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The best cities to see cherry blossoms in the USA

The snow begins to recede and spring feels like it’s on the horizon, but still, it feels like forever. That said, while we all patiently wait for the clocks to go forward and when we can finally bid farewell to seasonal affective disorder, we should be keeping an eye on the ground for the blossom. 

While it’s difficult to say exactly when the elusive cherry blossoms will make their highly anticipated appearance, March and April are generally regarded as peak seasons. Each year, as winter turns into spring, excitement builds for the blooms’ arrival, and many cities around the country celebrate their fleeting but beautiful presence with festivals and gatherings. If you can’t make it to Japan—the epicenter of cherry blossom mania—here are the best places to see cherry blossoms in the USA.

The iconic cherry blossoms burst forth in hues of pink and white, but the spectacle doesn’t last long. The Japanese see the cherry blossoms as a symbol of the fleeting nature of life, and the tradition of gathering under the blossoms with food, music and friends celebrates this life. Here in the U.S., many cities host festivals and offer tours of their impressive collections of cherry trees. As you emerge from winter hibernation, consider March and April for a romantic getaway or a road trip to catch a glimpse of the magical blooms. Washington, D.C. might be the best-known U.S. city for cherry blossoms, but don’t overlook under-the-radar cities like Nashville, TN or Macon, GA. Once you peep these beauties, you’ll be hooked.

Best cities to see cherry blossoms in the USA

Photograph: Shutterstock

1. Portland, OR

Portland’s cherry blossom trees, located in the Japanese American Historical Plaza, are relative newcomers to the city. The plaza was dedicated in 1990 to remember the Japanese-Americans interned during World War II. Thirty years later, the park turns pink every spring with cherry blossoms. Don’t miss the famous works by Japanese-American poets engraved in 12 granite stones throughout the park. 

Photograph: Shutterstock

2. Seattle, WA

Head to the University of Washington to see 130 cherry blossom trees turn the college quad pink every spring. The original trees were donated to the city by Japan in 1939, and the country ended up donating 12 additional Shirofugen trees and six Yoshino trees—variations of the cherry blossom trees—to the UW campus.

Photograph: Jena Cumbo

3. Brooklyn, NY

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden has 26 flowering cherry species and cultivars in the garden. Fans eagerly await the appearance of buds in preparation for blooming. Check the website here for blossom status and any other events celebrating their appearance. 

4. Macon, GA

Never heard of Macon, Georgia? You’re missing out. The Southern city is home to a whopping 300,000 Yoshino cherry blossom trees that turn the entire city pink every spring. What started as a horticulturists’ pastime in the 1970s grew to be a major part of the city’s identity including a festival, the International Cherry Blossom Festival, which is held every March. 

5. Nashville, TN

From 2008 to 2018, Nashville planted 100 cherry trees every year, resulting in more than 1,000 pink- and white-hued trees in the city, covering everywhere from Morgan Park to the Tennessee State Capitol. Start at Nashville’s public square and walk the 2.5 miles to Morgan Park to recreate the annual cherry blossom walk as part of the city’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival.

6. Dallas, TX

Dallas might come as an unexpected surprise on this list, but cherry blossom enthusiasts would be wise to check out the Dallas Arboretum, which houses more than 100 trees that bloom spectacularly every March. The “Dallas Blooms” spring festival celebrates with a roster of activities and events including live concerts, chef demonstrations and wine tastings.

Photograph: Shutterstock

7. Boston, MA

Offering prime riverfront views, the Charles River Esplanade is covered in cherry blossom trees that bloom each year. This three-mile stretch of green space offers more than five miles of walking and biking trails among the blooms leading up to the historic Hatch Shell amphitheater. In normal times, onigri, and yukatas are staples of the local cherry blossom and Japanese cultural festivals in Boston. 

8. St. Louis, MO

The Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis contains more than 100 varieties of cherry blossom trees including 20 which are cuttings from the original trees gifted to Washington, D.C. by the Japanese government. Stroll through the Japanese Garden to see the original trees, then head to the George Washington Carver Garden to see other specimens like the Mount Fuji cherry. 

9. Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. is probably the U.S. city most famous for its cherry blossoms, and for good reason: More than 3,000 trees are in the city, creating legit cherry blossom fields within city limits. The Tidal Basin is the best place to see DC’s blossom spectacular in March or April, but be prepared to battle the crowds. 

10. Philadelphia, PA

Fairmont Park in Philly is the place to go if you want to see cherry blossoms while in town. The park has a forest of sakura—a specific type of Japanese cherry tree—planted in 1926 as a gift from the people of Japan. Each April, the Shofusu Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates with music, performances and other community activities. 

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