NYC’s Cherry Blossoms Are a Stunning Sight to Behold
From Central Park to Roosevelt Island, the best places to see cherry blossoms in NYC this spring.
New York City was first gifted cherry trees over a century ago by the Committee of Japanese Residents as a gesture of friendship between the two countries. Ever since, New Yorkers have reveled in the trees and look forward to the white and pink blossoms that mark the changing seasons.
This spring, take in the ethereal beauty of local sakura trees (which is the proper name for cherry blossoms) at some of the city’s most gorgeous parks and esplanades. Whether through a relaxing stroll at a waterfront park, picnic hang (with treats from the hottest new bakeries), or special programming, here are the thirteen best places to view cherry blossoms in NYC as they bloom through early May.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
The popularity of Brooklyn Botanic Garden is not without merit: As far as New York City is concerned, it’s the supreme cherry blossom viewing spot, complete with a Japanese garden and cherry-lined esplanade that allows for a fully immersive experience. In addition to roaming the grounds all spring long and taking photos with each of the park’s 26 cherry species, through April 22 and May 14, guests can stop by Weekends in Bloom for live music, dance performances, cultural programs, and more. 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.
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.
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 site of two World’s Fairs, in 1939 and 1964, Flushing Meadows Corona Park was designed to impress. 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.
If you've never visited Green-Wood Cemetery in spring, you haven’t peaked yet. 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.
Yoshino cherry trees thrive at Long Island City’s waterfront park. While gazing out at the Manhattan skyline, stroll under the canopies of white blooms then take advantage of other park perks like playgrounds, a dog run, bike paths, platform terraces, a basketball court, and more.
On the Hudson River’s floating slice of nature, Little Island visitors are greeted by a gorgeous display of Akebono Yoshino cherry trees. Along with the white and pink cherry blossoms, take in the more than 66,000 other budding flowers, from daffodils and tulips to crocuses and irises. If you’d like to dive a little deeper into the surrounding nature, there’s also the highly informative Little Island audio tour.
The New York Botanical Garden
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. Also keep tabs of the blooms via the online bloom tracker.
Queens Botanical Garden
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 Saturday, April 1, 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.
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, drop by on April 22 for the Cherry Blossom Tour hosted by the island’s horticulture department during the annual Earth Day Festival.
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.
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.
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.