6 Places to See Cherry Blossoms and Other Spring Blooms Around Seattle
Nothing says spring like a walk through cherry trees, daffodils, star magnolia, or salmonberries (yes, salmonberries). To help fuel your spring blossom-peeping, we've put together a brief list of favorite places. Please post your favorites, too! (Note: Hurry before the season ends.)
1. The quad at the University of Washington
The classic. If you haven't checked out the cherry tree display at the UW Quad since you graduated, grab the kids and walk through the array of 30 Yoshino cherry trees. According to this article, the trees were originally planted in the Arboretum and relocated in the 1960s when they were displaced due to a highway construction project. Round out your campus visit with a trip to the Burke Museum and the UW Bookstore (cafe, Lego table, art supplies).
2. Azalea Way at Washington Park Arboretum, Seattle
The Azalea Way walk near the Graham Visitors Center at the Washington Park Arboretum is lovely at all times of the year, but especially in early spring, when cherries, dogwoods, and other trees are blooming. The kids will have a great time poking about at puddles, plants and insects and you can soak in the sights and smells. Afterwards, you can head to the shoreline trails and Foster Island, just a short walk away. (See also these parent-child nature classes at the Arboretum.)
3. Seward Park and Lake Washington Boulevard, Seattle
Seward Park is home to many ornamental cherry trees, some of which were donated as early as 1929 by Japan, as a gesture of friendship and gratitude. While you're there, also spend some time at the stellar playground, and check out the wonderful Seward Park Environmental & Audubon Center, which has excellent nature programming for all ages.
4. Jefferson Park, Seattle
There are many other reasons to visit this gem of a park in the Beacon Hill neighborhood in south Seattle (the views! the Olmstead-designed paths! Beacon Mountain!), but an additional reason to go in spring is the cherry trees, originally planted in 1912, with another 25 planted in 2012 to mark the park's 100th anniversary.
5. Cougar Mountain Regional Park, Issaquah
If you want a spring bloom experience that’s a little more wild, Doug Williams of King County Parks recommends heading to to the hills and woods of Cougar Mountain Regional Park, which has 36 miles of trails and a great selection of native blooms, including trillium and salmonberries — which do double-duty by attracting native hummingbirds. "Another wild land blossom to see this time of year is skunk cabbage, which have a striking look and an 'interesting' smell," he says. .
Doug also says that "other Eastside parks with forested areas will also have the salmonberry blossoms (and possibly the trillium), including Big Finn Hill Park, Grand Ridge Park and Duthie Hill Park."
6. Point Defiance Park, Tacoma
According to the people who know, the park bowl, the Pagoda area and the rose garden at Point Defiance Park have many spring blooms, including tulips and star magnolias, plus a “really special cherry” at the bowl. The cherry blooms are out RIGHT NOW ("bright and gorgeous," says my inside source). While you take in the spring, the kids can run around on the grassy expanses or check out the duck pond.
If you really want to focus on cherry trees, they also recommend a city walk in Tacoma down North Proctor Street, from Sixth Ave. to North 21st, near University of Puget Sound.
Japanese Cherry Blossom & Cultural Festival
You can celebrate all of the above in two weeks (April 26–28) at Seattle Center's Japanese Cherry Blossom & Cultural Festival. It's free and will feature Taiko drumming, crafts, dancing, food and other ways to get in touch with Seattle's Japanese heritage and the change of the seasons.
Photo credits: Cherry blossom photo taken in West Seattle by Jonathon Colman (jcolman, flickr); photo of trillium by Doug Williams.Native salmonberry, huckleberry and especially trillium usually blossom this time of year.
This article was originally written in April 2012 and updated in April 2013.