But there’s good news on the snow-covered horizon. Spring is just around the corner … kind of. Okay, so it’s a couple months away but it’s never too early to start day dreaming of a warm sun upon your cheek and that irresistible sensation of everything in bloom.
So let’s get spring started a little early by capping off the best places to be if you want to experience the season in all its budding glory.
Antelope Valley, California
Every spring, the sprawling landscape of California bursts with vibrant color and delightful aromas as the state’s flower, the poppy, literally pops up along vast stretches of highway. From March through May, people can visit the Antelope Valley in northern California to see the remarkable bloom of these rich rorange (red and orange) flowers. Plus, it’s California – so you know the weather and scenery is going to epitomize the essence of spring.
What makes the district a spring must see? Their National Cherry Blossom Festival! Attendees will be overwhelmed when they set their eyes on more than 3,000 cherry blossom trees gifted from Tokyo in 1912. During full bloom, it creates a colorful cotton candy-like cloud around the Tidal Basin. It’s a spectacle that’s been a must see for more than a century.
Canada might be synonymous with hockey and cold temps, but don’t forget spring still graces our norther neighbor too, eh? And Ottawa gets some of the best of it. For nearly 70 years, the city’s visitors have experienced the largest tulip festival in the world. The free admission festival is an annual “’ello” to spring that symbolizes international friendship as the festival could never have taken place if it weren’t for Princess Juliana of the Netherlands gifting 100,000 tulip bulbs in 1945 as a thank you for its role in aiding the European country during WWII.
Sunflower fields sprawl across the romantic city of Tuscany like beer bottles and cans on St Patrick’s Day. These giant sun-pedaled flowers are called girasole in Italian, which translates to sun-turner because they move to face the sun throughout the day. If Italy is too far out of reach and budget, you can also experience vast sunflower fields in the sunflower state, Kansas, particularly Grinter’s Sunflower Farm in Lawrence, KS. Just don’t expect the sprawling countryside to have near the romantic charm as Tuscany.
Lake Tekapo, New Zealand
Featuring untouched landscapes that would make Bob Ross paint the happiest of trees, Lake Tekapo blooms some of the prettiest Russell Lupines around. Standing more than a yard tall, these beautiful plants (technically weeds) exude vibrant hues of purple, pink and blue as they sway to and fro in dense packs along creeks and river beds. It doesn’t hurt having the Southern Alps as a backdrop to the whole scene – it’s New Zealand after all.
Texas Hill Country
What was once a “nothing to see” drive-by scene, has since turned into picturesque scenery. Thanks to Lady Bird Johnson and the 1965 Highway Beautification Act, Texas Hill Country is home to more than 5,000 wildflower species, particularly bluebonnets. Visitors can even visit the Wildflower Center and Wildseed Farms to see and learn more about Lady Bird Johnson and her beautiful wildflower contribution.
Kawachi Fujien, Japan
Ever heard of the wisteria plant? Well, get acquainted with it because Japan has over 20 species of this beauty and they string them up over two road tunnels that span nearly 1,000 feet in length. It’s like a happy ending scene out of a fairy tale as prince charming and his princess ride off into the distance – borderline magical.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina & Tennessee
If the nickname Wildflower National Park doesn’t give it away, then maybe the 1,500 different types of flowers (more than any North American National Park) will. In fact, the spring bloom is so surreal at Great Smoky Mountain that every year the park hosts a week-long festival of guided walks and hikes called the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage.
Chena Hot Springs, Alaska
You’re probably thinking, Alaska?! You’re kidding, right? But check it out. While there may not be anything beautifully blooming around early spring, the Chena Hot Spring is a natural outdoor hot springs rock lake where you can bask in warm healing water as you gaze the aurora borealis (better known as, the norther lights). Between the warm springs and the northern lights, the spectacular glaciers are just cherries on top.
Park City, Utah
With great ski routes and Sundance celebrity sightings in the winter months, Park City is no stranger to being a cool (albeit underrated) place to visit. But in the spring, the hustle and bustle subsides and the destination becomes another laid-back mountain town with gorgeous spring sights to be seen and trails to be hiked. If you visit, prepare to lose yourself in nature … and lots of craft beer.
This spring, skip the crazy college crowds of Cancun and check out some of these under-the-radar spring fling destinations. With spring scents of fresh air to be inhaled, breathtaking sights to be seen and warm weather to be enjoyed, your senses will thank you!