Like skiers hitting a great powder day, it’s a treat for runners to hit cherry blossom-lined paths at the peak of their bloom. While Japan might be the ‘cherry blossom capital’, several other cities are cherry blossom ‘destinations’, among them Beijing, Washington, D.C., and Auckland. And, surprise — the largest collection of cherry trees in the United States is in Branch Brook Park in Newark!
We’ve scoured the globe to come up with some of the best cherry blossom running spots. Before getting to the list, two items to point out: Since each season is different, predicting peak cherry blossom dates is like trying to forecast peak fall foliage. Generally speaking, peak time is late March to early April (November in the southern Hemisphere). Also, at peak bloom, these spots tend to be very popular, so we recommend going early to beat the crowds.
Cherry trees are thought to be native to the Himalayas. They are revered and beautifully cared for in Japan. Cherry blossom festivals abound in season. Fortunately for runners, some of the most popular running routes in Tokyo incorporate lovely, cherry tree lined paths. Top spots include the Imperial Palace and Akasaka Palace loops, the 5k route through 2,000 cherry trees in Koganei Park, and cherry tree-lined path of the Meguro River.
Kyoto is a special city for cherry blossom lovers. The most popular spot for running is the Kamo River paths, which have gorgeous cherry blossoms in season. Maruyama-koen Park is known as Kyoto’s capital of cherry blossoms– in fact is star attraction is a weeping cherry tree which becomes lit up at night.
Yeouido Hangang Park is a large, popular park on the river featuring scenic views. Yunjunro Street, behind the National Assembly Building, is famous for its cherry blossom trees, which line up for nearly 6km!
The best route is the ‘Memorial Run’, starting at the Washington Monument and heading out to the Tidal Basin, where cherry trees line the area near the Jefferson Memorial. Extend the Tidal Basin run into Potomac Park for even more cherry blossoms.
This Olmsted-designed Branch Brook Park has the largest collection of cherry blossom trees in the United States. It’s a true destination spot in season. Also great for running, with a 4.5 mile paved perimeter path.
Cherry Garden in Yuyuantan Park (Jade Lake Park) is home to 3,000 cherry trees. famous for its cherry blossoms. Enjoy a 4-mile run through this park, which also features metasequoias, bamboo, and Liuchun Garden.
Parque do Carmo is a haven for nature lovers, decorated with over 6,000, including a well-known cherry tree grove. There’s a festival in July!
Aucklanders refer to their parks as “domains,” which we love. We also love this popular loop through Auckland Domain, which includes a run down cherry tree-lined Lover’s Lane.
After the gloom of winter, runners especially appreciate the blossoming cherry trees in The Meadows, as large public park near the University of Edinburgh. Combine with a run in famous Holyrood Park.