Spring cherry blossoms are beautiful. But if you do not want to deal with the crowds in Washington DC, try Philadelphia instead. In April, consider visiting Philly to celebrate the arrival of cherry blossoms in a more low key way. Philadelphia Traveling Mom Sarah Ricks recommends where to see cherry blossoms in Philadelphia.

Enjoy cherry blossoms in Philadelphia for free at the Horticultural Center

Enjoy cherry blossoms in Philadelphia for free at the Horticultural Center (Photo Sarah Ricks)

Where to See Cherry Blossoms

Enjoying the fleeting beauty of cherry blossoms is a traditional Japanese way to appreciate the beauty of life. This tradition has a name, sakura. Philadelphia is lucky to have hundreds of cherry trees. The Japanese government gave the trees to Philadelphia to honor the 150th anniversary of the U.S.

My favorite place to experience cherry blossoms in Philadelphia is Fairmount Park’s Horticultural Center. It’s a free public park located in West Philadelphia.  The Horticulture Center has two parallel lines of cherry trees. Two huge pink weeping cherry trees anchor the rows. It’s fun to see kids playing beneath the hanging flowery tendrils of these giant trees.

The cherry trees usually blossom sometime in April. (Will blooming times be changed by the freakish warm weather Philadelphia had this spring? Or by a massive snow storm in March? Who knows.)

The Horticultural Center is a sculpture garden and free place to enjoy cherry blossoms in Philadelphia

The Horticultural Center is a sculpture garden and free place to enjoy cherry blossoms in Philadelphia (Photo Sarah Ricks)

Fairmount Park in Philadelphia

The large grassy field at the Horticulture Center is dotted with cherry and other flowering trees. The field is perfect for picnics, frisbee playing, strollers, and reading. The field is also a sculpture garden. While my family is at the Horticulture Center, we like to slip into the greenhouse. Inside the greenhouse are exotic plants and ferns, sculpture, and the humid hothouse air.

The Horticulture Center is free and has a bathroom. It also has plenty of free parking, unless you visit during the annual Cherry Blossom Festival of Philadelphia. The timing of the Festival varies each year. It is scheduled for April 1 – 9, 2017.  It is  fun, if you are happy to share the space with a crowd.

The highlight of the festival is Sakura Sunday on April 9. This all-day event at the Horticulture Center includes Japanese food, music, and cultural celebrations. It costs $15 for visitors over age 12.

Picnicking along the cherry blossoms in Philadelphia that line the Schuylkill River

Picnicking along the cherry blossoms in Philadelphia that line the Schuylkill River (Photo by Sarah Ricks)

Japanese House for Cherry Blossoms in Philadelphia

A lovely place to enjoy cherry blossoms in Philadelphia is across the street from the Horticulture Center, also in West Philly. The Shofusu Japanese House and Garden is a replica of a 17th century Japanese house. Surrounding the house is a  koi pond and a small Japanese garden dotted with cherry trees. The view of cherry blossoms from the wooden porch is especially pretty.  The Japanese House charges an entrance fee. For more on why it’s fun, here.

Visit the Japanese House to see cherry blossoms in Philadelphia, along with a koi pond

Visit the Japanese House to see cherry blossoms in Philadelphia, along with a koi pond (Photo Sarah Ricks)

Free in Philadelphia

Winding along the east bank of the Schuylkill River bank is a busy street, Kelly Drive. And between Kelly Drive and the river is a ribbon of public park. The narrow park has green grass, a bike and walking path, sculptures, and of course cherry trees.

Bikers, runners, and strollers all use the path. Picnickers, readers, and photographers sit on the grass under the blooming trees. Scullers enjoy the view of cherry blossoms from their boats on the river. It’s free to use the path or picnic along the river underneath the cherry blossoms.

Public parks and the Japanese House are good places to see cherry blossoms in Philadelphia

Rooftop of the Japanese House and cherry blossoms in Philadelphia (Photo Sarah Ricks)

Where to Eat

When we’re hungry after a long walk along Schuylkill River path, we stop at the cafe inside Lloyd Hall. It’s at the end of Boathouse Row. Check out the casual sandwiches, baked goods, and ice cream at the Cosmic Cafe. There’s also a public bathroom.

Springtime in Philadelphia is a joy. If you don’t make it to Philly in time for April cherry blossoms, the azaleas and other spring flowers follow soon. I love Philadelphia year round. But Philadelphia gardens are a special treat from April thru May.

Read more about cherry blossoms in Washington DC and find when the cherry trees will be bloom in 2017.

Philadelphia

For gorgeous spring cherry blossoms, skip the crowds in DC – visit Philadelphia!