Post overview: Local’s take on the best spots to find cherry blossoms in New York City.
I moved to New York City in the spring, so this particular season has a very special place in my heart. Every year, like clockwork, the burst of blooms serves as a reminder that I’ve made it another year in the Big Apple – a dream I’ve nurtured for 10 years before making the jump.
Sentimental feelings aside, springtime in NYC is something else. The romantic blushing trees completely change the city landscape as busy feet scatter from one cherry tree to the next.
Luckily for the 8.4 million people that call the Big Apple home (yes, really), there’s no shortage of great spots to find cherry blossoms in New York City.
If you know where to look, you can find some incredible spots for spring blooms and that’s exactly where I come in.
I created this quick list of my absolute favorite spots for cherry blossoms in New York City. These are the exact spots I take my own family and friends when they visit.
Make sure to bring your walking shoes because we’ll be covering a lot of ground!
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.
When is the best time to see cherry blossoms in New York City?
There’s two main varieties of cherry blossom trees in New York City: Yoshino & Kwanzan and they bloom at separate times. This is actually a big perk because you can catch fantastic spring blooms during a month-long span.
But the goal is to catch NYC’s cherry blossoms at peak bloom, which is a hard to pin down because it varies from year to year. Peak bloom is typically a short-lived window (3-4 days) when the majority of the blossoms have bloomed and the tree is adorned in vibrant spring colors.
My best advice for those visiting New York City for cherry blossoms is to plan for the first week of April or the first week of May. The two types of cherry blossoms trees in NYC tend to peak during those respective weeks.
P.S. If you can’t make it out to see the cherry blossoms in New York City for yourself, I highly recommend getting this book. I’ve bought more copies than I can count because it’s such a great gift for anyone that needs to cure their NYC wanderlust. Works like a charm. 😉
Types of cherry blossoms in New York City
As I mentioned, one of the best things about spring in New York City is that there’s a variety of cherry trees. The first cherry blossoms in NYC are Yoshino Cherry Trees (they bloom early April), which are followed in early May by Kwanzan Cherry Tree blooms (sometimes known at Japanese Cherry).
Let’s break them down further below.
Yoshino Cherry Trees (Early-April cherry blossoms in NYC)
The Yoshino cherry trees in New York City were gifted from Japan in 1912. Producing delicate white flowers that give off a very light almond scent, they can reach impressive heights of 40 feet. These are the first cherry trees to bloom in New York City and you can expect to catch them at peak around the first and second weeks of April.
Here’s a closeup photo of the blooms below.
Kwanzan Cherry Trees (EARLY-may cherry blossoms in NYC)
Kwanzan cherry trees produce heavy clusters of double-petal flowers adorned in deep pink shades. The clusters take on a full mushroom shape, making them exceptionally beautiful. These cherry blossoms don’t bloom until early May.
Kwanzan cherry trees are slightly shorter than Yoshino cherry trees and grow to heights of 30 feet. However, the blooms are much more colorful than the muted cherry blossoms from Yoshino trees. You can typically spot these trees from a distance.
Crabapple trees have some of the prettiest blooms, in my opinion. This is largely thanks to the explosion of color between the budding green leaves, the pleasant creamy white shade of the open petals and velvety fuscia shades of the closed petals.
Crabapple trees bloom between April and May. Based on personal experience they tend to bloom around the same time as Kwanzan trees and you’ll often see these two varieties of New York City cherry blossoms planted next to each other.
Admittedly not a cherry tree but you’re bound to see a lot of Magnolia trees blooming in NYC during spring. Much like the Yoshino trees, Magnolias are early bloomers (early April) and their large flowers are truly breathtaking!
There are 4 types of magnolias blooms in New York City: sweetbay magnolias, saucer magnolias, southern magnolias and star magnolias.
Cherry Blossoms in New York City
#10. Union Square Park
Union Square Park was originally designed as a town square in 1839. The large pedestrian plaza and connected park serves as a safe haven for street artists, professionals on lunch breaks, busy students and eager tourist.
One of my favorite things about Union Square Park is the breathtaking display of cherry blossoms. The park is home to several Kwanzan cherry trees that create the most beautiful canopy of color. There’s plenty of benches to park yourself on while people-watching.
But take note, Union Square Park gets very busy during the weekends. If you’d like some semblance of solitude I suggest visiting during the weekday, preferably early in the morning.
P.S. Union Square Park has a great year-round greenmarket. You’ll find everything from local honey to fresh baked bread and original artwork. Check it out while you’re in the area.
#9. Riverside Park
Situated along the Hudson River in the Upper West Side, Riverside Park is often considered Manhattan’s most scenic waterfront park and I can’t say I disagree.
Stretching from west 59th Street to 181st Street, the park spans 400 acres. It’s full of healthy trees that offer ample shade, plenty of park benches, and even has some charming gardens to explore (like the famous garden shot at the end of You’ve Got Mail).
This is also one of the best spots to find cherry blossoms in New York City. Indeed, a 4-mile portion of the esplanade is refereed to as the Cherry Walk for a reason.
Extending from 100th to 125th Street, a beautiful wide path gives way to striking cherry blossom trees that impress visitors year after year. You’ll find Kwanzan trees blooming alongside Crabapple trees, it’s a sight to behold!
During your tour of Riverside Park you might notice a unique Japanese lantern in the northern tip of the park. The lantern was gifted to NYC by the City of Tokyo to celebrate the Tokyo-New York city sister affiliation.
Fun fact: You’ve probably heard that Washington D.C. is a famous spot to see cherry blossom trees, especially the trees planted along the Tidal Basin. Well, you might be surprised to learn that the cherry trees at Riverside Park were planted from the same group of trees! How cool is that?
#8. Green-Wood Cemetery
Alright, who invited the party pooper? Because I’m here and I brought cookies.
Hear me out on this one. I know some folks might consider the mention of a cemetery as one of the best spots for cherry blooms in NYC morbid, or even immoral, but it’s true.
Green-Wood Cemetery spans 478 acres and the spring blooms simply can’t be beat. The highest concentration of cherry blossoms can be found by the Valley Water and Sylvan Water ponds, both areas are exceptionally beautiful.
This is also a really great spot for birding during the spring season, so take advantage.
Oh, and I should mention a fascinating 25-year creative installation located at the cemetery. The installation, called Here Lie the Secrets of the Visitors of Green-Wood Cemetery, is a grave designed specifically for secrets. Visitors can write their most intimate secrets on a sheet of paper and finally lay them to rest.
#7. Washington Square Park
Located in the heart of the charming Greenwich Village, there seems to be a gravitational pull to Washington Square Park because (like most New Yorkers) I can’t help but swing by whenever I’m within a one-mile vicinity.
Many folks consider this one of the most inviting parks in NYC and come from all over the city to let their hair down and be themselves. The welcoming atmosphere makes Washington Park a great NYC park for people-watching. The energetic mood is contagious and you’ll notice park visitors from all corners of the world.
From suited businesswomen to relaxed college students and nervous tourists, you’ll see it all. The stars of the show tend to be the talented street musicians that give the park an easy-going vibe.
There’s no bad time to visit Washington Square Park, but the spring time is especially memorable. There’s a cheery energy in the air as both locals and tourists eagerly flock outdoors after the dreary winter months.
You’ll see all sorts of spring blooms at Washington Square Park (the daffodils are prolific), but my favorite blooms are the magnolias and Yoshino cherry trees — they frame the arch nicely.
Further Reading: 10 ICONIC New York City Parks You Can’t Afford to Miss
#6. Sakura Park
As the name alludes, Sakura Park is a great spot for cherry blossoms in New York City. At 2 acres, the park is small, but it checks all the boxes during the spring season thanks to the healthy Yoshino trees gifted by the Japanese Residents of New York in 1912.
Since the park is located in the norther end of the Upper West Side, you won’t find too many crowds. A lot of tourists don’t venture this far north so there’s a higher chance of solitude or mingling with locals.
Seeing cherry blossoms in New York City without the crowds? Sign me up! In fact, we were the only ones in the park during our visit in the early morning.
While you’re in the area, I suggest touring the impressive grounds of Columbia University, gawking at the incredible Riverside Church (located right next to the park) and picking up a bagel from Absolute Bagels.
Further Reading: 12 BREATHTAKING Churches in New York City
#5. Roosevelt Island
Roosevelt Island has some of the best free views of New York City, but it seems like most folks save their visit for the spring. It’s not hard to see why, this is one of the best spots for cherry blossoms in New York City!
The mature cherry trees burst with color in early April and the island swells with tourists like moths to a flame. Roosevelt Island is home to both early blooming Yoshino trees and late blooming Kwanzan trees — giving visitors a six-week window to see cherry blossoms in NYC!
The trees along the waterfront create a breathtaking canopy of blooms. Take a stroll down the esplanade or park yourself on a bench and people watch for a while.
#4. New York Botanical Garden
The New York Botanical Garden is often considered the spot for cherry blossoms in New York City. In many ways, the garden feels like it was designed to be the top spring destination in NYC and it succeeded.
Indeed, during peak bloom the New York Botanical Garden takes on a fairy-tale appearance. Between the prolific daffodils and breathtaking Kwanzan cherry blossoms, you won’t know which way to look.
The highest concentration of spring blooms can be found at Cherry Valley, the Arthur and Janet Ross Conifer Arboretum and Daffodil Hill.
Address: 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY 10458-5126
#3. Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Nothing says cherry blossom season in New York City like the pretty blooms at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Knowing full well the spring blooms are an annual tradition for many New Yorkers, the garden provides a very helpful spring bloom tracker on their website.
Don’t miss the annual Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival — it’s very popular for good reason, but if you love spring and Japanese culture in general — you can’t afford to miss it.
Address: 990 Washington Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225
#2. Prospect Park
Prospect Park was designed by Frederick Olmstead and Calvert Vaux, the architects responsible for designing Central Park, so you know this park is a masterpiece.
Folks tend to congregate around the top attractions, like the Long Meadow (spanning 90-acres), the Prospect Park Zoo, the charming Boathouse, Picnic House and Concert Grove.
But if you’re visiting to see some of the best spring blooms in Brooklyn, you’ll want to focus on the area by the Grand Army Plaza and the Long Meadow. Bring a picnic blanket and make an afternoon of it!
Make sure to check out this helpful spring bloom guide from Prospect Park Alliance, it tracks peak bloom in the park.
#1. Central Park
As if you needed another reason to love Central Park, right? Well, my friend, you have to experience spring in Central Park to truly understand the mesmerizing beauty of this beloved gem.
As you know, Central Park is huge. It covers more than 840 acres and would take a while to explore. If you’re after the absolute best spots for cherry blossom in Central Park, read about the best spots for spring blooms in Central Park.
If you don’t have time to read the post yet, just know you can’t miss the jaw-dropping Shakespeare Garden, because the tulip display is gorgeous!
Places to check out in Central Park for cherry blossoms:
- Cherry Hill: Mid-Park at 72nd Street
- Pilgrim Hill: East Side at 72nd Street
- Conservatory Garden: East Side from 104th to 106th Street
- Kennedy Onassis Reservoir: 85th Street to 96th Street
- Shakespeare Garden
I suggest wearing comfortable shoes and getting an early start because Central Park gets very busy during the spring season. Who can resist it though, it’s magic!
If you’d like some guidance during your first visit to Central Park, I suggest reading 15 ICONIC Things to Do in Central Park, which highlights the top attractions in the park.
Great Spots for Spring Blooms in NYC (Honorable Mentions)
Park Avenue Tulips
Upper East Side’s Park Avenue is always a sight to behold, but my favorite time to stroll the avenue is during spring. The cherry blossom trees are popping and the tulips cover the ground in a sea of yellow. Also, I have no idea what they do to these tulips but I swear they’re the size of teacups!
Love tulips? You might enjoy 10 Outstanding Spots to Find Tulips in New York City
Hudson River Park
Where Battery Park ends, Hudson River Park begins and stretches all the way to 59th Street. Not only does this lively NYC park span 550 acres, but it hugs the Hudson River and offers spectacular waterfront views.
In fact, more than 400 acres of Hudson River Park is located on piers that stretch over the water. You can’t help but notice the plethora of spring blooms in the area, most notably the tulips planted along the paths.
The highest concentration of tulips is located at Belvadere Plaza.
West Side Community Garden
Located on 89th Street between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues, the West Side Community Garden (WSCG) is a true gem. Locals often consider lounging here one of the most relaxing things to do in the Upper West Side.
Originally founded in 1976 to address an eyesore (a neglected trash-strewn vacant lot), the garden is privately owned and run by volunteers that rely on donations and grants.
The garden is a joy to visit any time of year, but it try shines in the spring. More than 15,000 tulips adorn the garden in the most colorful display, it’s one of the best places in NYC to see spring blooms.
Spring festivals in New York City
Ask any local New Yorker and they’ll try their best to explain the joy of the spring season. Spring is marked by a variety of celebrations that highlight the best spring blooms NYC has to offer. Here’s a few you can’t afford to miss.
- Sakura Matsuri at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden As mentioned earlier, this event is very popular so book your tickets early.
- The Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden.
Best spots for cherry blossoms in NYC (Post Summary)
In sum, here’s the best spots for cherry blossoms in New York City.
- Central Park
- Prospect Park
- Brooklyn Botanical Garden
- New York Botanical Garden
- Roosevelt Island
- Sakura Park
- Washington Square Park
- Green-Wood Cemetery
- Riverside Park
- Union Square Park
Sophie Mummble says
I want to visit with my kids one day! What’s the best area to see cherrybloom?
Central Park! 🙂