It's time to think pink. After months of bleak winter weather, spring is ready to explode in the northern hemisphere with a riot of cherry tree blossoms. 

Plenty of seasonal blooms inspire awe, like purple crocuses announcing spring's arrival and daffodils, those gold-star perennials. Still, no flowering plant stirs the soul quite like cherry trees – with their shock of fleeting petals forming cotton-candy canopies – a sign of rebirth and a meditation on life's transience.

Celebrations from Japan to Spain's Jerte Valley delight in the arrival of cherry blossoms, but timing a trip to see the actual petals can be tricky. Blossoms last for roughly 10 days, and peak bloom (when approximately 70% of trees flower) doesn't always align with pre-planned events – it depends on local temperatures, sunshine and precipitation levels.

Here are the best destinations to see cherry blossoms in 2024, including important dates to increase your chances of catching the ephemeral splendor.

A valley covered in pink and white cherry blossom trees in bloom
Yoshino is one of many outstanding places to see blooming cherry trees in Japan © Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

1. Yoshino, Japan

Amsterdam has its tulips, Vermont has its autumn leaves and Japan has its cherry blossoms: a seasonal nature show with cultural cachet. People across Japan have celebrated spring's cherry blossoms, or sakura, since at least the 8th century, enjoying the delicate display in a tradition called hanami – which translates to “flower viewing.” Groups gather beneath blooming trees for hours to enjoy the petals, often while picnicking. Ensure you bring some sakura mochi (sweet rice balls with a red-bean-paste filling) to yours – the chewy treat is a cherry on top of the sweet scenery. 

There's no shortage of petal party destinations throughout Japan. For historical pedigree, visit Jindai Zakura – the nation's oldest cherry tree, rooted on the grounds of the temple Jisso-ji for over 2000 years. Then there's Maruyama Park in Kyoto, where crowds gather for buzzy hanami day-hangs that become sake-soaked soirees. If you’re looking for picture-perfect pink landscapes, Yoshino is tops. Around 30,000 cherry trees turn Mt Yoshino into a pink patchwork, with aerial trams zipping visitors up slopes to pine over petals.

When to go: According to the Japan Meteorological Corporation, Yoshino's trees will flower around March 25 and peak by early April. If you’re willing to wait, trees in northern areas like Sapporo will peak by early May.

A body of water lined with cherry trees in full bloom. People admire their pink petals
Join the crowds admiring the blooms along the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC © SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

2. Washington, DC

The US capital might be best known for hard-line politics, but every spring, the city softens with the arrival of arboreal blossoms. Washington's spring traditions date back to 1912, when Tokyo's mayor gifted the city 3000 cherry trees as a symbol of American-Japanese friendship. Now, the city celebrates the floral spectacle for an entire month at the National Cherry Blossom Festival, featuring parties and performances planned around peak bloom. 

For the most scenic views, take to the popular 2-mile promenade around the Tidal Basin. Plan an early morning or twilight visit as the path blushes pink, or get prepared to brave large crowds. The National Arboretum is a peaceful alternative, with over 20 cherry tree sites spread throughout its 446 acres. Cycle or stroll along the Arboretum's 3-mile self-guided route to see the colorful foliage. 

When to go: The National Cherry Blossom Festival is set for March 20 to April 14. In recent years, peak bloom has occurred around late March and early April. Keep an eye on the National Park Service's Bloom Watch for predictions as the season draws near. 

A town square with a central fountain. Paths are lined by cherry trees in full bloom
Macon celebrates its status as “Cherry Blossom Capital of the World” with events and performances © iStockphoto / Getty Images

3. Macon, Georgia 

In mid-March, this sleepy southern town springs to life as buds erupt from 350,000 Yoshino cherry trees – roughly 92 times the number of cherry trees in DC. The petal proliferation has earned Macon the title “Cherry Blossom Capital of the World,” and there's even a satirically soulful anthem honoring the annual flowering, Cherry Blossom Party Time

Spring visitors can participate in a stacked list of events, including a wiener dog race, pageants, performances and a parade, though the best way to experience the blooms is along the Cherry Blossom Trail. The drive zig-zags to areas with high concentrations of cherry trees, passing public fountains and storefront windows dyed pink for the occasion. 

When to go: Macon's International Cherry Blossom Festival paints the town pastel from March 15 to March 24. Check the Bloom Cam – a live stream of local cherry trees – to see the petal progression in real-time. 

Cyclists ride bikes through a park with paths lined by cherry blossom trees
Vancouver is home to around 43,000 cherry trees © CHENG FENG CHIANG / Getty Images

4. Vancouver, Canada 

Vancouver's love affair with cherry blossoms began after WWI, when mayors from Kobe and Yokohama, Japan, gifted 500 cherry trees to the Vancouver Park Board – a celebration of Japanese Canadians who served in the war. Now, roughly 43,000 cherry trees bloom all over town, inspiring hanami from Stanley Park to Mount Pleasant and beyond. 

Petal season overflows with events thrown by the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival (VCBF). Join guided walks to uncover branch-bound splendor in various neighborhoods. Take plein-air blossom-painting classes. Walk through David Lam Park to see flowers illuminated at night, or map a DIY petal tour using the VCBF finder. The festival's most joyous event is perhaps the Sakura Days Japan Fair – an all-day jamboree in VanDusen Botanical Garden, with ikebana (flower-arrangement classes), sake tastings, Japanese cuisine and more. 

When to go: The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival takes place from March 29 to April 25. For info on flowering trees, visit VCBF's Blooming Now page, updated by photo-snapping Cherry Scouts throughout spring.

People sit on a lawn on a sunny day enjoying the pink blossoms from the many nearby cherry trees
Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a particularly pretty spot when the cherry trees are in full bloom © T photography / Shutterstock

5. New York, New York

The “concrete jungle” isn't all gray sidewalks. Verdant parks abound all over NYC, and by April, 40,000 ornamental trees paint these green spaces with wreaths of fuschia, ivory and coral. In Manhattan, the most splendid display pops along Riverside Park's aptly named Cherry Walk and Central Park's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir – a reflecting pool circled by a bridle path. 

For the city’s most popular blossom destinations, plan a trip to the outer boroughs. Over 200 cherry trees planted at the Bronx's New York Botanical Garden are visions in pink, with azaleas and magnolia trees matching their magnificence. You’ll find just as many trees at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, though the Cherry Esplanade is particularly pretty: 76 trees bloom in unison like a floral ballet. If you’re looking for something less crowded, snake through Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery. The permanent residents won’t make a peep while you marvel at the graveyard’s 150 cherry trees. 

When to go: Most cherry trees bloom around mid-April, but some produce flowers several weeks before or after. Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Cherry Watch, New York Botanical Garden's Bloom Tracker and Central Park Conservancy's blossom guide are excellent resources for planning excursions.

A blossom tree in full bloom in the sunshine, with a tall metal tower, the iconic Eiffel Tower, rising above
Wander the many gardens of Paris in late March for peak blossoms © Fabian Krause / EyeEm / Getty Images

6. Paris, France

Bouquets of blooms make Paris particularly romantic in springtime. Kanzan trees in the Jardins du Trocadéro frame the Eiffel Tower – which stands across the Seine – in wine-colored wonder. More cherry trees in the Jardin des Tuileries turn the outdoor sculpture garden into a museum-worthy exhibit, located steps from the Louvre. Blooms also vie for attention at the Jardin des Plantes, a botanical garden, and along the Promenade Plantée – the world's first elevated park, which zips across the 12th arrondissement. 

For a dreamy blossom date, take a 45-minute trip outside the city center to Parc de Sceaux, with a château and sculpted gardens reminiscent of Versailles. As winter loosens its icy grip, 150 cherry trees begin to show their stuff – an open invitation for picnics beneath petals. 

When to go: The appearance of buds in early to mid-March creates anticipation, but peak season is usually from late March through early April.

People walking on a path among cherry blossoms in the Jerte Valley, Cáceres, Extremadura, Spain.
The spring landscape in the Jerte Valley in Spain's Extremadura region is particularly beautiful © Getty Images

7. Valle del Jerte, Spain

You'll find 1.5 million cherry trees in Spain's western Extremadura region, renowned for its sweet cherries, a summertime delicacy. While the stone fruits won't be ripe for a few more months, spring's petals make a journey to the rural Jerte Valley worthwhile, especially if you stay in centrally located Cabezuela del Valle. Flowers turn hillsides snow-white for roughly two weeks – stunning to behold with the snow-capped Gredos mountains in the background. The Fiesta del Cerezo en Flor (Cherry Blossom Festival) celebrates the season with markets, tastings and more gastro-centric events. Don't worry if you can't make it for peak bloom – watching falling petals dance across the valley can be equally breathtaking.

When to go: The Cherry Blossom Festival takes place from March 22 to April 7. Plan a trip from mid-April to early May to see petals raining from the treetops.

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