Tips for visiting the University of Washington cherry blossoms

The University of Washington cherry blossoms are almost here! Here’s what you need to know to have the best time.

The cherry blossoms should bloom in the University of Washington’s literary quad any second now. It’s absolutely worth visiting, even for a short time, to just enjoy their beauty. As someone who went to the UW and has visited several times, here are some tips! (And photos from previous years!)

Midweek visits are best if you want to avoid the crowds

While the campus is active during the week and you should be respectful of that (read: please don’t block access pathways), it’s also going to be far less crowded. Same to avoiding the lunch rush around noon.

But, if you can manage the weekday visit, you’ll get rewarded with a calm(er) courtyard of cherry blossoms. There’ll just almost certainly also be a club or two promoting while you’re there, and students studying wherever there’s a bench.

University of Washington cherry blossoms

Bus, Lyft/Uber, or carpool over if you can

The University of Washington parking lots are… not the biggest. While the parking lots outside Paccar Hall and Padelford Hall are the closest and do have visitor spaces, they will absolutely fill up fast, especially on the weekends. The only one that can really accommodate folks is the Central Plaza Garage, which is accessible off of 15th Ave NE.

(And during the week everything gets pretty full due to students and staff. There aren’t nearly enough parking spots anywhere on campus.)

So, if you can, carpool or take the bus over. It’ll be much more pleasant than searching on campus for parking. (Also, be warned that on campus students basically ignore crosswalks and cross wherever. It’s going to be a slow search for parking.)

University of Washington cherry blossoms

Be respectful to the trees

I wish I didn’t have to include this in here, but every year people climb the trees, or pick blossoms, or walk over the roots. These trees are 86 years old and deserve care, especially so we can see them being this amazing for years to come.

(Also, to quote my former tree lecturer Dr. Drew Zwart, trees don’t heal, they seal. So breaking something off won’t lead to a happy tree down the road unless it’s done carefully.)

Bring a snack!

The only close by snack options are the Suzzallo Cafe, which is a grab and go and can sell out so fast, and sometimes there are food trucks on Red Square that have giant lines. (Paccar Hall does have a sort-of Starbucks, and because of this the lines are intense.) If you think you’ll get hungry I’d visit either University Village or the Ave first, then head over.

There’s not much space to sit

If you’re hoping for a more traditional cherry blossom viewing experience, where you bring a blanket and relax under the trees with friends, you’re better off going to the Arboretum and visiting the clones of these trees. Or going somewhere else on campus. The literary quad is not very big, there’s only a few benches, and students and staff will be walking through.

University of Washington cherry blossoms

I mean sheesh, look at this crowd. I don’t think it’s impossible to have a picnic at, say, 10 am on a Tuesday, but on a Saturday? No way.

I’d plan to be there around a half hour walking around, and maybe take over one of the benches.

Those are my tips for visiting the University of Washington cherry blossoms! I’d love to hear how your trip goes!

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