Where to See Cherry Blossoms in Southern California: A 2020 Guide to Japanese Gardens

Every Spring, thousands of Cherry Blossoms open up across the world, spraying waves of tiny pink flowers across trees. While Japan is the best place to see these flowers, they can also be found in Southern California! Check out this list of places to see the Cherry Blossoms bloom in SoCal, or find out where you can see the Super Bloom of poppies and other flowers.

Cherry Blossom Festivals Across SoCal

To celebrate these blooms, several cities in Southern California have annual festivals. These are typically free or cost less than $15 per person.

Here are a few of the big events:

No one will understand a Japanese garden until you’ve walked through one, and you hear the crunch underfoot, and you smell it, and you experience it over time. Now there’s no photograph or any movie that can give you that experience.

J. Carter Brown

Now, let’s check out the Japanese gardens around Southern California that will give you a glimpse of the cherry blossoms in bloom.

Photo Credit: The World is A Book

Japanese Friendship Garden at Balboa Park

Where: Inside Balboa Park in San Diego.

Cost: $12 for adults, $10 for student/military/seniors. See all costs including Free Tuesdays for locals here.

This 12-acre garden is in the picturesque Balboa Park and hosts crafting days, meditation sessions, classes, concerts, festivals, and more. See their event list here. According to their site, the Japanese Friendship Garden is an expression of friendship between San Diego and its sister city, Yokohama. It illustrates two cultures and creates an immersive experience into Japanese culture.

Photo Credit: Palos Verdes Source

South Coast Botanic Garden

Where: Palos Verdes, West of Long Beach and South of Torrance.

Cost: $9 for adults.

This Botanic Garden offers a Japanese Garden and Koi Pond. The pond is wrapped in evergreen shrubbery, surrounded by 200-year-old stone lanterns. Also, check out their other gardens and classes like watercolor painting and tai chi. See the garden highlights here.

EBM Japanese Garden at CSULB. Photo credit: Smile and Let Me Shoot You.

Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

Where: Long Beach, on the California State University Long Beach campus.

Cost: $5 or free for CSULB students.

The perfect place to feed koi (for $0.50 a handful), the Earl Burns Miller Garden is small at 1.3 acres but offer a pop of blossom colors. Check out their Peach Blossom and Iris festivals. They are closed on Saturdays and for student breaks so be sure to check the calendar first.

Huntington Library, photo credit: Time Out

Huntington Library

Where: San Marino/Pasadena area, northeast of Los Angeles.

Cost: $25+ for adults, dependent on date. See details here.

At $25 for a ticket this is one of the most expensive botanical gardens in the area. However this is more than just a garden, they also have art collections and a library – so make a day of it. The 9-acre Japanese Garden is iconic, attracting over 20 million visitors since it opened in 1928. Stop by the moon bridge, five-room house, ceremonial teahouse, Bonsai collection, and Zen Court after you’re done admiring the cherry blossoms.

Descanso Gardens, photo credit: Flickr

Descanso Gardens

Where: LA area, northeast of Glendale and slightly east of Montecito Park.

Cost: $9 entry fee, see all fees here.

Smack dab in the middle of the I-2 and I-210 corner is Descanso Gardens. The Japanese Garden is an Instagrammable dream with its arched bridge, koi-filled stream, and blue-tiled teahouse. Pink cherry and plum trees bloom in the spring near the minka (farmhouse). They have a variety of plants as well as their Stuart Haaga Gallery which has rotating exhibits on contemporary arts and sciences.

Storrier Stearns, photo credit: Buddhist Door

Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden

Where: Los Angeles in South Pasadena.

Cost: $7.50-$12.00 per adult ticket. See costs here.

This historic Japanese garden, built in the 1930s, is hidden in Pasadena. It was once a private residence but was restored from 2007-2013. Pro tip – Ebates offers cash back on these online tickets! Learn how you can get cash back now. This pond-style stroll garden has a 15-foot waterfall and a formal teahouse on 2 acres of land.

Photo credit: JACCC

James Irvine Japanese Garden

Where: Downtown Los Angeles in Little Tokyo at the JACCC.

Cost: Free!

This small green space was designed in the Zen tradition of the famous gardens of Kyoto, Japan. It has a 170-foot cascading stream, flowers and trees, cedar bridges, stone lanterns, and more. Enjoy this peaceful respite from your busy DTLA life.

Note that this garden was closed all of 2019 but re-opens in early 2020, see updates here.

Photo credit: SuihoEn

The SuihoEn Japanese Garden

Where: Van Nuys.

Cost: $5 – cash only.

Boasting the rank of #10 out of 300 public Japanese Gardens in North America, this is a spot filled with tranquility. There’s also a dry Zen meditation garden, wisteria arbor, stone lanterns, teahouse (which actually serves tea!), and three-Buddha stone arrangement. Find full details here.

Cherry blossoms tend to be at their peak in mid-March to the end of April each year in Southern California. If we missed any spots to see them, drop us a comment below! Thanks for reading our blog.

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