It's finally springtime in New York! This past weekend was the first time where it felt consistently warm and sunny. I was stunned by the arrival of cherry blossom trees and was excited to finally start #chasingpinktrees! Just wanted to share with you all some of my favorite places to see cherry blossom trees in NYC.
There is a short window to see cherry blossom trees in a year, sometimes lasting only 2-3 weeks. They also bloom at slightly different times every year, depending on when the spring warm arrives. For New York, I found that it's best to check the CHERRY BLOSSOM TREE MAP ("Cherrywatch") provided by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden website. I start checking around late March/early April. Though the Cherrywatch map is for the garden in Brooklyn, it's also a good indication of when similar trees bloom in other places in New York City.
Different species of cherry blossoms bloom at different times during the season. I love THIS GUIDE provided by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. My favorite are the light pink ones--Accolade and the delicate "weeping" ones Yae-Beni-Shidare and Prunus subhirtella. The weeping ones generally seem to bloom early spring/early April and are easy to miss because their soft petals fall pretty quickly. In the end I try to roll with whatever nature dishes out and enjoy seeing various types and discover new places where they bloom.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
One of the most popular spots for these pink trees is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in Prospect Park. They have a beautiful Japanese Hill and Pond Garden surrounded by the most beautiful cherry blossom trees. They also have a cherry blossom festival in late April called SAKURA MATSUKI, which is an awesome Japanese celebration packed with live music and martial performances, tea ceremonies, and more. Be sure to check the CHERRYWATCH map and go earlier if you want to avoid crowds and enjoy some of the trees that blossom earlier in the season.
I absolutely love this place. I go running on this island frequently and am lucky to see the different variants of blooms at different times. There is a long, beautiful row of cherry blossom trees on the southeast side of the island (south of Queensboro Bridge). The row of trees bloom right next to the East River so you can enjoy a gorgeous view of the Manhattan skyline under the cherry blossom trees. Many of the trees on this island are Prunus Kanzan (a bright, extravagant pink bloom), which tend to bloom a few weeks later so time your visit wisely! You can also check out the ROOSEVELT ISLAND CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL at the end of April!
To get to the island, you can take the F subway line, but I would suggest taking the ROOSEVELT ISLAND TRAMWAY, which is located on 59th St and 2nd Ave. It's only a metro swipe ($2.75) for a short cable car ride with an incredible view of the Queensboro Bridge, the East River, and the Manhattan skyline. While you're visiting Roosevelt Island, don't forget to make it all the way to the FDR MEMORIAL, which is at the south tip of the island.
Central Park is a feast for the eyes (and soul, if you're a New Yorker deprived of nature like me) and there are cherry blossoms sprinkled throughout the park. Every corner is a delightful surprise since you never know what types of flowers and trees will be in bloom. Try to make it to the CONSERVATORY WATER (next to the KERB BOATHOUSE), which boasts the park's biggest display of cherry blossom trees. You can also rent row boats and have a romantic, leisurely row around the lake. Also, be sure to see to CHERRY HILL, BETHESDA TERRACE and BOW BRIDGE, which are all close-by and always worth a visit. Cherry Hill's also perfect for a picnic!
New York Botanic Garden
The NEW YORK BOTANIC GARDEN located in the Bronx not only has a beautiful orchid show (from February to early April), but also has beautiful cherry blossom trees. The trees are dispersed throughout the garden. One of my favorite kind, the weeping trees as pictured above, are lined outside of the gorgeous Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. A diverse set of trees are along a curved path (great for photos!) in Cherry Valley and more can be found among the daffodils in Daffodill Hill.
If you want a more quiet, peaceful atmosphere, visit SAKURA PARK in Upper West Side, located at 122nd St and Riverside Park. Bring a blanket and picnic basket and enjoy the view of the Riverside Church and General Grant Memorial. It's a small park but is very quiet, clean, and family-friendly. Be sure to also check out the CHERRY WALK, which a part of Riverside Walk from 100th to 125th streets, that is lined with cherry blossom trees along the Hudson River.