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While it’s fun to make an escape any time of the year, there are many reasons to take a vacation in the spring season. It’s off-season in many places, which can mean discounts and fewer crowds, yet the weather is often pleasant with plenty of sunshine while colorful flowers are in bloom. As it will be here before you know it, now is when you’ll want to start planning to get the best deals and avoid disappointment with rooms or even car rentals selling out quickly. The only question is where to go? We’ve got the answers to help you right here, whether you’re looking to jet off thousands of miles away or stay closer to home.
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Spring, with May in particular, is often not only quiet in terms of crowds but those April showers are frequently followed by sunshine. Wildflowers dot woodlands and fields of green, painting a kaleidoscope of color and you’ll be able to peacefully wander cobbled streets, explore medieval castles, ancient sites, and idyllic beaches along dramatic coastlines like the Dingle Peninsula. The town of Dingle itself always has something going on, including a fabulous St. Patrick’s Day festival and live music every night of the week in its many pubs.
May through mid-June is arguably the best time to visit San Sebastian, located in Basque Country, known for its mountains and gorgeous beaches like Playa de la Concha and Playa de Ondarreta, framed by the city’s bayfront promenade. The food scene and tapas culture are what draw many from across the globe, with countless Michelin-starred restaurants, many focused on fresh seafood, the pintxo bars, food markets, and gourmet food shops. The best time to eat here is in the spring or early summer as the fish are spawning, and are extra tender.
Located in the “heel of the boot” the Puglia province is one of Italy’s lesser-visited areas, and as it lies in the south, summers are not only hot but crowded with many Italians enjoying vacations at the beautiful beaches. But spring is particularly lovely with mild temperatures and you’ll encounter few other tourists as you explore places like Alberobello with its unique stone cone-shaped trullis. Puglia is the world’s only place you’ll find them. Ostuni, known as “The White City,” is one of the best places to get lost in. The walled, medieval hilltop town is filled with narrow, winding alleyways lined with whitewashed buildings, towering above an olive tree-dotted landscape just five miles from the sea.
Come springtime, Croatia is transformed into the fantasy of an idyllic Mediterranean destination, with the sea in its many dazzling shades of blue, while inland, national parks like Plitvice will be roaring with cascading waterfalls that plunge into turquoise and emerald lakes thanks to the snowmelt. The beaches will be wonderfully uncrowded for sunbathing, and while the water might be a little too chilly for swimming, kayaking and sailing are a dream through the hundreds of gem-like islands offshore.
The best time to visit Perth and the Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia is in mid-March, May, and early June. Of course, that’s fall in the Southern Hemisphere, a time when the water is warm, weather patterns are consistent and it won’t be too crowded. It’s perfect for a road trip, allowing you to explore some of the most beautiful beaches along the approximately 750-mile journey. The adventure is a bucket-list item itself, heading through Exmouth and along the Coral Coast via Cervantes, Geraldton, Monkey Mia, and Carnarvon. This is turquoise water meets the rugged outback, with abundant marine life like dolphins, rays, and whale sharks, as well as the dramatic gorges of Kalbarri National Park.
South Africa will also be experiencing fall when it’s spring in the Northern Hemisphere and it’s the perfect time to not only embark on a safari with the opportunity to spot the “Big Five,” but to explore places like Cape Town and surrounding areas with renowned wine country nearby and astounding wildlife nearly everywhere you go. You can even meet up with penguins – in fact, the only place to get close to African penguins is Boulders Beach, part of Table Mountain National Park which is just a short drive from central Cape Town.
March through mid-April is a great time to visit Patagonia, which is early fall here, with crowds beginning to taper off while hotels often provide discounted rates. The small town of El Calafate near the edge of the Southern Patagonia Ice Field in the Santa Cruz province of Argentina offers the chance to get up close to the vast Perito Moreno Glacier. You’ll also have easy access to mountains for hiking, lakes for paddling, icebergs to witness and hear the thunderous sounds of calving and see an abundance of flora and fauna. The town itself is home to a local brewery, restaurants serving famous Patagonian lamb, and artisan markets to browse.
While we can’t promise a lack of crowds in Japan during the spring, this is cherry blossom season, with Kyoto a beautiful spot to enjoy the color. Not only will there be plenty of pink and white blooms, but temples with bold oranges and one made of gold. Watch for the geishas that stroll down the streets, visit the enchanting bamboo forests and magical gardens, take part in traditional tea ceremonies, and visit the early 17th-century Nijo Castle. The UNESCO-listed site housed the first Shogun of the Edo period and is considered the best surviving example of castle/palace architecture from the feudal era.
Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, is renowned for its gardens. The frost of winter will be giving way to cherry blossoms and azaleas, with some 37,000 cherry trees bursting into full bloom in the spring, lighting up the streets with their bright bursts of pink. Butchart Gardens will be at its best this season, coming alive with some of the finest work Mother Nature has to offer. The farmers’ markets start opening in April and May with all sorts of fresh produce and other goodies, and you’ll find many cultural attractions in the city center.
The nation’s capital is famous for its hundreds of cherry trees with the blooms at their peak around late March and early April with a high concentration on the Washington Monument grounds, the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park, and East Potomac Park. Plus the weather is usually quite pleasant for sightseeing in Washington D.C. and you can enjoy the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival. A day trip to Shenandoah National Park, just an hour’s drive away, is ideal as a great place to hike among spectacular scenery and escape the crowds.
The stunning Loire Valley is famous for its many historic chateaus, like Château d’Ussé, a 15th-century fairytale-like castle at the edge of the forest of Chinon. You’ll see plenty of flowers bringing color to the landscapes, while vineyard buds are starting to burst. Enjoy tranquil bike rides with picnics along the river banks, or even take a riverboat tour to make the most of the gorgeous weather.
Manuel Antonio National Park is just south of Quepos on the Pacific coast, offering expansive white sandy beaches that border lush rainforest home to more than 100 species of mammals like sloths and monkeys along with nearly 200 different bird species, including toucans. Dolphins and whales can sometimes be observed just offshore. April is one of the best months to visit as it falls at the end of the dry season, experiencing little to no rain and mostly sunny weather without the crowds.
Spring is the best season to see Yosemite National Park’s many spectacular waterfalls due to the snowmelt. There will be many cascades of all sizes throughout Yosemite Valley, including iconic Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil, and Vernal Falls, along with lots of small, unnamed waterfalls. With 90 percent of visitors arriving in the summer, you’ll miss the crowds too. It’s a great time to hike the scenic trails without having to bump elbows with others.
The 13 miles of picturesque beaches on Amelia Island, a barrier island off the northern coast of Florida, are wonderfully quiet in the spring, providing the chance to escape spring break crowds and enjoy the peace, quiet, and natural beauty. You’ll find plenty of things to do on Amelia Island, as you can go horseback riding on the sands, take a horse-drawn carriage ride to see the sights in town, bike the miles of trails and sidewalks, golf, paddle the tidal creeks and marshes, and explore Fort Clinch State Park, home to one of the best-preserved 19th-century forts in the country.
While Mardi Gras will have passed, New Orleans offers a year-round party. Spring brings festivals just about every weekend, from the French Quarter Fest and the Jazz Fest to Bayou Boogaloo. No matter what’s going on, jazz, blues, rock, and Zydeco tunes can be enjoyed from just about every corner and crevice. With the mild weather, enjoy pleasant strolls through the park and along the streets to view magnificent European-style architecture. Of course, there’s plenty of incredible cuisine throughout the city when you’re in need of a meal, and practically an endless number of bars for a tasty cocktail.