This West Coast City Has One of the Most Underrated Spring Blooms in the U.S. — and It's Peaking Soon

Spring has (almost) sprung in Spokane, Washington.

<p>Sandra Hosking/Getty Images</p>

Sandra Hosking/Getty Images

Little tiny blooms are popping out of the ground and off the edges of branches all across America. Spring has definitely sprung. Some blooms seem to get all the attention — we're looking at you, D.C. cherry blossoms. But there are other places around America where you can experience spring like a pro. Just look to Spokane, Washington, which has earned the nickname "Lilac City," as a prime example.

As Harvard's Arbortorium explains, the common lilac arrived in the U.S. sometime in the mid-1700s by boat from Europe. It was likely planted first in New Hampshire before being transported to gardens around the country over the next century. It finally landed in Washington state in 1906, according to Spokane's city website. It was then that "two lilac bushes were planted by J. J. Browne, one of Spokane's early builders, at W. 2226 Second Avenue in Browne's Addition."

Just six years later, John Duncan purchased 128 lilac cultivars (named lilac varieties) from Rochester, New York, and began planting what would be the Lilac Garden in Manito Park. That same garden today contains well over 100 named cultivars, which the city says makes it "one of the most important lilac gardens in the West." So much so that in the 1930s, the city began promoting itself as The Lilac City and launched the annual Spokane Lilac Festival in 1938. And it's still going strong today.

The annual Spokane Lilac Festival includes a weeklong lineup of events that turn the entire town into a gorgeous shade of purple. This year's festival takes place in the third week of May when the lilacs are in full bloom. The events include a royal tea party at The Historic Davenport Hotel, which includes a light lunch and a meet-and-greet with the 2024 Royal Court, along with the President's Gala, which the event coordinators describe as a "glamorous disco-vibe night" hosted by the event's co-presidents Elisabeth Hooker and Carly Cortright.

The events culminate in America's largest Armed Forces Torchlight Parade in downtown Spokane. This is followed by the Bloomsday run, one of the nation's largest road races, which snakes through the city and ends with a view of the Spokane Falls. Of course, you could just run right to the gardens to get one more whiff of the city before you go too.

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