As March rolls in, it’s only a matter of time before the Garden State starts living up to its name. Each spring New Jerseyans are surrounded by lush greenery and bright flowers, of which cherry blossom trees are some of the most iconic. There’s a common misconception that Washington D.C. and Eastern Asia are home to the best cherry blossoms, but New Jersey is hoarding a whole bunch of blooms in parks, arboretums, and trails across the state that you need to check out.
Depending on location, cherry blossoms can bloom at different times each year. For 2021, the National Park Service predicts the first week of April to be the peak. While the blooms are at their brightest for only a few days, the season itself lasts a few weeks and can occur slightly earlier or later depending on the climate.
Typically, New Jersey sees the peak of cherry blossom season during the last weeks of March and very early April as the weather starts to get warmer. This quick turnaround from barren to budding makes cherry blossoms seem to appear out of nowhere, emerging from the landscape with their lively array of pinks. Since this window is a tight one, make sure to plan your cherry blossom trip to one of these 11 New Jersey locations to make the most of their short season.
1. Branch Brook Park – Newark, NJ
Branch Brook Park is the ultimate destination for cherry blossom season in New Jersey. With over 4,000 cherry blossom trees on this Essex County plot, Branch Brook Park outranks every other cherry blossom collection in the world. To celebrate the variety of their blooms, Branch Brook Park hosts their annual New Jersey Cherry Blossom Festival in early April (still TBD for 2021), which is renowned for its beauty and vibrancy.
2. Chapel Ave – Cherry Hill, NJ
Chapel Avenue in Cherry Hill is home to two miles worth of cherry blossoms. Lining the avenue on either side, the blooms spur community events when they come into full force each spring. During the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s, Cherry Hill hosted their Cherry Blossom Parade on Chapel Ave. These days American flags fly high, accompanying each tree during the town’s annual 9-11 Remembrance and Patriotic Gratitude celebration.
3. New Jersey Botanical Gardens – Ringwood, NJ
Full of history and charm, the New Jersey Botanical Gardens offer a gorgeous variety of outdoor spaces. The gardens are part of the larger Ringwood State Park, and the grounds include an expansive pine tree collection, many walkways, and 10 different gardens each displaying a particular flower or tree. The perennial garden changes with each season, which is where the cherry blossoms bloom for their short cycle every spring.
4. Verona Park – Verona, NJ
This slice of nature on the edge of Verona is the perfect combination of park, trails, and scenic views. The area is great for families and offers the ability to go as far in or out of nature as you like. The views in Verona Park take on a pink hue in the spring when cherry blossoms seem to spontaneously emerge from the rest of the foliage.
5. Warinanco Park – Linden, NJ
With an indoor sports pavilion, trails, and gardens galore, Warinanco Park is full of opportunities for activity. On either side of the lake, blush pink cherry blossoms bloom each spring, adding color and vibrancy across this 205-acre plot.
6. David C. Shaw Arboretum – Holmdel, NJ
Tucked away inside the massive Holmdel Park, the David C. Shaw Arboretum displays a variety of trees to the public. The aim of the arboretum is to show off the foliage that naturally thrives in New Jersey. Within this range, cherry blossoms play a pivotal role and change the tone of the arboretum each spring, bringing brightness into the woods.
7. Spring Lake, NJ
The footbridges in Spring Lake are absolutely iconic. They give the town character, and the residents love them. They’re made even better each spring when the cherry blossoms at the end of the footbridges, and across the area, bloom.
8. Rahway River Park – Rahway, NJ
Getting its name from the nearby river, Rahway River Park is a fresh open space in the middle of Union County. With ball fields, tracks, and footpaths, the only thing that could make this New Jersey park pop, even more, is cherry blossoms. Sprinkled throughout the park, the cherry blossoms will bring spring air into an urban setting.
9. Frelinghuysen Arboretum – Morris Township, NJ
This North Jersey jaunt is a display of woody variety. The Frelinghuysen Arboretum is a popular location for local families to take photos and explore fauna. Peppered through the grounds are large cherry blossoms, perfect for spring photo ops.
10. Reeves-Reed Arboretum – Summit, NJ
This unassuming arboretum might seem like any other, but as the seasons change, Reeves-Reed Arboretum comes to life. In this quiet corner of Summit, New Jersey the daffodil bowl, rose garden, and perennial blooms bring a burst of color as the season goes on. Though they don’t have a ton of cherry blossoms, the fauna they do have is stunning.
11. Sayen Gardens – Hamilton, NJ
This picturesque garden looks straight out of a fairytale. The simple gazebo, the bridge with white crisscrossed railings, and the tiny pond will make you feel like Alice in Wonderland at Sayen Gardens. Dotted among the foliage, you’ll find some vibrant pinks and blush tones that mark the cherry blossom blooms.
Where do you go to see the cherry blossoms bloom in New Jersey? Let us know your favorite cherry blossom festivals in the comments below.
Main image by Neil Daftary