With spring weather comes the desire to stop wearing socks, dust off the grill and spend as much time outside as humanly possible. Cities across the country are poised to cure your spring fever with festivals that celebrate everything from flowers to food to film.
April, May and early June are some of the best months to travel on the cheap, with spring break behind us and the summer school vacations still in the future. Make the most of this fleeting season by booking a trip to attend one of these annual fests -- and leave those closed-toe shoes at home.
Orlando: On display through May 20, the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival features Disney character topiaries, live entertainment and presentations by gardening experts from Epcot and HGTV. Stay at the Clarion Inn Lake Buena Vista for only $49 per night with free shuttles to the parks, and get there for less than $250 roundtrip from cities including D.C., Chicago, New York City and Atlanta.
Atlanta: May marks the beginning of the city's beloved Jazz Festival, featuring local, national and international acts performing at venues across the city all month long. Save your travel budget for recordings of your new favorite artists with this $79-per-night offer that puts music lovers close to the action.
New Orleans: There’s even more jazz – plus blues, gospel, Cajun and zydeco music – at the annual Jazz & Heritage Festival, April 27 - May 6. This year’s eclectic lineup features plenty of mainstream acts, too, including Jimmy Buffett, Bruce Springsteen, Cee-Lo, Foo Fighters, the Eagles and Bonnie Raitt.
Seattle: The Seattle International Film Festival starts May 17 and lasts almost a month, with dozens of screenings at theaters across the city. Tickets start at $50 for opening night, which kicks off with “Your Sister’s Sister,” starring Emily Blunt and Mark Duplass of “The League,” followed by a cocktail and hors d’oeuvres-filled gala.
Montreal: Considered one of the world’s best biking cities, this northern neighbor celebrates life on two wheels during the eight-day Montreal Bike Fest, May 27 - June 3. Watch or take part in one of the rides or races, like the Tour la Nuit where bikers dress up in costumes and decorate their rides. Stay in a chic Old Montreal hotel for CA$169 per night, and whatever you do, don’t rent a car.
St. Paul, Minnesota: The official start of summer in this Twin City is Grand Old Day, a free street festival along a hip strip of Grand Avenue that features a parade, art fair, battle of the bands, and more than 150 food vendors. Make a trip on June 3 and save room for some of Minnesota’s finest delicacies: cheese curds, funnel cakes and corn dogs.
New York City: There’s always plenty to do in the Big Apple, whether it’s eating your way through 20 blocks of Hell’s Kitchen at the Ninth Avenue Food Festival (May 19-20) or seeing ships and meeting sailors during Fleet Week (May 23-30). One night only on June 12, the Museum Mile Festival grants visitors free admission to 10 museums along Fifth Avenue, including the Guggenheim, MoMA and the Museum of the City of New York. Get there for less than $150 from D.C., Boston, Chicago or Fort Lauderdale.