Signs of spring in Toronto: viewing the High Park cherry blossoms! Visiting the sakura trees in High Park is one of the most beautiful things to do in Toronto. It’s the largest collection of cherry trees in Toronto and the best place to view sakura blossoms.
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The window for viewing these pretty blossoms can be quite narrow. They only last for about a week or two before the cherry blossoms fall from the trees and blanket the ground like snow. These delicate pink and white petals are such a gorgeous sight, mostly on the trees but even on the ground as well.
In this guide to visiting the cherry blossoms in High Park, I’m going to show you exactly where you can see them, the best time of year to go, and everything you need to know to plan your trip. It’s so peaceful to stroll among the cherry blossoms, stopping to admire these delicate flowering trees.
A Brief History of Sakura in Toronto
In 1959, the first Japanese Somei-Yoshino cherry tree was planted in High Park as a gift from the citizens of Tokyo. In total, over 2000 cherry trees were donated to Toronto from Japan as a token of appreciation to Toronto for accepting relocated Japanese-Canadians following World War II. Another 23 cherry trees were donated from the Sakura project in 2001. Later, 16 more cherry trees were planted in 2006.
Sakura trees are famous for their beauty and elegance. The Somei-Yoshino cherry trees are among the earliest to bloom. However, just one week after the blossoms appear, they achieve full bloom. Shortly after, they begin to fall from the trees. However, it isn’t difficult to plan your trip. Generally speaking, the High Park cherry blossoms bloom from late April to early May.
How to Visit the High Park Cherry Blossoms
Seeing the High Park cherry blossoms is a very popular pastime in Toronto. It can be very crowded to visit on the weekends. For this reason, I suggest visiting on a weekday if possible. While Justin and I visited together many years ago on a weekday, I returned to High Park this year on a weekday morning. As the blooms were already beginning to fall from the trees, it was very quiet and peaceful with hardly anyone around.
While the cherry blossoms in High Park are a main focus this time of year, it’s important to remember that there’s so much more to this wonderful space than the sakura trees. There are lots of other flowers and gardens, so take a stroll around as much of High Park as you can to see it all.
When you visit, please do not touch the branches or the flowers. More importantly, do not tear any branches off or pick any flowers. It’s important to preserve these delicate blooms and the trees for future generations. I follow a “leave no trace” policy in enjoying the outdoors, and I urge you to do the same.
Where to See the High Park Cherry Blossoms
High Park is a huge green space in Toronto, and you won’t be able to see cherry blossoms throughout the entire park. There are a few spots in the park where rows of cherry trees produce these famous white and pink blossoms. The main three spaces with cherry blossoms in High Park are:
- Cherry Hill, along Grenadier Pond, and near Hillside Gardens
- On Centre Road, across from the Jamie Bell Adventure Playground
- On West Road, on the northwest side of High Park
If you’re looking to view a map of where you can find all of the cherry blossoms, you can find one on Google Maps. The most thorough website devoted to the High Park cherry blossoms is Sakura in High Park where they provide a “High Park cherry blossom watch” with bloom predictions and the latest updates.
Not able to visit High Park or Toronto this year? The City of Toronto has a “Bloom Cam” where you can virtually watch the cherry blossoms in High Park. You’ll be able to watch 24/7 4k live footage of the sakura blossoms from home.
More Spaces to Visit in High Park
There’s much more to High Park than just the sakura blossoms! If you’re visiting Toronto any time of the year, High Park is a must visit place. It opened to the public in 1876 and it’s the second largest park in Toronto (after Centennial Park).
One third of the park remains completely natural as its land is home to a rare oak savannah. The other areas of the park consist of gardens, educational facilities, sporting facilities, nature trails, leash-free trails for your dog, and playgrounds. Here are a few notable spots to visit in High Park that I personally love.
High Park is home to a stunning Japanese garden with many beautiful flowers at the entrance. You’ll find a rainbow of colors here by mid-May and a tranquil Japanese garden all year long. There are moss covered rocks, a small fountain cascading down into a pond, and gorgeous magnolia trees.
When I visited a few years back with Justin (when I first wrote this blog post, back in 2013!), the water cascaded down from the top of the hillside garden to the pond below. On my latest visit, there wasn’t any water in the pond, but perhaps this is added later in the season.
You’ll likely experience Grenadier Pond when you see the cherry blossoms at High Park. There’s a small boardwalk and viewing platform overlooking the pond. This area is home to swans, ducks, squirrels and birds all around. Although you’ll be able to see large buildings off in the distance, this still feels like a peaceful getaway from the hustle and bustle of downtown Toronto.
This isn’t a small pond by any means: Grenadier Pond is 35 acres in size. Many areas of the pond were naturalized to improve the environment. Wetlands were built to filter its waters and provide homes to wildlife.
High Park Nature Trails
There are lots of paths and trails around High Park. Follow a path into the forest and you’ll be able to choose many different routes on your way. There are leash-free dog trails running through the park, giving lots of space for you and your furry friend to run free.
It’s easy to spend at least an hour or two wandering around High Park, exploring its network of interconnecting trails. You’ll be able to walk into the forest and not feel like you’re in Toronto at all.
More Places to See Cherry Trees in Toronto
High Park isn’t the only place to view cherry blossoms in Toronto! There are quite a few locations with cherry trees in case you can’t make it to High Park. In addition to these locations in Toronto, Kariya Park in Mississauga is a fantastic spot to see the cherry blossoms in Mississauga. Here are some more in Toronto:
- Centre Island (Toronto Islands): There are 30 cherry trees at the south end of the bridge near the fountain, about a 10 minute walk from the ferry docks
- Trinity Bellwoods Park
- Woodbine Park
- Broadacres Park in Etobicoke
- At the Birkdale Community Centre in Scarborough
If you love viewing beautiful flowers and it isn’t the end of April / beginning of May, don’t fret. There are lots of parks and gardens in Toronto and the GTA. I’ve come up with a list of the best gardens in Toronto and most of them are free to visit.
Looking for more things to do in Toronto? Check out my list of the best places to visit in Toronto when you travel here. These are my favourite places, and that’s advice from a local as I live in the GTA!
Where to Stay in Toronto
When you travel to Toronto, you’ll want an accommodation that’s convenient, comfortable, and fits your personal budget. Even though I am local to the area, I’ve spent the night at lots of hotels for staycations in Toronto. After all, it’s fun to have a getaway in the city, even if it’s so familiar! Here are the best places to stay in Toronto, organized from hostels and budget to luxury properties.
Best Hostel in Toronto: HI Toronto Hostel
If you love staying at hostels when you travel, definitely check in to the HI Toronto Hostel. It’s in a fantastic location within a short subway ride or walking distance of most tourist attractions and popular neighborhoods.
There are both shared and private rooms, complimentary Wi-Fi, linens and towels. There’s an on-site bar where you can meet your fellow hostel guests and there’s even live music on many evenings. Check out more reviews of the HI Toronto Hostel by travelers who have stayed there.
Best Budget Hotel in Toronto: The Novotel Toronto Centre
The Novotel Toronto Centre is a fantastic choice that will fit your budget without skimping on any aspects that would affect the enjoyability of your trip. You’re within a 10 minute walk of Toronto’s Union Station, so it’s a great location for your holiday. There’s free Wi-Fi, a fitness centre, and an indoor pool, hot tub, and spa. It’s a boutique style hotel with many modern amenities but stays within a budget price. Check out more reviews of the Novotel Toronto Centre written by fellow travelers.
Best Medium Budget Hotel in Toronto: Delta Hotels by Marriott
Delta Hotels by Marriott Toronto is one of the best places to stay in Toronto. Justin and I spent the night here on New Year’s Eve a few years ago when it first opened. The location was perfect and within walking distance of most attractions and restaurants. There’s free Wi-Fi, an indoor heated pool, hot tub, fitness centre, and yoga studio. SOCO Kitchen is the on-site restaurant and bar, and we enjoyed having some beer and cocktails before retreating back to our room. Please check out more reviews of the Delta Toronto by fellow travelers.
Best Luxury Hotel in Toronto: The St. Regis Toronto
The St. Regis Toronto is one of the most luxurious hotels in Toronto. It’s a 5 star hotel with sweeping Toronto skyline views from its spacious rooms. Not only are the rooms fabulous in every way, but there’s an invigorating two-level spa facility with treatments, a juice bar, indoor pool, and fitness centre. It’s elegant, modern, and naturally, it has the perfect location in the city in the middle of all the action. Read more reviews by fellow travelers who have stayed there. Treat yourself.