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’, (Sakura Season) several other cities are cherry blossom ‘destinations’, among them Beijing, Washington, D.C., Vancouver, B.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. To find all our routes tagged as ‘cherry blossoms’, click on the “Blossom” category on the GR home page.
Cherry trees are thought to be native to the Himalayas. They are revered and beautifully cared for in Japan. Here are some of our favorite ‘cherry blossom’ (sakura) routes in the Japan locations covered by Great Runs.
Tokyo. 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. 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 its 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! Seoul Forest Park is also a terrific cherry blossom spot.
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.
In a city known for its spectacular gardens, there are probably more cherry blossom locations than any other city in North America. Best spots for a run to see the blossoms are Stanley Park, Queen Elizabeth Park., and around the UBC campus. The city hosts an annual cherry blossom festival, which includes a fantastic website with a map showing 2,689 locations of ornamental cherries and 50 different cultivars of flowering cherry trees.
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.
Philadelphia has some lovely cherry blossoms in the spring. The best bet for runners is to catch them in our Fairmount Park. You’ll also catch them on our center city routes, along Kelly Drive, & more. Here’s a helpful article.
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.
This part of northwest Michigan is a cherry blossom pilgrimage spot. Best bet for runners is along M-37 on our Old Mission Peninsula route. Also, sections of the Tart Trail and the M-22.
Seattle is well-known for its cherry blossoms. The best area to enjoy the cherry blossoms is the University of Washington/Arboretum area. The leafy Capitol Hill neighborhood also features lots of cherry blossoms.
Although not exclusively cherry blossoms, hit the Fresno County Blossom Trail between mid-February and mid-March to see plum, apricot, peach, nectarine, almond, apple, and citrus blossoms. It’s a thing.
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!
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.
Perhaps an unlikely spot for cherry trees…but the Japanese-themed Park Kioto that’s part of our Peremoha Park route is lined with cherry trees.
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.