Outdoor markets, warmly lit downtowns, cozy restaurants, cheerful locals... there is something special about American…
When it comes to spring destinations, some places get all the press.
I’m talking about Washington, D.C., Holland and their stunning tulips, and of course any beach-y spot that calls to spring breakers. But there are plenty of amazing places you should be considering for your spring getaway. It really is a fantastic time to travel– outside of those bustling spring break weeks, travel is at a bit of a lull before the summertime crowds are unleashed. You’ll find excellent rates at most hotels. Plus, you people in general tend to be in great spirits. How can you not be when the sun is finally shining, the birds are chirping and flowers are in full bloom.
Here are a few places that are excellent springtime destinations (and might not be on your radar!).
When it comes to cherry blossoms, Washington, D.C. seems to get all the credit. But if you look at the other coast (and a bit north), you’ll find an equally stunning flower explosion. Though you may think of this city as quite cold, most spring days reach the 50s and 60s, certainly warm enough to kayak in English Bay, take a leisurely stroll through Stanley Park, head up for a hike in the mountains or dine on some of the best Asian food in North America. As a bonus, there’s a lull in tourism before prime summertime hits, so most hotels offer great rates.
Texas Hill Country
You probably already know about those famous bluebonnets that blanket the Lonestar State come spring, but you’ll also find redbuds, mountain laurel, quince, jasmine, wisteria and poppies in full-bloom (and full-fragrance!).
For a more urban vibe, you could visit Austin or San Antonio to soak up the spring vibe. However, for a little more R &R, I say opt for a long weekend in Fredericksburg. This historic small town (population: 10,829) boasts quaint bed and breakfasts, great dining (Hilltop Café, a roadhouse just northwest of Fredericksburg, is a destination in and of itself), stunning drives and wineries. Yes, you heard that right! This is the heart of Texas wine country, and the region’s ample sun and soil makes for wines similar to central Italy and France’s Rhone Valley. Think they’re overselling it? There’s only one way to find out. Bottoms up!
The Great Smoky Mountains
I recently read somewhere that 1/3 of Americans can get to the Great Smoky Mountains in less than a day. That sounded crazy, but when you think about it, it’s probably true! The Great Smoky Mountains National park is a ten-hour drive (or less!) from Chicago, New York, New Orleans and Tampa. So if you live east of the Mississippi, this might be the perfect road trip. Spring is an especially great time to visit, with smaller crowds, wildflowers in peak bloom, lovely hikes (with perfect weather), and Dollywood—the 150-acre park owned by the one and only Dolly Parton. More than just an homage to the lady with the biggest, um, “song library” in country music, there’s also a theme park, bald eagle sanctuary, and lots of live music. If you arrive after 3pm, your tickets are good for the next day, too.
When I think of the desert, I imagine endless sand, sun-bleached bones and cacti as far as the eye can see. Of course, that’s not the reality of the desert—especially at Joshua Tree. Come March and April (really, as late as June at some of the higher elevations) this national park explodes with colorful wildflowers. Though this is the park’s busiest time of year, you’ll quickly see why it’s worth to fight the masses. My best advice for those craving a more peaceful, quiet experience is to get there early. Not only will the park be less populated, but you’ll get cooler temperatures, too.
Where are your favorite spring destinations? Share in the comments!