7 Places to Visit in the Spring

Paris in the spring has a romantic ring to it, non?

There’s nothing like a jolt of warm weather (or the anticipation of it) to bring on the travel itch. From late March to the end of May, you don’t have to worry about the spring break crowds, cold Canadians flocking to the hot sun of the Caribbean or boatloads of tourists taking over the streets in Europe — in fact, between the weather and prices, the spring may just be the best time of the year to travel. Not sure where to book a flight to? We pick 7 destinations that are perfect to visit in the spring.

1. Where: Paris
Why: While the weather might be fickle (you may see rain one day, sun the next), we bet you’ll quickly overlook any gloomy days upon seeing the gorgeous blooms and lush trees that decorate the already beautiful landscape. Not to mention the height of tourist season in Paris comes in the summer, so you’ll be in town when the locals are. For those who are tennis fans, consider planning around the French Open which occurs every May at Roland Garros.
Travel Tip: Beat any weather woes by dressing in layers and packing a chic umbrella.

2. Where: Arizona
Why: Visitors come to enjoy this state all-year round, thanks to the hot weather, stunning natural landscape and world-class spas, but if you’re hoping to save a bit of cash and beat the heat, a late spring trip is your best bet. In the desert areas like Phoenix and Scottsdale, the highest hotel rates are from January to April, so waiting a little later in the year can be easier on your wallet. Plus it’s a great time to see the Grand Canyon, as it’s not as crowded and the temperatures will be nicer too.

Tulips and windmills in Amsterdam.

3. Where: Amsterdam
Why: There’s nothing that says spring more than tulips and Amsterdam in April is the month when this flower blanket fields all across the Netherlands. It’s also the same time you can experience the annual Tulip Festival held at Keukenhof Gardens. Running from March 22 to May 22, 2012, it’s a gorgeous park filled with more than 7 million flowers that will instantly put you in spring mode. If partying is a must (come on, you are in Amsterdam), consider staying on April 30, Queen’s Day, when the streets turn into a giant party.

4. Where: Beijing
Why: For first timers to China, Beijing is a great starting point, since it’s relatively close to the Great Wall, is home to the Forbidden City and the beautiful Summer Palace. Plus the spring brings dry weather, comfortable temperatures and less pollution, but take note: the possibility of sandstorms do exist (clouds of sand turn the sky yellow).

Salt Spring Island is a great excursion from Victoria.

5. Where: Victoria, Vancouver Island
Why: The weather in Victoria is always the envy of the rest of the country, since it tends to have sunny, mild weather most of the year and the lowest rainfall in British Columbia. The spring is particularly inviting thanks to the gorgeous blooms, which you can explore at Butchart Gardens, while animal lovers should plan to whale-watch, as you can start to spot them in May. You’ll also find less tourists this time of year, so take advantage of the less-crowded hotels.
Travel Tip: Take a ferry to Salt Spring Island. It’s home to local artisans, working farms and wineries, plus if you want to make it an overnight trip you’ll find everything from quaint B&B’s to luxury hotels.

6. Where: Hawaii
Why: If Hawaii is on your must-visit list (which is should be), consider visiting in the spring (April to June), which is low season. High season is not only crowded, but expensive too — you’ll be paying top dollar for everything from airfare to accommodations. Expect to get the best bang for your buck in Oahu and Maui, but there’s always the lush and rural island of Kaua’i, which outdoor enthusiasts will love.
Travel Tip: The last week of April tends to be busy with Japanese tourists because three of their holidays fall within this “Golden Week,” so be sure to plan well in advance if you plan to visit at this time.

Cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C.

7. Where: Washington, D.C.
Why: You could travel to Japan to watch the cherry blossoms bloom in spring, or you could stay closer to home and enjoy their pink and white flowers in the nation’s capital. In 1912, Japan gifted the city 3,000 ornamental cherry and every year the city celebrates with an annual National Cherry Blossom Festival. Because this year is the centennial, the festival is running from March 20 – April 27, 2012, with the parade happening on April 14. After you’ve had time to view the beautiful blossoms, consider popping into the National Geographic Museum where you can view the Samurai: The Warrior Transformed exhibition, which explores the history of the samurai military tradition and includes photographs of Japan taken by Eliza Scidmore, who played a role in bringing the blossoms to the city.