Move over, D.C., the best cherry blossom festival is in Macon, Georgia. More than the blush-colored trees, the entire town is bathed in pink. Here’s why you should visit Macon for all things cherry blossom-related.
With more than 90 times as many cherry trees as Washington D.C., Georgia’s southern town of Macon might just be the best spot for any cherry tree fan to visit. Macon boasts about 350,000 cherry trees, compared to just about 3,750 in the nation’s capital. In fact, there are more Yoshino cherry trees in Macon than in Japan.
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There’s a milder climate—more friendly for Yoshino cherry tree viewing. In late March and early April, cherry blossom fans can expect weather in the 40s and 50s in Washington D.C. In contrast, Macon’s festival-goers should expect low humidity and jacket-optional temperatures in the upper 60s and low 70s, perfect for the many outdoor pink-themed events throughout the city.
You don’t have to fight the crowds when you visit Macon either. Instead of you and 1.5 million others crowding to view the nearly 4,000 trees in D.C., isn’t it better to view the plethora of trees with just about 100,000?
The entire town turns pink including the water flowing in their fountains, storefront windows, drinks, and dishes at restaurants, and many residents get in the pink spirit, donning the color in either a big or small way. The 10-day long festival, which takes place in late March, includes nightly concerts and a royal court, all headquartered from their signature pink house.
Dog lover? The festival’s mascot is a beautiful hot pink poodle. Don’t fret—no poodles were harmed in the dyeing process. Paul and Alice Williams (professional dog groomers) have owned each mascot and only use beet juice to color their dogs’ hair. Their dogs—Lacey and Blossom, and for 2021 introducing Cherry–are well behaved and love posing for photos. Plus, nearly all the events are pet-friendly.
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Visitors will also have the opportunity to dine on some signature pink foods during the festival, including:
- Local firemen make a pink pancake breakfast annually and donate the profits to the American Cancer Society. This single event draws in a huge crowd. “It’s iconic. The line is out the door by 7:30 a.m. The pancakes are so good but it is a secret recipe, they won’t tell anyone what’s in it,” says Stacy Moore, President of Macon’s Cherry Blossom Festival.
- Gillette Pizza turns its crusts pink to celebrate the festival. They are a big draw themselves featuring made-from-scratch dough and high-quality ingredients in their pies.
- Pasta on Poplar, an annual pasta tasting event takes over downtown’s Poplar Street for one evening and features at least one pink pasta dish. Though it isn’t required, most guests wear the signature color, lining the street in a sea of pink.
The festivities also feature a Cherry Blossom court made up of a Queen, Princess, Little Miss, and Little Mister. Not only does the foursome star in Macon’s Cherry Blossom parade, but they show up at some of the blossom-related events.
How Did Macon Become a Hotbed of the Yoshino Cherry Tree?
In 1949, Macon resident, William Fickling, noticed a single beautiful tree with lovely pink blossoms in his yard. Though he had no idea what species it was, he knew he loved it. Three years later, while visiting Washington D.C., he came across the same tree. Delighted to have found a name for the tree, he didn’t stop there. He learned how to breed the Yoshino cherry tree and distributed them throughout Macon, wanting to share the magnificent trees with others in the town as well.
The Fickling family is still active in the festival to this day, donating trees for the festival. His grandson, Bill, said he remembers someone asking his grandfather why he gave away so many trees and his answer was simple: “They are so beautiful they just give themselves away. I only help pot them up.”
Thinking About Attending the Festival in Macon?
This city is about an hour and a half from Atlanta. Protip: There is daily transportation to and from the Atlanta airport to Macon.
Where to Stay in Macon
While there are several small motels and extended stay spots, treat yourself to one of the historic bed-and-breakfast spots in Macon. The 1842 Inn is a historic mansion right in the heart of Macon not far from the festival. No afternoon in Macon is complete without having a mint julep on their front porch. Don’t miss out on perusing their wall of guests. They have quite an impressive roster of celebs.
The Burke Mansion, located just a couple of streets over is another historical B&B that will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Architecture buffs will appreciate the Queen Anne Victorian Architecture style.