Save this Pin below to remember Branch Brook Park!
Washington DC is known as the go-to tourist spot for people to experience cherry blossoms in their peak bloom. However, did you know that New Jersey has more cherry blossoms than Washington DC? Or that it is the largest collection of cherry blossoms in the United States?
Many jump in their cars to do an insane drive to DC for cherry blossoms trees without looking to this beautiful spot with free parking and beautiful walking paths and 2,000 plus cherry blossoms. When I say insane, I’m talking to the people in the tri-state area. Instead, you could take a quick drive or a shorter train ride to the Garden State.
For getting there, my family drove taking Garden State Parkway to NJ route 21. If you are coming from Hoboken take the light rail to Exchange place then take the path to Penn Station in Newark. From there, you can take a bus to Raymond Blvd Side to Park Ave and Parker Street. Or take a light rail to Park Avenue Newark Light Rail Station and walk .5 miles to the park.
If you are coming from Penn Station in New York City take the train to Penn Station in Newark and follow the same bus or light rail options. There are many light rail stop options that make the park very accessible.
Going earlier in the morning is preferred so you don’t have to keep circling for a parking spot. On the weekend if gets busy! There is only a short window for the peak bloom to be experienced. According to the site for 2020, Branch Brook Park believes the bloom period will be April 4-19. Peak bloom is normally in the middle.
Peak bloom is an important period that is issued by the National Park Service. The predictions come from a mix of these things: historical data, weather, forecast, and those who have worked hands-on with the trees. Now, this does not mean that before April 4 and after April 19 there won’t be any blooms left. The prediction is that between April 4 and 19 would be the optimal time to see the trees in full bloom.
When I went to Branch Brook park, I had no idea this existed in New Jersey! My Dad told us he was taking us to Newark for the day, and growing up in Northern New Jersey, that is not a destination spot. It is a spot you hop on a train or go to the airport to get to your destination. However, I was stunned by this beautiful park in a city that I only really knew for Penn Station or the Ironbound.
My Dad knew the park so he had us stop at Branch Brook Park Drive past the Branch Brook Park Roller Skating Center and snag photos at the bridge. It's a great spot to get the water from above and the cherry blossoms for your backdrop.
From there you can drive down Branch Brook Park drive and head to the parking lot. The parking lot is before Bloomfield Ave. Bloomfield Ave runs through about the center of the park. Beware of all traffic signals and signage while driving through the park.
Once you get to the parking lot, it is like you’ve been completely removed from Newark and have entered a whole other world. The cherry blossoms are stunning! The rolling hills you walk while going through the park enhances the whole experience.
Growing up and having the perspective of Newark I did, I would not have imagined this park would reside in it. It is similar to going through Time Square and entering Central Park. It is like two different worlds within a few blocks of each other.
If you’re looking to go at a time with fewer crowds, go during the week for an optimal experience! Fewer crowds and you get that photo without having to wait for people to move past. We went on a Saturday and within an hour of arriving the park seemed full of people trying to enjoy the beauty of the cherry blossoms.
Take your time walking through the park. I highly recommend bringing a blanket and having a picnic in the park. If you're planning to go early, make a stop on your way to Calandra’s Bakery. It is a famous bakery in the area that was built in 1962 and has been in the same spot for all these years. It opens at 6 AM so you should have no issue getting your breakfast goodies and enjoy the park before the crowds.
Calandra’s Bakery is a small Italian and French bakery where everything is made fresh. The bread is to die for! I love bread so it had my mouth watering.
If a picnic is not your cup of tea, the whole park is a 4.3-mile loop that you can walk, run, or bring a bike. Of course, be mindful of others are there might be small children or dogs. Dogs are able to go to the park so if your furry friend is friendly, bring him or her along! It can add to some adorable photos.
As I mentioned before there are 2,000 cherry blossoms planted throughout the park. If you want to learn more about the history of the park, there are tours available! If you don’t want to do a group, there are cell phone tours available. You need to call this number, (973)433-9047 if you are planning on cell phone tour.
I don’t know about you, but I love learning about the history of the places I’m visiting. When I went with my family, my Dad was our tour guide and shared all the local knowledge with us, he is Jersey born and raised. As is my mom!
Here is some history to the park:
1862 - 1864 it was known as Camp Frelinghuysen and it was used as a training ground during the Civil War.
1867 the landscape architect that was used for Central Park came to Newark and designed the park. The city was growing rapidly and changing so the park was designed to give the locals a quiet space and fresh air.
1889 60 acres were donated for “park use”. Construction went on till about 1898
1927 the 2,000 cherry blossoms were donated by Caroline Bamberger Fuld to rival the cherry blossoms of Washington DC
1928 - The Morris Canal that was on the park's western boundary is now the Newark Light Rail, there are six stops along the park that provide easy access by mass transit
The park also has different events happening. If you want to do a bike race, 10k run or a 1-mile fun run/walk! Check out this link for all event details. I hope you get to experience it this year!
I hope you enjoyed hearing about my trip to Branch Brook Park. If you have any questions about the area please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org