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In Philadelphia, cherry blossoms are a highlight of spring. The parks, gardens, and city streets are lined with fluffy pink and white blooms. Across the city, thousands of trees wake up for the season, beckoning locals and visitors to get outside. From Fairmount Park to Columbus Boulevard and beyond, there are lots of pretty places to see cherry blossoms in Philadelphia. Skip the crowds in Washington, DC, and see what we have to offer.
Peak cherry blossom season typically lasts about 2 weeks, though the timing varies based on weather. For 2023, peak bloom is forecast to be the week of March 20. If this seems a little earlier than usual, it is–warmer winter temperatures this year have moved the season up by a couple of weeks. The Shofuso Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia happens April 15 and 16. Festival visitors can expect taiko performances, lots of music and dance, and a vendor fair.
The abundance of cherry blossoms in the city is thanks to the Japanese government. In 1926, they gave Philadelphia 1600 cherry trees in celebration of the 150th anniversary of American independence. Since then, over 1000 more trees were added by the Japan American Society of Greater Philadelphia, accounting for the bounty of Sakura around the city.
Here’s where to go for some of the best viewing.
Shofuso Japanese House and Garden
One of the best places to see cherry blossoms is Shofuso Japanese House and Garden. This sanctuary in Fairmount Park includes a Japanese house, koi pond, and peaceful garden. The property is filled with bright blossoms, and its 75-year-old weeping cherry tree is a star attraction.
Fairmount Park Horticulture Center
To see the blossoms for free, head to the grounds of Fairmount Park Horticulture Center. The beautiful trees here include some of the original 1926 plantings.
You’ll find two parallel rows of cherry trees, including two large weeping cherry trees. The gazebo and Alexander Stirling Calder’s sundial make for nice settings for photos.
West Fairmount Park
One of our favorite viewing spots is in West Fairmount Park just off Avenue of the Republic and States Drive. That’s where you’ll find the stone gazebo flanked by rows of pink blossoms. We were lucky to visit just before peak bloom, and it was stunning.
Belmont Plateau is known for its views of the Philadelphia skyline and being a prime spot for fall colors. But it’s also stunning in March and April for cherry blossom season when the group of trees along Belmont Mansion Drive is at its finest. Put together a picnic and bask under the warm(er) sun while enjoying the view.
Kelly Drive just north of Boathouse Row is another great spot to take in the colors of spring. Along with river views, you can see cherry trees from a 1933 planting at the intersection of Girard Avenue and Kelly Drive.
Martin Luther King Jr. Drive
One of the longest stretches of cherry trees is along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive on the west side of the Schuylkill River. The 2-mile area that runs from Falls Bridge in the north to Montgomery Drive in the south is full of lots of pink and white blossoms.
Philadelphia Museum of Art and Water Works
The combination of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Water Works is one of the most iconic views in Philadelphia. And, in the spring, it’s given pops of pink by the cherry trees that dot the area near the Azalea Garden, the Fountain of Sea Horses, and the west side of the museum.
In West Philadelphia, Drexel Park offers a great skyline view of downtown alongside the blossoms that line its paths.
On the eastern side of the city near the Delaware River waterfront, you’ll find lots of cherry blossoms in an unexpected spot—right in the middle of the street on Columbus Boulevard.
Near Cherry Street Pier (appropriately enough) there are several strips of cherry trees on both sides of the trolley tracks. Take an afternoon to visit the piers and the waterfront attractions and enjoy the trees along the way.
Center City parks and streets
From Graduate Hospital to Rittenhouse Square and Washington Square West, the parks and streets of downtown are dotted with lots of lush trees. Take a walk along Manning Street, stroll down Panama Street, or wander along any of the other dozens of options where you’ll find cherry blossoms in the heart of the city.
University of Pennsylvania
The campus of the University of Pennsylvania–an accredited arboretum–is a great place to find cherry trees in University City. In fact, there are about 150 cherry trees among the colorful trees that bloom on the grounds in spring.
Dozens of types of cherry trees contribute different colored blooms, particularly in the area of Claudia Cohen Hall, College Hall, and Perelman Quadrangle. Many of them are labeled, so you can learn the difference between an Okame and a Yoshino, if you’re curious.
Spring is a beautiful time to visit Morris Arboretum in Chestnut Hill. Among all the flowers and trees across the arboretum’s 92 acres, there are lots of types of flowering cherry trees. Visit the English Park section and the Butcher Sculpture Garden for impressive displays.
Longwood Gardens is renowned for its year-round displays, but spring is a particularly gorgeous time in the gardens. Visit the Oak and Conifer Knoll and the area by the Large Lake to see the cherry blossoms.