With the emergence of their fluffy, delicate flowers, blossoming cherry trees are a springtime delight to behold.
All over the USA, people celebrate their appearance with annual festivals, or just simply get outside to special spots and take in the cherries’ natural beauty. As another blooming season approaches, here are the 10 best places to see cherry blossoms – and when to see them – in 2023.
1. The National Mall, Washington, DC
When to experience it in 2023: follow the National Park Service's Bloom Watch for updates
It’s said that more than 1.5 million visitors descend upon the nation’s capital to gaze at the 3000-plus trees during the three-week-long National Cherry Blossom Festival. The festival started with the planting of two trees gifted by Tokyo in DC’s West Potomac Park in March 1912. More than 100 years later, the cherry trees are clustered around the picturesque Tidal Basin reservoir, and the festival has grown to include events throughout the city. Look for restaurants, bars and neighborhoods all over the District getting in the spirit with special offerings.
2. Missouri Botanical Garden, St Louis, Missouri
When to experience it in 2023: the last two weeks of March through the first week of April
The Missouri Botanical Garden contains more than 100 varieties of blossoming cherry trees, with 20 specimens consisting of cuttings from those trees gifted to Washington, DC, in 1912. You can find many of these varieties in the Japanese Garden (a spot known in Japanese as Seiwa-en), while such less-familiar examples as the Mount Fuji cherry “Shirotae” bloom at the George Washington Carver Garden. This St Louis venue’s “Sake and Sakura” event on April 7 celebrates the trees’ sheer beauty through Japanese food and drink, and also provides a chance to see the garden’s enchanting Teahouse Island.
3. Balboa Park’s Japanese Friendship Garden, San Diego, California
When to experience it in 2023: The Cherry Blossom Festival will be held March 10–12
San Diego has not only beaches and rugged coastline, but plenty of cherry blossoms, too. The star specimens can be found in Balboa Park’s Japanese Friendship Garden. In mid-March, the garden’s annual Cherry Blossom Week offers a variety of programs involving local merchants, performances, a children’s arts-and-crafts area, a beer and sake garden, and a tea garden at the Inamori Pavilion.
4. The Cumberland River Greenway, Nashville, Tennessee
When to experience it in 2023: the Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival is on April 15
Music City has its own strings of cherry blossoms, thanks to a tree-planting project in parks and neighborhoods led by government officials and the Japan-America Society of Tennessee. During the Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival, a Cherry Blossom Walk features a 2.5-mile course through these areas, following the Cumberland River Greenway after beginning (then ending) at Nashville Public Square. The one-day festival in April celebrates both spring and Japanese culture with programming on the front lawn of the Metro Courthouse at Public Square Park. Expect traditional and contemporary Japanese music and dance, martial-arts demonstrations, a “Pups in Pink Parade” and a variety of Japanese cuisine, including Japanese-inspired festival menus.
5. Central City Park, Macon, Georgia
When to experience it in 2023: The Macon Georgia International Cherry Blossom Festival is March 17–26
Held at Central City Park, the Macon Georgia International Cherry Blossom Festival recognizes the over 350,000 Yoshino cherry trees that give this Georgia town a pinkish hue each spring. The festival takes place in part thanks to William A. Fickling Sr, a local realtor who was pleased to discover that the first Yoshino cherry tree in Macon was planted on his estate in 1949. Inspired, he began to propagate and provide Yoshinos within the Macon community. Today, this 10-day festival includes standout events such as a pasta dinner, a food-truck gathering and a Fiesta Ball. You can also follow Macon’s Cherry Blossom Trail, starting from the downtown Visitor Center.
6. Wooster Square, New Haven, Connecticut
When to experience it in 2023: the Cherry Blossom Festival is held in April, date to be confirmed
New Haven is the site of an annual Cherry Blossom Festival, which happens every April to welcome the square’s Yoshino Japanese cherry blossoms. The trees were placed here in 1973; in the decades since, the one-day festival has grown to incorporate live performances, a family and children’s activity area, area food vendors and participating authors and artisans.
7. Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
When to experience it in 2023: the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival is April 15–16
Planted in 1926 as a gift from the people of Japan, a series of sakura flowering cherry trees transform Fairmount Park each year – and take center stage at the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia. This early-April weekend event incorporates origami sessions, sushi-making classes and drumming performances; Cherry Blossom 5K and 10K races happen the weekend after, continuing the festivities.
8. Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, Dallas, Texas
When to experience it in 2023: Dallas Blooms runs February 25–April 16
The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden’s 150 cherry-blossom trees get their moment during “Dallas Blooms,” a six-week celebration from late February through early April. This year’s theme of “The Great Contributors” will have this Dallas attraction adorned with sculptures of such luminaries as Harriet Tubman, Amelia Earhart and Joan of Arc. The programming also incorporates tastings and cooking classes, book signings, speakers and Easter-related events.
9. Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn, New York
When to experience it in 2023: follow the Cherrywatch map for updates on blooms
To help track the progress of the famed cherry blossoms at New York City’s Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the garden’s website has a “Cherrywatch” map that gets updated every day. (The blooms usually appear from mid-March to late April.) With 26 species and cultivars in the BBG’s Flowering Cherry Collection, these trees can be found throughout the garden’s 52 acres, especially in the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, the Cherry Cultivars Area, the Cherry Esplanade and the Cherry Walk. To fête the season, the Brooklyn Botanical Garden puts on the popular Sakura Matsuri, a weekend festival held each spring that not only celebrates these blossoms but also honors Japanese culture through music, dance, food and art.
10. Japanese Garden at Delaware Park, Buffalo, New York
When to experience it in 2023: the Buffalo Cherry Blossom Festival runs April 29–30
A gift from its sister city of Kanazawa, the Japanese Garden at Delaware Park in Buffalo has cherry blossoms that come out later than the ones found in DC – yet burst just as boldly during the Buffalo Cherry Blossom Festival. Along with self-guided walks, attendees can check out drum demonstrations, presentations on Japanese culture at the Buffalo History Museum and pink boat rides on the park’s Mirror Lake.