Spring blossoms at the Washington Park Arboretum. Credit: Hugh Millward/Flickr CC
Nothing says spring like a walk through cherry trees, daffodils or star magnolia and our sources say blossoms are blooming a little early this year. To help guide you on your quest for beautiful spring flowers, we've put together a brief list of favorite places. Happy spring!
1. The Quad at the University of Washington
Editor's note: For the second year in a row, the University of Washington has asked people not to visit campus this spring and to instead enjoy the cherry blossoms virtually by live webcam.
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. Afterwards, you can 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 by 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, which has excellent nature programming for all ages. Editor's note: The Audubon Center remains closed at present.
4. Jefferson Park, Seattle
There are many reasons to visit Jefferson Park, a gem of a park in the Beacon Hill neighborhood in south Seattle — the views! The Olmstead-designed paths! Beacon Mountain! 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, 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 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.
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 legistlative 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 will take place virtually for 2021. Mark your calendar for April 9–11 and check back for more details.
Bonus: Want to take gorgeous, cherry-blossom-filled family photos? Our resident photography expert shares her best tips.
Editor's note: This article was published a few years ago and updated for 2021.