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Cherry blossoms are a symbol of spring, a time of renewal although their beauty peaks for only about two weeks before the petals begin to fall. If you’d like to see the beautiful blooms, Japan is most famous for its sakura season (cherry blossoms in Japanese) and we’ll reveal some of the country’s top spots for viewing, but there are also plenty of other places to see them. Whether you prefer staying close to home or jetting off somewhere else, all of these destinations are fabulous.
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A popular spring vacation destination, the U.S. capital city is the most famous place to enjoy springtime cherry blossoms in the country. There are hundreds of cherry trees with the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park one of the most popular places to go although Hains Point in East Potomac Park and the Washington Monument grounds are ideal too. It’s a great time to be here with more mild weather for taking in the sights, while informative wayside signs take visitors on self-directed guided tours. While you’re here you’ll be able to visit the many museums and monuments too.
Vancouver is often ranked among the world’s most beautiful cities, surrounded by water and mountains. But it’s also home to tens of thousands of cherry trees that are celebrated during the annual cherry blossom festival. Held throughout much of April, it includes a massive picnic, live music, a haiku competition, art classes, bike rides, and lots of pink and white beauty. If you just want to see the blooms, the best places to go include Queen Elizabeth Park with its trees blooming at different intervals from early March to late April. There are over 100 cherry trees representing two dozen different varieties at Van Dusen Botanical Garden and Stanley Park has rows of blossoming trees near the formal rose garden.
There are more temples and shrines in Kyoto than anywhere else in Japan, and with the pink and white petals framing them, the city is even more delightful to explore. The Philosopher’s Path is a must-walk that follows a 1.25-mile stone path from Nanzenji Temple to Ginkakuji Temple alongside a canal in the Higashiyama District. It’s lined with cherry trees that will be exploding with color during the sakura season in April while shops, cafes, and restaurants provide fun stops along the way. Check out the best hotels for cherry blossom season in Kyoto.
Tokyo is a hotspot for cherry blossoms and as there’s a good chance you’ll be spending some time in this city when visiting Japan, you won’t want to miss Shinjuku Gyoen, the vast park that sits at its heart. It’s just steps from one of the busiest and largest entertainment and business centers making it easy to reach and includes over a thousand cherry trees, with both early- and late-blooming varieties, increasing the chance that you’ll see them anytime you arrive during the sakura season. Check out the natural beauty and ancient temples during the day and then experience the bright neon lights and nightlife in the lively Shibuya after dark.
Macon is one of the best places in the South for cherry blossoms. The city is filled with spirit during its annual International Cherry Blossom Festival with the blooms around just about every corner. It takes place over 10 days during the second half of March and includes a parade and a variety of events, with most of them free. There’s a nightly concert series and a gift shop dedicated to the blossoms along with a special trail along a scenic route from Carolyn Crayton Park to Bass Road that features more than 350,000 Yoshino cherry trees.
Known as the “Cherry City,” as there were once cherry tree orchards throughout the area, Salem has been hosting Cherry Blossom Day for more than a century. The first took place in 1903 and today the best blooms can be enjoyed in State Capitol State Park. It’s a celebration of both American cherry blossoms and the impact that the Japanese culture has had on Oregon’s capital city. Throughout most of March local businesses will be holding their own special events while the festival offers the chance to enjoy a traditional Japanese ceremony, learn origami and calligraphy, view authentic kimonos, and more.
Portland, Oregon is filled with cherry trees, boasting many fabulous spots to discover canopies of the pink and white blossoms. One of the most beautiful is the Portland Japanese Garden, widely regarded as the most authentic outside of Japan. The most popular place for viewing is at the Japanese American Historical Plaza near Steel Bridge in Tom McCall Waterfront Park. The best stretch to see the flowering trees is between the Burnside and Steel bridges. Washington Park and Hoyt Arboretum will be blanketed with the blooms as well.
Bonn is a laid-back city that lies along the Rhine. It’s famous as the birthplace of Ludwig van Beethoven and hosts multiple world-class museums, while the spring season brings many to see millions of flowering cherry trees with blooms in shades of white, light, and bright pinks. The best spot for viewing is known as “Cherry Blossom Avenue.” Just a 5-minute walk from Beethoven’s House in the trendy Nordstadt quarter, it’s an enchanting tunnel avenue for two to three weeks every year with ornamental Japanese cherry blossom trees on both sides of the narrow street. They were planted in the 1980s and extend over it, creating a full canopy at some points. You’ll want to go during the first half of April which is when the Altstadt Cherry Festival takes place.
Beautiful Nara will be an explosion of pink with cherry blossoms in and around the parks, shrines, palaces, castles, and more. Nara Park is a favorite, with friendly deer roaming around the trees, while Koriyama Castle is a great spot to capture a photo with a backdrop of the ruins. Just south of the city at Mount Yoshino, there are some 30,000 cherry trees covering the slopes.
If you want to spend time enjoying the long list of attractions in New York City, you can see some of the country’s most famous cherry trees at the same time. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden has a variety of species that bloom at different times, which means you can see the blooms anytime from mid-March through the end of April. There’s a cherry blossom festival, Sakura Matsuri, that takes place toward the end of the blooms, typically over the last weekend of April. It includes some 60 different events from classic Japanese performances to cosplay displays.
The cherry blooms are a delight to see after a long, rainy winter in Seattle. It marks the time when everyone is itching to get back outside and enjoy a little sunshine along with the hundreds of cherry trees scattered throughout the city. The first pink buds begin to appear in early March and by the middle of the month, the earliest varieties will start blooming. The peak lasts for about two weeks, around late March and early April. The quad at the University of Washington is one of the best places to see them with a huge cluster of Yoshino cherry trees and the school also offers live cherry blossom updates via Twitter.
Not surprisingly, the best place to see cherry blossoms in the Golden Gate City is Japantown with its streets lined with colorful cherry trees. Start at the Japantown Peace Plaza and enjoy them from there. This is also where the annual Cherry Blossom Festival takes place over two weekends in mid-April which features parades, live music local food vendors, and an arts and crafts fair. The Jean Wolfe White Garden in San Francisco Botanical Gardens has a fantastic collection of trees too.
The most famous cherry trees in Sweden can be found in the heart of Stockholm. Located in the majestic park called Kungstradgarden, you’ll see the seemingly endless rows of pink trees forming what looks like a canopy of cotton candy. In mid-April, an annual Japanese festival takes place here too, with food stalls and craft stands set up beneath the trees. Arrive early to capture photos without the crowds.
Spring may be the best time to visit Madrid with milder weather and fewer tourists, and in Parque del Retiro, which translates to “Park of the Pleasant Retreat,” there are many cherry and almond trees, with countless white blossoms that can be enjoyed while picnicking, bike riding, or unwinding with a glass of wine in the cafe. There’s even a lake where you can take a boat out and view them from the water. One of the best places to base yourself is at a boutique hotel along legendary Gran Vía, Madrid’s famous shopping and dining street, as you’ll be close to the park and many top attractions.