Sakura - cherry blossoms - are esteemed in Japan not only for their beauty but also for their fragility and ephemeral nature. Sakura are taken so seriously that, come spring, cherry blossom "forecasts" detail the exact bloom status of the trees in different regions so that fans can time their visits accordingly. (Like this one.)
We can't provide such a detailed analysis here but we can help if you're wondering where and when you can catch a glimpse of cherry blossoms in Southern California this year. Here's our guide to some of our favorite spots around Los Angeles and Orange County, along with a status update as of this week.
LAKE BALBOA - Van Nuys
6300 Balboa Blvd.
Van Nuys, CA 91406
Lake Balboa has over 2,000 cherry trees, which surround a small lake and other greenspace. It is considered to be one of the top viewing spots in Los Angeles and therefore can get crowded. Plan accordingly.
CHERRY BLOSSOM STATUS as of 3/5/17: We spoke with the park office three days ago, and at the time trees were only showing "small flowers" with the peak bloom is expected to occur within the next two weeks. Their advice is:
1) Call the park once a week for an update - 818-756-9743
2) Check the website: www.lakebalboa.org. It was updated this weekend, and it shows flowers beginning to bloom!
DESCANSO GARDENS - La Canada-Flintridge
1418 Descanso Drive
La Canada-Flintride, CA 91011
Descanso Gardens hosts a very popular Cherry Blossom Festival each year. This year, the festival runs from this weekend, March 4 and 5, and the following weekend, March 11 and 12. Tickets must be purchased online in advance.
CHERRY BLOSSOM STATUS as of 3/2/17: We called the Gardens and were told both weekends would be "active" and relatively the same status for viewing. However, ticket availability is much higher on the second weekend of the festival.
HUNTINGTON GARDENS - San Marino
1151 Oxford Rd
San Marino, CA 91108
Cherry blossoms are not a central part of Huntington Gardens, but there are a few trees in the Japanese Garden. It's probably not worth an entire visit just to see those trees but rather if you're at Huntington anyway - make a stop.
CHERRY BLOSSOM STATUS as of 3/4/17: Flowers are either in full bloom or already past full bloom, with some trees already barren. Get here quick to see something!
HUNTINGTON BEACH CENTRAL PARK - Huntington Beach
7111 Talbert Avenue
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
The 350-acre park has 50 cherry blossom trees, gifted to the city by their Japanese sister city, Anjo (Aichi Prefecture), in 2002.
CHERRY BLOSSOM STATUS as of 3/5/17: Many of the trees are partially blooming, while other trees are still just showing buds. It appears there might not be a prime time to catch all the trees at once, but there should still be something to see in the coming weeks. According to festival officials, we can (fingers crossed) expect the park to still be a sight to behold during the Park's Cherry Blossom Festival on Sunday, March 19. The event is held each year to celebrate the sister city relationship. **BONUS: Nebuta Arts will be hosting a pop-up shop at the Festival. Check our calendar for full details!