Spring cherry blossoms in the University of Washington Quad.
Nothing says spring like a walk through cherry trees, daffodils or star magnolias, and our sources say blossoms are right on track for seasonal blooming. To help guide you on your quest for beautiful spring flowers, we’ve put together a list of favorite places. Happy spring!
1. The Quad at the University of Washington
The University of Washington’s beautiful campus is made even more gorgeous when its cherry trees fill the Quad with bountiful pink blossoms. In anticipation of lots of springtime visitors, the UW has launched a cherry blossom webpage. You can also find current info from the blossom cam, Instagram or Twitter.
Peak bloom time this year is expected near the end of March or beginning of April, but buds will begin to open any moment now. Families can find the biggest concentration of cherry blossoms on campus in the Quad, where 29 Yoshino cherry trees — each one about 90 years old — produce a canopy of delicate petals. The largest tree measures 47 feet tall.
Clones of these trees can be found on other parts of campus, alongside other varieties of cherries and more spring blooms. Have a wander as you wish; the UW campus is fun to explore in any season and a handy map will lead you to all of the flowering trees.
The U District Cherry Blossom Festival runs March 24–April 2 and features local U District businesses and restaurants offering blossom-themed special menu items and merchandise.
2. Washington Park Arboretum
The Azalea Way walk near the Graham Visitor 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. A newer path makes an excellent spot for practicing pedaling skills, and also suits strollers and scooters.
Afterwards, have a romp on the super-fun playground at Washington Park Playfield (at the far end of the arboretum from the visitor center and across the road) or head to the shoreline trails and Foster Island, just a short walk away.
3. Seward Park and Lake Washington Boulevard, Seattle
Seward Park is home to many ornamental cherry trees, some of which were donated to Seattle from Japan, as early as 1929, 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 Audubon Center (currently open on weekends), which has excellent nature programming for all ages.
4. Jefferson Park, Seattle
There are many reasons to visit Jefferson Park, a gem of a park in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Seattle — the views! The Olmstead-designed paths! The incredible playground! An additional reason to go in spring is the opportunity to enjoy the lovely cherry trees, originally planted in 1912. Another 25 were planted in 2012 to mark the park’s 100th anniversary.
5. Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park
If you want a spring bloom experience that’s a little more wild, Doug Williams of King County Parks recommends heading to the hills and woods of Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park. This park 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 has a striking look and an ‘interesting’ smell,” he says.
Williams 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
A number of areas in Point Defiance Park have spring blooms to spare, including the Pagoda area and the rose garden. Look for tulips and star magnolias, plus a “really special cherry” at the bowl. While you take in the spring display, the kids can run around on the grassy expanses or check out the duck pond.
If you really want to focus on cherry trees, also recommended is a city walk in Tacoma down North Proctor Street, from Sixth Avenue to North 21st, near the University of Puget Sound campus.
7. Washington State Capitol Campus, Olympia
A visit to our state capitol grounds in Olympia is always fascinating — many Washington fourth-graders get to tour the legislative building and Temple of Justice on a field trip.
For blossom viewing, you don’t need access to any buildings, just wander around and partake in the splendor. Try this self-guided tour of capitol campus trees; look for number 12 on the map to zero in on the cherry blossoms.
Bonus: Japanese Cherry Blossom & Cultural Festival
Seattle Center’s Japanese Cherry Blossom & Cultural Festival is scheduled for April 14–16, 2023. Activities take place in the Armory at Fisher Pavilion and outdoors.
Bonus: Want to take gorgeous, cherry-blossom-filled family photos? Our resident photography expert shares her best tips for beautiful family photos among the cherry blossoms.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published several years ago and updated most recently for 2023.