New York City might not be known for its cherry blossoms like D.C., but we’ve still got our fair share of the pretty pink buds. We haven’t quite hit peak bloom season yet, but with spring in full swing, 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
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. 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
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.
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.
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. Four Freedoms Park typically holds a Cherry Blossom Festival (it historically got very overcrowded), but it looks like it won’t be happening this year.
New York Botanical Garden
The main spot to see some of the 200 cherry blossoms at NYBG 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 Cherry Blossom Tracker will tell you when to expect peak bloom. (Right now, we’re only 3 percent of the way there.) If you’re not able to make it, check out this virtual Spring Walk in the Cherries from last year. And remember, if you do plan to go in-person this year, you’ll need to make a timed reservation in advance.
Cherry Esplanade at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Photo by Rebecca Bullene. Courtesy of Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
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. Here, too, you’ll need to make a timed reservation in advance. Normally, the garden hosts Sakura Matsuri, the annual cherry blossom festival that celebrates traditional and contemporary Japanese culture, though no details have been announced yet for this year.
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.
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. They also usually host an annual Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival.
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.
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.
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