Spring cherry blossoms are beautiful. But if you do not want to deal with the crowds in Washington DC, check out cherry blossoms in Philadelphia instead. In April, consider visiting Philly to celebrate Sakura, the arrival of cherry blossoms, in a more low key way. Read on to learn where to see cherry blossoms in Philadelphia. Editor’s note: Festival organizers announced on March 10 that the 2020 festival has been canceled due to the coronavirus.
Where to See Cherry Blossoms in Philadelphia
Celebrating the arrival of cherry blossoms is a traditional Japanese way to appreciate the beauty of life. In fact, this tradition has a name, Sakura. And Philly 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 is Fairmount Park’s Horticultural Center, 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. And each spring, peak times for blossoms differ.
Fairmount Park for Cherry Blossoms in Philadelphia
The large grassy field at the Horticulture Center is dotted with flowering trees. And when it’s warm, the field is perfect for picnics, Frisbee, 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, sculpture, and the humid hothouse air.
The Horticulture Center is free and has a bathroom. And there’s plenty of free parking. Unless you visit during the annual Cherry Blossom Festival of Philadelphia (check the website for schedule of events), when parking is tight. The timing of the Cherry Blossom Festival varies each year. The main event this year is during the weekend of April 4-5 , 2020, with additional events later that week. It is fun, if you are happy to share the space with a big crowd.
The highlight of the Cherry Blossom Festival is a weekend of family-friendly performances on April 4-5, 2020. To celebrate the cherry blossoms, the Horticulture Center will host live music, cultural performances, arts & crafts, and flower arranging. It costs $12-25, less if you purchase tickets in advance. For details, check here.
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. And surrounding the house is a koi pond and Japanese garden dotted with cherry trees. I especially like the view of cherry blossoms from the wooden porch. The Japanese House charges an entrance fee. Also, expect crowds during the April 4-5, 2020 Cherry Blossom Festival. For more on why it’s fun, here.
See Cherry Blossoms in Philadelphia for Free
Winding along the east bank of the Schuylkill River 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. And it’s free to use the path or picnic along the river underneath the cherry blossoms.
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 in April and May. And for tips on how to navigate the crowds visiting cherry blossoms in Washington DC, check here. Another great city with cherry blossoms is NYC!