Come spring, cities across the country are covered in pink and white flowers, aka cherry blossoms.
And they make for great RVing destinations during the springtime.
Since cherry blossoms not only serve as the signal of a new season, but also a symbol of peace between the U.S. and Japan, many festivals are planned around cherry blossoms in bloom.
So, if you want to participate in hanami, or flower-viewing, read on — and please let me know if you know of any festivals I might have missed!
Brooklyn Botanical Garden, New York City
When: April 25-26
Sakura Matsuri is the Brooklyn Botanical Garden’s annual cherry blossom festival that celebrates the beauty of the flowers as well as other Japanese traditions. Sword swingers, folk dancers, and more, this annual event gives visitors a unique insight into the country’s colorful culture. In 2020, the event is being held April 25-26.
Cost: Tickets are $40 for adults and free for children under the age of 12.
Dallas Arboretum, Dallas
When: Mid to late-March
It may not seem an obvious choice, but don’t discount the Lone Star State’s floral collections. During its annual Sounds of Spring festival, the Dallas Arboretum attracts visitors with its 150 cherry blossom trees, live music, and wine tastings. Be sure to check the calendar out here.
Cost: Tickets range from $12 to $17 per person.
Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
When: March 15 to April 15
The zen five-acre Japanese Tea Garden pays tribute to Japan’s ancient architecture and craftsmanship. Visitors may want to consider a stop by the Tea House for a cup of meditative green tea and some rice-crackers or mochi cakes. In 2020, the park is celebrating its 150th birthday this year, making it the oldest Japanese garden in America.
Cost: Tickets are $12 for non-resident adults and $7 for San Francisco residents.
International Cherry Blossom Festival; Macon, Georgia
When: March 27 to April 5
A 10-day festival that is arguably the biggest and pinkest cherry blossom bash in the country. The event features a ton of activities such as neon-pink amusement park rides, a lantern walk through the city, outdoor movies, and even a pink-pancake breakfast. The fair ends with a massive fireworks display and hot air balloon rides.
Shofuso Japanese Garden, Philadelphia
When: Late March to early April
This historic site and museum has a great story because it was originally built in Japan before ultimately ending up in Philly in 1958. Cherry blossom petals are everywhere inside the garden from late March to peak bloom around early April. Since 1998, the people of Philadelphia have gathered here annually to celebrate the city’s Japanese cultural connections during the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival. Although attendance is limited, try to reserve a spot in one of the garden’s exclusive tea ceremonies.
Cost: Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for children between the ages of 5 and 17.
When: March 20 to April 12
An obvious choice, but nothing signifies the arrival of spring in the nation’s capital more than the blooming of the Japanese cherry trees. Start at the Tidal Basin in the National Capital Park, and you’ll see more than 3,700 trees of 11 different species in their full glory. The National Cherry Blossom Festival also boasts 40 different activities, such as kite-flying and a parade. Be prepared, though: more than 1.5 million visitors attend this one every year.
Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis
When: March through early April
There are hundreds of cherry blossoms at the 14-acre Japanese Garden inside the Missouri Botanical Garden. Many variations can be found here, from the Kanzan species that blooms long and frilly flowers to the Higan cherry trees with hanging flowers and dazzling green leaves. Walk over to the George Washington Carver Garden, which is filled with rare white cherry blossoms similar to those found at the base of Mt. Fuji.
Cost: Tickets are $14 for adults and free for children under the age of 12.
Branch Brook Park; Belleville, New Jersey
When: April 4-19
The Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival is actually for the more athletic type. That’s because the first two days of the festival feature a bike race around the park followed by a 10K cherry blossom run. Those seeking a less intense exercise, join hundreds of others on a mile-long walk, then settle down and enjoy the Family Day bazaar with food and entertainment. The main attractions happen on April 19, with a packed schedule of events showcasing Japanese cultural traditions, live music, and a craft marketplace.
Charles River Esplanade, Boston
When: Early April
An oasis in the middle of bustling Boston, this is a 64-acre park serving as the best place for New Englanders to get a glimpse of the cherry blossoms. In early April, this three-mile-long esplanade across the water from MIT is filled with a few dozen cherry blossom trees. The largest grove can be found on Fiedler Field and near the Harvard Bridge.
Ohio University; Athens, Ohio
Chubu University in Japan gifted Ohio University with 175 cherry trees in 1979 as a symbol of their relationship as sister colleges. The university now has more than 200 trees, which are honored every year with lighting ceremony (between 8 and 10 p.m. in April). The Japanese Student Association also hosts a Sakura Festival, with traditional dances, performances, and meals.
University of Washington, Seattle
When: Late March to early April
For just a few precious weeks, you can find the 29 Yoshino cherry trees in bloom at the University of Washington’s Liberal Arts Quadrangle. Check out the beautiful trees but don’t trip over a student likely to be hanging out and studying right underneath these magnificent trees. One cool thing to check out is the streaming video feed of the trees that can be found here.
Japanese American Historical Plaza; Portland, Oregon
When: Late March
The Japanese American Historical Plaza is a monument to former location of Japantown. Portlanders now stroll under its cherry blossom trees planted along the Willamette River. Engraved poems and scriptures also nod to the history of hardships suffered by Japanese Americans during World War II.
Cherry Blossom Festival; Nashville
When: April 4
For more than a decade, city of Nashville workers have planted more than 1,000 Japanese cherry trees in its inner-city parks and neighborhoods. Japan Week culminates in the Cherry Blossom Festival thatfeatures a wide array of cultural events. Consider joining the annual 2.5-mile cherry walk around the city, test your skills at sumo wrestling(!), or participate in a traditional tea ceremony.