Cherry blossom season is upon us—that time of year when cherry trees’ riotously pink blooms fill the air with their bright and distinctive beauty. A stunning spectacle and unofficial harbinger of spring, these colorful cherry blossoms are celebrated the world over with ceremonies, events, and festivals that draw a multitude of visitors every year. And while Washington D.C. and Tokyo, Japan, are two of the most famous spots to glimpse these gorgeous spring buds, there are a number of other places throughout the U.S. where travelers looking for a peep of spring can find these blooms (and the fanfare that surrounds them) in abundance.
Boasting a location that’s “geographically at California’s heart,” Modesto is a charming and welcoming city whose tree-lined streets are home to the perfect balance of history and tradition, bustling activity, and exciting fun. It also happens to be home to a blossom season of its own; however, it’s almonds instead of cherries in Modesto’s case. Every year from the second week of February to about the first week of March, the orchards of Modesto open their doors to welcome visitors on colorful, self-guided driving tours, also known as the Almond Blossom Cruise. Miles and miles of white and pink blooms coupled with a myriad of fun tastings, events, and cool things to do all make the Almond Blossom Cruise a must-see event in beautiful Modesto.
But the Almond Blossom Cruise is just one reason to visit Modesto—all year round, there are plenty of things to see and do. Music lovers will rejoice with the city’s free concerts throughout the summer months, a great chance to explore the lovely and welcoming downtown. There’s also the Gallo Center of the Arts for more big-budget, blockbuster affairs. And any visitor to Modesto will quickly realize that its downtown is definitely the place to be: colorful morals around every corner; historical landmarks side by side with newer attractions like the Vintage Faire Mall; and a food scene packed with fresh flavor that’s found everywhere from the city’s many farm stands to its variety of locally-owned eateries.
Macon is home to an annual Cherry Blossom Festival of its own that heralds the arrival of the spring season—over 350,000 Yoshino cherry trees in full bloom that further accentuate the city’s already pastoral landscape. The International Cherry Festival is a Macon tradition filled with fun, family-friendly events that celebrate the bright pink blooms. Consistently rated one of the Top 20 Events in the South and one of the top 100 Events in North America, Macon’s cherry blossom celebrations are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fantastic reasons to visit this lovely Georgia town.
Known for its rich history and diverse heritage, Macon is home to a number of attractions of historical interest, including Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park. The area also has a rich Civil War history: Macon City Hall, the Cannonball House, and the Hay House are all spots of interest where visitors can explore the city’s role in the war and its place in Georgia history. But Macon is not just history—it is a veritable nature lover’s paradise where guests can enjoy the South’s unbridled natural beauty. From hiking at Amerson River Park to kayaking down the burbling Ocmulgee River, there’s no shortage of recreational activities in this bright, welcoming, and historic city bursting with Southern hospitality and charm.
Essex County, New Jersey
Surprisingly, Washington D.C.. does not have the most cherry trees on the East Coast (though it is more famous than its counterparts). With over 5,200 Japanese cherry blossom trees all its own, the Essex County gem Branch Brook Park, gives the nation’s capital a run for its money with its vibrantly bright blooms. The park, which runs through Belleville and Newark, is home to the largest cherry blossom collection in the U.S.; and is celebrated annually with the Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival, a collection of events to commemorate the colorful blooms that draws thousands of visitors every year.
And while the cherry blossom blooms undoubtedly are spring’s main attraction in the Essex County area, there are a number of other fun things to see and do throughout the region for visitors looking to explore. Branch Brook Park is not the only notable green space in the area (though it may be the most beautiful). Lovers of nature will also enjoy the South Mountain Reservation, Eagle Rock Reservation, and Greenwood Gardens w; here, visitors can find everything from hiking trails to manicured grounds, lush greenery, and wild parklands. There are also a number of historical and cultural attractions, too—the Newark Museum of Art, Thomas Edison Park, and the Montclair Art Museum are just some of the sights that are worth a stop in this bustling metropolitan area.
Traverse City, Michigan
Michigan may not seem a likely place for cherry blossoms—. However, every year in Traverse City (also known as ‘the third coast’), a veritable riot of blooms blankets the area when the cherry blossom trees come to life in all their whimsical white beauty. The best part of Traverse City’s cherry blossom season is that it’s possible to see a number of blooms in different areas over a two-week period—as the region’s orchards are somewhat scattered, some trees may bloom earlier, others later. This gives visitors a chance to hit the road and explore the colorful blooms through self-guided tours beginning in May—it also allows for travelers to really explore the sprawling beauty and stunning natural landscapes in the surrounding area, all while scoping the state’s best and brightest blooms.
A laidback spot for beachy relaxation and stunning natural beauty, Traverse City is also known for its distinctive brand of recreation and chill outdoor activities. One of the most famous (and beautiful) spots in the area is the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore filled with sprawling sand dunes (aka mountains of sand); miles of freshwater beaches; and a plethora of scenic hiking trails wending through the sprawling sandy vistas. Traverse City is also known for its wineries, too—with over 40 throughout the area, it’s the perfect spot for visitors to sip their way through the beauty of the Michigan countryside. Lovers of lighthouses will also dig Traverse City, too—with no less than six historic lighthouses scattered throughout the area; all are perfectly picturesque examples of historical and architectural maritime charm.
The city of brotherly love is famous as a historical hotspot and bastion of cultural diversity; home of the Liberty Bell and Ben Franklin, the cheesesteak, and those famous museum steps. Philly has cemented itself in the annals of both history and pop culture—but the city does have its fair share of natural beauty, too; especially in springtime when the blooms in historic Fairmount Park come to life during the Shofuso Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia. In 2022, the event has been reimagined to include a three-day Sakura concert series to explore the intersection of Asian and African American culture. Filled with great music; beautiful blooms; and welcoming community vibes, this year’s April festival is a must-see for those looking for a taste of Philly culture set to the backdrop of its most bucolic setting.
With so much to do in Philadelphia, it’s hard to know where to begin—however, the city’s historic side is a great place to start. Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the National Constitution Center and the President’s House outdoor museum are informative intros to any visitor’s Philly education; while fun spots like Franklin’s Square and Elfreth’s Alley showcase the city’s roots, and the Spruce Street Harbor park explores Philly’s fun-filled waterfront. One of the most diverse and eclectic cities on the East Coast, Philadelphia is a PA gem with layers upon layers of distinctive culture, beauty, and local pride, and national identity.
The Pacific Northwest gem of Seattle is an eclectic and cool place to visit all-year round, but during the spring, the vibrantly-hued cherry blossom trees make the city especially welcoming. And while the cherry trees located on the University of Washington‘s quad have been known to welcome thousands of visitors every year, 2022 marks the inaugural of the ‘official’ U District Cherry Blossom Festival in the city. Highlighted by the 29 colorfully quaint flowering trees on the University’s quad, the event will also include community events and activities centered around the ubiquitous bright pink blossom. Visitors should look for special spring-themed menus at both bars and restaurants, the U District Farmer’s Market, and recreational opportunities like the Cherry Blossom run.
Seattle is a dynamic city full of bustling vibes surrounded by unparalleled natural beauty—the best of both worlds. Visitors to this west coast gem will undoubtedly want to see famous attractions like the Space Needle; however, there are a number of other attractions throughout the Emerald City that are bucket list destinations unto themselves. The city’s neighborhoods are overflowing with character and diversity and are worth exploring either individually or as part of a larger itinerary: beachy, laidback vibes in West Seattle; art, history, and culture in Pioneer Square; the trendy cuisine scene of Ballard, and so much more. The city is also known for its outdoor recreation, too—water sports, hiking, biking, and nearby state parks a-plenty throughout the area are just some of the reasons why the city was blessed with its Emerald City moniker.
Both Tokyo and Washington D.C. are bucket list destinations to experience the natural beauty and springtime splendor of some of Mother Nature’s most beautiful blooms—the famous cherry blossom tree. But even if you can’t make it to one of these unforgettable spots this spring, there are a number of other fun cities known for their beautiful blossoms—some, like Essex County, have even more cherry trees than the nation’s capital itself; while others, like Modesto, celebrate with almond blossoms in lieu of cherry. However, the cities do share one thing in common: they are all exciting places to visit, even when the trees aren’t in bloom. So whether you’re looking for a day-tripping whimsical way to welcome spring or a getaway where cherry blossoms are just part of the action, the above cities have something for everyone to enjoy—set to the colorful backdrop of blooming blossoms.
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