Spring has FINALLY sprung! Here are 10 destinations all over the USA where you can truly revel in the beauty of the season -- whether you're the outdoorsy type or more of an afternoon shopping and wine tasting type!
1. New York City. The mean old Big Apple might not be the first spot that pops to mind when you think of "spring," but the city is really in its splendor this time of year (next best is autumn). From tulips and daffodils bursting from street planters to beautiful flowering trees in Central Park, the flora matches the mood of city dwellers who are thrilled to trade in their winter coats for shorts and little dresses. So much fun!
2. Sonoma County, California. This is my original homeland, so I'm not impartial, but this is one of the most gorgeous places on EARTH! And spring is one of the loveliest times of year, whether you're wine tasting in verdant vineyards, shopping in the cute downtown area of rose-filled Petaluma, or picnicking in the square in Sonoma town, surrounded by rolling green hills that are just beginning to turn golden.
3. Boulder, Colorado. This is such a fun college town, filled with cafes, bookstores, and restaurants (and gleeful students about to be freed from class for the summer!). And this time of year, the Colorado wildflowers are in full bloom -- you can even take a day trip to nearby Roxborough State Park and walk the Willow Creek Trail where you'll see, to name a few: Canada violet, larkspur, golden banner and chiming bells, poppy mallow, orchid penstemon, sego lily, American vetch, cinquefoil, Drummond milkvetch, purple milkvetch, sulphurflower, tall scarlet paintbrush, orange paintbrush, scarlet gaura, white gilia, scarlet gilia, prairie coneflower, copper mallow, spring beauties, silvery lupine, birdfoot violet, purple prairie flower, white prairie flower, and green gentian!
4. Hawaii. According to Conde Nast Travel, May is the BEST time of year to go to Hawaii. Not only are there lots of deals on airfare (especially now that Alaska Airlines serves the islands), but they say this month has the best weather -- and if you've ever been to Hawaii before, you know that's really saying something! A week in the soft, flower-scented air, swimming in the warm, gorgeous ocean sounds like just what the doctor ordered after a long, cold winter.
5. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina. This national treasure is so big, it's within a day's drive of half the U.S. population! Spring is prime wildlife and wildflower viewing time, and there are over 800 miles of hiking and walking trails for you and your family to breathe in that gorgeous fresh air.
6. Charleston, South Carolina. A beautiful place to visit, before the summer heats things up too much! In the spring, the magnolia trees are in full bloom -- truly a sight to behold. If you time it right, you can be in town for the amazing Spoleto Festival -- a huge performing arts festival that lasts for 17 days, consisting of operas, plays, dance and orchestra performances, and much more at venues all over the city, culminating in a huge lawn show and picnic catered by the area's top chefs. Happy spring, indeed!
7. Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, Wisconsin. A beautiful spot to visit, whether you want to take advantage of the miles of hiking trails or the 50-mile auto route! Even if you miss the Horicon Marsh Bird Festival in mid-May, this is the place to be for bird-watching -- it's home to 200 species of birds, including ducks, geese, warblers, blue herons and many more.
8. Cape Cod, Massachusetts. This is one of my favorite summer destinations, but springtime on the Cape is a beautiful sight. You'll find good deals on hotels this time of year, or you can explore one of the area's many camping grounds! There are pristine beaches, fun towns for shopping and dining, and so many outdoor activities, from renting bikes to ride along the Cape Cod rail trail to boating outings to walks in beautiful estuaries and salt marshes.
9. Mammoth Mountain in Mammoth Lakes, California. Two words: SPRING SKIING! Mammoth Mountain is a place where you can ski this spring in the California sunshine -- in a T-shirt! There's also an adventure park, mountain biking, music festivals, and more.
10. Moab, Utah. Truly one of the places in the United States that everyone HAS to see, the Arches and Canyonlands National Parks are almost impossible to describe. Spring is a great time to visit -- you won't get roasted, and there's plenty to do, from hiking to trail rides to hot air ballooning over the truly incredible scenery.
Image via karlnorling/Flickr