It’s one of the most beautiful times of year in Urbana, and if you blink, you just might miss it.
Cherry tree blossom season, known as “sakura”, is a time-honored symbol of early spring. While many of us have heard about the cherry trees in Washington, D.C. and the famous spring festival that celebrates them, most people don’t realize that here in Urbana, we have one of the most glorious groves of cherry trees in Illinois.
A few years ago, one website named the Urbana grove one of the best places to see cherry blossoms in the United States. The cherry trees nestled within the Arboretum are an extension of the Japan House at the University of Illinois, which sits on The Arboretum footprint.
Typically, sakura happens in Urbana during the first two weeks of April. After this season’s extended winter, the blossoms were delayed. If you want to see them, head over there as soon as possible before wind and rain end the blossoms’ reign.
Our family made a special trip to see the cherry tree blossoms over the weekend, and the pink-and-white flowers did not disappoint. They are literally breathtaking, with the setting in Cherry Tree Allée. The calm, peaceful setting wasn’t lost on my typically rambunctious children, who enjoyed taking photos amongst the trees.
Note that this park doesn’t have any playground equipment, so depending on your child, you might want to bring outdoor toys. The good news is that the paved path is wide and perfect for riding toys and strollers. My kids found plenty of ways to play in the natural setting, whether traversing the Japan House paths or playing in the woods near the soaring oak trees nearby. They also enjoyed rolling down the hill, old fashioned style.
The Arboretum is a beautiful place to visit regardless of the time of year, and many may be familiar with it thanks to the very visible Idea Garden. It has been vastly improved over the past decade, thanks to generous donations. We particularly enjoy the Frank Kari Walkway, a paved loop that is a nice walk even for littles, complete with many benches and ample shade in the summer months. For more info on the Arboretum, visit its website.
IF YOU GO:
The Arboretum and Japan House are located off the east side of Lincoln Avenue, just south of Florida Avenue.
The Arboretum is a public garden open daily, between the hours of sunrise until sunset.
Parking is available on the street and in two lots, and have meters. Meters are not generally enforced after 5 p.m. and on weekends, but please always read the meter itself.
Be aware there are no public bathrooms.