Connecticut cherry blossoms are not native.
The above fact used to bother the environmental sensibilities of this writer.
Doubly so considering how extensively they are planted today.
And yet, having appreciated some of the more magnificent displays of Connecticut cherry blossoms, their adulation makes sense.
The cherry blossom symbolizes renewal, a reminder of the fleeting nature of life.
Many people anxiously await the first appearance of the popcorn-like buds on the cherry trees. With bated breath, we anticipate the moment they will come into full bloom. Then we can experience their fleeting beauty before their petals are carried away on the approaching warm winds of summer.
Anything originating from Japan warrants more poetic writing, methinks.
More on that later.
Cherry blossom bloom season in Connecticut typically occurs at the end of April and lasts no more than a week.
Infographic design by Stanton House Inn
For some, keeping an eye on the Connecticut cherry blossom forecast is a nerve-wracking time of the year. After all, planning a trip to enjoy Connecticut during cherry blossom season requires precision.
Read on for everything you need to know about cherry blossom season in Connecticut. That way, you can make the most of your visit to the area this spring.
Why Do People Love Cherry Blossom Season?
In Japan, the tradition of honoring cherry blossoms dates back over a thousand years. They call the custom “hanami” meaning watching blossoms. The origins of cherry blossom season in the U.S. had a bit of a rocky start.
It began in the late 1800s, when Americans began importing the cherry trees to America. Agriculture Department official David Fairchild was one of the major trendsetters. He imported 100 Japanese cherry trees in 1906 to his Maryland property.
It was the delivery of over 2,000 young cherry trees to Washington as a gift from Japan that helped bring attention to the beauty of the trees. The trees were to be planted near the Potomac River as a symbol of the growing friendship between the U.S. and Japan. Unfortunately, the trees were infested with insects and had to be destroyed. This was when many of the worst tree infestations arrived in North America from Asia, something we cover in our historic CT garden tour.
The U.S. Secretary of State apologized to the Japanese ambassador to avoid a rift between the two countries.
Japan responded by sending cherry blossom seeds in 1912. 3000 trees flourished from the seeds.
Fast forward 30 years, and the trees became victims of the geo-political scene. In response to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, vandals cut-down several of the trees.
Despite a shaky past, the beauty of the trees proved too hard to resist. Many cities and towns planted the blossoming beauties in their cities and parks. Today cherry blossom festivals take place across the country to celebrate their unique yet fleeting beauty.
Where is Connecticut’s Official Cherry Blossom Festival?
Cherry blossom events and celebrations take place throughout the state.
That said, many consider Wooster Square the official site for the Cherry Blossom Festival.
New Haven’s historic Wooster Square is located between:
- Greene Street
- Wooster Place
- Chapel Street
- And Academy Street
The Historical Commission and Parks Department of New Haven planted the cherry blossom trees in 1973. With the help of local residents, they planted 72 trees.
And yes, that pales in comparison to the thousands planted in DC.
But the trees do look lovely surrounded by the historic buildings that line the square.
The trees have become a major attraction for the city with over 10,000 visitors coming to see them in full bloom every spring.
The festival circles around traditional Japanese nature observation and the Italian-American community’s participation. It is quite minimalistic as far as festivals go, with some live music, kids’ activities, and a selection of food trucks. Admission is free, and the festival tends to take place near the end of April.
To help increase the presence of the pretty pink and white blossoms, the state plants several cherry trees throughout New Haven each year.
It’s a lovely way of ensuring that there are new displays to enjoy each spring.
Where are the Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms in Connecticut?
You can spot cherry trees lining the streets and in the gardens of many Connecticut towns and neighborhoods. Even so, there are some areas where you can see them in higher concentration.
These are the best spring destinations to experience the full impact of the branches laden with lovely pink and white blossoms. Some of the top Connecticut areas to view the spring cherry blossoms include:
Like Wooster Square, Greenwich’s mansions and historic homes look even more impressive swathed in pink and white.
Take a walk along downtown Greenwich‘s streets, with a slight nip remaining in the spring air. The old cherry trees create canopies of pink and white above you, with a carpet of them below you as they begin to fade.
A springtime walk to enjoy the flowers feels magical.
Mill River Park, Stamford
Cherry trees grace the banks of Mill River Park and create a canopy of blossoms above the park’s pathways. You can wander the paths, or sit along the river banks to breathe in their fragrance and admire their beauty.
Edgerton Park, New Haven
The former Brewster estate features a turn-of-the-century greenhouse on the expansive 25-acre park.
The Sarah T. Crosby Conservatory and Greenbrier Greenhouse Horticulture program feature a wide variety of:
- Herbal products
- To go with the splendid display of cherry blossoms
Yale Campus, New Haven
There are several places on the Yale campus to find stunning CT cherry blossoms.
Branford Courtyard Swing
This spot has three cherry trees growing by the entrance to the dining hall. Some argue these trees are not in fact cherry trees. And yet, they blossom nonetheless with bright pink blossoms and are still worth a peek if you’ll be on campus anyway.
Another display of delicate pink blossoms is found beneath Harkness Tower. Here, the light and delicate flowers are even more beautiful when contrasted with their bright green leaves.
Berkeley College North Court
Berkeley College North Court has a single tree, but its imposing size makes it stand out with its clusters of lovely blossoms. It is clearly one of the original trees based on its height.
Yale Center for Language Studies
Yale Center for Language Studies has sidewalks studded with soft cherry blossom petals. They create the feel of the aisles of a spring wedding.
East Asian Languages Department
The East Asian Languages Department just a way down the road has a few lovely cherry trees that burst into blossoms as the winter finally fades.
And perhaps one of the best spots to take in the blossoms with almost all five senses is the Grove Cemetery.
The smell of the fragrant blossoms often hits you before you arrive depending on which way the wind blows. The soft touch of the petals graces your face as they fall from the trees, and the sight of the lovely, delicate blossoms completes the experience.
Last but not least, a thick layer of cherry blossoms covers the branches of the few trees located at Swing Space. From angelic white to robust magenta the delicate cherry blossoms add a sense of stately elegance to the campus.
There’s no doubt that exploring the Yale campus in the spring is one of the best things to do in New Haven, CT.
Cherry Trees and Climate Change
Peak cherry blossom season has arrived earlier and earlier each year.
In Kyoto, Japan they reported the earliest bloom in 1,200 years in 2021.
In Washington D.C. the change was not as dramatic. It did have a notable difference of a few days compared to the 30-year average. Scientists point to climate change as the cause for earlier blooms because springs and winters are becoming warmer.
Traditionally the trees blossom in late April in CT. To properly bloom, they need to experience a month of weather:
- Below 41 degrees
- And above freezing
But if the weather isn’t cold enough, the trees simply blossom later. Scientists point out warmer winter temperatures are having the most impact on the blossoms. If winters continue to become warmer a delay in the blossoms could eventually mean the trees won’t be able to blossom at all.
The species in Washington D.C. and New Haven are Yoshino cherry trees, which are very susceptible to temperature change and disease.
Experts recommend diversifying cherry tree varieties to avoid losing the beautiful sight of the blossoms within a century.
Other Things To Do in Connecticut in the Spring
The Connecticut cherry blossom season is risky as far as flowers go.
And yes, this writer is being a tad facetious.
If you do plan a visit to Connecticut that isn’t timed quite right, there are plenty of things to do while you are here:
Visit Roseland Cottage, Woodstock
The gardens of Roseland Cottage are just beginning to turn green around the time you are visiting CT to see the blossoms. Its 1846 Gothic Revival architecture is offset by its cheerful paint and offers a momentary trip back to simpler times in a quiet setting.
Mark Twain House, Hartford
The home of one of America’s most celebrated authors, makes for a great day trip, especially if it’s raining. You can tour the home and learn more about the author while seeing the desk where he sat to write his novels. The building itself is quite impressive with unique architecture and a lovely octagonal porch.
Regardless of the time of year, the Mark Twain House is one of the best things to do in Hartford, Connecticut.
Lovers Leap State Park, New Milford
Named after a tragic couple who avoided losing each other in the waters below, it is still a lovely place to enjoy nature and the sites from the park. Although the story likely isn’t true, it adds a little intrigue to your visit to one of the best state parks in Connecticut.
This is a small but charming park with a little pond making a nice respite on a warm spring day.
Lavender Pond Farm, Killingworth
This is an elegant surprise. Lavender Pond Farm features over 10,000 lavender plants and a surprisingly quaint shop with swoon-worthy finds.
Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford
If you are experiencing a typical New England spring shower, aka a torrential downpour, what better reason to visit a museum? This is actually the oldest public art museum in the U.S.
Here, you can take in the art and murals including an impressive collection of European Baroque.
A personal favorite, this is one of the best museums in all Connecticut.
Olde Mistick Village, Mystic
This is a uniquely New England experience where you can visit a site that is part living museum, with a hint of shopping mall. The shops are charming throwbacks to simpler times, and you can also enjoy lunch at one of the family-owned restaurants.
It’s a win-win.
Shore Line Trolley Museum, East Haven
Take a ride on the historic trolley along the remaining mile and a half long segment of the Branford Electric Railway. The ride is very pretty, traveling through fields and shaded by trees. There’s also a museum with interesting exhibits.
Visit the Waterfalls of Connecticut
Spring is waterfall season when the rivers in the area are overrun with melting snow. The result is breathtaking water cascading over rugged terrain and rocks.
The state is home to several waterfalls including some of the best state parks in Connecticut:
- Kent Falls, Kent
- Enders Falls, West Granby
- Mill Pond Falls, Newington
- Chapman Falls, East Haddam
- Buttermilk Falls, Plymouth
- Roaring Brook Falls, Chesire
If the weather permits, you can take a hike to the top of the falls, follow along the rivers or brooks, and see where the water takes you. The parks offer trails leading to equally impressive views.
Take a Drive to Greenwich
Greenwich is a charming town on Connecticut’s Gold Coast. It is an excellent destination if you love art and history. You’ll discover some unexpected attractions including:
- Bruce Museum:
A mix of natural history and art makes this former mansion an eclectic museum like no other. Exhibits include pieces by Auguste Rodin, Frederick MacMonnies, and Hiram Powers.
- Bush-Holley House:
Perfect for a rainy spring day, this iconic clapboard house was central to the Cos Cob Art Colony. While serving as a boarding house, students of the movement found a comfortable bed, warm meals, and plenty of artistic inspiration.
- Neuberger Museum of Art:
Although it’s across the state line, it’s just 10 minutes to Purchase College. It is one of the largest university museums in the country with over 6,000 items focused on 20th-century artists including Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
- Flinn Gallery:
Greenwich’s public library has its own art gallery displaying art often available for sale. It doesn’t get more Greenwich than that. Enjoy a varied gallery where exhibits include a diverse selection of media, genres, regions and periods.
You can also find an excellent selection of restaurants and cafes to enjoy lunch, a glass of wine or relax over a cup of coffee. A trip to Connecticut isn’t complete without spending a day or two in Greenwich.
Before and after Connecticut cherry blossoms: more things to do in Connecticut
Spring in Connecticut is not just about cherry blossom season.
It’s just the beginning!
Connecticut offers a very diverse and interesting assortment of sites and events throughout the spring. This short yet beautiful season is the perfect time to plan your trip to this elegantly charming New England state.
There are even more places to visit in Connecticut in the spring. Some more excuses to explore the state this time of year include:
- Tulip season and the many gorgeous tulip gardens in CT
If you’d rather come a little later, you can plan a day trip to the best tulip gardens in Connecticut.
Add-on a stop or three at any of the most unique attractions, activities, and things to do in Connecticut, and you’ll have an entire weekend planned.