There comes a time every spring when I open Instagram only to find my feed has been transformed into a sea of pink, courtesy of friends who live in Washington, D.C. That’s right ― it’s cherry blossom season!
The U.S. capital is home to nearly 4,000 cherry trees along the iconic Tidal Basin, and each year, locals and tourists alike anxiously await the stunning “peak bloom” when 70% of the blossoms are open. First planted in 1912, Washington’s cherry trees were a gift of friendship from the mayor of Tokyo, which came after a decadeslong lobbying effort led by pioneering journalist and travel writer Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore.
In Japan, cherry blossoms are known as “sakura,” and they are an important cultural icon symbolizing renewal and optimism, as well as the transient nature of life. Peak bloom tends to start each March, ushering in a season of celebratory festivals across Japan that date back centuries. In 1934, Washington held its first National Cherry Blossom Festival, a tradition that persists in the U.S. to this day.
Peak bloom can be notoriously difficult to predict, particularly in recent years as the effects of climate change have led to concerningly early blossoms. Still, if you’re looking to catch the pink beauties in all their glory, a number of trackers and forecasts are available to keep eager nature lovers up to date.
And the good news is that you don’t have to travel to the mid-Atlantic to see the blooms. HuffPost has rounded up 16 places where you can see gorgeous cherry blossoms across the U.S.