Springtime in New York City is breathtaking. Cheery chatter and busy feet scurry from one cherry blossom tree to the next. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of great spots to find cherry blossoms in New York City. If you know where to look, you can find pockets of incredible blushing trees adorning this magical city.
I created this quick list of my absolute favorite spots for cherry blossoms and other spring blooms in the Big Apple. Make sure to bring your walking shoes because we’ll be covering a lot of ground!
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. It’s practically guaranteed to cure your wanderlust!
When is the best time to see cherry blossoms in New York City?
Thankfully, New York City 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!
However, try as hard as you can to catch the cherry blossoms at peak bloom because it makes a difference! Peak bloom is a short-lived window (usually 3-4 days) when the trees are ablaze with spring color.
If you’re planning to visit New York City for cherry blossoms and need to plan your trip in advance, a general rule of thumb for visiting during peak is the first week of April and the first week of May.
However, peak bloom varies from year to year because it is weather dependent, so no promises but those weeks are a safe bet if planning in advance.
Types of cherry trees in New York City
One of the best things about spring in New York City is the variety of cherry trees blooming at any given time. The first cherry trees that bloom are Yoshino Cherry Trees, followed by Kwanzan Cherry Trees (also known at Japanese Cherry). Let’s break them down further below.
Yoshino Cherry Trees
NYC’S Yoshino cherry trees were gifted to the US from Japan in 1912. The tree produces delicate white flowers and give off a very light almond scent. These trees can reach heights of 40 feet. These cherry trees bloom earlier than any others, you can expect to catch them at peak around the first and second week of April.
Kwanzan Cherry Trees
Kwanzan cherry trees produce heavy clusters of deep pink double-petal flowers that wait until early May to bloom. These trees are slightly shorter than the Yoshino trees and grow to heights of 30 feet. However, what they lack in height they make up for in width — they stretch into a mushroom-esque form, making them exceptionally beautiful.
Admittedly not a cherry tree but you’re bound to see many Magnolias blooming in NYC during the cheery spring months. Magnolias are early bloomers (early April) and their large flowers are truly breathtaking! There are 4 types of magnolias in New York City: sweetbay magnolias, saucer magnolias, southern magnolias and star magnolias.
Cherry Blossoms in New York City
#10. Union Square Park
Okay, rounding out the bottom of the list but still stunningly beautiful is one of my favorite spots in the city, Union Square Park. Union Square Park is home to spectacular spring blooms and beautiful surroundings in lower Manhattan. It’s a great spot to people watch, too.
Tip: Union Square Park hosts a lovely greenmarket, more info here. The vendors sell all sorts of art, foods, and trinkets from key chains, local honey, flowers and paintings.
#9. Riverside Park
Situated along the Hudson River in the Upper West Side, Riverside Park’s esplanade boasts a beautiful 4-mile path lined with cherry blossom trees that impress visitors every year like clockwork.
There’s a portion of the esplanade referred to as the Cherry Walk that extends from 100th to 125th Street. The blushing cherry blossoms trees in this area are the same group of trees planted at the famous Tidal Basin in Washington D.C. Now, how cool is that?
You’ll find a Japanese lantern in the northern tip of the park, it was donated by the City of Tokyo to celebrate the Tokyo-New York city sister affiliation.
#8. Green Wood Cemetery
Hear me out on this one — I know some folks consider this suggestion morbid, but the spring blooms at Green-Wood Cemetery span 478 breathtaking acres and can’t be beat. The highest concentration of cherry blossoms can be found by the Valley Water and Sylvan Water ponds.
The mature trees peppered throughout the cemetery are guaranteed to amaze, I suggest taking it slowly — linger past any point of reason and enjoy the moment.
#7. Washington Square Park
Washington Square Park is worth a stop anytime you find yourself in New York City, it’s such a beautiful park. It’s a great place to people watch because so many different folks like to hang out here, from NYC students to families with young kids to retirees and talented musicians.
All this to say, regardless of when you visit, you’re bound to have a great time (especially if you like to people watch). But if I had to choose the best time to visit Washington Square Park? Easily the spring time. There’s an 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 arch nicely.
#6. Sakura Park
Sakura Park is a great spot for cherry blossoms in New York City. It’s a classic stop for locals and tourists alike, but for good reason. Cherry blossoms pepper a beautiful 2-acre park with benches and a pretty walkway while Columbia University looms in the background.
It’s the perfect break from the hustle and bustle of the city.
These cherry trees were gifted by Japanese Residents of New York in 1912.
#5. Roosevelt Island
Theodore Roosevelt is my favorite president and my husband is still trying to convince me to name a kid after FDR — so yes, this household loves the Roosevelts. But we’re not here to talk about that, are we? We’re talking about spring in NYC!
Since we’re focusing on spring blooms today, I suggest visiting Roosevelt Island for cherry blossom lining the waterfront. Thankfully there’s plenty of benches along the walkway, it’s a great place for people watching!
One interesting thing to note is that Roosevelt Island has both the early blooming Yoshino Cherry Trees & late blooming Kwanzan Cherry Trees which gives visitors a full six week window in some years to see blooms!
#4. New York Botanical Garden
Boasting a variety of trees eagerly impressing visitors with a stunning display of spring blooms, the New York Botanical Garden is a sight to behold any time of year but nothing beats the spring season.
Address: 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY 10458-5126
Admission: Timed-ticketing required — $22 per adult for non-NYC residents, $28 for botanical garden and conservancy.
#3. Brooklyn Botanical Garden
Nothing says cherry blossom season 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!
The Brooklyn Botanical Garden is located near Prospect Park …. which brings us to our next spot!
#2. Prospect Park
Many folks make the mistake of overlooking Prospect Park during their first visit to New York City but I will not let that happen to you. Prospect Park was designed by Frederick Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the architects responsible for designing Central Park.
In fact, Olmsted and Vaux considered Central Park a practice run and consider Prospect Park as their true masterpiece. Since then, there have been many debates between New Yorkers which park is best — as both Brooklyn residents and Manhattan residents are passionate people!
Regardless of the wrangle, one thing is certain. You must visit Prospect Park in the spring for blushing Kwanzan cherry blossoms! Head towards Grand Army Plaza or swing by the Long Meadow for the highest concentration of cherry trees.
Make sure to check out this helpful spring bloom guide from the Prospect Park Alliance, it highlights peak bloom.
#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 important place.
The highest concentration of cherry blossoms trees in Central Park are found between 72nd Street and 96th Street. As you may know, Central Park is HUGE! I suggest that you wear comfortable shoes and get an early start because the park gets busy (believe me).
Also, if I may suggest, swing by Breads Bakery before wandering through the park — they have the BEST pastries (I’m still thinking about the chocolate croissant).
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
Spring & cherry blossom festivals in NYC
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.
NYC cherry blossoms (summary)
In sum, here’s the best spots for cherry blossoms in New York City.
- Roosevelt Island
- Riverside Park
- Flatiron Building
- Green-Wood Cemetery
- New York Botanical Garden
- Brooklyn Botanical Garden
- Prospect Park
- Sakura Park
- Park Slope
- Central Park
Until next time,
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