The Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms in NYC This Spring

From the Brooklyn Botanical Garden to the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, the Big Apple is in full bloom.

Daylight savings and the spring equinox are telltale indicators that springtime has begun—but it’s not until cherry blossoms take bloom that spring fever in NYC sets in at full force.

Ever since a group called the Committee of Japanese Residents first gifted NYC with cherry trees over a century ago, New Yorkers have embraced this vernal Japanese tradition that celebrates nature and the changing seasons by taking in the ethereal glow of local sakura trees, aka cherry blossoms.

While a trip to Japan would clearly be ideal, the five boroughs’ parks and neighborhood streets serve as a delightfully satisfactory alternative. Whether through a relaxing stroll, picnic, or annual festivals (don’t forget about the Essex Cherry Blossom Festival in nearby New Jersey), here are the 11 best places across NYC to view cherry blossoms in bloom through early May.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Brooklyn Botanic Garden | NattyC/Shutterstock

Brooklyn
The popularity of Brooklyn Botanic Garden is not without merit: As far as NYC is concerned, it’s the supreme cherry blossom viewing spot, complete with a Japanese garden and cherry-lined esplanade that allow for a fully immersive experience. Most years, BBG hosts a week-long Sakura Matsuri cultural festival, bringing a taste of Japan to our backyard, but for the third year in a row it’s been canceled due to the pandemic. Still, guests can roam the grounds all spring long and take photos with each of the park’s 26 cherry species. To time your visit just right, keep an eye on BBG’s Cherrywatch, an online map that’s updated daily to reflect the bloom progress of every sakura.

Central Park
Central Park | Emin Kuliyev/Shutterstock

Manhattan
As one of the city’s largest green spaces, Central Park is naturally a great fit for cherry blossom hunting. While several areas of the park serve as stellar viewing points—the Reservoir, Great Lawn, and Cedar Hill among them—Cherry Hill beside the Central Park Lake is a surefire spot for scenic snapshots, where blossoms frame notable buildings on the Upper West Side and row boaters in the lake.

Riverside Park
Riverside Park | Anastasia Myasnikova/Shutterstock

Manhattan
The stretch of Riverside Park between 100th and 125th streets is recognized by NYC Parks as Cherry Walk, a beautiful Hudson River path that springs to life in April. Lined with cherry trees gifted by the Committee of Japanese Residents of New York over a century ago, the path is a living piece of history that reminds its pedestrians of the city’s cross-cultural influences.

The Unisphere
The Unisphere | JaysonPhotography/Shutterstock

Queens
The site of two World’s Fairs, in 1939 and 1964, Flushing Meadows Corona Park was designed to impress, and while it’s photo-worthy in its own right, the cherry blossom canopies lining the park in spring certainly add to the allure. South of Roosevelt Avenue and Citi Field past Arthur Ashe Stadium, the sprawling landscape lights up pink in April, amplifying the steel Unisphere’s grandeur. 

Green-Wood Cemetery
Green-Wood Cemetery | girlseeingworld/Shutterstock

Brooklyn
If you've never visited Green-Wood Cemetery in spring, you're not doing NYC right. With rolling hills, wooded paths, and ornate mausoleums, the 478-acre landscape can be strangely joyous. Of course, one of the nation’s first rural cemeteries has a reputation of beauty to uphold, which includes, in part, an impressive display of cherry trees, adding vibrance to a stereotypically dreary setting. Enter through the main Gothic arch and you'll quickly stumble upon a colorful springtime scene.

Haupt Conservatory at New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx
Haupt Conservatory at New York Botanical Garden | Kwanbenz/Shutterstock

The Bronx
In a garden so big you need a plant tracker to find your way around, you know you’re in for a treat come springtime. With more than 200 flowering cherry trees on site, New York Botanical Garden is an easy place to catch blooms. Guests can wander just about anywhere to discover cherry blossoms, but the hotspots are the Cherry Collection, Conservatory, Conifer Arboretum, and Daffodil Hill. On March 27 and 31, you can join the Spring Garden Highlights tour for guidance finding early blooms.

Queens Botanical Garden
Queens Botanical Garden

Queens
Walk in the main garden entrance and you’ll be greeted by Cherry Circle, a curved walking path bordered by cherry trees. Many of the blossoming trees have been adopted by community members and dedicated in honor of loved ones they have lost, giving an already revered family of trees an added layer of sanctity. On April 10, in celebration of NYC’s Immigrant Heritage Week, visitors can register for the Botanical Immigrants Tour, which guides participants through the gardens highlighting the global origins of various blossoms along the way. If you’re looking to learn more about why cherry blossom season is such a cherished time around the world, this tour is your opportunity.

Randall's Island Park
Randall's Island Park

Manhattan
Tucked between the isle of Manhattan and Astoria Park in Queens, Randall’s Island is an often-overlooked waterfront park, complete with 360-degree views and enough flowers to reset your stress meter. For the full cherry blossom experience, plan your visit for May 1, when the island is hosting its annual Cherry Blossom Festival, complete with performances and family-friendly activities like flower making, kite flying, and face painting. Before the festival, take a bike tour of the blossoms, or join one of two walking tours in the afternoon.

Roosevelt Island
Roosevelt Island | Red_Rock_Gal/Shutterstock

Manhattan
Ripe for a staycation, Roosevelt Island is the most accessible getaway within the borough of Manhattan (with one of NYC’s hottest new bars). Just a quick subway or air tram ride from the mainland, the narrow island is landscaped with rows of cherry blossoms that turn already impressive skyline views into an unparalleled spectacle. Roam to Four Freedoms Park at the island’s southern tip for a blend of history and living beauty, and if you want the full getaway experience, book a stay at the Graduate Hotel, now serving cherry-inspired cocktails in its ground-level bar, Anything At All.

Gazebo in Sakura Park
Gazebo in Sakura Park | Popova Valeriya/Shutterstock

Manhattan
A quick departure from the Cherry Walk will bring you to Sakura Park, where many of the remaining trees gifted in 1909 ended up. The rectangular 2-acre park borders West 122nd Street and features notable monuments, including a Japanese stone lantern gifted by Tokyo in 1960 when NYC formalized its sister city status with Japan’s capital. There’s also a performance pavilion used by the Manhattan School of Music and a playground for young children.

Cottage Row in Sailors' Snug Harbor
Cottage Row in Sailors' Snug Harbor | John Penney/Shutterstock

Staten Island
Blossoms are bountiful at Snug Harbor come April. A promenade on Cottage Row puts cherry trees on full display, and the NY Chinese Scholar’s Garden on campus provides a serene setting for cherry blossoms, magnolias, and redbuds to color the horizon with all shades of pink. Also at Snug Harbor are plum blossoms: Early bloomers, they take the spotlight through March, budding with flowers both rich in color and fragrance. Aside from cultural significance, the smattering of Asian trees lift up Staten Island’s ecosystem, giving bees the nutrients needed to stay in business and help Snug Harbor’s farm thrive.

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Kyler Alvord is a former staff writer at Thrillist who keeps coming back for more. Find him on Twitter and Instagram, or in any Brooklyn coffee shop that serves bagels.