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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!