Cherry blossom season is on the horizon. And while Japan and DC reign supreme as the places to spot the blooms — they also get pretty crowded this time of year. But don’t let that deter you. From Europe and Asia to the US and Canada, here are 6 alternate cities to visit for their cherry trees.
New York City
The city that never sleeps is known for its bright lights and mammoth skyscrapers, but New York is also a haven for green spaces. The Brooklyn Botanical Garden is home to over 200 cherry trees of 42 different species. Flowering cherries bloom from late March or early April through mid-May, attracting tourists from all over the world. The Cherry Blossom Festival (known as Sakura Matsuri in Japanese) is held the last weekend in April, with different activities and performances celebrating Japanese culture. You can also walk through the cherry blossoms in places like Central Park, the New York Botanical Garden and Confucius Plaza in Chinatown.
You may not expect it, but Vancouver is a great city to see the sakura. From April 3-29, the city hosts their annual Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival. Vancouver’s collection includes over 40,000 cherry trees throughout the city. The best places to view cherry blossoms are at Burrard Station, Stanley Park, West 22nd Avenue, West 16th Avenue and West 7th Avenue (to name a few… technically the city boasts over 2,600 sites to see the blooms). The official cherry viewing map will clue you in on where and when to expect prime viewing of the blossoms.
Take the romance up a notch by scheduling your trip to Paris during cherry blossom season. This is when the historic city is blanketed in pink. And while you can find the blossoms at popular tourist attractions (think Eiffel Tower, Disneyland Paris, and Notre-Dame), we think it’s better to escape the crowds and head to Parc de Sceaux. Located just south of Paris in the French countryside, it’s only a 40-minute train ride outside the city. In April when flowering season is at its peak, you can find Japanese expats picnicking there with homemade sakura onigiri (cherry blossom rice balls). Of course, when in France, it may be easier to bring red wine, camembert, and baguettes for your pique-nique.
Jerte Valley, Spain
Where, you may ask? Jerte Valley is located near Caceres, a town about 3 hours west of Madrid. During cherry blossom season, the towns of Jerte Valley offer a free bus that will take you on a tour of the cherry trees. The area boasts more than 200 cherry trees, blooming every year from late-March to mid-April (depending on the weather). Like a scene from a movie, white-and-pink blossoms cover the valley, making it one of the local’s best-kept secrets. Besides watching cherry blossoms, there are a lot of outdoor activities you can try here including cycling, horse riding, hiking, fishing and even paragliding.
This northern capital is known for stunning street scenes and the practice of fika (a coffee break with pastry). If that’s not reason enough to visit, then head there for the cherry trees. Cherry blossom season in Stockholm is usually in April when you can find rows of blooms greeting you as you walk around Kungsträdgården (King’s Garden). Wind down at one of the outdoor cafés in the park and enjoy a Swedish cinnamon bun (kanelbullar) with a cup of coffee. As dusk falls, slowly make your way over to Gamla Stan for the best sunset view in the city.
Cherry blossoms are not difficult to catch in Seoul, but here are just a few of our favourite spots to catch a good view: try Yeouido Park, Namsan Park, Seokchon Lake and Kyung Hee University. This year, it’s forecasted that the blossoms will start to flower around April 1st with the full-bloom date set for April 10th.