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Spring is well and truly making its presence known in some US states, but in others it’s still decidedly chilly. This is the time when you start contemplating colorful spring destinations for a mini-break from the bleakness of left-over winter. Luckily there are plenty of places to do that on both coasts (and in between). So I picked the brains of some fantastic US-based travel bloggers for their favourite spring vacation destinations.
My favourite part of spring is the warm breeze that carries the scent of flowers and grass (which I hear is a nightmare for people with allergies). It’s a reminder that summer is just around the corner and long, lazy days are about to begin.
Skagit Valley, Washington State
Lisa, who writes The Hot Flashpacker blog, is taking us on a trip through the tulips. Find more of her beautiful pictures on Instagram.
One of the best destinations for spring in the Pacific Northwest is the Skagit Valley near Mount Vernon, WA. This agricultural corridor is so similar to Holland that it’s the home to several tulip bulb growers. Each April, they open their tulip and daffodil gardens to thousands of visitors daily as part of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival (read more here). Their show gardens include every color of tulip under the sun. If you visit on a clear day you can photograph the tulips with the scenic Mount Baker and Cascade Mountains as your backdrop.
If you can’t make the trip in April, then March is a great alternative. Acres of Daffodils start to bloom. Tens of thousands of migrating birds including Snow Geese and Trumpeter Swans spend their time in fields of the Skagit Valley. There’s loads of other stuff to do within 10 miles of the valley including Deception pass, casinos, antique shopping, and the Padilla Bay National Wildlife Refuge and aquarium.
When most people think of spring, their minds turn to thoughts of blooming flowers, hatching baby chickens, and mouthwatering chocolate bunny rabbits. But for the citizens of the small city of Natchez, Mississippi, spring means only one thing: mansions. That’s because every March and April, the town celebrates Natchez Pilgrimage. During Pilgrimage, 24 different antebellum mansions fling open their doors and allow tourists to travel back in time by stepping through their gates.
My personal favorite home is Longwood, aka the largest octagonal home in America, both for its peculiar shape and because it was never finished. But if you visit all 24 homes, you’ll get a true sense of what life was like in pre-Civil War Mississippi, both for the plantation owners and for the many enslaved people who labored there. Be sure to spend at least one night in one of Natchez’s historic hotels. I recommend the Monmouth Historic Inn and Gardens because its restaurant, Restaurant 1818, is the best in the city, especially for fried green tomatoes.
When you’re heading out of town, if you’re in the mood for spring blooms, take a drive down the Natchez Trace Parkway towards Nashville. You’ll feel like you’re in your very own time machine traveling back to the present day.
Over at Savvy Globetrotter HQ, Patti recommends a trip to Chicago for spring, where the colors come in a different form. You can find more of Patti’s work by following her Facebook page.
Spring is one of the best times of the year to visit Chicago and tourism picks up around this time. Chicago can be brutally cold, windy and snowy in the winter, but by spring, temperatures start to rise making it more pleasant to walk around and enjoy the many attractions Chicago has to offer. Spring is a great time to enjoy outdoor activities such as taking selfies in front of the Bean in Millennium Park or strolling along the Chicago Riverwalk.
Chicago kicks off the spring season with St. Patrick’s Day events and festivities which are very popular. The Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day, large amounts of tourists and locals gather to see the Chicago River dyed green, watch the parade and just celebrate. By late March/early April, architecture river cruises resume (they don’t run in the winter because the river is usually frozen) which I recommend as one of the best things to do in Chicago for first time visitors.
Washington, District of Columbia
Washington, DC is a popular destination year round but as a local, I love spring the most! Of course there’s tons to see and do, but it is also perfect because of all the amazing flowers and trees that can be found around the city. The Smithsonian Castle has a beautiful garden that blooms so well in spring, the National Arboretum has tons of cherry blossoms, rooftop bars begin to really open up and you can get awesome views of the city, and don’t forget about festivals that happen all around the National Mall during this time.
DC’s most famous sight to see in the spring are the gorgeous cherry blossoms surrounding the Tidal Basin, but the nice weather also makes it the perfect time of year for checking out other parts of the city as well. Not only is spring the prettiest time of year in DC, but it’s also less crowded with much cooler temperatures. Many of the sights to see like the National Mall and Memorials are also outside which make spring the perfect time to visit the city with nice temperatures and fewer crowds, walking around outside is much more enjoyable in the spring. I’m proud to call DC home and think spring is one of the best times to visit!
New York City, New York
New York City is the perfect spring destination because the city truly comes alive as soon as the trees and flowers start blooming. The whole city breathes a sigh of relief that winter is finally over, and New Yorkers are generally in a great mood!
One of my favorite things to do in the Spring in NYC is go to the Sakura Matsuri festival at Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. It’s a little bit pricey (around $30 for adults, unless you’re a member, senior, student or child) but it is always jam-packed full of special events, amazing energy, and lots of things to do. There are musical exhibitions, food, and plenty of other entertainment to keep you busy as you stroll through the beautiful cherry blossom trees!
Palm Desert & Palm Springs, California
After 17 years in Los Angeles, my favorite getaway is definitely a quick trip to the nearby desert cities of Palm Springs and Palm Desert. They offer so many activities all year long, but spring is a special time to visit! The weather is perfect (compared to the sometimes-rainy winter and the ALWAYS-scorching summer), the snowbirds have mostly gone back to the permanent nests, and the desert succulents are in full bloom.
It’s a destination that beckons you to spend time outside, and in spring you can enjoy all that it has to offer – whether a leisurely dip in the pool or a spectacular hike in nearby Joshua Tree National Park. In early March tennis lovers will want to check out the BNP Paribas Open in neighboring Indian Wells. The amenities for non-outdoorsy types are all top-notch as well, with beautiful resorts and awesome restaurants on every street.
San Francisco, California
I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to spruiking the city I’m currently living in. So here’s a little bit about the colorful spring destination of San Francisco.
Your first stop on this tour of spring colours is in the city proper. Actually it’s inside Golden Gate Park, which in itself is a beautiful spot to walk around and soak in springtime. I’m talking about the San Francisco Botanical Gardens (read more here). Visit in early spring to see the Magnolia trees blooming and a lot of other spring flowers. But if you can’t get there until the first weekend in May take advantage of the Bay Area’s largest plant sale. They’ll have more than 2,500 different kinds of plants, and they’re promoting drought-tolerant choices.
Your second choice requires a little drive down the San Francisco peninsula to the suburb of Woodside. We’re visiting Filoli Country House and Gardens from the end of March through April to take advantage of acres of spring flowers. Be warned, Filoli is a popular spot to spend a warm spring day here, so be prepared for the crowds. It’s worth it though. When the tulips, wisteria and rosebuds are blooming, the grass in the meadows sways in the breeze and you venture into one of the walled gardens, the beauty of it all is overwhelming. You can read a more in-depth post about Filoli here.
Fort Worth, Texas
Melissa, from Parenthood and Passports, recommends you beat the heat and get out to Texas this spring. You can find more of her pictures and follow her adventures on Instagram.
Spring is an ideal season to visit Texas. Although the state is known for having some serious heat waves, in spring the temperatures are usually perfect and the wildflowers are in full bloom. One of the best Texas cities to visit during spring is Fort Worth. Fort Worth is located just 45 minutes west of Dallas. It offers visitors both a metropolitan experience and a glimpse of cowboy culture. For those traveling on a tight budget, Fort Worth offers a variety of free family-friendly activities. You can watch a live cattle drive in the historic stockyards, surround yourself in an urban waterfall at the Water Gardens, or lounge under a giant umbrella in Sundance Square while your kids play in the public splash fountains, all without spending a single penny.
But perhaps the best reason to visit Fort Worth in spring is to get a glimpse of the famous Texas Bluebonnets (read more here). The wildflowers begin blooming in March and peak around the third week in April. Along the side of the highway, in the median, and in just about every field you pass you will find blankets of vibrant blue and purple. The Bluebonnets are so popular in North Texas that you’ll frequently see families stopping to take photos of their children or pets in the wildflowers. And just like many of the other attractions in Fort Worth, viewing the Texas Bluebonnets is completely free!