5/3/2022 field report – Pink cherry blossoms are in full bloom at the Palace of Fine Arts and in Golden Gate Park’s Lindley Meadow! See some recent pics below!
If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and love cherry blossoms as much as I do, you may be surprised that you can enjoy them right here every Spring, even if you can’t go to Japan or Washington, D.C.! To be sure, they aren’t nearly as plentiful here as they are in Japan, where they are literally planted everywhere, but there’s enough for you to be able to enjoy these Springtime blossoms and participate in your own mini Hanami if you want. In case you’re not familiar with Hanami, it’s the Japanese custom of flower viewing every Spring, when friends and families enjoy picnics together while appreciating the spectacular but fleeting blooms!
In this post, I’ll share with you my favorite places to see cherry blossoms in both San Francisco and the Bay Area!
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When Do Cherry Blossoms Bloom in the Bay Area?
Cherry blossoms are beautiful but fleeting, blooming for only around two weeks. In California, they typically bloom between mid-February to early May. The bloom time depends on the type of cherry blossom tree, and also the temperature and weather.
Based on my observations, these are the approximate bloom times for some of the cherry blossoms in the Bay Area:
Mid-February: San Ramon
Mid-March: Hakone Gardens
Early to Mid-April: Japanese Tea Garden, Filoli
Late April to Early May: Palace of Fine Arts, Golden Gate Park’s Lindley Meadow, Presidio
Because of their short blooming period, sakura (the Japanese term for cherry blossom trees) blooms have traditionally symbolized the fleeting nature of beauty and life itself for Japanese people. The blooms remind us to truly and fully enjoy the beauty of life while we can! Because of this, I’ve always viewed cherry blossoms both with rapture and with a bit of wistfulness, knowing that they will be gone soon. But thankfully, there are always photographs to remind us of their beauty!
What Type of Cherry Blossom Trees Grow in the Bay Area?
The types of cherry blossom trees that can be grown in an area depends on the climate. Here in the Bay Area and most of Southern California, the climate is more suitable for the Kwanzan cherry trees, which have an upright shape, than for the weeping cherry trees that form a dramatic arching cascade of flowers. However, you can still find some weeping cherry trees here, such as at Filoli.
The Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms in the Bay Area
Here’s a summary of the best places to see cherry blossoms in the Bay Area, with details below.
- Hakone Estate Gardens in Saratoga
- Golden Gate Park in San Francisco: Japanese Tea Garden, Lindley Meadow & the San Francisco Botanical Garden
- City of San Ramon
- Palace of Fine Arts
Cherry Blossoms at the Hakone Estate Gardens in Saratoga
Probably the best place to see cherry blossoms is at a beautiful 18-acre Japanese garden located in the South Bay – the Hakone Estate Gardens in Saratoga. Here you’ll find dozens of cherry blossom trees inside and along the driveway. The setting here is just beautiful and even more special with the pink and white sakura blooms. This garden was originally a private estate and is now open to the public. It features a variety of gardens, multi-tiered waterfalls and koi ponds, a dry garden, a bamboo garden, and more.
The cherry blossoms here usually bloom between mid to late March until the beginning to mid-April.
Cherry Blossoms Inside Golden Gate Park
Cherry Blossoms can be found throughout Golden Gate Park! The best part is that there are several different varieties that bloom at different times so they can be enjoyed for a longer time during the Spring!
Cherry Blossoms at the Japanese Tea Garden
What better place to enjoy the beauty of cherry blossoms, which are native to Japan, than at a traditional Japanese garden? The Japanese Tea Garden inside Golden Gate Park has a pretty cherry tree right near the front entrance, and several more inside. The Japanese Tea Garden is the oldest public one in the United States and has a high arching drum bridge, a five-story pagoda, koi ponds, a Zen garden and many mature trees within 5 acres. There’s also a tea house where you can enjoy a traditional tea or even a green tea latte to refresh yourself!
The cherry blossoms typically bloom at the Japanese Tea Garden in early to mid-April.
Cherry Blossoms at the San Francisco Botanical Gardens
Located right next to the Japanese Tea Garden is the San Francisco Botanical Gardens, where you can find some cherry blossoms within the Jean Wolfe White Garden. Spanning a huge 55 acres, the garden is home to over 8,000 types of plants, trees, and flowers.
This garden is also my favorite place to see spectacular magnolias in February. There are over 200 of them here! See my photos and post here.
Cherry Blossoms at Lindley Meadow
Located inside Lindley Meadow in Golden Gate Park is a small grove of seven lovely pink cherry blossom trees that bloom in late April to early May. I love to stroll under the shade of these trees and admire the blooms in the Spring. There’s a picnic table nearby so you can enjoy lunch with family and friends too. You can enter Lindley Meadow from Fulton Street and 30th Ave.
These photos were taken on May 1, 2022.
Cherry Blossoms in the City of San Ramon
In the Bay Area, most cherry blossom trees are planted in either small groups, or as a single tree to brighten the landscape. But if you want to see cherry blossom trees planted en mass, there’s actually a place where you can find rows and rows of them planted together! This place is in the suburban city of San Ramon. This East Bay suburb has so many cherry blossom trees that I’ve been referring to it as the cherry blossom city!
The trees seem to be planted all over the city, and you’ll start seeing them as soon as you exit the freeway. They can be found in long rows all along Bolinger Canyon Road (including a popular spot in front of the Dougherty Station Library), in front of the San Ramon Community Park, and next to many residential and commercial buildings. Many of them on Bolinger Canyon Road are planted in rows of two or three. How absolutely delightful that this city has decided to plant so many of these beautiful trees!
Despite the fact that many of the trees are planted next to a main road, it doesn’t take away from the beautiful effect of so many pink blossoms blooming together!
Cherry Blossoms at Filoli
FIloli is an amazing estate and garden located in Woodside, approximately 30 minutes south of San Francisco. by car. The 654-acre property has beautiful flowers in bloom all year long, including weeping cherry blossoms in March-April! I haven’t been there to see their cherry blossoms in bloom yet, but hope to correct that soon!
Cherry Blossoms at the Palace of Fine Arts
The Palace of Fine Arts is actually my favorite place to see cherry blossoms in San Francisco, because I love visiting the Palace of Fine Arts any chance I get! There are several cherry blossom trees located throughout the area, including just outside and also inside the Palace of Fine Arts. The soft pink blooms look so amazing against the beautiful classical columns here – it’s no surprise that they’re a popular wedding background in the Spring! The following three pictures were taken on May 1, 2022 (and yes we did see a wedding in progress on that day!)
Cherry Blossoms at Japantown
Japantown is where the annual Cherry Blossom Festival is held every year and is also home to several streets with cherry trees. A great place to start is at the Peace Plaza, located between the East and West Malls, where there is a row of cherry blossom trees. As you walk around the area, you’ll likely notice more pink blooms scattered about!
Other Places to See Cherry Blossoms in San Francisco
Once you’re aware of the beautiful cherry blossoms blooming, you’ll probably start noticing more of them as you travel around the city. Some place I’ve seen them include the Presidio, the Sue Bierman Park near the Embarcadero, at Alamo Square Park located next to the historic Queen Anne homes, and in front of various apartment buildings and homes.
Cherry Blossoms Beyond the Bay Area
Cherry Blossoms at Descanso Gardens in Southern California
When Ken and I visited Southern California a couple years ago during our SoCal Spring Flowers & Gardens tour, we very much enjoyed Descanso Gardens, a delightful garden near Los Angeles. We saw some cherry blossoms and magnolia trees there inside their beautiful Japanese Garden, in addition to lots of tulips!
Cherry Blossoms in Sacramento
In Sacramento, a grove of 28 cherry blossom trees (“The Sakura Grove”) was planted at Southside Park on October 28, 2018 to recognize the contributions Japanese Americans have made to Sacramento. The Southside Park neighborhood was once the home of many Japanese families that were displaced during the WWII internments.
In addition, a new park called The Hanami Line is being planned along the Sacramento River, featuring a massive planting of flowering cherry trees!
Cherry Blossom Photography
As with many other beautiful Spring blooms, cherry blossoms are short-lived, blooming for only around two weeks or so. But if you capture them on camera, you can enjoy them year-round! If you want to capture the beauty of these small flowers, make sure to bring a macro lens with a long focal length. For Springtime portraits with your friends or just for yourself, I recommend a 50mm prime lens. My favorite lens for cherry blossom photos is my Nikon 105mm macro lens. I have written a post on flower photography for situations like these if you’re interested!
Spring Flowers Similar to Cherry Blossoms
If you love cherry blossoms, you may also be interested in other similar Spring blooms such as peach blossoms and magnolias in the Bay Area! They are both also very stunning and beautiful! You can see my photos and post here:
Thank you for stopping by my blog! I hope you found this post useful, and I hope you have a wonderful day!
Hi, I’m Pansy!
Hello, thanks for stopping by! I’m Pansy, California-based travel + lifestyle blogger, photographer and lover of ALL the pretty flowers! If you browse through my blog, you may notice that most of my travels, DIY and photography center around flowers and nature! 🌸🌼🌿