When spring rolls around, it’s a sure bet that the city’s parks will bloom in full bloom. Whether it’s in Central Park, Seattle, or Portland, there are few sights as spectacular as seeing the flowers of our beloved cherry trees blossom.
Historically, the peak bloom of cherry trees in Japan is March or April, but with warmer winters and springs, they’re now blooming earlier and earlier. Scientists have attributed this to climate change, which is leading to warmer days and a longer growing season. In fact, the earliest cherry blossom season in 1,200 years is predicted for 2021.
While they’re fleeting, these delicate flowers do make for a memorable experience. In Tokyo, they’re known as sakura, and their name is derived from a Japanese word that means “spring flower.” Many people take a picnic lunch or spend an afternoon enjoying the sight of them, and it’s a special tradition called hanami to sit and admire these blooms with family and friends.
There are several types of cherry trees, all of which bloom in different colors and ages. Okame, which have tiny pink flowers with red calyxes, are first to blossom, followed by Yoshino (light pink/white), and finally Kwanzan cherry trees (fluffy pink/white).
For those of you who prefer white flowers, there’s also the Fugenzo cherry tree. The Fugenzos in East Potomac Park are particularly gorgeous, with double flowers that begin to swell when they open and gradually fade to a light rosy pink when they’re finished blooming.
Another popular spot for cherry blossom viewing in DC is the Tidal Basin, which stretches between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. You’ll find the best cherry blossom viewing on weekends during the peak period, but even on a weekday you’re likely to run into crowds.
Fortunately, the Park is preparing to welcome visitors by launching an interactive map that will indicate where the cherry blossoms by the park are in peak, pre-peak, or post-peak status. This will allow you to plan your trip accordingly so that you’ll get to see all of the trees in their full glory.
In addition to the trees, the Park will have a series of events happening during peak bloom. Check out Petals in the Park for a day of food, fun, and spring-themed activities; then join us for Blossoms After Dark as we transform Franklin Park into an evening of dancing and shopping highlighting District artisans.
If you’re planning a trip to visit the Park this spring, be sure to follow us on social @CentralParkNYC so that we can share your photos with everyone else! And don’t forget to hashtag your photos with #CentralParkBloomWatch!
There are also many fun activities to do in the park, including a fenced-in playground that’s a great place for kids of all ages. There’s a treehouse-inspired play structure for older kids with covered, twisting slides and monkey rings, as well as a toddler playground with lower slides and climbers.
Lastly, there’s an extensive children’s garden with stone seating and artwork by local schoolchildren. There are also paved trails that invite families to hike through the Park. Whether you’re visiting for the flowers or for the other things to do in the Park, be sure to pack water and snacks!