Cherry blossom Portland: Enjoy spring while practicing social distancing
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I am Stefanie, my passion is my passport and travelling makes me smile since I have started exploring the world on my own back in 2007. Since then I have visited almost 40 countries and counting. As a travel enthusiast with a big love for writing and photography, my mission is to share my experiences, individual travel tips and personal insights combined with eye-catching pictures on my Blog and Instagram (German & English). Born in Thuringia,(Germany), I have lived in Würzburg, Cape Town, Frankfurt and Nuremberg. Now Shanghai (China) has become my new travel hub since the beginning of 2018. Just click to find out more about my person, the blog and my references.

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2 weeks ago I discovered the first colors of spring as I wandered around Portland. I felt the city´s awakening from winter with white and pink blossoms sprouting everywhere in my neighbourhood. Back then I had just started to research the best spots for cherry blossoms in Portland. While discovering more and more spots I was so confident about strolling around town in the upcoming weeks, visiting all these locations, taking pictures in order to create another cherry blossom guide – this time for Portland – just like I did last year for Shanghai. And today? The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down. Millions of plans had to be cancelled – shops, restaurants, schools, offices and even recreational sites were closed. We are all asked to stay at home to reduce the further spreading of the coronavirus. The most overwhelming fact: Literally everybody I know worldwide is affected by this state of emergency in one way or the other.

Portland Spring Blossom

Since March 23rd “shelter at home” is a state-wide order in Oregon, which means that only essential activities outside are allowed, including health care and grocery shopping, collecting takeout food from restaurants and fortunately outdoor activities like walking your dog, jogging or biking in your neighbourhood – very similar to Germany actually. Everything of course while respecting the social distance of 6 feet (2 metres). The whole state park system is closed in order to prevent overcrowding of hiking trails, small coastal towns, beaches and parks to keep them safe and accessible for the locals. Torn back and forth by emotions, uncertainty and constantly changing facts, until yesterday I wasn’t convinced at all to write a blog post about Portland’s best spots to enjoy spring blossoms.

Kirschblüten Portland

But today I decided there are way too many reasons to share Portlands best spots for cherry blossom with you nevertheless:

  1. Everyone needs some kind of distraction at the moment. Even if we aren’t able to admire the cherry blossoms personally, we should at least have the option to adore them digitally. As I was strolling around town with my camera alread a few weeks ago, I captured enough shots of blooming Portland to put together a colorful blog post now.
  2. Going outside is still important for our body and mind. The good thing: Some of the blooming spots might be located right around the corner in your neighbourhood. So you could combine your daily dosis of breathing fresh air and stretching your muscles with finding some of the blossoms.
  3. Even if the peak bloom of the early cherry blossoms will be gone soon, Portland is full of magnolia and other colourful trees. As cherry trees only kick-off the first colors of spring, the general bloom of the city will not be over yet when cherry trees loosing their blossoms.
  4. If we all help to flatten the curve by staying at home, hopefully the pandemic will be over sooner than later and we’ll still have time to get outdoors and enjoy the spring and summer season full of wildflowers and colourful trees.
  5. Last but not least: Although 2020 started tough, there will be a time after COVID-19. I know it still sounds surreal, but keep in mind that the cherry trees will bloom again next year. So make sure to save this cherry blossom guide for your future explorations and next trip to Oregon.

Kirschblüten Portland, Oregon

Where to enjoy Portland’s cherry blossom season

#1 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. So if you want to get nice pictures of cherry blossoms, this is the place to be. 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.

Portland Waterfront Cherry BlossomPortland Steel Bridge Cherry Blossom Portland Waterfront Cherry Blossom

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

Portland Japanese American Historical Plaza

Local’s tip: 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.
Of course Pine Place Market isn’t an option during these days of COVID-19. But I can’t wait to go back there snacking and starting a loooooong walk along Portland’s waterfront as soon as everything gets back to normal. Tom McCall Waterfront Park is definitely a place you want to save for your next trip to Portland!

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

PortlandCherry Blossom Riverfront

#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 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.

Hoyt Arboretum Portland Mt. St. Helens

Cherry Trees at Hoyt Arboretum

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 website: 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

Due to COVID-19 the Hoyt Arboretum’s visitors center is closed temporarily, the trails still remain open to the public. 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 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 last autumn had left me speechless under countless shades of yellow, orange, green and red autumn leaves. Back then I was already looking forward to coming back for cherry blossom season. Due to COVID-19 the garden had to close its doors until further notice. So unfortunately the cherry trees can’t be admired personally this year and I have to be patient as well. But Portland Japanese Garden frequently posts updates about the bloom on Twitter and Instagram account, so that you can at least take part and have a look virtually.

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, for more fares visit: https://japanesegarden.org/hours-admission/

#4 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.

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.

Magnolia Portland Oregon

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 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 Laurelhurst Park Portland Cherry Blossom Laurelhurst Park Portland Cherry Blossom Laurelhurst Park Portland

Of course during the times of COVID-19 you should reconsider your walk in Laurelhurst Park respectfully. As it’s a popular park anyways, try plan your walks not during the most busy times and keep the park accessible to the local community.

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

#6 Portland neighbourhoods

Besides the gardens and parks, the most beautiful cherry blossom sceneries I surprisingly discovered just outside my front door. This is one of the main reasons that motivated me to write and publish this blogpost even in times of COVID-19. Honestly, until recently I didn’t know that Portland offered so many blooming corners. Only the fact I spotted white and pink blossoms literally everywhere in our very neighbourhood made me start researching where to find cherry trees in Portland. Maybe its the same fro you in your hometown?

Cherry Blossom Portland neighbourhoodsCherry Blossom Portland neighbourhoods Cherry Blossom Portland neighbourhoods

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 explored the most. I found lovely trees 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. 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 during the times of COVID-19.

Cherry Blossom Portland neighbourhoodsPortland neighbourhoods spring blossoms

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. We will definitely repeat this as soon as the world gets back to normal.

When do cherry trees bloom in Portland, Oregon?

Cherry blossoms are the first colors of spring. I discovered the first blossoms already throughout the 2nd half of February. Peak season 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 nowadays. 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.

Cherry Blossom Portland neighbourhoodsCherry Blossom Tom McCall Waterfront Park Portland


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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, or still have any suggestions, feedback or recommendations? If you like my content, please feel free to share this article with your friends!

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enjoy cherry blossom while social distancing
Portland's best parks, gardens and neighbourhoods to visit for cherry blossom in spring
Cherry blossom guide for Portland, Oregon
best places to enjoy spring and 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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