Like Japanese aristocrats of old, wise gardeners go on at least one pilgrimage each spring to celebrate the flowering cherries. From a distance, the blossoms look like pink clouds floating over blushing pools of fallen petals. Up close, their fragrance is light and ephemeral ― tonic for winter-weary souls. Nowhere is the bloom more dramatic than in the Northwest, and no place more spectacular than at Seattle's Washington Park Arboretum. You'll see the most spectacular bloom along Azalea Way, a parklike grass promenade that extends south and west from the Donald Graham Visitors Center (10-4 daily; free); the trees rise over masses of flowering azaleas and rhododendrons, all in peak bloom from about mid-April to mid-May. Open dawn-dusk daily; free. 2300 Arboretum Dr. E., Seattle; 206/543-8800.
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