Cherry Blossom season in New York City is one of the best times to visit Central Park. Throughout the spring months, you should be able to see Central Park come to life with blooming cherry blossoms and other springtime colors.
Depending on when you visit in the spring, you may find different types of Central Park cherry blossoms blooming – Okame, Yoshino, and Kwanzan trees.
While there is a fair share of cherry trees in the park, they aren’t everywhere. This guide, however, will give you a location by location overview of where to find these cherry trees along with some other helpful info. In addition, you will find a detailed map showing the exact locations.
By the end of reading this, you should be well on your way to enjoying those Central Park cherry blossoms for yourself.
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1) Cherry Blossoms Things to Know & Helpful Tips
Before jumping into Central Park cherry trees, I thought it may be first helpful to start with some helpful things to know and tips about the trees..
→ Many of the cherry trees were gifted by Japan in the early 1900’s. Today you can find a few types of these trees sprawled in different corners of Central Park, including Okame, Yoshino, and Kwanzan trees.
→ Once cherry trees begin to bloom, it will take around a week or so to reach peak bloom (the time when the trees and the colors are at their fullest).
After reaching this state, the trees will be in peak bloom for 7-10 days (could be longer or shorter depending on conditions).
→ Rainy, windy conditions can shorten the duration of peak bloom. I would advise looking at the forecast to be sure you won’t miss out on your opportunity once peak bloom begins.
→ After that 7-10 day timeframe, the petals begin to fall off, and leaves take over the trees. This gives just a short timeframe to enjoy those Central Park cherry blossoms.
→ Note that the dates of peak bloom vary from year to year. Your best bet is to pay attention to Facebook/Instagram/Twitter updates from Central Park and the NYC Parks department.
They usually give updates when the trees are beginning to bloom and hit full bloom.
→ If you are a photographer looking to avoid the crowds, I would advise an early morning session in the park. Cherry blossoms sure do bring the crowds, so as it gets later in the day, expect the main areas of trees to be surrounded by people.
→ From a photography standpoint, you may also want to consider the light from the sun hitting the cherry blossoms.
Anything on the west side of the park will get light first, followed by the east side of the park later on throughout the day. While cherry blossoms are always nice to photograph, I did find it better when the sun was hitting them directly.
2) Central Park Cherry Tree Overview
There are three different types of cherry trees that you can find in Central Park – Okame, Yoshino, and Kwanzan. Below is a short overview of each one of these varieties.
Timing: The Okame cherry blossom is the first to bloom in Central Park sometime around mid-March. The photos of the Okame trees in this guide were taken on March 21, the first days of spring.
Location: In Central Park, there are only a handful of Okame trees. Nearly all of them are located on the western side of the Reservoir, between the running track and the Bridle Path (marked as Reservoir West Side #2 on the map below).
Color: The Okame trees are a nice deep pink color that really stands out as the majority of the plants and trees alongside them are still bare.
Timing: The Yoshino cherry blossoms come to life at the beginning/mid of April. The photos you will find of the Yoshino trees were taken on April 4 as well as April 10.
Location: You will find Yoshino trees in several locations including Cherry Hill, Pilgrim Hill, the Reservoir, among a few others that I will talk through.
Color: The Yoshino petals are a much lighter pink than other cherry blossoms. They almost look white in color.
Timing: The Kwanzan cherry blossoms are the last to bloom, usually at the end of April to early May. The photos you will see here were taken on April 27, at the beginning of their peak bloom.
Location: There are also several spots to find Kwanzans throughout the park, including Cedar Hill, the Reservoir, the Met, Glade, East Lawn, and some other locations.
Color: Kwanzan trees are full of rich pink double petals. You will find these to be full of thicker clusters vs. the other types of cherry trees in the park.
3) Central Park Cherry Blossoms 2023
As mentioned, while cherry blossoms generally bloom around the same time each year, the exact dates will be different. Peak bloom may also last shorter or longer depending on various natural conditions.
In 2023, we saw earlier than anticipated peak blooms for the Kwanzans in particular due to unseasonably warmer winter weather.
Okame Cherry Blossom Dates: the Okame trees bloomed between the first and second week of March
Yoshino Cherry Blossom Dates: the Yoshinos peaked at the beginning of the month, around April 10th
Kwanzan Cherry Blossom Dates: immediately after the Yoshino trees exited peak bloom, the Kwanzans came to life around April 15th
These are going to be three distinct blooming periods, meaning you will not get overlap between the trees (most likely as we nearly saw in 2023). If visiting the park during one of these time periods, you will want to head to the parts of the park, where those specific trees are located.
4) Central Park Cherry Blossoms Map
Now that you have some background of the cherry trees, let’s take a look at the map below. The map breaks out where to find these three types of trees in Central Park.
I would say that the map is a good indicator of where to find the most clusters of these trees. As you are walking along, you are sure to see some single cherry trees here or there.
But if you follow the map below, you will be brought to the areas, where the cherry blossoms in Central Park are at their best.
The lighter boxes are the Yoshino cherry blossoms and the darker boxes represent the Kwanzan cherry blossoms. You will also see one even darker box on the west side of the Reservoir that represents the few Okame trees.
5) Best Spots for Cherry Blossoms in Central Park
The rest of this Central Park cherry blossom guide will go through each of the spots mentioned on the map above to give you a better idea of what to expect at each location.
I will start off with the first blooms of the Okame trees, before moving onto the Yoshino and Kwanzan trees.
Below is just a list the top spots for cherry blossoms in Central Park for each of the three types of trees, that I will dive into:
1) Reservoir – West Side
1) Cherry Hill
2) Pilgrim Hill
3) Reservoir – East Side
4) Great Lawn
5) Neil Singer Lilac Walk
6) East Drive
1) Reservoir – West Side
2) Cedar Hill
3) The Glade
4) The Met
5) Bethesda Fountain
6) East Lawn
6) Okame Cherry Blossoms in Central Park
As mentioned, the first cherry blossom bloom is of the few Okame trees that happen in mid March.
Central Park Reservoir – West Side
On the western side of the Central Park Reservoir around 88th/89th Streets you will find a handful of Okame cherry trees.
These can be seen from the Reservoir pathway or you can get off the pathway and onto the trail directly next to the running track. It is a great view with the double towers of the El Dorado building in the distance.
7) Yoshino Cherry Blossoms in Central Park
Next up are the Yoshino trees that can be found in a bunch of locations around the park starting sometime in April.
One of the main locations to find Yoshino trees is on the southern end of the Central Park Lake, in an area called Cherry Hill. Here you will find a whole bunch of cherry trees lining the shores of the Lake.
You can take in views of the trees from Cherry Hill itself, and you can also make your way around the western shore of the Lake to view the trees from a far.
On the eastern side of the park (essentially directly across the park from Cherry Hill), you will find Pilgrim Hill. At Pilgrim Hill you will find a whole bunch of Yoshino trees surrounding a statue.
This statue is of course built after a Pilgrim, as a commemoration of the early Puritan settlers of New England. The bronze monument was built by John Quincy Adams Ward and has been in place since 1885.
Right across the way from Pilgrim Hill (just on the other side of East Drive), you will find a few more large and scenic trees. These will be impossible to miss if visiting Pilgrim Hill. I named this location Pilgrim Hill #2 on the map.
On the eastern side of the Reservoir you will find the most Yoshino cherry trees in one spot. These trees line the east side of the Reservoir and the nearby Bridle Path.
You can take in the view from the Reservoir running path, but I prefer the view from the Bridle Path itself.
Here you have almost a cherry blossom tunnel, making it a fan favorite spot to check out (and one of the top Central Park photo spots).
Note there are Yoshino trees that spot other parts of the Reservoir, but this section on the eastern side is by far the most populated.
On the southwest part of the Great Lawn, you will find some additional Yoshino cherry trees. While there wont be so many compared to the locations above, you will still find a few of them to enjoy.
I actually found out recently, that the tree captured below is a different cherry tree (a fourth variety in Central Park), called Higan.
Neil Singer Lilac Walk
Between Sheep Meadow and The Mall, you will find what is called the Neil Singer Lilac Walk. Along this portion of trail you will find cherry blossom trees lining the pathway.
This area is directly south from Cherry Hill, so odds are you will have no trouble passing it by before or after your time near the hill.
East Drive (near the Mall)
The last location I will point out for Yoshino trees is alongside East Drive lining up with the Mall area around 69th Street.
There will be a handful of cherry blossoms in addition to some flower beds, making it a great contrast of colors.
8) Kwanzan Cherry Blossoms in Central Park
Moving onto the last of the cherry trees are the Kwanzans. While they may bloom the last out of the three, there are certainly many great spots to check them out during a visit.
As you can tell by now, the Reservoir is the most popular place for cherry blossoms as it does have all three kinds. However, on the west side of the Reservoir, you will find the famous cherry blossom tunnel full of Kwanzan cherry trees.
While there is somewhat of a tree tunnel on the eastern side of the Reservoir for the Yoshino trees, the western side has a tree tunnel over a narrow scenic pathway.
Here is where things can get pretty hectic during peak bloom as you have everyone trying to get photos and videos heading down this portion of pathway. If you get up early though, you should be able to enjoy this area without the crowds and take in some nice shots along the way.
I spent a good amount of time all along this area, taking in various angles of the cherry blossoms in either direction.
Note: here is where the Okame trees are as well, however, they will be well past bloom by the time the Kwanzan trees come along.
At Cedar Hill you will find a large hill that is most popular for its sledding during a winter in Central Park. However, in the springtime, the trees come out to bloom and you will find a bunch of Kwanzan trees around this area.
The Glade is located directly south next to Cedar Hill. So, if you are visiting one, you will be visiting the other too. Similarly, you will find Kwanzan trees throughout this overall area.
While the Glade and Cedar Hill are not as clustered as some other sections, you will find many trees during a walk through.
If you happen to be walking along East Drive near the Met museum, be on the lookout for a handful of Kwanzan trees at the northeast section behind the museum.
You can take in the view from East Drive or you can walk the path between the trees and the museum itself for a different type of angle.
The Bethesda Fountain
While the Bethesda Fountain is one of the most popular parts of the park, you won’t find many cherry blossoms here.
However, just on the eastern side of the fountain, you will come across one Kwanzan tree overlooking the fountain and Lake nearby.
Last up on the list is the East Lawn, located between 70th and 72nd Street on the east side of the park. Here you will find a handful of Kwazan trees in addition to some more spring blooms.
In addition to the East Lawn itself, you will also find a few trees just across East Drive next to the East Lawn.
I hope by now you have a great perspective of cherry blossom season in Central Park. For a first timer it can be a bit confusing on the different types of trees, various peak blooms, and the locations in the park.
However, I am hoping this guide can get you going in the right direction for your springtime visit to NYC.
9) Where to Stay in NYC
There are so many different neighborhoods to choose from when visiting NYC. Below are some of my top choices for a few of my recommended locations in the city:
Looking for the top hotels & neighborhoods in NYC? Check out some helpful accommodation resources when it comes to picking the best spot for you!
Neighborhood Overview: Best Places to Stay in NYC
Best Skyline Views: NYC Hotels with a View
Times Square: Top Times Square Hotels with a View
Theater District: Hotels in Broadway Theater District
Central Park: Best Hotels with Central Park Views
Tribeca: Best Tribeca Hotels
SoHo: Where to Stay in SoHo
Greenwich Village: Top Greenwich Village Hotels
Brooklyn Bridge: Hotels with Brooklyn Bridge Views
Best Panoramas: Hotels in NYC with Floor to Ceiling Windows
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to add them in below. Also, don’t forget to check out the other New York itineraries and guides up on the site, like the top things to do in Central Park.
Have fun out there and safe travels!