The city’s most famous celebration of the cotton candy–resembling tree is the fantastic two-day Sakura Matsuri at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. But if you’ve attended this floral frenzy in the past, you know that it can get crowded. Prefer a calmer hanami (the Japanese tradition of appreciating the fleeting beauty of flowers)? We cherry-picked some alternative ways to take in the blossoms.
1. Go On an Uptown Cherry Blossom Walk
The name of the small Sakura Park in Morningside Heights means “cherry blossom,” and you’ll be dazzled by the masses of the showy, snowy blossoms here and nearby, gracing the approach to Grant’s Tomb. Continue to Cherry Walk in Riverside Park and the Columbia University campus, where you’ll glimpse more cherry and magnolia in bloom.
2. Eat, Drink, and Be Cherry
At the serene, bamboo-screened Cha-an Teahouse, relax with a pot of one of the dozens of teas on the menu while indulging in a Sakura Drop, an edible cherry blossom encapsulated inside clear vegan jelly and served with brown sugar syrup. 230 East 9th Street (between Second and Third Avenues), East Village
3. Indulge Your Sweet Tooth
It’s no surprise pastry chefs are seeking inspiration from the cherry blossom for their seasonal creations. Start at Chelsea’s Harbs with a slice of sakura mousse and Dainagon red bean cake; then walk south for a handheld sakura macaron at Patisserie Fouet on the outskirts of Union Square; and cap off your crawl in Williamsburg with a delicate sakura mochi from Patisserie Tomoko.
4. Picnic in Corona Park
The iconic Unisphere in Flushing Meadows isn’t the only reason to visit this site of the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs. Corona Park is chock-full of green space and attractions, from bike rentals to paddleboating and, in April, a flowering cherry tree grove that allows for ample strolling. Bring a picnic and plan to spend the day.
5. Stroll in Central Park
As you might expect, the city’s biggest park shows some floral swag worthy of its status. The first trees to blossom, in mid-to-late April, are the Yoshino; catch them at the east side of the Reservoir, the Lilac Walk (northeast of Sheep Meadow), and the southeast edge of the Great Lawn. The Kwanzan cherries bloom in early May; look for their distinctive double-petal pink flowers on the west side of the Reservoir in the East Green, behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art and across the East Drive from the Loeb Boathouse.
6. Take a Stem Class
If you’ve ever been curious about ikebana, the floral designers behind Ferox Studio have you covered on Saturday, May 4. The team will teach you the art behind traditional flower arranging with a special class at Prospect Heights’s Cook Space, celebrating the minimalist beauty of natural materials found during spring’s peak. 603 Bergen Street, Prospect Heights
7. Brighten Up a Rainy Day
Too wet out to see the blossoms in person? Revel in the delicate beauty of young blooms in Chelsea’s Sato Sakura Gallery. Marking the beginning of spring, its current exhibition—“Bold Lines and Delicate Features”—highlights Japanese portraiture and contemporary nihonga painting techniques. Landscapes of lush trees are showcased alongside bijin-ga (beautiful women in Japanese art), which might make you feel like you’re deep in the heart of Sakura Matsui. 501 West 20th Street (between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues), Chelsea
8. Imbibe Your Blossoms
After a day of flowers and more, why not put a cherry on top with a theme-appropriate cocktail or snack? At Bar Goto, a sleek yet cozy izakaya known for its craft cocktails and Japanese comfort food, you can order a Sakura martini, made with sake, gin, maraschino, and, yes, fresh cherry blossoms. 245 Eldridge Street (between Stanton and East Houston Streets), Lower East Side