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15 Best Places to See Flower Blooms in the U.S.

As temperatures start to warm and winter turns to spring, beautiful blooms pop up across the landscapes in the U.S. In some locations, like the desert, they can even arrive as early as February, while summertime brings them to the higher elevation areas like the Rocky Mountains. Whether you want to plan a trip this spring or summer, for the top spots to witness the color consider one of these fantastic destinations from the Pacific Northwest to the nation’s capital.

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival - Skagit Valley, Washington Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
Credit: Skagit Valley Tulip Festival by bigstock.com

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival - Skagit Valley, Washington

Thousands of visitors are drawn to the Skagit Valley in northern Washington State annually in April. This is when the celebration of its tulips takes place known as the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. Held throughout the month, visitors can marvel at the kaleidoscope of colors that blanket the landscapes and enjoy strolls through the flowers. You won’t want to forget your camera as it’s even more stunning with a backdrop of soaring Mount Baker and the Cascade Mountains. It can even be enjoyed from above by taking a hot-air balloon ride, and there are all sorts of events from street festivals to art shows held as well.

Antelope Valley - Lancaster, California Trail on the hills of Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve
Credit: Trail on the hills of Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve by © Andreistanescu - Dreamstime.com

Antelope Valley - Lancaster, California

Just two hours from Los Angeles, 1,780-acre Antelope Valley in Lancaster is famous for its vibrant fields and hills that are covered with bright yellow, red, and orange poppies in the spring. They can be enjoyed at a distance, but while you’re here you should really get a closer look by walking or cycling the Antelope Loop Trail.  If you bring a wide-angle and telephoto lens you’ll be able to capture not only the unique details of each bloom but the breadth of the remarkable display.

Mount Rainier National Park - Washington flowers blooming at Mount Rainier
Credit: flowers blooming at Mount Rainier by © Yvonne Baur - Dreamstime.com

Mount Rainier National Park - Washington

Summer is the time to come to Mount Rainier National Park to see its famous wildflower-filled meadows. Every year in July and August they’ll be bursting with color, with fireweed, paintbrush, purple shooting stars, avalanche lilies, and many others. The scene around Tipsoo Lake at the summit of Chinook Pass is a photographer’s dream with nature trails meandering near the lake and bringing views of the yellows, oranges, pinks, and purples of lupine, Indian paintbrush, and magnificent Rainier itself. The paved Skyline Trail that departs from the visitor center is another great route for flower views and is suitable for the whole family.

Texas Hill Country Willow City Loop, Willow City/Fredericksburg
Credit: Willow City Loop, Willow City/Fredericksburg by Theodore Scott via Flickr

Texas Hill Country

The Texas Hill Country is famous for its bluebonnets, the state flower, which is typically blooming in March and April. The stretch of highway between Burnet and Mason boasts such spectacular displays it can be hard to keep your eyes on the road with all the color hard to look away from. The Willow City Loop is a 2o-mile stretch that winds through lush, green hills and is renowned for its display of the bluebonnets and also features Indian paintbrush, and other colorful flowers. You might even plan your trip around the Bluebonnet Festival, held every April in Chappell Hill.

Rose Test Garden - Portland, Oregon Rose Test Garden, Portland
Credit: Rose Test Garden, Portland by bigstock.com

Rose Test Garden - Portland, Oregon

In 1889, the Portland Rose Society was founded by Georgiana Burton Pittock, the wife of Oregonian publisher Henry Pittock. After inviting her friends over to see the roses she’d grown in her garden, the residents became obsessed with them and the city was soon filled with color, planting the roses so they framed the streets. It led to Portland’s nickname, the City of Roses, and in 1917, the Rose Test Garden was founded. It’s the oldest continuously operated public test garden in the U.S., designed by future-thinking citizens to preserve the species of European roses in case they were decimated by World War I bombings.  Today, the garden is still developing new rose varieties, including miniatures, with the grounds divided up into multiple sections, each showcasing interesting plants to explore. Visitors can stroll among thousands of rose bushes that are at their peak in June.

Monterey, California Monterey Bay, California
Credit: Monterey Bay, California by Bigstock.com

Monterey, California

Patches of pink succulents can be seen throughout Monterey as the area’s trademark for spring blooms. Many colorful displays overlook the Pacific providing fabulous photo-ops with carpets of pink and yellow flowers along with purple bushes dotted along the shoreline. You might spot migrating humpback whales who will be arriving for their feeding season too.

Blue Ridge Parkway - Virginia and North Carolina
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Blue Ridge Parkway - Virginia and North Carolina

The Blue Ridge Parkway stretches for 469 miles through Virginia and North Carolina, linking Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Nearly the entire roadway will be exploding with wildflowers in the spring with a diversity that’s unlike anything you’ll see anywhere else. At every overlook you stop you can see them – in fact, of the roughly 1,600 different plant species along the way, over 80 percent are wildflowers. The prime time to come is between late April and mid-May and you’ll find many trails easily accessed for scenic hikes as well. Grandfather Mountain near Linville, North Carolina is a highlight not to be missed.

Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C.
Credit: Washington, D.C. by bigstock.com

Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C., hosts one of the world’s most popular flower festivals celebrating its cherry blossoms. The pink and white blooms draw thousands every year around late March and early April, although they may arrive sooner when temperatures are warm. Your best bet for viewing without the interruption of crowds is to visit the Tidal Basin early in the morning. Catching the sun as it rises over the capital’s iconic monuments makes it even more spectacular.

Crested Butte, Colorado 401 trail, Crested Butte
Credit: 401 trail, Crested Butte by trailsource.com via Flickr

Crested Butte, Colorado

Nestled in the Colorado Rockies, Crested Butte is not only known for its winter sports but summer pastimes that include alpine hikes. It’s flanked by the West Elk Mountains, an area renowned for its colorful wildflower displays. The views of the unique collection of pink, orange, and gold alpine wildflowers are so impressive, it led to establishing the annual Wildflower Festival. In addition to admiring the wildflower displays, one can hike or mountain bike the high elevation trails, enjoying the sights of lush grass and rare alpine sunflowers with dramatic peaks in the distance.

Columbia River Gorge - Hood River Valley, Oregon Columbia River Gorge
Credit: Columbia River Gorge by Bigstock.com

Columbia River Gorge - Hood River Valley, Oregon

The Columbia River Gorge stretches for over 80 miles along the Columbia River, providing magnificent views year-round but when springtime comes, there will be thousands of yellow Oregon sunflowers. The sunny slopes and open Ponderosa forests will be bursting with color and with the breathtaking surroundings, the scene is even more awe-inspiring.  Hood River Valley toward the eastern end of the gorge is the epicenter for spring blooms, which not only include sunflowers but pink and white fruit tree blossoms. The arrival of spring is celebrated at the annual Blossom Time celebration, a three-week-long event featuring a variety of activities throughout the area.

Kauai, Hawaii plumeria flowers in Kauai
Credit: plumeria flowers in Kauai by © Noblige - Dreamstime.com

Kauai, Hawaii

Kauai is nicknamed the “Garden Isle” making it a no-brainer for viewing colorful flowers. Thanks to the warm, tropical climate with plenty of rainfall and varied elevations, floral displays can be enjoyed all year long although the most impressive displays arrive in spring and summer. From late March through August, you’ll be wowed by the delicate orchids, coral trees, lush orchard trees with their vibrantly colored succulent fruits, and verdant bushes blanketed in bright pink, yellow and red flowers. To see the sheer volume and variety of blooms you’ll want to hike through McBryde & Allerton Gardens, a National Tropical Botanical Garden.

Desert Botanical Gardens - Phoenix, Arizona Desert Botanical Gardens
Credit: Desert Botanical Gardens by dbg.org

Desert Botanical Gardens - Phoenix, Arizona

Many people envision the desert as a stark landscape with not much life other than cacti. The reality is that it’s anything but. Discover all that grows at the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix, which displays some 17,000 species of desert plants and hosts a large research center. There are more than 50,000 accessioned plants that can be seen along five thematic trails illustrating topics like desert living, conservation, the people of the Sonoran Desert, desert wildflowers, and plants. A two-acre wildflower exhibit is blanketed with color in the springtime, with the peak blooms of flowers like desert lupine and Mexican poppies occurring in March and April. Workshops and lectures are available on everything from botanical art to desert landscaping too.

Chicago Botanic Garden - Chicago, Illinois Chicago Botanic Garden, Chicago, Illinois
Credit: Chicago Botanic Garden, Chicago, Illinois by bigstock.com

Chicago Botanic Garden - Chicago, Illinois

One of the top living museums and science conservation centers in Chicago, the Chicago Botanic Garden is spread across 385 acres on nine islands with six miles of shoreline, over two dozen gardens, and four natural areas. It includes more than 2.4 million plants, including the blooming rose bush that exemplifies the hardiness of the species that have to endure the severe weather the city is known for. The bonsai collection is among the best of its kind you’ll see anywhere with nearly 200 bonsai, including gifts like a Japanese white pine from bonsai master Susumu Nakamura.

Cheekwood Estate & Gardens - Nashville, Tennessee Cheekwood Estate & Gardens
Credit: Cheekwood Estate & Gardens by Cheekwood Estate & Gardens

Cheekwood Estate & Gardens - Nashville, Tennessee

The 55-acre estate grounds at Cheekwood include a Japanese garden, a reflection pool, and a 1.5-mile woodland sculpture trail. There are 13 distinct gardens, with one of the highlights the Burr Terrace Garden, reminiscent of a garden in Padua, Italy dating all the way back to the mid-16th-century as the world’s oldest surviving botanical garden. The enclosed cottage garden boasts beautiful blooming perennials and contrasting violas in the spring, the season when the decorative arbor in the Turner Seasons Garden is covered with roses and bordered by a daffodil collection.

Carlsbad Ranch - Carlsbad, California Carlsbad Flower Fields, California
Credit: Carlsbad Flower Fields, California by Carlsbad Flower Fields

Carlsbad Ranch - Carlsbad, California

The 50 acres of fields at Carlsbad Ranch host a rainbow display of gorgeous ranunculus flowers. They’re spread on a hillside that overlooks the coast providing fantastic photo-ops along with activities for the whole family like wagon rides and themed events.

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