The best places to see cherry blossoms around Chicago
Written by Alison Lynwood

The best places to see cherry blossoms around Chicago

Make the most of cherry blossom season's ephemeral beauty at these prime viewing locations in Chicago and beyond.

Cherry blossom season is a springtime rite of passage in Japan. Each year, both locals and tourists alike pour into city parks to post up with picnic blankets and admire the pale pink flowers—a tradition called hanami, or flower viewing—before they fall to the ground after just a few short days. Here in the U.S., Washington, D.C. is the most well-known destination for cherry blossom viewing (it was famously gifted more than 3,000 cherry trees by Japan in 1912), but you'll still find plenty of good spots for gazing at gorgeous spring blooms in and around Chicago. 

Jackson Park

Take in views of Yoshino, Gooseberry, Snow Goose, Snow Fountains and Accolade blooms just south of the Museum of Science and Industry along Jackson Park's Columbia Basin, an area home to more than 160 cherry blossom trees. The pink and white trees—which were planted beginning in 2013 to commemorate the 120th anniversary of the World's Columbian Exhibition—draw thousands of visitors to the park each year, but don't let the crowds scare you off: You won't find a better place in Chicago to have a true hanami experience. If you're especially enthusiastic, you can even pick up cherry blossom-themed merch from the Chicago Park District's website.

Garden of the Phoenix

For a more traditional approach to hanami, continue south in Jackson Park to enter the Garden of the Phoenix, a gorgeous green space landscaped in classic Japanese style—complete with koi-filled ponds, maples and a Japanese moon bridge—that's dotted with elegant cherry blossom trees. You'll likely brave a line to enter the garden during peak cherry blossom season, but helpful docents are stationed out front to keep things running smoothly (and you can always check out Yoko Ono's Skylanding sculpture while you wait). 

Chicago Botanic Garden

Take a stroll through the Chicago Botanic Garden's 17-acre Malott Japanese Garden to spot a handful of blush-colored cherry blossom trees, plus a few ornamental flowering cherry shrubs. While you're there, peek across the lake to contemplate the inaccessible island Horaijima—a.k.a. the Island of Everlasting Happiness—which symbolizes the so-close-yet-so-far nature of paradise. 

Morton Arboretum

Out in suburban Lisle, the Morton Arboretum features a small collection of cherry blossom trees in its Korean plant landscape located on the Arboretum's east side. Curators at the Arboretum say the trees can be somewhat finicky about weather conditions, so be sure to call ahead before you visit—though if you happen to miss out on peak bloom, the Arboretum's larger collection of magnolia and crabapple trees (which flower in mid- to late April and mid-May, respectively) are sure to impress.

Written by

Alison Lynwood

Alison Lynwood

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