6 of the Best Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots in the World

Cherry blossoms surrounding a quaint river

Yoshikazu TAKADA / Flickr

It’s that time of year again: a brief season where thousands upon thousands of Prunus serrulata burst into blushing pink blooms found all over the world. Most of the varieties of cherry blossom trees you’ll see are specially cultivated not to produce fruit, making their primary objective to delight and inspire with their beauty. This year, we’re skipping the obvious (like Kyoto and Washington, D.C.) to focus on the lesser-known regions (Turkey and Spain, who knew?) Here’s our list of top cities that will help you make the most out of sakura season.

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Newark, New Jersey

credit: Cjbvii

Skip the crowds in D.C. and head north to the Garden State to get your cherry blossom fix. Little-known fact: New Jersey actually boasts more cherry trees than D.C., and they’re all located in Branch Brook Park in Newark. A recent count put the number of trees at 4,300, but before you head out, check their live webcam to see what’s blooming.

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Jerte Valley, Spain

credit: DavidGranda

In March, the mountains in the northern Extremadura region of Spain look like they’re blanketed with snow, but it’s actually two million cherry trees bursting into bloom. Unlike most of the cherry blossom viewing spots in the world, the cherries here are actually cultivated and harvested later in the summer. Remaining faithful to traditional customs, the cherries are still grown in terraces carved out of the mountains, making a microclimate that supposedly produces some of the best cherries in Europe.

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Osaka Castle: Osaka, Japan

credit: Reginald Pintinio/Flickr

Perhaps no one takes cherry blossom season as seriously as the Japanese. Their tradition of “hanami” began as early as the Nara period in the eighth century, where the royal elite (and later commonfolk) would gather under the trees for picnicking and appreciation of the transient blooms. The Japanese Meteorological Agency begins tracking the movement of sakura zensen (cherry blossom front) as it moves northward through the islands. Blossoms begin showing in Okinawa as early as January, and reach Kyoto and Tokyo by early April. Our pick? Combine two major attractions by heading to the Osaka Castle in Chūō-ku, Osaka, Japan. One of Japan’s most famous landmarks, the castle sits on 15 acres and contains several hundred cherry trees. At night, the castle and flowers are brightly lit, lending an otherworldly glow to the park.

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Japanese American Historical Plaza: Portland, Oregon

credit: atul666

Brave the rainy spring days and head to the Pacific Northwest to view cherry blossoms through the lens of U.S. history. At the north end of Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland lies a tree-lined plaza memorializing the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII. There’s also a spectacular Japanese Garden just a few miles away, in case you’d like to prolong your ornamental flower fix.

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Botanical Garden of Curitiba, Brazil

credit: SamirNosteb

If you’re not able to make hanami during the spring, head south of the equator to the city of Curitiba — the capital of the state of Paraná, and the biggest city in southern Brazil. Cherry blossom season starts during their winter, which begins in early July. Due to the immigration of Japanese people that took place 100 years ago and lasted for a few decades, sakura trees were planted in many cities, including Curitiba. Opened in 1991, the park was created in the style of French gardens, and its principal greenhouse has an Art Nouveau style that shouldn’t be missed.

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Macon, Georgia

credit: Glenn Grossman

Called “the pinkest party on earth,” the International Cherry Blossom Festival is held in one of Georgia’s smaller cities. The 300,000+ Yoshino variety trees aren’t native to Macon, so how did they all get there? A local realtor and a new resident to the city both took a liking to the picturesque trees, and got together to finance and plant the first 500 in 1973. From there, it multiplied into a massive ten-day event that happens every spring.