Branch Brook Park: A Cherry Blossom Wonderland


When springtime peaks, Branch Brook Park in Newark is the place to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom (and you thought you’d have to travel to D.C.). With over 5,300 cherry blossom trees that paint the park pink in April,  the nation’s first county park has the largest collection of Japanese cherry blossom trees in the United States, rivaling the famous Washington DC blooms. To celebrate cherry blossom season, Branch Brook Park pulls out all the stops by hosting the Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival during the second week in April, with races, activities, Japanese cultural demonstrations, and much more for the entire family. Read on for what to know about Branch Brook Park and the famous cherry blossom trees. (featured photo credit: istock/Jitalia17)

Branch Brook Park cherry blossoms

Nothing feels like spring more than the arrival of the cherry blossoms in Branch Brook Park. Photo taken at Branch Brook Park

About Branch Brook Park

If you’re thinking about visiting Branch Brook Park any time of year, know that it’s one of the oldest parks in the country Registers of Historic Places, having been designed as a county park since the 19th century and designed by the famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (of Central Park fame). Branch Brook Park is also massive—it contains 36 miles of the Lenape Trail, is a whopping 360 acres, has a beautiful lake on one end and a river on another, and is one of the country’s largest city parks. Today, you can find plenty of places to sit and enjoy this beautiful landscape with 19 unique bridges, buildings to picnic in, miles of pathways, a roller rink, a children’s garden, fields, and courts. For history and landscape buffs, sign up for a tour by the Branch Brook Park Alliance. While you’re there, check out the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, one of the largest Gofhic-style buildings in the US, facing Branch Brook Park. And after you’ve had your fill of the outdoors, head to The Newark Museum for history, art, and community in downtown Newark. 

Branch Brook Park feature

Branch Brook Park is 4 miles long and covered with pink blooms in April. Photo taken at Branch Brook Park

Enter a cherry blossom haven

The best time to visit Branch Brook Park? Early spring, when the century-old cherry blossoms are in bloom, and then rain their pink petals into mounds of pink-tinged “snow.” In mid-March, the park comes alive, boasting the largest collection of Japanese flowering trees planted in one location in the United States and attracting visitors all over the US (at its peak, the park hosts over 10,000 visitors a day). At their peak, Branch Brook Park hosts the annual Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival, taking place this year from April 6-14, 2024. The event kicks off with a Challenge Bike Race on April 6, then the Cherry Blossom 10K Run on April 7, followed by the 1-Mile Fun Run/Walk on April 13, where everyone from the family can participate. Plus, on April 13, Essex County Family Day will be loaded with family fun—glide along the lake in the paddle boats, construct a craft, have the kids get their faces painted, jump in a bouncy house, climb a rock wall, or grab food from a food vendor, all among the flowering cherry blossom trees. The week-long festivities culminate with Bloomfest on April 14, with Japanese cultural demonstrations, children’s activities, live music, a crafter’s marketplace, food, and, of course, gorgeous blooms. During the season, you can listen to guided Cherry Blossom Talks on Thursdays and Sundays in April, and Historic Cell Phone Tours are available all season. If you can’t make it, you can watch their Blooms Cam to view all the pretty flowers without having to take the trip.

Branch Brook Park cherry

Branch Brook Park has no shortage of beauty during the peak cherry blossom season. Photo taken at Branch Brook Park

What to know before you go

Branch Brook Park is open 365 days a year, and the park welcomes visitors from dawn until 10 PM and admission to the park is always free. The Newark Light Rail runs on the park’s west side providing multiple access points to the park from Downtown Newark. You can also drive to Branch Brook Park, and parking lots and on-street parking are available. The Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival has events starting on April 6 and runs through April 14, with racing events requiring pre-registration. Family Day and Bloomfest events are free and take place throughout the park, and at the Prudential Concert Grove. NJMOM tip: Parking can be difficult during the cherry blossom events, so going early or during off-times should make it easier, and pack a lunch if there aren’t events going on to spend the day among the cherry blossoms.

Branch Brook Park
Park Avenue and Lake Street
Newark, NJ 07104

Check out their websiteFacebook, and Instagram

Become an NJMOM Insider! For all the best things to do with your family around New Jersey, sign up for our weekly newsletter, delivered right to your inbox. Don’t forget to tag your photos #NJMOM and @njmom for a chance to be featured on our social media.

About Author

Melanie Bodner has always had a love for writing, but now she has a new love…being a mom. Before having her kids, Melanie was no stranger to writing or working with children. She wrote for a local newspaper as a reporter and taught English and Dance in a public school. Now Melanie enjoys spending time with her kids, doing yoga, writing and decorating her home. Check out her Instagram @burlapbythebeach.