For travelers seeking affordable prices, small crowds and pleasant weather, spring is the perfect time of year to travel. Many destinations are at their best during the spring, when temperatures are warm but not too hot, lively seasonal festivals are going on, and blooming flowers set parks and gardens ablaze with color (a scene that makes for spectacular vacation photographs!). Our top 10 stunning spring destinations are wonderful to visit throughout the year, but each place is especially dazzling and unforgettable in the spring.
Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica
Costa Rica‘s high season for travel (also known as the dry season) runs from December to April, and the country’s rainy “green” season runs from May to November. Travel in spring to experience the best of both worlds — you’ll avoid the climax of the rainy season as well as the dry season’s crowds; plus, you could pay lower green-season rates at many hotels and resorts. Manuel Antonio National Park offers some of the country’s most spectacular beaches — without hordes of partying spring breakers. The park’s beaches border lush tropical rain forest, and travelers can spot monkeys, iguanas, tropical birds and other wildlife directly from the white sands.
Travel to Portland in the spring and you’ll see exactly why the town is known as the “City of Roses.” Portland’s climate is ideal for growing roses, which start to bloom in April and peak in June. You can see and smell literally thousands of roses at Portland’s popular International Rose Test Garden, which is one of dozens of unique parks and gardens scattered across the city. Don’t miss the Portland Rose Festival, which runs from mid-May through mid-June and features flower shows, parades, fireworks and more.
Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, Japan
It’s no surprise that Fuji-Hakone-Izu is the most visited national park in Japan. It’s home to Japan’s iconic Mount Fuji, as well as waterfalls, hot springs, volcanic islands and deep lakes. Spring is cherry blossom season in Japan and an excellent time to visit the park. In late March, cherry blossom and plum trees across the country start to bloom, and travelers can peer at the majestic cone of Mount Fuji through pale-lavender and rose-colored branches in the park.
Cape May, New Jersey
Sadly, New Jersey may be better known for big hair and organized crime than for its pretty towns and peaceful seascapes. But the Garden State has some fantastic vacation destinations that are undoubtedly worth a visit — like Cape May, one of America’s oldest resort towns. Summer is high season here, but we prefer Cape May in the spring because travelers can walk past picturesque Victorian houses, read a novel on the beach (you may need a sweater but you’ll still enjoy the view!) or visit an old-fashioned ice cream parlor before the summer crowds descend. Plus, Cape May becomes a birder’s paradise each spring when thousands of sea and songbirds migrate to Cape May Point State Park, a major migratory route.
There are lots of reasons that the old song lauds Paris in the spring, but here’s just one of many: the city’s famous gardens and parks are simply breathtaking this time of year. A few days of strolling past 17th-century fountains, banana trees, roses and majestic sculptures nestled in the leafy hidden corners of Parisian gardens will make you too fall in love with springtime in the City of Lights.
Washington D.C. explodes with color in the spring when hundreds of cherry trees around the capital sprout blushing blooms. Late March through early April is the best time to see the flowers at their peak, which corresponds with the city’s annual National Cherry Blossom Festival. Local companies host a variety of cherry blossom tours to help travelers make the most of their petal-peeping, from guided bike rides to moonlit river cruises.
You’ve seen pictures of those iconic flower fields in the Dutch countryside, but a real-life look at the massive fields is an unforgettable and astonishing experience. The Keukenhof Gardens, open from March to May, are one of the best places to see more than seven million tulips in full, vivid splendor. Another fantastic way to see Holland’s flower fields is to take a bicycle tour along the 19-mile Flower Bulb Route in North Holland. April is the best month to go to the Netherlands if you want to see blooming daffodils, and for the best views of the tulip fields at their peak, visit in May.
Yosemite National Park
During April, May and June, travelers can see fields of blooming flowers, fish for rainbow trout or spot herds of bighorn sheep while enjoying warm days and cool evenings in Yosemite National Park. Plus, spring is the best season to visit Yosemite if you love waterfalls. The park’s creeks and rivers start gushing with water as soon as spring’s warm weather melts the winter snow. Even better — the big crowds don’t descend on the park until summer.
The Channel Islands, located off the French coast of Normandy, charm visitors with their quaint English cottages and sweeping island vistas. In the springtime, head to the island of Sark for its annual Wild Flower Fortnight, a festival that runs from late April through early May to celebrate the blanket of colorful flowers that covers the island this time of year. When you’re not strolling below sea cliffs along Sark’s 30 miles of unspoiled coastline or taking a horse-drawn cart to a local pub (there are no cars on the island), you can participate in an organized wildflower walk during the festival.
Visitors who plan a spring trip to the ever-popular Greek Islands can avoid the teeming summer crowds while still enjoying pleasant weather. Virtually all of the Greek Islands are stunning in spring (and pretty much every season), but Santorini, which is famous for its cliff-top views and whitewashed buildings, is particularly beautiful. See Greek Isles Revealed for more photos and ideas.