The Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms in Central Park

Couple at Cherry Hill Central Park with Cherry Blossoms.

There is no better symbol of spring's return, than that of the lovely cherry blossom. Springtime in NYC ushers in the arrival of these striking pink flowers, as cherry trees bloom across the city that never sleeps. One of the most magical spots to find a variety of cherry blossoms is the iconic Central Park. Even as a native New Yorker, I’m wowed every year by the natural beauty of these trees flourishing in this beloved destination. At over 840 acres, there are plenty of opportunities for cherry blossom viewing, but some locations are better than others. Listed below are the best places to see cherry blossoms in Central Park.

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Types of Cherry Blossom Trees

Cherry blossoms vary based on the trees from which they bloom. Central Park is home to four different kinds of cherry trees. The trees are spread out across the nearly 843 acres of the sprawling park. Kwanzan, Okame, Yoshino, and Higan are the four varieties of cherry trees that grow here.

Kwanzan

The Kwanzan trees show an abundance of vivid double-pink blooms that are eye-catching and magnificent. Native to Japan, these cherry trees grace Central Park with their striking display of color.

Where: West Side of Reservoir, Cedar Hill, and the Glade

Okame

Okame trees are smaller in size than Kwanzan trees, but they are equally beautiful. These cherry trees burst with rosy-pink blooms that cover every branch and flourish longer than other cherries.

Where: West Side of Reservoir

Yoshino

The Yoshino cherry trees have pale-colored petals, setting them apart from the more vibrant hues of other cherry blossoms. During spring, these trees explode with light pink-white blooms.

Where: East Side of Reservoir, Cherry Hill, and Pilgrim Hill

Higan

Higan cherry trees, known for their wondrous weeping shape, are an enchanting sight in Central Park. A cascade of white and pink blooms hang from the branches, creating a magnificent spring scene.

Where: Great Lawn and Sheep Meadow

Yoshino Cherry Trees Central Park
Yoshino Cherry Trees

Cherry Blossom Tracking Map

The Central Park Conservancy website releases a Cherry Blossom map each season to track the blooming flowers across the park. The tracker shows the different cherry blossom locations, their peak states, and the varieties of trees present there. It updates regularly but is not a live map. Due to the briefness of peak boom, the tracker is an excellent tool to spot the different cherry trees at the right time.

When You Can See the Cherry Blossoms

Central Park's cherry blossoms are a sign that spring has sprung in NYC. The best time to see them during their peak is from early April to May, depending on the weather. Cherry trees in the park can first bloom as early as late February to mid-March. During mild winters expect earlier than usual blooms. There is a short window of time to visit them as peak bloom lasts approximately two weeks. Use the Central Park tracker to make sure to see them in time.

Typical Peak Bloom Dates:

Early March - Late March: Okame
Late March - Late April: Yoshino and Higan
Mid-April - Early May: Kwanzan

Tip: When the cherry blossoms are in peak bloom, Central Park becomes extremely crowded on the weekends. To avoid the heavy crowds, consider visiting on a weekday or very early in the morning on weekends.

Cherry Blossoms in Central Park.
Early April in Central Park

Central Park Cherry Blossom Locations

Cherry Hill

The most well-known spot for viewing Central Park's beautiful cherry blossoms is Cherry Hill. Located at the center of the park on 72nd Street, this iconic place is named after the cherry blossoms that bloom here. With lake views and a short path to the famous Bow Bridge, Cherry Hill is unmissable for its Yoshino trees.

Cherry Hill Central Park with blooming cherry blossoms.

Great Lawn

In the heart of Central Park, directly in the center, lies the sprawling Great Lawn between 79th and 85th Street. At 55 acres, this spot is perfect for picnicking, playing sports, and lounging. During cherry blossom season, stunning Higan trees line the southern and east sides of the lawn.

Last October, the lawn was closed to the public after it sustained damage following a festival. However, it is scheduled to reopen in April.

Cedar Hill

Between 76th through 79th Street on the East Side is Cedar Hill, another one of Central Park's beautiful lawns. In the winter this hill is a popular location for sledding after snowfall, but in the spring, it's resplendent with vibrant Kwanzan cherry trees.

Cedar Hill, the best places to see Cherry Blossoms in Central Park.

The Glade

At the base of Cedar Hill on East 77th Street is the impressive Glade Arch. Initially built to support both those walking in the park and carriage use, it's a wide but beautiful structure. During the spring season, Kwanzan trees decorate the area with their blooms.

Reservoir (East and West)

Central Park's largest body of water, the Reservoir is located mid-park between 86th and 96th Street. The Reservoir is surrounded by a 1.58-mile track for runners to enjoy spectacular skyline views. Thirty-five Yoshino cherry trees bloom along the Reservoir in spring. It's a magical scene of delicate blossoms against the backup of the water with the skyline.

East Side Reservoir Central Park Cherry Blossoms.
East Side Reservoir

Sheep Meadow

Another picturesque lawn to view cherry blossoms is Sheep Meadow. Located between 66th and 69th Streets on the West Side, this lawn at 55 acres isn't as massive as the Great Lawn, but just as beautiful. It's one of the best places to relax and view the blooming Higan trees.

Fun fact: Sheep Meadow was named for the flock of sheep that once grazed on the lawn and resided in what is now Tavern on the Green.

Pilgrim Hill

On the East side of 73rd Street is Pilgrim Hill, named for the Pilgrim statue sitting at the top of the hill. In spring, the area flourishes with Yoshino trees turning this part of the park into a magical scene of light pink-white blooms. Though, not as popular as the famous Cherry Hill, this is one of the best places to see the cherry blossoms in Central Park.

Pilgrim Hill Central Park with cherry blossoms.

The Obelisk

On East 81st Street standing atop a hill is the Obelisk, also known as Cleopatra’s Needle. The Obelisk is originally from Egypt and was created in 1425 BCE, making it NYC’s oldest outdoor monument. It's an impressive site any time of year, but when the cherry trees near it bloom in the spring, it is truly extraordinary.

Bethesda Terrace

One of the most famous places in Central Park is the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain. Mid-park on 72nd Street, you'll find this iconic architectural structure. The two-leveled plaza overlooking the lake is notable for the impressive views from the top, gorgeous tiled designs within, and archway framing the fountain. Cherry trees surround the terrace in the spring, creating an even more captivating scene in the park.

Other Central Park Flowers in Bloom

While Central Park's lovely cherry blossom trees are the star of spring, there are still plenty more blooms to see. Other flowers in bloom include tulips, magnolias, and daffodils, which are the official flower of New York City. A variety of flowers are found throughout the park but are most abundant in the gardens. Both the Conservatory Garden and the Shakespeare Garden are enchanting spaces reminiscent of European-styled gardens that flourish with countless blooms.

Where to Find More Cherry Blossoms in NYC

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is one of the best places in the five boroughs to view cherry blossoms. Most impressive for their magical cherry esplanade lawn lined with double rows of vivid cherry trees. Keep an eye on their CherryWatch tracker for peak bloom, and be sure to buy tickets in advance of your visit.

Brooklyn botanic garden cherry blossom.

Sakura Park

In Morningside Heights on Riverside Drive is the small but stunning Sakura Park. The park was named after the 2000 cherry trees Japan sent to the parks in New York City in 1912. Now every spring this two-acre park transforms into a cherry blossom wonderland. Sakura Park is the perfect location for a less crowded cherry tree viewing experience.

Riverside Park

Manhattan’s Riverside Park spans 4 miles from 72nd to 158th Street. This waterfront park runs alongside the Hudson River and offers some of the best views in the city. Riverside Park also has plenty of outdoor recreational activities, including new pickleball courts. The best time to visit is in the spring when the cherry blossoms bloom along the Cherry Walk between 100th and 125th Streets. The combination of river views and delicate cherry blossoms creates a spectacular scene.

New York Botanical Garden

The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx is home to more than 200 blooming cherry trees. These cherry trees are scattered throughout the expansive gardens but are most dense in three areas: the cherry collection, along the southern perimeter, and the Ross Conifer Arboretum. There is plenty of space across NYBG’s 250 acres for visitors to enjoy the cherry blossoms and the many other spring flowers including lilacs, daffodils, magnolias, and azaleas.

Couple at New York botanical garden with cherry blossoms.

Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

This Queens Park is not only a beloved spot for both city residents and visitors alike but is also an important historical location. Two Worlds Fairs were held at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park which is still home to several sculptures from the second fair. The iconic Unisphere globe and Rocket Thrower statues are now symbols for Queens. During cherry blossom season, the park becomes dreamlike with the blooming flowers all over.

Additional Notable Spots:

  1. Green-Wood Cemetery: Brooklyn
  2. Roosevelt Island: East River, Manhattan
  3. Snug Harbor Cultural Center: Staten Island
  4. Randals Island: East River, Manhattan
  5. Little Island: Manhattan
  6. Prospect Park: Brooklyn
  7. Rainey Park: Queens
  8. Pelham Bay Park: Bronx
Cherry blossoms Brooklyn botanic garden.
Cherry Walk at Brooklyn Botanic Garden
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Are you planning a trip to see the cherry blossoms in Central Park? Let me know in the comments!

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The Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms in Central Park

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2 comments

  • Sonia says:

    I always think of cherry blossoms in DC, but Central Park seems to have some great opportunities to see them bloom as well. I'll have to try to time a NYC visit with the cherry blossoms.

    Reply
    • Jillian says:

      The DC cherry blossoms are lovely, but I find the NYC blossoms to be just as beautiful with less crowds! Definitely worth a spring visit one year!

      Reply