New York City might not be known for its cherry blossoms like D.C., but we’ve still got our fair share of pretty pink buds. We haven’t quite hit peak bloom season yet, but with spring officially here, we’re getting close. Ahead, we’ve rounded up the best places across the city to see cherry blossoms, from standbys like Central Park and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to smaller spots like Sakura Park and the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden.
Photo by Dana Schulz/6sqft
1. Central Park
There are beautiful cherry blossoms throughout NYC’s backyard, and an easy way to find them is by checking out the Central Park Conservancy’s Spring Guide map and digital cherry blossom tracker. Hundreds of Yoshino and Kwanzan cherry trees encircle the Reservoir, but the crème de la crème is Cherry Hill. Located mid-park at 72nd Street, this area overlooks the Lake (with the iconic view of the San Remo in the background) and turns into a pale-pink wonderland every spring. Close by, on the east side at 73rd Street, is Pilgrim Hill, where you can take in “the vibrant pinks and whites of Yoshino cherry trees.”
Photo by Dana Schulz/6sqft
2. Riverside Park
The stretch of Riverside Park between 100th and 125th Streets has been named Cherry Walk for its collection of cherry blossoms. Its origins date back to a 1909 naval parade that commemorated the 100th anniversary of Robert Fulton’s demonstration of steam power on the Hudson River and the 300th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s discovery of the river. According to NYC Parks: “As part of the celebration, the Committee of Japanese Residents of New York presented 2,000 cherry trees as a gift to the city. The surviving trees of the original planting of 700, part of the same batch of trees planted in Washington, D.C.’s Tidal Basin, can be found elsewhere in Riverside Park, in nearby Sakura Park, and Central Park.” That first shipment, however, was actually lost at sea, so the shipment arrived in 1912. Cherry Walk closed last year for improvements, but it reopened this past January.
3. Sakura Park
Speaking of that gift of cherry trees (called “Sakura” in Japanese), nearby on the Upper West Side, right near Riverside Church and Grant’s Tomb, Sakura Park was named for the occasion. The surrounding landmarks make for a gorgeous backdrop behind all the cherry trees.
Cherry Blossoms on Roosevelt Island. Photo by Shinya Suzuki via Flickr cc
4. Roosevelt Island
Heading to Roosevelt Island to check out the cherry blossoms is an extra-fun experience because you’ll be able to see them overhead from the tram on your way in. The trees line the East River walkway, creating a striking pink canopy.
Cherry Blossoms at NYBG. Photo by keroism via Flickr cc
5. New York Botanical Garden
At the New York Botanical Garden, the best spot to see some of its 200 cherry blossoms is the curving path in the Cherry Collection, but you’ll also find them at the Arthur and Janet Ross Conifer Arboretum, the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, and interspersed among daffodils and crabapple trees on Daffodil Hill. This handy Bloom Tracker keeps track of peak bloom for the garden’s cherry blossoms, daffodils, magnolias, and other spring blossoms.
Cherry Esplanade at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Photo by Rebecca Bullene. Courtesy of Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
6. Brooklyn Botanic Garden
There are 26 different ornamental cherry species and cultivars that bloom at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (you can learn about them all here). The Cherrywatch map will show you where to find them and whether they’re in pre-bloom, first bloom, peak bloom, or post-peak bloom. The most iconic spot to see them is Cherry Esplanade, but they’re also found throughout the magical Japanese Garden. Throughout the spring, the garden offers free-with-admission tours of plants and flowers in peak bloom.
Cherry Blossoms at Green-Wood. Photo by David Berkowitz via Flickr cc
7. Green-Wood Cemetery
Sure, the Botanic Garden is Brooklyn’s go-to spot for cherry blossoms, but Green-Wood Cemetery also has its share, most notably at the cherry tree allée. You’ll also find pink and white blooms ringing the Valley Water and Sylvan Water ponds, as well as scattered throughout the beautiful, 478-acre natural space.
8. Flushing Meadows-Corona Park
Cherry trees bloom at the former World’s Fair site, making for a very cool view. Find them near the Unisphere and the New York State Pavilion.
An Akebono Yoshino cherry tree blooms in The Glade. Photo credit: Michael Grimm
9. Little Island
One of New York City’s newest parks makes for another spring destination. Located on the Hudson River at Pier 55, Little Island opened in 2021, its unique floating leaf-shape design and undulating form drawing visitors. This spring, take in the Akebono Yoshino cherry trees, along with the park’s many daffodils, tulips, lilies, and more.
10. Queens Botanical Garden
This botanical garden might not have as robust a cherry blossom offering as the others, but its Cherry Circle is just as picturesque. Located along Main Street, the trees here make you feel like you’re completely immersed. The trees are also available for adoption in honor of a loved one.
11. Snug Harbor Cultural Center
This Staten Island cultural attraction is home to the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden, one of only two authentic classical outdoor Chinese gardens built in the United States. You’ll find ample cherry blossoms here, along with magnolias, mahonia, jasmine, and redbud.
Courtesy of Woodlawn Cemetery
12. Woodlawn Cemetery
One of the more unique places to view cherry blossoms in the city is Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. Across its nearly 400 acres of land, the cemetery has over 6,300 trees, including more than 400 distinct species of trees and shrubs. Woodlawn, which was founded in 1863 and is the final resting place of many notable New Yorkers, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Miles Davis, and Joseph Pulitzer, to name a few, is an official Level II Arboretum, working towards Level III accreditation. Interestingly, Dr. Jokichi Takamine, a Japanese chemist who was among those who donated the cherry blossom trees that surround the tidal basin in D.C., is a permanent resident of Woodlawn. The national historic landmark is open every day from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
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Editor’s note: The original version of this article was published on March 30, 2021, and has since been updated.
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