This Park Near NYC Has More Cherry Blossom Trees Than Washington, D.C. — How to Visit
While 1.5 million people flock to the nation's capital to see the 3,000 cherry blossom trees in full bloom in late March, there's another major celebration of picturesque pastel trees happening in April with even more trees than in Washington, D.C. — and its just outside New York City.
With more than 5,200 trees, Branch Brook Park in Newark, N.J., is the country's largest collection of cherry blossom trees, and after a two-year pandemic hiatus, the 360-acre park is celebrating its 46th Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival. The celebration is running through April 10, with this year's full bloom expected to occur April 8-15, according to the Branch Brook Park Alliance.
"The natural beauty of the cherry blossoms has been attracting visitors to the park since they were first planted there in the late 1920s," Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. said in a statement. "We have an exciting line-up of activities where visitors can admire the beauty of the trees, learn about the history of our Parks System, and engage in Japanese cultural demonstrations. The blossoming trees create a pink and white canopy that is perfect for picnics, photographs, and simple enjoyment."
The four-mile-long park was conceived in 1867 by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, best known for designing New York City's Central Park, and is on both the state and nation's register of historic places. Branch Brook Park was also the nation's first county park opened for public use.
The park came into full bloom when cherry trees were donated to the county by the Mrs. Felix Fuld, part of the Bamberger family, in 1927. By 2006, many of the original trees had disintegrated because of age, and an "aggressive planting program" was launched to both strengthen the existing trees and add to the numbers.
Crowds can top 10,000 visitors on a blooming day, so for a weekday option, there are Cherry Blossom Talks every Wednesday this month at 11 a.m. at the Cherry Blossom Welcome Center, a well as Historic Cell Phone Tours available year-round by calling (973) 433-9047.
Branch Brook Park is accessible by its own station on NJ Transit's Newark light rail.