Until I visited Lake Balboa at Anthony C. Beilenson Park in Van Nuys with The Little Explorer a little more than a year ago, I had no idea there were some 2,000 cherry blossom trees right here in Los Angeles.
It turns out that an anonymous Japanese benefactor donated the trees, which were planted in 1992 (at least, according to Wikipedia). These beauties originated from a single parent tree and were developed especially to grow in warm climates.
We missed the blooming season during that first visit – and the one that followed. But third times a charm and this year we weren’t disappointed.
A large majority of the cherry blossom trees surround Lake Balboa and can be seen close up as you stroll the 1.3-mile footpath that borders the 27-acre lake. This path is reserved for foot traffic, making it perfect for kids.
The Explorers weren’t quite as impressed with the trees as I was, but they enjoyed hanging out close to the waters’ edge where they could check out the ducks, coots and other birds.
I stayed back and marveled at the pink beauties. Not quite as grand as images I’ve seen of cherry blossoms in other cities, but beautiful just the same. And seeing so many all in one place is just a little magical.
I snapped more pictures than I’d care to admit while the kids chased birds, ran along the trail and scouted out the perfect picnic table. We had a spot just a stone’s throw from the lake, bordered on one side by the cherry blossoms.
If you prefer biking to walking, there’s a separate path just for that.
Date of most recent visit: Mon., April 9, 2012
Who: Mom & The Explorers
Weather: Sunny & warm, mid 70s
- Seeing cherry blossoms for the first time
- Chasing coots into the lake (oh, the shame!)
- Enjoying a picnic dinner with a gorgeous backdrop
- Seeing a ton of birds, including a great blue heron
- Walking more than a mile & not even realizing it!
- The cherry blossoms at Lake Balboa usually appear in early Spring, but this varies widely depending on seasonal weather conditions
- The City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation & Parks hosts a Lake Balboa page with updates on the cherry blossoms, though this year updates were sporadic
- The 1.3-mile walking trail is stroller-friendly & features several scenic spots to stop for a rest; there’s a separate path perfect for bikes, too
- Weekday visits are preferable; Lake Balboa isn’t nearly as peaceful come weekends, when parking is harder to come by and large, festive gatherings negate any chance at quiet time in nature
- Ample picnic tables, barbecue pits & restrooms
- Several free parking areas are available throughout the park
Lake Balboa at Anthony C. Beilenson Park is located at:
6300 Balboa Blvd.
Van Nuys, CA 91406
Looking for more fun family nature adventures in Los Angeles? Check out the Big List of Outdoor Adventures for Los Angeles Kids.