For Condé Nast Traveler, by Amy Plitt and Caitlin Morton.
Can’t make it to the National Cherry Blossom Festival? Head to one of these locations to find gorgeous blooms throughout the United States instead.
During the Brooklyn conservatory’s celebration of hanami, or the cherry blossom season, its Cherry Esplanade is perhaps the most Instagram-worthy spot in the borough: A long walkway is lined with colorful flowering trees in shades of pink, purple and white. The monthlong event culminates in the Sakura Matsuri festival, which brings tea ceremonies, J-Pop bands, sword demonstrators — not to mention a whole lot of people in elaborate cosplay outfits — to the garden. Hanami: Begins in early April. Sakura Matsuri: April 29-30.
A bevy of events — including karaoke, an outdoor Japanese food-and-drink celebration, a 5K run, and an under-the-stars event — anchor Philly’s city-wide Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival. But the main action happens in Fairmount Park: There, flower-peepers can snap photos of hundreds of cherry trees (many of which were a gift from the Japanese government in 1926), and hang out for Sakura Sunday, a daylong event on April 9 that features a harajuku fashion show, a pet parade, and tours of the park’s Japanese house and garden. April 1-9.
3. Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival, San Francisco
A San Francisco tradition for 50 years, this shindig celebrates the city’s rich Japanese heritage and culture. It’s fitting, then, that the main stages — which will showcase dance performances, origami workshops, karate demonstrations and more — happen in the Japantown neighborhood. (That’s also where you’ll see the cherry trees.) April 8-9, 15-16.
4. International Cherry Blossom Festival, Macon, Georgia
D.C. may have the better-known fest, but it’s not the cherry blossom capital of the world. That designation goes to Macon, Georgia, with more than 300,000 trees (including many Yoshino plants, the first variety discovered there) blooming every year. Its cherry blossom festival begins in late March — the benefits of warmer Southern climes — and in addition to the trees, you can check out events both on-topic (tea garden parties, tours of the cherry trees) and not-quite-relevant-but-fun — think performances by ZZ Top, a food-truck festival, etc. March 24-April 2.
5. Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival, Newark, New Jersey
Branch Brook Park becomes New Jersey’s cherry blossom central during this event, marking the initial gift of 2,000 trees to the park in 1927. There are now more than 5,000 of the flora in the park, and you can see many of them on a 45-minute guided tour, happening on four different days throughout its cherry blossom season. Other activities include a 10K run that takes participants past the blossoms, and Bloomfest, a dedicated day of live tunes, Japanese cultural demonstrations, and more. April 8-23.
See the rest of Places to See Cherry Blossoms in the U.S., Besides D.C. on CNTraveler.com
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