Note: We know COVID-19 is impacting travel plans right now. For a little inspiration, we’ll continue to share stories from our favorite places around the world so you can keep daydreaming about your next adventure.
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It's cherry blossom season, with trees around the world popping off in a fireworks display of pink-hued beauty. And while annual cherry blossom festivals around the world are being called off due to COVID-19, that doesn’t mean the trees themselves will stop blooming across the country. Some can be observed while out on a stroll. Others are the backdrop of scenic drives. And while many gardens are temporarily closed, you can still oogle at the blossoms via virtual tours and photo galleries to get a little extra color in your life.
The season lasts roughly from mid-March through the end of April, with trees in the southern states blooming earlier than those farther north. Here are 10 of the best places around the country to catch them, whether digitally or in person.
San Francisco, California
One of the more beloved jewels housed within San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park is the Japanese Tea Garden, the oldest of its kind in the US. Leisurely trails wend through zen gardens, tea houses, and sculptural pagodas. Outside the garden, San Francisco's loaded with cherry blossoms: Many are Yoshino cherry, but you’ll find all manner of fragrant pink and white varietals sprinkled around the city each spring.
Brooklyn, New York
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a national treasure, and I hope everyone is aware of this. The cherry trees in its Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden and its Cherry Esplanade will continue to bloom as late as mid-May, so there’s a … small chance that those of you in the tri-state area might still be able to catch them in real life this season? But while you’re stuck inside (which, thank you! Fantastic work, keep it up!) you can at least enjoy these blossoms via a virtual tour of the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden.
Branch Brook Park, New Jersey
New Jersey The state of New Jersey actually contains more cherry trees than Washington, DC. Branch Brook Park, though, has the distinction of containing the highest concentration of cherry trees anywhere in the country -- somewhere around 5,000 of them. The season generally peaks in the first half of April, but the park is open 365 days a year. There’s a roller rink and arcade on the south side, too.
St. Louis, Missouri
The Missouri Botanical Garden in particular is a lovely spot to go relax in the shade of a few dozen Yoshino cherry trees. And imagine spending a spring day packing a picnic, walking with a friend or two into the shadow of the cherry trees around Gateway Arch, and sprawling in the grass while remaining 6-10 feet apart and regularly disinfecting your hands. Not bad!
With more than 150 of those classic Yoshino cherry trees, the Dallas Arboretum is a beloved destination for visitors and locals alike each spring. Aim for the Pecan Grove, and enjoy the contrast of all the pink and white blossoms against the bright colors of half a million other blooms like daffodils and ranunculus.
The University of Washington quad is fairly famous for its luscious displays of cherry blossoms. There are well over 100 cherry trees on campus, and because they’re all different varietals some of them will be blooming even after the initial rounds have already peaked.
Cherry trees lining the Boston’s Charles River Esplanade make for an especially lovely walk (or bike ride!) each spring. Enjoying the view and the breeze along the river while you slowly work your way toward the Hatch Shell amphitheater is a springtime rite, and conceivably something at least a few of you can do this year when you’re out dosing your socially isolated brain with some quick Vitamin D.
The Japanese American Historical Plaza alone contains 100 Akebono cherry trees along Portland's iconic downtown riverfront, which can be viewed via a stroll down the esplanade or from your car as you drive across the city's river-spanning bridges. You’ll find dozens more at the Hoyt Arboretum, Laurelhurst Park, and the Portland Japanese Garden, the latter of which claims the title of being the most authentic Japanese garden experience that is not actually in Japan. There are a number of different varietals throughout these sites, including the double-flowered Shirofugen. Bloomtime here can last well into May, too.
Traverse City, for those of you not in the know, is the Cherry Capital of the US -- possibly the World, depending on whom you ask. To take in the best views (or at least plan to… for next year…) head to Old Mission Peninsula or drive along County Road 633. Cherry-picking is a beloved local pastime here, too. Here’s a timelapse of Traverse City’s cherry trees blooming as a consolation prize for those who can't make the drive in person.
Macon calls itself the Cherry Blossom Capital of the World; unclear if this is in competition with Traverse City or if the addition of the word “Blossom” makes for a sufficient distinction. No matter! Macon contains more than 350,000 Yoshino cherry trees, which earns it the distinction of having the most cherry blossoms of any city in the world, so it gets to call itself whatever it wants. Stuck indoors (or simply somewhere that is not Georgia)? Perk yourself up with a visit to Macon’s cherry blossom bloom cam.