Is there anything better than spring in New York City? Well, if you twist my arm, I’d have to admit that catching cherry blossoms in Central Park during peak bloom may top the list.
Central Park is pure magic and having an opportunity to visit during the spring feels like a privilege. But since the park is 843 acres large, it’s hard to know exactly where to go for the highest concentration of spring blooms.
Fret not, I have you covered. I visited the best spots for cherry blossoms in Central Park with my trusty camera in hand. Below is all the information you need to know to make your visit as enjoyable as possible. I hope you enjoy!
Be sure to check out our NYC Cherry Blossom Tracker for live updates on this year’s bloom!
P.S. If you can’t make it out to see the cherry blossoms in Central Park for yourself, I highly recommend getting this book. It’s the next best thing!
Best time to see cherry blossoms in Central Park
There’s a handful of varieties of blossoming trees in Central Park and since different varieties of trees bloom at different times, you can easily catch cherry blossoms in Central Park for an entire month.
One of the most common types of cherry blossoms in Central Park are Yoshino cherry trees. They produce delicate white flowers and give off a very light almond scent. These cherry trees bloom earlier than any others, you can expect to catch them at peak around early to mid April.
Kwanzan cherry trees produce heavy clusters of deep pink double-petal flowers that wait until early May to bloom.
Admittedly not a cherry tree but you’re bound to see many Magnolias blooming in Central Park during the spring months. Magnolias are also early bloomers (early April) and their large flowers are something else!
In sum, the best time to see cherry blossoms in Central Park is between mid-April and early May.
Central Park Cherry Blossom Tour
I’d like to share something neat that most folks don’t realize. The Central Park Conservancy offers 1.5-hour expert led tours during the spring season.
I participated in one of the guided tours last spring and HIGHLY recommend them. You’ll learn so much about the park’s history, the cherry trees and other delightful spring blooms.
Interested in a tour? Tours are $35 per person and well worthwhile. You can get more information and book a tour here.
You might enjoy the following post: 10 Breathtaking Spots for Cherry Blossoms in New York City
Where to See Cherry Blossoms in Central Park
If you want to become a real New Yorker, there’s only one rule: You have to believe New York is, has been, and always will be the greatest city on earth. The center of the universe.– Ellen R. Shapiro
Cleopatra’s Needle (The Obelisk)
Central Park’s Obelisk is more commonly known as Cleopatra’s Needle — it’s the tallest and oldest man-made structure in Central Park (more than 3,000 years old). (seriously, the thing is more than 3,000 years old). If you’re a history buff, I suggest reading about the history of the Obelisk here.
But the gist is: Around 1450 B.C. Pharaoh Thutmosis III commissioned the construction of two obelisks. In 1881 Egypt gifted one of the obelisks to Central Park and the other to London. The icing on the cake? Before the obelisk was erected a time capsule was buried under the base, which includes a copy of the declaration of independence.
The magnolia trees encircling Cleopatra’s Needle are truly breathtaking. The trees produce luscious mug-sized magnolias that dress the barren branches with bright colors from early to mid-April. This is easily one of the best spots for spring blooms in Central Park.
Location: East side at 81st Street
Pilgrim Hill is also a great spot to see cherry blossoms in Central Park. The Pilgrim statue was sculpted by a renowned sculptor named John Quincy Adams Ward and dedicated to New York City in 1884 by the New England Society.
The statue sits atop a hill that comes alive with spring color in early April when the prolific Yoshino cherry trees hit peak bloom. The petals litter the ground and transform the landscape completely, it’s a beautiful sight.
Location: East side at 73rd Street
The Conservatory Garden
Opened in 1937, the Conservatory Garden is the only formal garden in Central Park. Spanning six acres, the garden is sectioned off into three beautiful gardens– the French North Garden, Italian Center Garden and English South Garden.
You can get to the Conservatory Garden by walking through Central Park or taking the subway to the nearest stop (103rd stop from the east side and Central Park North stop from the west side).
The small effort is worthwhile, the gardens burst with fall and spring color in unparalleled fashion. In fact, I visit every single fall and spring season, regardless of how many times I’ve seen this splendor in the past, it’s irresistible.
The colorful tulips take center stage while blushing crab apple trees loom in the background. And don’t even get me started on the prolific magnolia trees!
Location: East Side between 104th and 106th
Well, they don’t call it Cherry Hill for nothing, that’s for sure. Every year, like clockwork, the mature Yoshino trees that line the path burst with spring color and envelop visitors in a blanket of spring.
The path meanders past blossoming trees before reaching the water and offering a great view of the Bow Bridge. This spot can’t be missed for anyone searching for cherry blossoms in Central park.
Tip: Arrive early, Cherry Hill is VERY popular (for good reason) so crowds are hard to avoid.
Location: 72nd Street
Further Reading: 15 Iconic Things to Do in Central Park
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir
The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir is more commonly known as the Central Park Reservoir, or simply Reservoir.
It’s a decommissioned reservoir located between 86th and 96th Streets (covering 10 city blocks). Holding more than one billion gallons of water, this was the world’s largest man-made body of water when it was constructed.
The 1.5-mile loop around the Reservoir is a very popular running and walking track among locals. You’ll notice a lot of folks using the path for exercise, which is why the loop is designed to be used in one direction.
Be prepared for crowds any time of year, but especially in the spring when the surrounding trees explode with vibrant colors and fragrant blooms.
This is the highest concentration of cherry blossoms in Central Park, the crowds are warranted. And, I mean, who can resist snapping photos of these lovely blossoms?
Location: Between 86th and 96th Streets (east and west sides)
The Shakespeare Garden
When it comes to the best spots to find spring blooms in Central Park, nothing tops the venerable Shakespeare Garden. Densely planted tulips sit side-by-side with striking daffodils and bursting magnolias — it’s an incredible explosion of color.
The Shakespeare Garden is named after none other than William Shakespeare. The four acre park is akin to a classic English cottage garden and if you have the time, I suggest reading the various plaques throughout the garden.
Also worth mention, the garden’s curator makes it a point of pride to make the garden different every year. The garden is so interesting that some folks visit on a daily basis, so the curator tries to change it up from year to year. How sweet is that?
Location: Between 79th and 80th Streets (west side)
Best spots for cherry blossoms in Central Park (post summary)
In sum, the best spots for cherry blossoms in Central Park are:
- Shakespeare Garden
- Cleopatra’s Needle
- Pilgrim Hill
- Conservatory Garden
- Cherry Hill
- Jackie Onassis Reservoir
Map of Cherry Blossoms in Central Park
Visiting New York City? If you haven’t decided where to stay (yet) check out our helpful guide on Where to Stay in New York City (The best neighborhoods for first timers +2 to avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s our favorite hotel in NYC, hands down.
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