Central Park Cherry Blossoms

Central Park Cherry Blossoms

7 Great Viewing Spots for Cherry Blossoms in Central Park

Central Park is one of my favorite places to visit every weekend in New York City, and spring is a special time of year there. Central Park comes alive in the spring, and each weekend has it looking greener than the one before.  The Cherry Blossoms in Central Park make it all the more special when they burst into bloom, one variety at a time, giving New Yorkers plenty of reasons to go back for many weekends in a row to welcome spring.

Cherry blossom trees, native to Japan, are also known as sakura, and are a symbol of renewal and hope after a cold winter. In Central Park, the cherry blossom trees are concentrated in a few areas between 72nd Street and 96th Street, with the highest concentrations around the Reservoir, Cherry Hill, Pilgrim Hill, Great Lawn, Cedar Hill, and the area just south of Cedar Hill between 74th and 77th Streets.

Central Park makes it easy to know the best areas and time to visit through an online tracker to know where the cherry blossoms have peaked in the park. The map is a great way to catch the peak bloom, it is updated regularly so you need to keep checking in before visiting Central Park.

You must keep in mind that there is a fair amount of walking involved if you want to see all the cherry blossoms. I usually find it best to focus on the sections in peak bloom, and plan visits to areas that are closer together to make the most of my time with these stunning flowers.

History of Central Park Cherry Blossom Trees

Central Park is one of the most iconic parks in the world, and its Cherry Blossom trees make it a must visit in the spring.  The history of its Cherry Blossoms dates back to over a century ago in 1912 when they were gifted by Japan. The trees were gifted as a symbol of friendship between the two nations, and they were planted around the park’s reservoir and other areas.

Interestingly, before this, Japan sent 2,000 cherry trees to Washington D.C. as a gift to the American people in 1909. This gift was so well-received that New York City decided to ask for its own set of cherry trees, which arrived in 1912.

Ever since then, the Central Park Cherry Blossoms have become a symbol of springtime in New York City, when thousands of people flock to the park to see the cherry blossoms in bloom. Their cultural significance of sakura as a symbol of the transience of life and the beauty of impermanence is reflected in the blossoms lasting for a few weeks each year.

Best Time to See Cherry Blossoms in Central Park

Central Park is one of the most well known parks in the world, especially in the spring when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. However, the blooms are fleeting, so it is important to catch them at full bloom.

Peak Bloom Period

The peak bloom period for the cherry blossoms is when the majority of the blossoms are open, which is when they are at their most beautiful. The peak bloom period for cherry blossoms in Central Park usually occurs in mid to late April, but the exact timing of the varies from year to year depending on weather conditions. The Central Park Conservancy makes it easy to track this through an online map to track in real-time where the cherry blossoms have peaked in Central Park.

Other Factors to Consider

While mid to late April is the peak bloom period, the peak bloom can be as early as early as late March or as late as early May depending on the weather.  Additionally, cherry blossoms are at their best in the sun, so try and catch them on a brighter day as they shine just a little brighter than on a cloudy one.  

In all my visits to the park, I have found that the park tends to get very crowded with visitors and picnickers during peak bloom, especially with everyone trying to take pictures at the same time, so early mornings tend to be a great time to visit, especially on sunny days.

Types of Cherry Blossoms in Central Park

Central Park is home to several types of cherry blossoms that bloom in the spring, which include –

Okame

The Okame cherry blossom blooms early in Central Park, typically appearing in late March to early April. These trees have light pink flowers with a darker pink center and can be found on the west of the Reservoir running track.

Yoshino

The Yoshino cherry blossom is the most common type of cherry tree in Central Park, with over 100 trees that are especially abundant in Cherry Hill and Pilgrim Hill. These trees have white to pale pink flowers and bloom in mid-April.

Kwanzan

The Kwanzan cherry blossoms in Central Park are part of a gift from the Mayor of Tokyo in 1912, and has deep pink flowers and blooms. These trees can be found on the west side of the Reservoir, and typically blooms between April and May.

Higan

Higan is a weeping cherry tree that has white to pink flowers that bloom in early spring. These can be found at Sheep Meadow, Cedar Hill, in the Conservatory Garden, and the SW corner of Great Lawn.

Best Viewing Spots for Cherry Blossoms in Central Park

Central Park has pockets of Cherry Blossoms that are must visit locations to catch them at their best.  Here are some of my favorite locations. The pictures I have taken cannot do these justice, they are definitely best experienced in person.

Central Park Reservoir

The Reservoir is a popular loop for runners and walkers, and it is also home to many cherry blossom trees around it. The interesting thing about the Cherry Blossom trees around the reservoir is that the ones on the East side blossom before the ones on the West side of the reservoir.

Cherry Hill

Located near the Lake, this hill is one of the most popular spots for cherry blossom viewing with clusters of trees that look stunning against a backdrop of the lake and Bow Bridge.

Pilgrim Hill

Pilgrim hill is located near 72nd Street, and  offers a sweeping vista of Cherry Blossoms around the statue that commemorates the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers on Plymouth Rock on December 21, 1620.

Shakespeare Garden

Shakespeare Garden, located near the Delacorte Theater, has a variety of cherry blossom trees, as well as other types of flowers and plants, all of which are found in Shakespeare’s books.  The garden features sayings about flowers by Shakespeare, and even has a Whispering Bench tucked away right at the top around the back.

Cleopatra’s Needle

Cleopatra’s Needle is an ancient Egyptian obelisk located near the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and it is stunning when the cherry blossom trees around it are in peak bloom. 

The obelisk actually has crabs holding it up at the base, these are easy to spot if you look for them.

Conservatory Garden

The Conservatory Garden is located in the northeast corner of the park, and features a formal design with three distinct sections. The central section has many cherry blossom trees, you can actually climb to a higher section and look down to see these along the pathways, which are an amazing sight.

Bethesda Terrace

Bethesda Terrace is a great place to catch Cherry Blossoms, especially with all the entertainers that are a given in this area of Central Park. As a fun fact, Bethesda Fountain, called Angel of the Waters, was designed by Emma Stebbins in the 1860s, making it the first piece of art designed by a woman in the City.

Conclusion

Cherry Blossom season is one of my favorite times to visit Central Park, and with a little planning you can get to experience this too. I recommend using the Central Park tracker to know which areas are in peak bloom, and using public transportation to get to the park as there will be a fair amount of walking once you are inside. Also, plan your visit for earlier or later in the day to avoid the inevitable crowds that can be found in Central Park during Cherry Blossom season.

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Hi, I'm Hanit Gyani, a full time professional by day and a blogger by night and weekend. Welcome to my blog, aka my passion project, Gotta Love New York.

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