Is there anything better than spring in New York City? Well, if you twist my arm, I guess 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 (especially cherry blossoms).
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!
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
Thankfully, Central Park has two beautiful varieties of cherry blossom trees that bloom at different times, meaning you can catch cherry blossoms (and other spring blooms) during a two month span!
Central Park’s Yoshino cherry trees 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 cheery spring months. Magnolias are early bloomers (early April) and their large flowers are truly breathtaking!
In sum, the best time to see cherry blossoms in Central Park is between mid-April and early May.
Central Park Cherry Blossom Tour
The Central Park Conservancy offers 1.5 hour tours during the spring season that are led by expert guides. I HIGHLY recommend joining a tour because you’ll learn so much about the park’s history, cherry trees and other delightful spring blooms.
Interested in a tour? During COVID all tours are virtual, with a suggested donation of $5. You can get more information and book a tour here.
Where to See Cherry Blossoms in Central Park
Cleopatra’s Needle (The Obelisk)
Central Park’s Obelisk is more commonly known as Cleopatra’s Needle and it’s the oldest outdoor monument in New York City (more than 3,000 years old). If you’re a history buff, I suggest reading more about the history here.
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.
Fun fact: There’s a time capsule buried under the Obelisk that contains the complete works of William Shakespeare, a copy of the Declaration of Independence, the 1870 US Census, a Bible and a Webster’s Dictionary.
Location: East side at 81st Street
Pilgrim Hill is another great spot to see blooming 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 Pilgrim statue sits atop a hill that comes alive with spring color in early April when the prolific Yoshino cherry trees hit peak bloom.
Location: East side at 73rd Street
The Conservatory Garden feels like a secret of sorts because most visitors don’t trek so far north in Central Park. As such, you can find both reprieve and lovely spring blooms in this lovely sliver of paradise.
The colorful tulips take center stage while blushing crab apple trees loom in the background. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the prolific magnolia trees! The photos speak for themselves, but just in case you needed an extra push — I highly recommend visiting!
Location: East Side between 104th and 106th
Listen, they don’t call it Cherry Hill for nothing, that’s for sure. Every year, like clockwork, these Yoshino trees burst with spring color and envelop visitors in a blanket of spring.
The path leads folks between full cherry blossoms trees and along the water before crossing the iconic Bow Bridge. Needless to say, this spot is a can’t miss for anyone looking 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
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 (spanning 10 city blocks). Holding more than one billion gallons of water, at the time of construction, this was the world’s largest man-made body of water.
The 1.5-mile loop around the Reservoir is a very popular running and walking track, so you’ll notice a ton of folks along the path. And who can resist snapping photos of these lovely cherry blossoms? Prepare for crowds.
Location: Between 86th and 96th Streets (east and west sides)
When it comes to the best spots to find spring blooms in Central Park, nothing tops the cheery Shakespeare Garden — it’s absolutely incredible! You’ll find densely planted tulips, striking daffodils, bursting magnolias and too many other blooms to count.
Shakespeare Garden is named after none other than William Shakespeare. The four acre park is akin to a classic English cottage garden. If you have the time, I suggest reading the various quote plaques throughout the garden.
What’s more, 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)
History of Central Park’s cherry trees
The lovely Yoshino cherry trees that pepper Central Park were a gift from Japan, presented to New York City in 1912. A handful of these cherry trees are from the same batch as the famous cherry trees in Washington D.C.
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
- Conservancy Garden
- Cherry Hill
- Jackie Onassis Reservoir
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