Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms in Philadelphia

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The Horticultural Center in West Philly is free - and a less crowded place to enjoy cherry blossoms in Philadelphia.
The Horticultural Center in West Philly is free – and a less crowded place to enjoy cherry blossoms in Philadelphia. Photo credit: Sarah Ricks

Philadelphia is a popular Northeast US destination, with historic Revolutionary War-era sites, fantastic art and science museums and yummy cheesesteak sandwiches. In spring, Philadelphia offers a special treat – it boasts a beautiful April cherry blossom bloom season that’s less crowded than the one in Washington DC. Here’s what you need to know to enjoy the cherry trees in the City of Brotherly Love.

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 thousands of cherry blossom trees. The Japanese government gave 1000 trees to Philadelphia to honor the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Download this colorful map to see their locations throughout the city.

Cherry blossom season in Philly usually is about 2 weeks in April. And each spring, peak cherry blossom times differ. It’s a great family trip, a dreamy romantic escape or a weekend getaway with the girls.

Read More: Plans for Cherry Blossoms on Washington DC and Cherry Blossoms in New York City.

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 blossom season in Philadelphia. Photo credit: Sarah Ricks

Fairmount Park for Cherry Blossoms in Philadelphia

My favorite place to experience cherry blossoms in Philadelphia is Fairmount Park’s Horticultural Center. It is a free public park 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 flowers of these giant trees.

The large grassy field at the Horticulture Center is dotted with flowering trees. Plus, when it’s warm, the field is perfect for picnics, Frisbee, strollers and reading. And 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 when parking is tight.

See cherry blossoms in Philadelphia every April
The annual April Cherry Blossom Festival in Philadelphia is a weekend of live performances. Photo credit: Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival

Cherry Blossom Festival

The annual Philadelphia Shofuso Cherry Blossom Festival in mid-April is a weekend of live music and family-friendly performances. The festival features the intersections of Japanese and African American cultures. Concerts and performances are free but admission is charged to enter the Japanese House.  

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 credit: 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 looks like 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 blossom blooms from the wooden porch.  The Japanese House charges an entrance fee. It will re-open to the public on March 20, 2024.  

Enjoying the cherry blossoms in Philadelphia at the Horticultural Center in West Philadelphia
Skip the DC crowds and enjoy cherry blossoms in Philadelphia for free at the Horticultural Center in West Philadelphia. Photo credit: Sarah Ricks

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. Rowers 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.

Public parks and the Japanese House are good places to see cherry blossoms in Philadelphia
Rooftop of the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden and cherry blossoms in Philadelphia. Photo credit: Sarah Ricks

Where to Eat after Seeing Cherry Blossoms in Philadelphia

When we’re hungry after a long walk along Schuylkill River path, we stop at the outdoor cafe at Lloyd Hall. It’s at the end of Boathouse Row. Check out the casual sandwiches, baked goods, and ice cream at the Cosmic Cafe. Big plus? There’s 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. While I love Philadelphia year-round, Philadelphia gardens are a special treat in April and May.

Read More: Want More Cherry Blossoms? Here are the Top Spots for the Blooms in the US and Abroad!

Sarah loves discovering what’s unique about a place, its history, food, architecture and culture. She explores Philadelphia when she isn’t traveling for fun or for work as a law professor. Both her college-age kids have been enthusiastic travelers since they were tiny. Follow her as Very Hungry Traveller on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter. Recent: Spain, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Chile, Israel, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, France, Croatia, London, Korea, New York, California.
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11 responses

  1. Does anyone provide an update on the status of the Philly blossoms? 2018?

    1. It is such a strange weather year, right? With the many March and even an April snow, makes it tricky. I would check the Subaru Cherry Blossom festival website. Good luck!

  2. My favorite time of the year — spring, and wow, these cherry blossoms are beautiful. Another reason to return to Philly!

  3. Maybe this year – assume they’ll be delayed a bit considering the early spring snows!

  4. So lovely. Hope recent snow doesn’t wreck the buds!

  5. This is beautiful. I told my daughter I would take her to the cherry blossom festival in Brooklyn this weekend and did not deliver. I know, bad mommy. She would’ve loved this.

    1. Hope you were able to catch some cherry blossoms this spring – and if not, thinking about penciling in Philadelphia for next spring. Tho I bet Brooklyn has lovely spots to see the blooms also.

      1. Another nice place in pa for cherry blossoms Morris arboretum

        1. Yes, you’re absolutely right. The Morris Arboretum is a gorgeous location – winter, spring, summer, or fall.

    2. I went to the Cherry Blossom festival today. Huge waste of money. Super disappointing. Your better off enjoying the trees outside of the park as there really aren’t any in the park. It was just a crowd of people in anime costumes, long lines for non Japanese food and a few vendors.

      1. I’m sorry you had a bad experience at the Cherry Blossom festival. To me, the ephemeral beauty of the cherry blossoms is more enjoyable when there are just a few people around, so I tend to go before the festival day. Last week on weekdays, I got to enjoy walking around with just a few other families. My guess is later this week will similarly be less crowded. And Kelly Drive rarely gets crowded – just families enjoying the weather and the blossoming trees.