Cherry blossom in Portland: Top spots for early spring flowers

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Portland is the most underrated city to witness gorgeous cherry blossoms. When thinking of the pink bloom Tokyo, Kyoto or Washington D.C. come to mind. But have you ever heard of Portland in connection with “sakura”? I haven’t until I moved to Oregon. But it’s true: Cherry blossoms grow in Portland and cherry blossoms bloom throughout entire Portland. Thanks to various kinds of cherry trees planted throughout the city, at the Portland Waterfront, in parks and residential neighbourhoods Portland an ideal city to witness early spring flowers. The best part: Most places in my list are public locations. So you can admire the cherry bloom for free and without competing with crowds of photographers for a clear shot.

Cherry blossom at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Portland
Kirschblüten Portland

Where to admire cherry blossoms in Portland

#1 Cherry Blossom avenue at Japanese American Historical Plaza, Tom McCall Waterfront Park

The most iconic spot featuring an array of cherry trees in Portland is located right at the Willamette River at Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Around 100 planted Akabono cherry trees are turning the Japanese American Historical Plaza, a memorial of 120.000 internmented Japanese Americans of World War 2, into a blooming meadow every spring. The cherry trees were donated by the Japanese Grain Importers Association in 1990 and create the most famous grove of the city. It’s the largest amount of cherry trees standing closely together. If you want to get nice pictures of cherry blossoms, this is the place to be.

Cherry blossoms at McCall Waterfront Park Portland
pink cherry blossoms in full bloom

Photography tip: The esplanade itself with modern facades in the background, the unique “Old Town Portland” sign as well as the iconic brown Steel Bridge are great motifs to include into your shots of the pink blossoms. You can also get a lovely bird’s eye view from the Steel Bridge itself.

Cherry blossoms framing Portland's Steel Bridge
Cherry trees at Portland Japanese American Historical Plaza

Address Japanese American Historical Plaza:
2 NW Naito Pkwy, Portland, OR 97209
open to public 365 days / free access

Smile4Travel walking through cherry blossom avenue at Portland Waterfront

Local’s tip: Tom McCall Waterfront Park is definitely a place you want to save for your next trip to Portland! Before you go down to the waterfront, stop by Pine Street Market and grab a coffee or a snack from one of the stalls within this industrial food hall. Pine Place Market is the perfect starting point for a loooooong walk along Portland’s waterfront.

Portland Waterfront in pink cherry bloom

Address Pine Street Market:
126 SW 2nd Ave, Portland, OR 97204
opening hours: daily 9:00am – 9:00pm, vendor hours vary

#2 Hoyt Arboretum, Washington Park

Hoyt Arboretum is a floral paradise, located closeby Portland’s city center and not only because of its easy access a popular recreational site. The 190 acres large Arboretum was founded in 1928 to conserve endangered species and educate the community. It’s a membership-based, non-profit organization that hosts 12 miles of hiking trails and showcases trees from across the globe. Various hiking trails and walking paths are dedicated to different trees: Walnut Trail, Oak Trail, Maple Trail just to name a few examples. They even have a Redwood Trail, where you can spot a couple of those impressive, thousands of years old giants, without the need of travelling to the Redwood State and National Parks in Southern Oregon and Northern California.

Redwoods at Hoyt Arboretum Portland

On a clear day you can spot Mount St. Helens and Mount Rainier in Washington State in the distance from the viewpoint at Overlook Path. So no matter if you come for magnolia, rhododendron or not even a certain blooming tree at all, Hoyt Arboretum is a great outdoor recreational area for any given season.

View of Mt. St. Helens from Hoyt Arboretum Portland

Cherry Blossom at Hoyt Arboretum Portland

Obviously I went to Hoyt Arboretum a little too early to see their cherry in full bloom as they mostly have trees of the late flowering Shirofugen and Shogetsu cherry there. So maybe there is still a realistic chance to admire the blooming trees by mid-April or even May. I still found some blossoms on the Overlook Path, behind one of the big water tanks. If you want to know what’s blooming currently, check out Hoyt Arboretum’s Seasonal guide: where you can click through the seasonal highlights of each month and plan your visit according to plum, cherry, hazel, walnut or maple bloom.

Hoyt Arboretum Portland Cherry Blossoms

As Hoyt Arboretum is part of Portland’s Washington Park, Portland Japanese Garden, the International Rose Test Garden and Oregon Zoo are within easy access and can be combined in one visit. You could even walk over to Pittock Mansion and enjoy the iconic view of Mount Hood sitting prominently behind Portland’s cityscape. Or combine your trip to Hoyt Arboretum with hiking the 4T-Trail and explore Portland’s nature in a sustainable way.

Pittock Mansion View of Mount Hood

Hoyt Arboretum encourages visitors to practice social distancing and follow the recommendations outlined by the National Recreation Park Association. So check their website or Instagram account for updates and act accordingly.

Address:
4000 SW Fairview Blvd., Portland, OR 97221 (Visitor Center)
The grounds are open to the public 365 days a year, from 5:00am – 10:00pm
no entrance fees, only parking fees apply

#3 Spring and fall colors at Portland Japanese Garden, Washington Park

As Portland Japanese Garden is known as one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan itself, it goes without saying that Sakura (cherry blossom season) and Hanami (traditional Japanese flower viewing) can be practiced in perfection here. Entering the Portland Japanese Garden actually transfers you to the land of the rising sun immediately, no matter the season. My visit in autumn had left me speechless under countless shades of yellow, orange, green and red autumn leaves. Can’t wait to visit Portland Japanese Garden this spring to admire the cherry bloom.

Red mape tree at Portland Japanese Garden

Address:
611 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, Oregon 97205
opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10:00am – 7:00pm (summer) / 10:00am – 4:00pm (winter)
admission: 19,95$ per adult, see fares

#4 Spring flowers at Lan Su Chinese Garden, Downtown Portland

After talking about Portland Japanese Garden, I can’t miss mentioning Lan Su Chinese Garden as it’s one of the most authenic Chinese gardens outside of China. This is the result of a collaboration between the cities of Portland and Suzhou, Portland’s sister city located in China’s Jiansu province. Suzhou is famous for its density of traditional Ming Dynasty gardens. The fact that Lan Su Chinese Garden was built by Chinese artisans from Suzhou makes it needless to say that the experience you get in Lan Su Chinese Garden is beyond authentic and definitely an architectural and natural highlight.

Magnolia bloom Portland Oregon

Even if Lan Su Chinese Garden doesn’t host any cherry trees, the garden is an absolut must-see when visiting Portland or you are anyways living in the area. Although there won´t be the chance for hamami, it invites visitors to admire hundreds of plant species that are native to China – such as magnolia, peony, camellia, rhododendron, osmanthis, lotus, water lily and bamboo.

Address:
239 NW Everett Street, Portland, Oregon 97209
opening hours: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm daily
admission: 12,95$ per adult, for more fares visit Lan Su Chinese Garden’s website

#5 Cherry trees at Laurelhurst Park, Southeast Portland

Laurelhurst Park is a great spot for extensive walks, picnics, dog walks or any outdoor activity you could think of. It hosts a spring-fed pond, picnic tables, playgrounds, restrooms, a basketball, tennis and volleyball court, a soccer field, a dog-off-leash area and of course plenty of walkways – paved and unpaved. Besides some cherry trees, which are located along the outer edges of the park, Laurelhurst Park is home to many flowers and blooming trees such as magnolia, rhododendron and a collection of Sequoiodeae redwoods. In the lake even ducks and turtles found a place to stay. All this makes Laurelhurst Park a great example for any city recreational area, where every generation finds their space. In 2001 Laurelhurst Park was even named to the National Register of Historic Places, the first city park ever listed on the national register.

Cherry Blossom at Laurelhurst Park Portland
Cherry blossoms framing Laurelhurst neighbourhood Portland
Cherry blossoms at Laurelhurst Park Portland

Address:
SE Cesar E Chavez Blvd and Stark Street
opening hours: 5:00am – 10:30pm daily
open to puplic, no entrance fee

#6 Cherry blossom in Portland neighbourhoods

Besides the gardens and parks, the most beautiful cherry blossom sceneries I surprisingly discovered outside my front door. Honestly I didn’t know that Portland offered so many blooming corners. Only the fact I spotted white and pink blossoms everywhere in our very neighbourhood made me start researching where to find cherry trees in Portland. Maybe its the same for the city you are living in?

Cherry blossoms in Portland's neighbourhoods
Pink cherry trees lining the streets of Portland neighbourhoods
Cherry blossom in Portland

As I walked and drove around town I could have easily stopped every 2 minutes to take great pictures. Northeast and Southeast are the neighbourhoods I discovered the best cherry blossoms. I found lovely blossoms between Alberta Street and Killingsworth Street, in Laurelhurst neighbourhood, Missisippi, but also in many side streets and also Downtown Portland. It seems like Portland is full of blooming trees and no matter where you live there is quite a big chance to find cherry blossoms in your district. You don’t have to drive far or even make unnessecary trips to admire the beauty of spring blossoms.

When cherry blossoms match residential Portland neighbourhoods
cherry blossom in Portland

Fun Fact: During my research I came across the blog of Antonina, called “EmbraceSomePlace” as she has already published a post about her favorite spots for spring blossoms in Portland. And guess what happened next: I texted her, we met in person and spent such a fun afternoon together. I want you to take this blogpost as an inspiration to explore your own neighbourhood and find some lovely cherry trees or other spring blossoms while acting responsively and keeping social distancing.

When do cherry trees bloom in Portland, Oregon?

Cherry blossoms are the first colors of spring. I discovered the first blossoms throughout the 2nd half of February as I wandered around Portland’s neighbourhoods to soak in the first rays of spring sun. I felt the city´s awakening from winter with white and pink blossoms sprouting everywhere in my neighbourhood.

Portland Spring Blossom

Cherry blossom peak season in Portland is supposed to hit in March and April then. As weather patterns are different every year, the peak bloom can even result in a later April to May cycle. So don’t be sad if you come by some trees that lost their blossoms already, it’s always worth to keep your eyes open for later flowering trees.

trees full of cherry blossoms in Portland, Oregon

More inspiration of Portland and surroundings:

The best urban Hikes in Portland
How to spend a Japenese Day in Portland
Where to find the lavender fields with views of Mt. Hood

Curious how cherry blossom season looks like in Shanghai, China?

Shanghai’s most beautiful parks, not only during cherry blossom season


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QUESTIONS & COMMENTS?

Have you ever been to Oregon and explored Portland in any specific season? Or you might have tipps for blooming cherry trees in your city? Leave me a comment! Do you like the article, have any suggestions, feedback or recommendations? Share this article with your friends!

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best places to admire cherry blossom in Portland, Oregon blossom in portland

Top parks, gardens and neighbourhoods for cherry blossom in Portland

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7 comments
  1. This might be the first year that the areas with cherry blossoms aren’t overrun with people taking photos. Ther are lots where I am in Vancouver and it’s eerily quiet in the tree lined streets. I’m glad you’re able to get out for some exercise and enjoy them in Portland though. You’ve inspired me to look for the beauty in this current mixed up world

    1. Thanks Emma,
      Yeah, you are right: This year the areas are pretty quiet, actually the perfect time to get some nice and clean shots. But on the other hand also a weird feeling as we should rather stay at home. I was lucky enough to see Portland’s Waterfront in full bloom before everything went crazy. And fortunately there are blooming trees throughout the city. So I am glad I inspired you to look around your neighbourhood as well!
      Cheers, Stefanie

  2. Thanks for such a great post. For some reason I always think of Washington DC and not Portland when I think of Cherry Blossoms. But they are so pretty all around the city. Clearly I need to visit April of next year! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Yeah, that’s funny. I’ve also seen many posts about Washington’s cherry blossoms and honestly I wasn’t aware that Portland is such blooming city, before I moved here. Only got some impressions of the waterfront, but was so surprised to see the whole city in bloom. Make sure not to visit too late next year. The cherry trees already started blooming end of February.
      And make sure to say “Hi”!
      Best, Stefanie

  3. Your photos are gorgeous! I’ve never seen the cherry blossoms (anywhere!), but I really want to! I’ve never heard much about seeing them in Portland, so this is really helpful. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Thanks so much, Emma!
      Honestly I also wasn’t aware of Portland’s bloom before moving here. I was also pretty surprised sakura is spread out across the entire city. So if you plan your trip to Portland, make sure to choose early spring!
      Best, Stefanie

  4. These photographs are all absolutely gorgeous! This time last year I was in Portland, and these photographs really take me back. It was such a beautiful place with gorgeous food and the most welcoming people, and I miss it so much. Maybe next year I will be able to experience the blossoms again!

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