Spring is one of my favorite seasons in Cleveland. Not only does it mean the end of winter and the coming of summer, but spring is also one of the most colorful seasons in Cleveland, with so many vibrant spring blooms everywhere.
And one of the most popular springtime blooms has to be the cherry blossom.
Cherry trees come from Japan, where their blossoms (also known as Sakura) are actually the national flower. Sakura are symbolic in Japan, where the short-lived and delicate blossoms represent the fleeting nature of life.
And, fun fact for you: most of the cherry trees you’ll find in the US come from Japan. The famous trees around the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC, for example, were a gift from the mayor of Tokyo in 1912.
Cherry blossoms delight people year after year, whether they’re in Yoshino, Japan or Cleveland, Ohio. Because yes, you can find cherry blossoms here in Cleveland, too!
When to see cherry blossoms in Cleveland
The timing of the cherry tree bloom is completely weather-dependent, but in northeast Ohio usually occurs somewhere between late March and early May.
(In 2020, the local cherry blossoms didn’t start blooming until May; in 2021, they were out at the beginning of April; in 2023, the bloom will likely peak around the week of April 10th.)
Once the blossoms show their white and pink faces, they can last anywhere from 1-3 weeks. The longer they are in bloom, the more fragile they become, though, meaning windy, rainy, or even very hot weather can easily strip the trees once the blossoms are past their peak.
Once you hear that cherry blossoms are at peak bloom, your best bet is to go see them as soon as possible!
The best places to see cherry blossoms in Cleveland
Here are the best places in and around Cleveland to see these beautiful blooms.
One quick note: In order to make sure as many people in current and future generations can enjoy them, DO NOT climb on or in the cherry trees, and don’t pluck blossoms off the branches.
1. Brookside Reservation
3900 John Nagy Blvd, Cleveland
This Cleveland Metropark is home to more than 100 Yoshino cherry trees, planted in neat lines near the entrance off Ridge Road. The trees at Brookside Reservation were a gift from the Japanese Association of Northeast Ohio in the mid-1990s, and have been delighting visitors ever since.
You can stroll along “Blossom Lane” to see the trees full of these delicate blossoms, and then perhaps stick around to explore more of the 132-acre Brookside Reservation.
What we love about this spot: The trees are easy to access, and there’s free roadside parking all along John Nagy Blvd (though note that you do sometimes have to park a little further down the road depending on how busy it is).
2. Wade Lagoon
10820 East Blvd, Cleveland
Located in University Circle, Wade Lagoon is part city park and part Fine Arts Garden connected to the Cleveland Museum of Art. Several area cultural institutions surround Wade Lagoon, including the art museum, Case Western Reserve University, and Severance Hall.
The lagoon is beautiful (and free!) to stroll around any time of year, but it’s especially beautiful in the spring when various typed of flowering trees are in bloom.
While there aren’t as many cherry trees here as you’ll find at Brookside Reservation, there are still plenty in different varieties – including both white and pink weeping cherry trees.
University Circle even has a “bloom watch” page on their website where they’re tracking the stages of the bloom this year.
What we love about this spot: You can’t beat the views here when everything is in bloom. Plus, you can easily pair up cherry blossom photos with a visit to the Cleveland Museum of Art, which is always free.
3. Towpath Trail in Akron
200 S Main St, Akron
Okay, okay, so this isn’t exactly in Cleveland, but if you want one more excellent place to see lots of cherry trees in one place, it’s worth making the drive down to Akron.
Along the Towpath Trail between Ohio and Erie Canal Park and Lock 3, more than 400 cherry trees can be seen in bloom in the spring. These trees were planted in 2011-12 in a partnership between the City of Akron and the Japanese Association of Northeast Ohio.
To find the blooming trees, you just need to get on the Towpath Trail in downtown Akron. (It can be accessed directly behind Spaghetti Warehouse, from Lock 3, or from the State Street trailhead entry behind Canal Park Stadium.)
The Downtown Akron Partnership has even begun throwing an annual Sakura Cherry Blossom Celebration, which in 2023 will take place on April 15 (more info here).
What we love about this spot: This part of Akron is really fun in nice weather. You can hit the Towpath Trail on foot or by bike, and then hang out in the park at Lock 3 after you get your fill of cherry blossoms.
There are other places you can spot cherry blossoms in Cleveland, too. For example, you’ll find clumps of cherry trees in places like Lake View Cemetery, Public Square, and around certain neighborhoods. But the above spots are your best bet for seeing lots of cherry blossoms in one place!
Tell me: Do you seek out cherry blossoms each spring in Cleveland?
Amanda was born and raised in northeast Ohio, and has always been a fangirl of her home state. Now, she’ sharing her love of the Cleveland area with the world, highlighting all the best things to do, see, and eat in the CLE. She’s been running Cleveland Traveler since January 2019.