafter’s marketplace, food, and more.
Roosevelt Island Cherry Blossom Festival (April 13, 2019)
Enjoy the lush seasonal blooms at this popular festival featuring a tea ceremony, community picnic, Japanese cultural fair, and music and dance performances.
Flushing Meadows Corona Park Cherry Blossom Festival (April 20, 2019)
This annual festival is the perfect family-friendly way to celebrate the season! Expect a range of activities, including live drum performances (Taiko), a traditional Japanese chorus, a Japanese folk dance, and a tea ceremony.
Brooklyn Botanical Garden Cherry Blossom Festival (April 27 – 28, 2019)
The Sakura Matsuri festival is a popular cherry blossom festival in Brooklyn. This two-day event is packed with fun activities like music and dance, tea ceremonies, a Japanese marketplace, arts and crafts, kid’s activities, and more. Make sure to purchase tickets in advance as this festival often sells out.
Randall’s Island Cherry Blossom Festival (May 4, 2019)
Celebrate spring at this fun, family friendly event, featuring activities like paper flower making, kite making, Japanese folk dancing and drumming, crafts, and more!
Wondering exactly where to find all these Japanese cherry blossom trees?
I made a cherry blossom map that includes all the locations listed above. Open it up on your phone (or computer) to help you plan your trip.
When do cherry blossoms bloom in NYC?
NYC cherry blossom trees typically begin blooming in mid to late March / early April. Peak bloom is usually mid to late April. Weather plays an huge role in when the trees bloom though, and a warm or cold spring, rain or snow, and even wind can affect the standard blooming season.
How long are the cherry blossoms in bloom?
Peak bloom usually lasts about one week (or less), so if you find out a park’s trees are blooming, go immediately! Windy or rainy weather can also shorten bloom time.
Why did Japan give the U.S. cherry blossoms?
In 1912, Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo gave 3,000 cherry blossom trees to Washington, D.C. and over 2500 trees to NYC. The trees were meant to be a symbol of friendship between Japan and the U.S. Three years later, the United States returned the favor by sending dogwood saplings to Japan, again strengthening the ties between nations.
Read more about the history of cherry trees in the U.S.
What does the cherry blossom symbolize?
Cherry blossoms are a symbolic flower of the spring, signifying renewal and the fleeting nature of life. The blossoms lives are very short, which also reminds us that life is beautiful but also very ephemeral.
Are you interested in learning more about cherry blossoms in Japan? Read this local’s take on the significance of these beautiful flowering trees.
Can’t make it NYC? Not to worry, because cherry blossom trees thrive in many U.S. cities!
Here are some of the best places for cherry blossom viewing in the U.S.:
- Washington, D.C. – When most people think of sakura in the U.S., they think of D.C. Join the crowds to visit these iconic blooms along the Tidal Basin, the National Mall, and in East Potomac Park.
- Athens, OH – Visit Ohio University to view 200 Somei Yoshino trees, all of which were a gift from the college’s sister institution, Japan’s Chubu University.
- Boston, MA – Stroll along the Charles River Esplanade to view these delightful flowers in full bloom.
- Dallas, TX – The lovely Dallas Arboretum is home to 150 cherry blossom trees.
- Macon, GA – This southern city is home to a jaw dropping 300,000 cherry blossom trees, as well as a popular festival celebrating the blooms found around downtown, on its college campuses, and in its neighborhoods.
- Nashville, TN – You’ll find 1,000 blooming beauties in the southern city, as well as a popular festival celebrating them.
- New Haven, CT – The city is home to a festival celebrating 70 cherry trees surrounding a downtown park and forming a tree tunnel over one block of Hughes Place.
- Philadelphia, PA – Visit Philly’s Fairmount park to view over 2,000 flowering cherry trees, half of which were a gift from the Japanese government in 1926.
- Portland, OR – The cherry blossom trees found in the Portland’s Japanese American Historical Plaza were planted to remind people that the United States is a land of immigrants that is filled with hope and cultural diversity.
- Portsmouth, NH – Several of the cherry trees planted around the tidal pond next to Portsmouth City Hall were the gift of Portsmouth’s Japanese sister city of Nichinan.
- Salem, OR – A beautiful array of cherry blossom trees can be found here on The Capitol Mall, and the city hosts a festival that’s over 100 years old, too.
- San Francisco, CA – Cherry Blossoms can be found throughout the city (it’s home to one of the most popular cherry blossom festivals, too) … look for them near Japantown and in Golden Park (especially in the Japanese Tea Garden).
- San Diego, CA – Balboa Park is home to more than 2,000 cherry blossom trees.
- St. Louis, MO – Find over 230 trees at the Missouri Botanical Garden, many of which are clustered around its Japanese garden.
- Seattle, WA – Head to the University of Washington, where you’ll find cherry blossoms planted in the Quad.
- Traverse City, MI – Expect to see miles of rolling hills covered with blooming cherry trees as you explore this area.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the cherry blossoms in NYC.
What are your favorite places to view sakura in New York (or elsewhere)?
More Things to Do in NYC
After you’ve check out the cherry blossoms, check out some of my other favorite NYC activities:
- Domino Park – While you’re in Brooklyn, head over to Williamsburg and visit Domino Park. This unique park was built on the site of an old Domino Sugar factory and features lots of industrial remnants.
- Central Park – No visit to NYC is complete with a stroll through this world-renowned park! My favorite time to visit is in fall, but it’s stunning anytime of year.
- Rockaway Beach – Escape the bustle of the city and go chill at Rockaway Beach … truly my happy place! It’s kind of a hike, but totally worth it on a beautiful summer day.
- High Line – A visit to the High Line, an elevated park that was built on a deserted train track is never a bad idea. You’ll be treated to public art, great NYC views, yummy food, and more.
- Heading to NYC during the holidays? It’s magical … before you go, make sure to check out my comprehensive guide to Christmas in New York. And you’ll also want to take a tour NYC’s best Christmas windows!
- Governors Island – If you want to escape the city for a bit, head to Governors Island. This unique park / National Monument is only a 10 minute ferry ride from Manhattan and Brooklyn.
- Brooklyn Bridge – Walking the Brooklyn Bridge is one of those activities on everyone’s NYC bucket lists, and my guide has tons of tips to help you do it!
- Want more ideas? Check out my A to Z guide to visiting (or living in) New York, as well as my list of NYC favorites after living there for my first eight months!