Celebrating the change in season in these top destinations
As the seasons start to change, some are holding on tight to the last remnants of winter, while others are ready to rip off their mittens and feel the sunshine on their skin. Regardless of whether you’re refusing to hang up your parka or you’re willing swimsuit season to arrive, we’ve come up with some of the top destinations to go this time of year. Our roundup of the best spring vacations includes cities where the snow is still fresh and areas where wildflowers are popping up in full force. We took a lot of factors in account, such as scenery, average temperatures, attractions, and activities to bring you the ultimate list (in no particular order) of the best places to travel in spring.
There are flowers, and then there are the flowers you find in Charleston. We’re talking six miles worth of dogwood and azaleas in full bloom, so beautiful they could make the D.C. cherry blossoms jealous. This April, Charleston is hosting its 49th annual Dogwood-Azalea Festival, a 4-day spring frenzy with the works, from old-fashioned ice cream socials to swine races. Come March, the temperatures begin creeping into the 60s F, ideal for spending time outdoors, exploring the area’s historical homes and admiring the manicured gardens.
Casper is the place for those who like to hold on to the last lingering breaths of winter. It’s here where you can squeeze in some spring skiing as late as April 2 at Hogadon Ski Area and fat bike along the snow-packed trails at Casper Mountain. But if you’re itching for warmer temperatures, grab your fishing pole and will the springtime weather with some urban fly fishing right in town. Whether the temperatures are skimming the below the freezing mark or heating up enough to melt the snow, it’s always the right time to be outside exploring Wyoming’s Adventure Capital.
Winchester may be known as the Apple Capital, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait until autumn to enjoy its harvest. This year the Virginia city is celebrating its 90th annual Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, a 10-day extravaganza with wine fests, apple pie baking contests, concerts, pageants, and one of the largest firefighter parades in the world. Before summer weather arrives in full force, enjoy the refreshing temps by heading over to Winchester Ciderworks for some crisp adult beverages, or stopping in Red Fox Creamery for some good ol’ fashioned homemade ice cream.
Fort Wayne, Indiana
In Fort Wayne, the snow is starting to melt, the temperatures are rising, and it’s making us thirsty! That’s why April is the ultimate time for the city to throw the Michiana Wine Festival, where you can sip and swirl more than 150 wines, while grooving to live music and meandering through the craft market. Further say so long to winter by soaking up the springtime scenery on a hike through Metea County Park. The Old Fort has got a calendar full of springtime attractions, too, including the 13th Pennsylvania Drill in April and the Muster on the St. Mary’s in early May.
Cable’s not one to rush winter out the door. Snow may still be covering the ground come March, but the bright hot air balloons in the sky will give you the burst of color you’ve been craving. The Hot Air for Hearts Balloon Rally takes flight with countless multi-colored balloons bobbing along the skyline for charity. The Braveheart Midwest Snowshoe Racing Championships is another March favorite, where you can race to the finish line, leaving snow dust in your trails. Prefer something a little more adrenaline inducing? Hit the snowmobile trails before the powder is gone for good.
Early spring means maple syrup in Old Sturbridge Village. Here they host Maple Days, every weekend in March, where historians show off the antique sugar-making process, used in the 19th-century sugar camp. You’ll want to stick around town for the Family Farm Fest in April, too, because there is absolutely nothing cuter than seeing teenie tiny, fuzzy newborn animals, such as piglets, lambs, and chicks. For some outdoorsy downtime, order a Green Light Session Ale at Rapscallion and drink up the view. Located in an apple barn, the brewery and tap room overlooks a 150-acre orchard.
Meredith, New Hampshire
Venture out of hibernation and take a deep breath, filling your lungs with the crisp, fresh air of Meredith. After shaking off its sleepy, snowy winter vibes, this lakeside retreat begins to blossom, making way for warmer days ahead. Submerge yourself in the New England scenery before the crowds arrive; trek along the Waukewan Highlands forest trails or hike the perimeter of Lake Winnipesaukee. Once May rolls around, take to the waters aboard the M/S Mount Washington to get a glimpse of what summertime holds.
Forest Hill, Louisiana
As soon as the chill begins leaving the air, Forest Hill—home to nearly 200 nurseries in and around town—is ready to help you plant your dream garden. Each March, the Louisiana Nursery Festival blooms to life with more than 50 vendors, showcasing everything from rose bushes to birdhouses. Sometimes called the festival of flowers, this 3-day event has food booths and carnival rides, too. After stopping and smelling the flowers, saddle up and horseback ride at the Hayes E Daze Ranch or rev the engine of an ATV along the Claiborne Trails to get a taste of springtime.
Point Pleasant, New Jersey
This beach town tends to get a little sleepy in the winter months, especially if a snow storm has covered the shoreline in powder, but it perks right back up as soon as the mercury starts to rise. A sure sign Point Pleasant is back in the swing of things is when the Jenkinson’s Boardwalk Ride Park opens at the end of March. See how many times you can stomach the Tilt-a-Whirl and then stock up on homemade fudge and taffy at Jenkinson’s Sweet Shop—your inner child will be impressed.
Don’t wait for summer to soak up the sunny vibes in Carlsbad. It’s always a good time to take the kids to NINJAGO WORLD at LEGOLAND and build sandcastles on the shores of Tamarack Beach in this California sweet spot. You’ll get used to seeing the salty, blue ocean to the west, but when you arrive at the Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch, you’ll see a vibrant sea of flowers. Tecolote Giant Ranunculus cover more than 50 acres, while another five acres are set aside for specialty flowers. Visit between mid-March and mid-April to see the most remarkable display of flowers you may ever see in your life.
Those aren’t snowflakes on the ground, they’re fallen petals from the dogwood trees. While Virginia snagged the dogwood as its state flower, Fairfield has taken a liking to the delicate blossom, too. So much in fact, Fairfield has planted 30,000 of the trees, and when they bloom, the whole city celebrates with the Greenfield Hill Congregational Church Dogwood Festival. If you’re still left longing for summer though, head to Jennings Beach. You may still need to bundle up as you walk along the city’s largest beach, but the views of Long Island Sound will certainly put you in a summer frame of mind.
Shed your winter layers, and make an appointment to tour Lasso the Moon Alpaca Farm, where you can learn about how the farm animals get rid of their own winter fleece. With the assistance of one of the tour guides, gently pet the alpacas, and you may earn yourself a sweet, fuzzy kiss. If your kids are along for your Blairsville spring trip, let their imaginations run wild with a stop at the enchanting Sleepy Hollow Whimsical Fairy Garden, and then hike the DeSoto Falls Trail to marvel at the dual waterfalls, said to be where armor was found from de Soto’s 1500s expedition.
Medora, North Dakota
Winter may take its sweet time biding Medora adieu, but sure enough, this North Dakota city is starting to slowly heat up. You might still be able to see your breath in the frosty air, but you won’t give it a second thought when you’re galloping through the Badlands from the saddle of a horse. Make reservations with Medora Riding Stables & Trail Rides and then head over to Pitchfork Steak Fondue for lunch, where you’ll get served a massive western-style meal with epic mountain views that are definitely worth bragging about.
This March, toast the onset of spring at downtown Corvallis’ Rhapsody in the Vineyard. Oregon’s finest wineries and ciderhouses will show off their sweet libations, leaving you with no choice but to drink up! While the local liquids are second to none, you won’t do Corvallis justice without relishing the gorgeous landscape that is Willamette Valley. Take to the trails at Bald Hill to frolic among the wild flowers, and if you’re lucky, you might come across some ripe blackberries ready for pickin’. Meanwhile, if it’s the lush, green Oregonian woodland you’re after, McDonald Forest is your calling.
Packing up your ski gear thinking the season’s over? Not so fast. At Granite Peak, the powder is still fresh and the lifts are still running until April 9. Wausua’s local ski resort is the ultimate place to spend spring break, as it hosts awesome events like Turns and Tunes, Brew Fest, and costume contests throughout March and April. But for those of you who are ready to say goodbye to long johns and overcoats, get your spring fever fix at the Monk Botanical Gardens, where butterflies flutter and frogs hop around the Wildflower Woods.
St. Augustine, Florida
If you’re craving a coastal spring break, without hundreds of college kids trampling your beach blanket, then consider St. Augustine your refuge. A slightly calmer seaside spot, it has springtime temperatures in the 70s F, meaning you’ll be basking in your bikini while the rest of the nation is still bundling up. Of course the sand and sea are a major draw, but there are countless other attractions to explore during this time of year. Check out Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park and then head to the San Sebastian Winery’s rooftop bar, The Cellar Upstairs, for some live music and crowd-pleasing views.
Morgantown, West Virginia
There’s certainly allure to a state described as wild and wonderful, and what better place to put it to the test than Morgantown? Sitting along the banks of the Monongahela River, this mountain town transforms into a green wonderland come spring and summer. Beginning March 10, the West Virginia Botanic Garden hosts Friday Family Walks, where you’re guided through the elaborately designed floral displays. Prefer to pick your own adventures? Go for a scenic jog through Hazel Ruby McQuain Riverfront Park or tie in for some rock climbing excursions at nearby Coopers Rock State Forest.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Spring breakers party like it’s summertime in Myrtle Beach, and with sand, sea, and sunshine, can you blame them? College students pack into beach rentals, commandeering the shore by day and flocking to the bars by night, but don’t worry, there’s plenty of family-friendly fare here, too. Seaside spots like Ocean Front Bar & Grill serve up cold drinks and beach views, while theaters like Carolina Opry and Pirates Voyage captivate audiences of all ages. As for golfers, they know this is the perfect time to hit the links before the summer heat and tourists settle in for the season.
You keep hearing about how beautiful Montana is, so it’s time to visit Missoula to see for yourself. At this time of year, slowly but surely the snow is beginning to taper off, allowing Mount Sentinel to turn a lovely shade of bright green, while lilacs pop open all around town. Drive up Blue Mountain to see the city in all its scenic glory, and then mark your calendar for Garden City Brewfest on May 6. Downtown Missoula certainly puts on a show with over 40 participating breweries, live music, and grub from local eateries like Bitterroot Bison Co. and El Cazador.
Mother Nature likes to play tricks on Durango, teasing it with 60 degree F weather one day and then pounding it with snow the next. It makes no matter when you’re in this mountain town though, because there is always something exciting to do despite the weather. Climb aboard the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and ride through the San Juan Mountains (book a parlor car for full bar access!). Or, get tickets for the 23rd annual Durango Bluegrass Meltdown. Between sipping local beer on Carver Brewing Co.’s outdoor patio and joining a fly fishing excursion with Duranglers on the Animas River, you’ll find your personal paradise here.
Pismo Beach, California
Step 1: Book a vacation rental in Pismo Beach. Step 2: Get ready for a legendary coastal adventure. This Cali beach town is where you’ll find crazy good clam chowder at Splash Café, bonfire hangouts at Oceano Dunes, and the most magical sunsets over the Pacific Ocean. The key to getting the most out of your seaside romp is to visit before the summer crowds beat you to it. With the coast as your playground, cruise around in a Surrey from Wheel Fun Rentals, explore the dinosaur caves, and hop in a dune buggy to charge along the shoreline.
It’s the more the merrier in Galveston, where the energy of spring breakers makes the island city buzz with excitement. The squeals from riders on the Iron Shark Roller Coaster fill the air down at Pleasure Pier, while the sweet smells of Hey Mikey’s Ice Cream entice you in for a banana split. If you’ve got little ones in tow, good luck slipping past La King’s Confectionery without buying your weight in peanut and peco brittle and salt water taffy. What’s more, the temperatures start soaring at this time of year, so you won’t get funny looks if you take a dip in the warm waters of the Gulf.
Batter up! When it comes to spring vacation destinations, baseball lovers have their eyes on Scottsdale. Home to Spring Training, the Arizona town hosts the Giants, Rockies, and Diamondbacks, as they get back into the swing of things for the 2017 season. But if fly balls aren’t your scene, you won’t be pressed to amuse yourself. The Arizona Sun Circuit Quarter Horse Show is saddling up for an 8-day competition in early March, while the nearby Desert Botanical Garden is hosting Spring Music in the Garden concert series through June. Spring is just before the summer heat strikes, so get outside before it gets balmy.
New York City, New York
Let’s face it, it’s always a good time to visit NYC, but springtime is ultra-special. Everyone is eager to peel off their winter clothes, and you better believe the first warmish day will have city dwellers flocking to picnic at Clove Lakes Park. You’ll know spring has officially arrived when Broadway Plaza is decked out in beautiful blossoms as part of the annual Macy’s Flower Show. Once April rolls around, the Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival vibrantly takes over Fifth Avenue. A tradition dating back to the 1870s, this event invites you to don your most extravagant, whimsical headwear and join in the procession.
Atlantic Beach, North Carolina
Ah, listen for the crack and sizzle of a beer can opening with the lull of the rolling waves in the background. This could be the soundtrack to your Atlantic Beach getaway. Here it’s legal to leisurely drink on the beach (no glass containers, please!) while soaking up the sea breezes. Though it’s a hotspot for the college-aged crew, you’ll find tons of entertainment regardless of your age. Rent a beach cruiser from Crystal Coast Bicycles to zip around the shore, and linger around to catch the 4th Annual Atlantic Beach Music Festival on the boardwalk in May.
As a staff writer for Expedia, Chloe Mulliner is dedicated to providing top travel tips for your jaunts around the world. She believes there are adventures to be had on every inch of the globe from surf spots on the Peruvian coast to the charming villages of the English countryside. Chloe specializes in showcasing all the must-see attractions on your travel wish list. She lives by the belief that every adventure is a story worth sharing.