After a long winter in Seattle, cherry blossoms are a welcome sign of spring! There are many places to find these special blossoms within the city.
The timing of the blooms depends on the weather that year, so vary between locations and years.
The tradition of viewing cherry blossom blooms is a Japanese practice known as “Hanami.” The short-lived cherry blossoms are seen as a reminder of the shortness of life and to celebrate it.
In Japan, Hanami is celebrated by outdoor parties and picnics beneath the cherry blossom trees. These parties are held both during the day and at night. Nighttime parties are lit up by electric lanterns hung in the trees.
In Seattle, the tradition of watching cherry blossoms continues, although more informally than traditional Japanese parties. In Seattle, people like to take a walk through the cherry blossom trees or stop for a short picnic.
Since any good Seattle springtime adventure begins with finding cherry blossoms, here is a list of the best places to find cherry blossoms in Seattle.
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Best Places to Find Cherry Blossoms in Seattle
University of Washington Quad
The quad at the University of Washington has rows of cherry blossom trees lining the grass lawn. These trees are the best place to view cherry blossoms in Seattle.
The trees on the quad were moved from the Washington Park Arboretum in 1975! These trees are the unique Yoshino cherry trees. Yoshino cherry trees can live to be 100 years old.
To know when the cherry blossoms at UW are blooming, follow the cherry blossom Twitter account. The trees generally bloom between mid-March and early April.
When the trees are blooming, the quad and UW campus can be quite crowded.
Parking around campus can be difficult. The best bet is to park at one of the campus parking lots for a fee. Another great option to access the campus is public transportation, either one of the bus lines or the light rail.
Although it will be crowded with visitors, the grass lawn of the quad makes a great place for a picnic among the cherry blossoms. The beauty of the cherry blossoms here is unmatched within Seattle and is a great place if you don’t mind crowds.
If, however, you are looking for a more accessible and less crowded location, continue reading for many more locations to see cherry blossoms in Seattle.
Washington Park Arboretum
Within Washington Park Arboretum, Azalea Way is known for its springtime blossoms. This is the main street within the arboretum. The park has many flowering trees including barberry, camellia, halesia, maple, madrona, magnolia, rhododendron, and serviceberry.
The cherry blossoms are even mixed with other beautiful blossoms, such as rhododendron and plum trees. The park has many flowering trees including barberry, camellia, halesia, maple, madrona, magnolia, rhododendron, and serviceberry.
The Washington Park Arboretum is a 230-acre park with a visitors’ center. The visitor center is the starting location for the arboretum tram tours. The tram tours visit the various areas of the arboretum, including the six regions of the garden with plants from six different continents and 100 different countries.
Seattle Japanese Garden
The Washington Park Arboretum is connected to the Seattle Japanese Garden, home to many cherry blossoms on site.
The Japanese Garden is a great place to view cherry blossoms within the context of a traditional Japanese Garden, adding to your cultural knowledge of Japanese planting.
The cherry blossom trees at the Japanese garden bloom a week or two after the UW cherry blossoms, depending on weather.
The garden is a great place to view cherry trees, but picnics are not allowed within the gardens. For those who do want to picnic, the neighboring Washington Park Arboretum is a great choice.
In addition to the cherry blossom trees, the Japanese Garden has plenty of trails to explore.
The 3.5-acre garden features a style from the late-16th century known as a stroll garden, with a winding path around a central pond. The Seattle Gardens are planted with both traditional Japanese plants and Pacific Northwest native plants.
A trip to the Japanese Garden will not disappoint in any season.
The Garden has an entry fee and set hours. To check these details, see their website.
Seward Park is located in south Seattle on the Seward peninsula. The park has several cherry blossom trees that were gifted to the city from Japan in the early 1900s.
The cherry trees planted at the circle garden at the entrance to Seward Park were the first of the cherry trees gifted to the city of Seattle from Japan. Other trees throughout the park were planted in 1950, after the end of WWII, from the United Nations Association of Japan. Still more were gifted in 1976 by the Japanese Prime Minister Miki Takeo.
The best walk at Seward Park is along the Shore Loop, a flat and paved 2.4-mile trail around the perimeter of the park. This trail has great views of Mt Rainier and Lake Washington and passes by the cherry blossom trees.
For a walk through more unique trees, combine a walk along half of the Shore Loop with a walk through the interior of the park. The interior of the park is known as “The Magnificent Forest,” due to the old growth forest. The old growth forest, in addition to the cherry blossoms, makes a trip to Seward Park a great springtime outing.
The Seattle Center is home to many cherry trees gifted by Japan in 1976. The festival celebrates the 1,000 trees gifted to Seattle which now live across the city in many streets and parks.
These trees are great to visit while you are exploring other downtown activities, such as the Space Needle or Pike Place Market.
Each year, the Seattle Center is home to the Seattle Cherry Blossom and Japanese Cultural Festival, a weekend-long celebration of Japanese and Japanese-American culture. The festival is held each year in mid to late April and features traditional Japanese arts, music, dance, martial arts, and more.
Kobe Park is located in the International District and has an acre of community gardens and walking paths. Cherry trees were donated to the park by Seattle’s sister city of Kobe, Japan.
The cherry trees border the park terrace, a peaceful and beautiful Japanese garden created to honor the ties between Seattle and Japan.
Within the garden is also a four-ton, 200-year-old Yukimodoro stone lantern gifted from the city of Kobe. Yokimidoro, meaning “View of the Snow”, refers to the view of Mt Rainier from this spot when the sky is clear. The lantern is located on the top of the hill within the garden.
The lower part of the park is the Danny Woo Community Garden, where small garden plots are maintained by local gardeners.
Green Lake Park
Green Lake is a wonderful spot for a walk around the lake, and a springtime walk while the cherry blossom trees are blooming is a treat.
The path around the perimeter of Green Lake is the ideal location for viewing the cherry blossom trees which are planted alongside the lake.
The cherry blossom trees are placed around the lake in various and unpredictable locations, making this a fun adventure to find them.
The lake also showcases many other unique trees. The best way to explore the tree walk is to use the Green Lake Tree Walk map created by Tree Ambassadors.
This map locates many of the interesting trees around Green Lake and provides species information for each. The map is available online and can also be printed for use during your walk.
The tree map indicates the location of a few of the flowering cherry trees along the lakeside path to help aid in your search for these special trees.
Jefferson Park is another Seattle park where some of the cherry trees gifted from Japan were planted.
In 2012, 25 additional cherry trees were planted within the park for its 100th anniversary. With the addition of the new cherry trees, the park is truly a magnificent site to visit during springtime.
Located on top of Beacon Hill, the park also has great views of downtown Seattle and is a wonderful location to watch the sunset.
The golf course, skate park, and play area within the park add to the fun. These activities make a great combination with a cherry blossom picnic with kids, giving the kids activities while the rest of the family talks underneath the trees.
Seattle neighborhoods are full of cherry and plum trees which bloom every spring. These trees are located sporadically throughout the city and in each neighborhood.
To find these trees, take a stroll through the city streets in your neighborhood. Perhaps there are blossoming trees on the next street over, or perhaps you have some in your front yard.
Either way, there are plenty of these flowering trees scattered across Seattle neighborhoods and you are sure to find some while exploring.