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Jackson Park cherry blossoms
Photograph: Courtesy Chicago Park District

The best places to see cherry blossoms near Chicago

Make the most of cherry blossom season's ephemeral beauty at these prime viewing locations in Chicago and beyond.

Emma Krupp
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Emma Krupp
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In Japan, cherry blossom season is a springtime rite of passage. Each year, thousands of people pour into city parks to post up with picnic blankets and admire the pale pink flowers—a tradition called hanami, or flower viewing—before they fall to the ground after just a few short days. Here in the U.S., Chicago is hardly the most well-known city for cherry blossom viewing (that distinction belongs to Washington, D.C., which was famously gifted more than 3,000 cherry trees by Japan in 1912), but you'll still find plenty of good spots for gazing at gorgeous spring blooms. Jostle with crowds at one of the most beautiful gardens in Chicago, take a train to the suburbs or pack your bags for a flower-powered day trip from Chicago—just make sure to plan your visit carefully, because you only have a few days to soak it all in once the blooms hit their peak! Here are some of the best places to see cherry blossoms in Chicago.

When do cherry blossoms bloom in Chicago? 

Cherry blossoms hit their peak anywhere from mid-April to early May, depending on weather conditions. 

How long do cherry blossoms last in Chicago?

Once the flowers hit peak bloom, they typically last anywhere from three to eight days before shedding their petals. 

The best places to see cherry blossoms near Chicago

  • Things to do
  • Literary events
  • Woodlawn

Take in views of Yoshino, Gooseberry, Snow Goose, Snow Fountains and Accolade blooms just south of the Museum of Science and Industry along Jackson Park's Columbia Basin, an area home to more than 160 cherry blossom trees. The pink and white trees—which were planted beginning in 2013 to commemorate the 120th anniversary of the World's Columbian Exhibition—draw thousands of visitors to the park each year, but don't let the crowds scare you off: You won't find a better place in Chicago to have a true hanami experience. If you're especially enthusiastic, you can even pick up cherry blossom-themed merch from the Chicago Park District's website.

When to visit: Mid-April to early May

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Hyde Park

For a more traditional approach to hanami, continue south in Jackson Park to enter the Garden of the Phoenix, a gorgeous green space landscaped in classic Japanese style—complete with koi-filled ponds, maples and a Japanese moon bridge—that's dotted with elegant cherry blossom trees. You'll likely brave a line to enter the garden during peak cherry blossom season, but helpful docents are stationed out front to keep things running smoothly (and you can always check out Yoko Ono's Skylanding sculpture while you wait). 

When to visit: Mid-April to early May

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  • Things to do
  • Literary events
  • Suburbs
  • price 2 of 4

Take a stroll through the Chicago Botanic Garden's 17-acre Malott Japanese Garden to spot a handful of blush-colored cherry blossom trees, plus a few ornamental flowering cherry shrubs. While you're there, peek across the lake to contemplate the inaccessible island Horaijima—a.k.a. the Island of Everlasting Happiness—which symbolizes the so-close-yet-so-far nature of paradise. 

When to visit: Mid- to late April—updates can be found on the Chicago Botanic Garden homepage and social media sites. 

  • Things to do
  • Suburbs

Out in suburban Lisle, the Morton Arboretum features a small collection of cherry blossom trees in its Korean plant landscape located on the Arboretum's east side. Curators at the Arboretum say the trees can be somewhat finicky about weather conditions, so be sure to call ahead before you visit—though if you happen to miss out on peak bloom, the Arboretum's larger collection of magnolia and crabapple trees (which flower in mid- to late April and mid-May, respectively) are sure to impress.

When to visit: Late April 

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Willing to hit the road to get your hanami fix? Take a two and a half- to three-hour drive downstate to visit Japan House at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, a teaching facility and cultural center that boasts gardens filled with 50 gorgeous cherry blossom trees. The elegant trees were donated to Japan House in 2008, so they've had more than a decade to fill out and mature; plus, the center hosts regular cultural events (including hanami) as well as pop-up tastings and garden tours to accentuate your experience. 

When to visit: Anywhere from March to early summer—for best results, check out the Sakura Watch on Japan House's social media pages to see what's in bloom. 

Door County, WI
Photograph: Shutterstock

Door County, WI

If you missed out on Chicago's all-too-brief cherry blossom season, consider heading north to Door County. The idyllic peninsula, renowned for its bountiful cherry crop, erupts into bloom a little later in the year—and with more than 2,000 acres of orchards across the county, you'll find plenty of opportunities for spotting blossoms. Need some guidance before you head out? Visit the Door County tourism website to see a handy map of viewing destinations. 

When to visit: Mid- to late May

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