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. Please post your favorites, too!
1. The Quad at the University of Washington
This is the classic spot. If you haven't checked out the cherry tree display at the UW Quad since you graduated, grab the kids and stroll through the array of 30 Yoshino cherry trees. According to an article in the University of Washington alumni magazine, the trees were originally planted in the Arboretum and relocated in the 1960s when they were displaced due to a highway construction project. Tip: Check @uwcherryblossom on Twitter for bloom status, and be warned: there will be crowds.
The Henry Art Gallery (free on Sundays and first Thursday) or the University Bookstore (cafe, Lego table, art supplies). Even better: Take the light rail to the UW and make it a spring green adventure.
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.
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 Wildland Park
If you want a spring bloom experience that’s a little wilder, Doug Williams of King County Parks recommends heading to 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 have 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 Ave. to North 21st, near the University of Puget Sound campus.
7. Japanese Cherry Blossom & Cultural Festival
You can celebrate all of the above from April 26–28, 2019, at Seattle Center's Japanese Cherry Blossom & Cultural Festival. It's free and features taiko drumming, crafts, dancing, food and other ways to get in touch with Seattle's Japanese heritage and the change of the seasons.
Where do you go to enjoy spring blooms? Share in the comments!
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 2019.