The city’s most famous celebration of the cotton candy–resembling tree is the fantastic two-day Sakura Matsuri at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. But if you’ve attended this floral frenzy in the past, you know that it can get crowded. If you’d 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. Take a Stem Class
If you’ve ever been curious about ikebana, Japanese art and culture center Resobox offers beginner’s classes in traditional Japanese flower arranging by a master instructor every Saturday at its East Village location. Materials depend on what’s available at the flower market, but cherry blossoms are always possible at this time of year, along with other lush and fragrant spring blooms. 91 East 3rd Street (between First and Second Avenues), East Village
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 at 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. Brighten Up a Rainy Day
Too wet out to see the blossoms in person? Sakura River, a dreamy painting of cherry blossoms by contemporary Japanese artist Ryo Date, greets visitors at the entrance to Chelsea’s Sato Sakura Gallery. There are many more treasures inside, including her Spring Park, 2018, a glimpse of the Jefferson Memorial through blooming cherry boughs. These works feel as lush and succulent as the real thing. 501 West 20th Street (between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues), Chelsea
7. Imbibe Your Blossoms
After a day of flowers and more, why not put a cherry on top and stop off for 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