Great weekend trips to take this spring in every state
Great weekend trips to take this spring in every state
Considering it's shoulder season in many places, springtime is a great time for an affordable vacation. In order to determine where you should spend one of your very precious springtime weekends, we took a look at destinations that have remarkable seasonal festivals, great weather, increased sightings of wildlife or blooming cherry blossoms and wildflowers. These destinations are all fantastic spots for a springtime vacation in their respective states.
Alabama: Gulf Shores
Alabama is home to 32 miles of white sand beaches and some of the best coastal towns in America, most notably Gulf Shores. Mini-golfing and dinner cruises are popular tourist activities, and the resort city is also home to the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo and right near Gulf State Park, a popular place for hiking and biking. Temperatures can hover around the 70s in the spring months.
Anchorage, Alaska, is one of the coldest cities in the world, but the temperature does rise into the 30s and 40s in the spring (with snow still present on the area's mountaintops for those looking to hold onto winter). During this season, the Alaskan city has more daylight hours than the other 49 states, which leaves plenty of time to enjoy sightings of wildlife such as moose, bears, caribou and bison.
Arizona: Picacho Peak State Park
Spring brings plenty of wildflowers and cacti to Arizona, and one of the best places to witness these blooms is at Picacho Peak State Park in the southern part of the state. Golden flowers dot the base of Picacho Peak, a bright contrast to the browns and greens of the surrounding desert and a beautiful backdrop that puts this spot right up there with the top RV parks in America.
Arkansas: Hot Springs National Park
Spring is the perfect time to enjoy the 47 hot springs at Hot Springs National Park, one of the most-visited tourist attractions in America. A large park with many trails to explore, it's home to the Garvan Woodland Gardens, a botanical garden kept by the University of Arkansas that's filled with daffodils, dogwoods, tree peonies, roses and other varieties of flowers and plants blooming in the springtime.
California: Napa Valley
Wine lovers have long been drawn to the vineyards and wine tours of California's Napa Valley, but anyone can appreciate the area's beauty. This is particularly true in the early spring when apple, apricot, plum and quince trees start to bloom, as do yellow mustard flowers. In fact, the Napa Valley Wine Train is one of the best scenic train rides in America that will allow visitors to enjoy both the region's best wine and scenery. Make a trip in April to catch the more than 40 arts and cultural events held throughout the region as part of Napa Valley Arts, or attend the Bottlerock music festival in late May to see some of rock's biggest acts (2020 headliners include Stevie Nicks, Dave Matthews Band and Red Hot Chili Peppers).
Colorado: Glenwood Springs
Snow melts earlier in Glenwood Springs as compared to the other mountain towns of Colorado, making way for activities such as hiking, biking, paragliding and whitewater rafting. Spring is also the best time to enjoy a trip to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, the only mountain-top theme park in America, or take a dip in the town's hot springs, particularly with a stay at Glenwood Hot Springs Resort, which is one of those stunning spa resorts totally worth the splurge.
The city of Meriden, Connecticut, has long had daffodils growing in Hubbard Park, where the Daffodil Fest has been held on the last weekend of April for 40 years. While the spring season in general is a great time to enjoy the approximately 600,000 bright yellow flowers grown here, a trip to the festival itself means enjoying creative foods and drinks, a craft fair with prizes, various rides and a fireworks show. In fact, the annual Daffodil Fest is one of the best trips you can take in the spring.
Every year, the town of Lewes, Delaware, holds a spring celebration called Lewes in Bloom, where visitors can appreciate thousands of flowers blossoming. Tulips, daffodils, hyacinth, iris, crocus and allium are just some of the kinds found here, but there are more than 40 varieties of beautiful flowers to admire. Visit in April to attend the Great Delaware Kite Festival, which includes an egg hunt and a kite competition. However, visit any time of year to see Lewes' own Fountain of Youth, possibly one of the quirkiest tourist attractions in America.
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Florida: Mount Dora
There are plenty of great things to do in Florida that aren't Disney or the beach, and that includes a trip to Mount Dora. This central Florida city is known as the "Festival City" due to the many festivals held here every year. Those events include its Spring Fest in March and the Earth Day Festival and Blueberry Festival in April.
For a truly romantic adventure, explore Savannah, Georgia, in the springtime when the live oaks are draped in Spanish moss in Forsyth Park and the Wormsloe Historic Site. Take a stroll through the parks of the Moon River District, hit the beach at the nearby Tybee Island where kayaking and jet-skiing are popular or discover some of the finest architecture with the annual Savannah Tour of Homes & Gardens hosted at the end of March. March is also when the Georgian city hosts its massive annual St. Patrick's Day Parade.
Every year, the Big Island town of Hilo, Hawaii, hosts the Merrie Monarch Festival in an effort to celebrate Hawaiian culture and the spirit of the Hawaiian people. Held in April, the week-long festival showcases the best hula dancing and traditional arts and crafts that Hawaii has to offer. While you're there, be sure to venture to the Kaumana Caves, one of the secret spots only Hawaiians know. This park features a skylight in a lava tube and 2 miles of caves to explore.
Idaho: Twin Falls
Twin Falls, Idaho, is home to one of America's top natural wonders, Shoshone Falls. This photogenic spot is one of the largest natural waterfalls in the country and often referred to as "the Niagara of the West." Spring is the best time to enjoy the rest of Idaho's scenic beauty with a trip down the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway, or by checking out one of Twin Falls' 24 parks.
Galena, Illinois, is known for its beauty, and a trip to this charming small town in Illinois feels like stepping into a history book. In fact, its historic district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. With spring comes the best time to explore its stores, restaurants and 19th-century architecture. It's also the season when Galena's rolling hills and blooming flowers are at their best, and the city hosts events such as Wine Lovers Weekend in March, and the weekend birthday celebration of former Galena resident and U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant in April.
Part of Indiana's Amish country, Elkhart County has multiple parks and gardens perfect for a springtime stroll and two gorgeous major rivers running through the region. Attend the Wakarusa Maple Syrup Festival in April, where the season's harvest of maple syrup is celebrated with delicious pancakes, a parade, family-friendly activities and entertainment.
One of the most underrated small towns in America, Pella was established in 1847 by Dutch immigrants and remains a slice of Holland within Iowa. That Dutch heritage is put on full display with the yearly Tulip Time Festival, held every May and featuring Dutch food, drink, culture, clothing and, of course, many colorful tulips.
The largest city in Kansas, Wichita has plenty to do all times of the year, but spring does bring more options and more bearable weather to enjoy all of them. Tour the city's sculptures and murals on foot or by bike, explore almost 400 species of animals at the Sedgwick County Zoo and check out Botanica Wichita, where more than 120,000 daffodils and 50,000 tulips bloom in the spring, as well as other plants and wildflowers. While wandering around Wichita, be sure to stop by the Southwest-inspired The Flying Stove, one of the best food trucks in America.
Kentucky: Natural Bridge State Resort Park
Less than 60 miles from Lexington, Kentucky, Natural Bridge State Resort Park is full of beautiful natural arches and sandstone cliffs, but during the spring, the diversity of its plant and animal population is more readily apparent. Every April, the park hosts a Wildflower Weekend, with educational wildflower hikes for attendees to learn as well as appreciate the native plant species of Kentucky. The views during this time of year are right up there with the most scenic spots in America's state and national parks.
A bastion of Cajun and Creole culture, Lafayette, Louisiana, is known for its free concerts and multiple festivals throughout the year. Just a few of the ways this town celebrates spring include the Acadiana Po-Boy Festival honoring this must-try sandwich and the Festival International de Louisiane, an outdoor Francophone music festival. Also be sure to stroll the city streets and see the Azalea Trail, which is set up for admiration of the beautiful native flowers.
Maine: Acadia National Park
Get some fresh springtime air with a hike through Maine's Acadia National Park. Reaching the summit of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the North Atlantic seaboard, will offer one of the most breathtaking views in America. The best part? Entrance is free on the first day of National Park Week, held in the second half of April.
Baltimore is a highly underrated American city, with Orioles baseball games and farmers markets being the perfect way to enjoy the warmer weather. Check out the Maryland Zoo or stop and smell the roses (and other plants) at Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. This Maryland city also hosts the Preakness Stakes every May, the second of the three thoroughbred horse racing events that make up the Triple Crown.
Massachusetts: Cape Cod
Cape Cod is perfect for a last-minute spring getaway before the summer crowds and hotel rates hit this Massachusetts destination. Attend the annual Martha's Vineyard Film Festival in March or come in May when the area is packed with events such as the 10-day ArtWeek, Martha's Vineyard Oyster Fest and the month-long Cape Cod Maritime Days celebration. Enjoy the best of Massachusetts' natural beauty with flower-focused events such as Brewster in Bloom and the Rhododendron Festival at Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich.
Holland, Michigan, is one of those American towns that feel just like Europe, thanks to its strong Dutch heritage. That feeling of the Netherlands is highlighted with the town's Tulip Time Festival. In addition to the millions of flowers blooming here from April to mid-May, Holland also hosts a farmers market, Latin American Festival and Memorial Day Festival.
While there are a lot of things to do indoors to get away from the freezing cold in Minneapolis, the Minnesota city takes full advantage of the better weather that comes with spring. Outdoor dining is popular on restaurant patios and rooftops, farmers markets pop up throughout the city and more than 40 artworks are on display in the Sculpture Garden at the Walker Art Center. See the Minnehaha Falls at their strongest thanks to the recently melted snow and ice, take part in activities on the city's lakes and visit the local zoos.
The Mississippi town of Natchez is so picturesque in the spring that every year, a Spring Pilgrimage is held in which 24 antebellum mansions take part in a tour that runs for four weeks, welcoming visitors on guided walks through the 18th- and 19th-century architecture and decor, as well as picturesque gardens. The highly photogenic Natchez Trace Parkway, which ultimately runs 444 miles through three states, starts here and takes drivers through scenic views and 10,000 years of history.
Branson, Missouri, has access to the Ozarks and a couple of lakes, and spring is a great time to make the most of them and the flowers and plants coming to life in those spots. Silver Dollar City, one of the best relatively unknown theme parks in America, also reopens every March for the season.
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Montana: Glacier National Park
Montana's Glacier National Park is one of the most underrated national parks in America, and while there aren't as many services open during the spring, savvy parkgoers can have a great time. A much quieter season, spring at Glacier National Park allows guests to get more in tune with nature. Some trails are still covered in snow, so guests have their pick of the kind of hike they want to take on, and it's the perfect time to be able to bike through snow-capped mountain scenery.
The western Nebraska town of Ogallala is home to one of the largest privately held collections of lilacs in the world, which is open to the public during the second and third weeks of May. More than 800 varieties of lilacs are in bloom during this time at the Meadowlark Hill Lilac Collection, and it's one of the best places in the world to see spring blooms. The weather during this time of year is also great to enjoy Lake McConaughy, a popular spot for sailing, flying kites and fishing.
Nevada: Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is one of the most popular tourist destinations in America. Straddling the border of California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is perfect in the spring, as it's less busy than the summer and winter months, so visitors can enjoy the outdoor dining and activities such as paddleboarding and sailing to their fullest. The trees and flowers are also a beautiful sight, making it worth a hike through the surrounding mountains.
New Hampshire: White Mountains
The highest peak in the Northeastern U.S., New Hampshire's Mount Washington is among the majestic mountains you need to see in your lifetime. The surrounding White Mountains are just as beautiful, particularly in the spring when flowers are making a return and trees are turning green again. Hike the Tuckerman Ravine, go whitewater kayaking or relax with a game of golf or a visit to a local gallery or museum, such as the Jackson Art Studio & Gallery or New England Ski Museum.
New Jersey: Cape May
Cape May is one of the prettiest towns in America, and this New Jersey spot is especially idyllic in the spring, when its historic architecture is complemented by growing gardens, all of which can be explored via trolley tours or on foot. Sample the harvests of the Cape May Wine Trail, and visit in May in order to attend the Sip Into Spring Crafts & Collectibles Show or the Cape May Spring Festival.
New Mexico: Santa Fe
North America's oldest capital city looks like a town stuck in time, with a rich history and blend of cultures thanks to indigenous, Spanish and English influences. Santa Fe, New Mexico, is the best place to enjoy a Southwestern spring, not only because of the blossoming flowers and trees but also because of events such as the Santa Fe Farmers Market, historical walking tours and art festivals.
New York: Thousand Islands
The Thousand Islands are New York's most underrated destination, and with warmer weather comes the opportunity to enjoy the surrounding waters with boats or watersports, or a trip to Heart Island's unfinished Boldt Castle. Straddling the Saint Lawrence River on the border of the U.S. and Canada, the Thousand Islands' historic architecture and quaint waterfront villages are even more charming once the snow has melted and the sun is shining.
North Carolina: Outer Banks
North Carolina's Outer Banks come back to life in the spring, with warmer days at the beach, fresh flowers and a butterfly festival at Elizabeth Gardens in the town of Manteo. Visit some of the country's most underrated beach towns, check out the spot of the world's first flight at Kitty Hawk and catch dinner (literally) by going crabbing or shrimping.
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North Dakota: Fargo
The biggest city in North Dakota, Fargo is finally out from under the snow and seeing some sunshine in the spring, making it a great time to explore the city's outdoor dining, Instagram-ready murals and delicious food trucks. Other popular local activities during the season include touring the craft beer scene and walking or biking along the city's many park trails.
The Ohio River is very pleasant in the spring, and a trip to Cincinnati means enjoying the best of its museums, theaters and parks with sunny weather. Cincinnati is one of the best cities for beer lovers, so experience Cincinnati's brewing history with a tour through one of the largest collections of breweries from the pre-Prohibition era. Cincinnati also celebrates the season with the Krohn Conservatory's Butterfly Show, Appalachian Festival, Asian Food Fest, Taste of Cincinnati and the Cincy Cinco Festival, a festival celebrating Cinco de Mayo and Latin American culture.
Oklahoma: Beavers Bend State Park
Oklahoma's Beavers Bend State Park is a great spot to enjoy seasonal produce, such as strawberries, blueberries, cucumbers, summer squash and green beans. Fishing and birdwatching are also prime activities in the spring. There are also notable events such as the Dogwood Days Festival (celebrating blooming dogwood trees), the Beavers Bend Kayak Classic, and the Kiamichi Owa-Chito Festival of the Forest.
Enjoy a temperate climate and colorful flowers in Portland, Oregon, where parks, gardens and yards are filled with roses, azaleas, rhododendrons and cherry blossom trees during springtime. You'll see why this West Coast city was one of the trendiest travel destinations of the 2010s due to its trails that run throughout the city, relaxing hot springs and festivals for film and food such as the Portland International Film Festival and PDX Tequila & Taco Festival.
Pennsylvania: Pocono Mountains
Known for their breathtaking beauty in the fall, the Poconos have a different sort of magic in the spring. Visit top natural wonders such as Bushkill Falls, known as "the Niagara of Pennsylvania," and explore miles of hiking trails, walkways, bridges and the perfect spots for birdwatching, fishing, horseback riding, whitewater rafting and even ziplining.
Rhode Island: Newport
Spring has the perfect weather for enjoying the beautiful beach sunsets of Newport, Rhode Island, or a scenic drive down the 10-mile Ocean Drive. The Daffodil Days Festival celebrates the 1 million bright yellow daffodils that bloom in Newport this season, but it's the Newport Cliff Walk that is renowned as one of the most romantic spots in the country and therefore an absolute must-visit stop.
South Carolina: Charleston
One of the most romantic cities in the world, Charleston, South Carolina, is especially charming in the spring. The Charleston Farmers Market finally opens up again in April, and the weather is perfect for walking tours of the city's historic downtown and exploring its architecturally notable properties and gardens at the Annual Festival of Houses and Gardens.
South Dakota: Rapid City
Rapid City is located in the eastern foothills of South Dakota's Black Hills, and spring is a great time to explore these natural wonders as well as the hiking trails and terrain all around the city. Within the city itself, amusement park Rush Mountain Adventure Park is open on weekends in March and April before opening up seven days a week in May. Complete your trip by staying at Hotel Alex Johnson (at least for a night or two). This Germanic Tudor-style spot is one of the most charming hotels in America.
Gatlinburg may be known as a town that's crazy about the holidays, but it's worthwhile in the spring as well. It's a great place to explore the Tennessee side of the Great Smoky Mountains, with 800 miles and 150 trails of spring greenery and wildlife to be discovered. River rafting, ziplining and golfing or mini-golfing are popular endeavors. In April, the city hosts the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community Easter Show, as well as the Gatlinburg Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage with more than 150 programs such as guided walks and hikes, demonstrations and lectures, while May kicks off with the Hands-On Gatlinburg Arts & Crafts Weekend.
The officially designated "Bluebonnet City of Texas," Ennis is known for the bluebonnet flowers that grow there in the spring. For the entire month of April, the city has 40 miles of designated Bluebonnet Trails that visitors (and locals) can drive through, and reservations can even be made to explore the trails with an expert guide from the Ennis Garden Club.
Utah: Park City
World-renowned for its skiing, Park City, Utah, is unfortunately one of the most expensive travel destinations in America in the winter. Flights and hotel rates are cheaper in the shoulder spring season, and there are still skiing and snowboarding opportunities at the city's many resorts. As the season moves along, the temperature does rise into the 50s and 60s, making for a much more comfortable time while enjoying the extensive nightlife, outdoor concerts, hot air balloon rides and hiking trails.
Home to one of the most popular ski resorts in America, Stowe is another place where skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts can enjoy their hobby in the springtime. In early spring, the air is literally sweet thanks to maple sugaring season, the best time to visit a local sugar farm.
Virginia: Virginia Beach
Soak up the spring sun with a trip to Virginia Beach, which has a beautiful coastline and plenty of seasonal activities such as kayaking among dolphins and picking fresh produce such as strawberries. Beach crowds are smaller than they are in the summer, which allows visitors to get the most of this East Coast spot while still enjoying good weather.
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Washington: Skagit Valley
One of the most photogenic destinations in America, Washington's Skagit Valley region celebrates the season with its Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, as well as La Conner Daffodil Festival. Have a taste of the Anacortes Wine Festival, check out some farmers markets or book a tour for whale watching, fishing or scuba diving.
West Virginia: Babcock State Park
In the spring, one can find more than 4,000 acres of trails lined with rhododendrons at Babcock State Park in West Virginia, one of the most underrated parks in America. The weather is also perfect for exploring its quiet streams and the picturesque Glade Creek Grist Mill, as well as going biking, boating or fishing in the park.
Wisconsin: Lake Geneva
Wisconsin's charming Lake Geneva is even lovelier in the spring, when lake activities are in full swing again, shops and restaurants are busier and flowers are blooming in the backdrop. The Lake Geneva Festival of Wine is held annually by the town, and biking and hiking are popular endeavors on its 8.5 miles of trails. A great place to go kayaking on the lake or hit the area's award-winning golf courses, Lake Geneva is perfect for an RV trip or a nice resort hotel stay.
Wyoming: Jackson Hole
Jackson Hole is renowned for its skiing and other winter sporting opportunities, but the region also shines in the spring. Although the accessibility of trails within Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park is limited, it's still a great time to enjoy the wildlife and wildflowers in bloom without the hassle of summer crowds. Biking on roads and going fly fishing are popular activities, and the Jackson Hole Rodeo opens in May. The history and culture of the old West is celebrated with the annual Old West Days Celebration, held every Memorial Day weekend and cementing Jackson Hole as one of the best weekend getaways in America.