5 Places That Do Spring Better Than Everywhere Else
After a long, cold winter, it’s time to shake off the cobwebs of the past few months and start planning your travels for this spring. Be it checking out the cherry blossoms in Japan, catching some rays in Italy or enjoying a wine tour in Australia, we’ve rounded up some of the best places to visit from March to May.
If you’re looking to capture some seriously impressive Instagram snaps this spring, Tokyo should be top of your travel list. Starting around late March, cherry blossom season is in full force, engulfing areas of the city in pale pink blooms. Head to Ueno Park in the Japanese capital’s Ueno district, which boasts more than 1,000 blooming cherry blossom trees. Spring in Tokyo also means a number of traditional and modern festivals. The third full weekend in May marks Sanja Matsuri, considered Tokyo’s largest and most vibrant festival. The event honors the founders of the Sensoji Temple and draws roughly two million visitors over the three-day period. Celebrations include games, food and music, and on the Sunday, three mikoshi (Shinto shrines) are carried through the streets amid a swarm of chanting and music. Anime enthusiasts will want to make sure to be in Tokyo from March 22-25 for the AnimeJapan 2018 festival. The event celebrates those who create and enjoy the medium.
Amalfi Coast, Italy
Looking for a beach holiday this spring, but don’t want to fight the crowds? Consider heading to Italy’s Amalfi Coast. This 30-mile stretch of coastline, located along the southern edge of the Sorrento Peninsula, features sheer cliffs dotted with vibrantly colored villages, overlooking rugged beaches. March through May sees fewer beachgoers than the summer months due to cooler waters. However, don’t let that deter you -- the temperatures on land more than make up for this (the perfect opportunity for landing that pre-summer tan). It’s also an ideal time for hiking. The surrounding mountain area offers numerous trekking opportunities, ranging from short and easy (the Amalfi to Atrani trek) to long and difficult (the “Walk of the Gods”, which runs from Agerola to Praiano-Positano). Spring also marks Good Friday and Pasqua (Easter), which falls on March 30 and April 1, respectively, this year. Good Friday in Amalfi comprises a large, candlelit procession after dark, while Easter gives way to the delicious traditional Neapolitan tart, made with cooked wheat, eggs, ricotta cheese, and orange flower water.
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is perhaps at its most lively during this time of the year. This Louisiana city offers a plethora of exciting spring festivals and cultural events. And if you’ve missed Mardi Gras this year, don’t worry: There’s still plenty to keep you busy. From the French Quarter Fest (April 12-15) and Easter parades to the Paradigm Gardens Concert Series (starting March 6) and the Bayou Boogaloo (May 19-21 ), there really is something for everyone. The change in temperature (warm, but not too hot) means that restaurants begin to offer alfresco dining options, while an abundance of bars with outdoor seating open, perfect for evening drinks after a long day of sightseeing. Finally, March marks the start of crawfish season. This Cajun specialty is often boiled (along with various spices and seasonings) and served over newspaper with sauce, seasoning and beer.
Washington, D.C.’s famous national monuments are some of the country’s biggest draws for tourists, and spring is perhaps the best time to see them. From March to May, visitors can expect pleasant temperatures, perfect for exploring the city by foot. From mid-March to as late as mid-April, the National Cherry Blossom festival is in full swing, so make sure to grab your camera and take a stroll along the banks of the Tidal Basin for exceptional views of the display. The Major League Baseball season officially starts on March 29. Visitors will want to head to Nationals Park, located in southeast D.C., to cheer on the capital’s home team. Meanwhile, if seeing the capital by bike sounds like more your speed, you’ll want to sign up for the DC Bike Ride, taking place on May 19. This 20-mile, family-friendly cycling event offers spectacular views of the National Mall, is car-free and includes live music and food at the end.
Though Paris might seem like an obvious destination for spring, we simply couldn’t leave it off the list. And while a romantic walk along the Seine, a trip to the Louvre and a wander round the Tuileries Garden are all perfectly acceptable ways to spend your time in the French capital, there are plenty of attractions less frequented by tourists to keep you occupied. Head to the Canal Saint-Martin in the 10th Arrondissement to explore the neighborhood’s street art scene. The area sees fewer tourists and offers charming cafes, restaurants and trendy bars. Culture enthusiasts will want to check out some of the lesser-known museums around the city, including the Musee d’Ennery in the 16th Arrondissement. This Asian art museum is housed in a restored 19th-century mansion and showcases Chinese and Japanese figurines, carvings and ivories. And while the city is not known for its spaciousness, urban farms have grown in popularity over the years. Consider exploring the tranquil Parc de la Villette, a once-industrial wasteland that was converted into a 32,000-square-foot green space that features beehives, arbors and flower boxes.
Ashley Bess is an editor turned freelancer writer who describes herself as short, opinionated, recently repatriated, lover of gin and travel and with a head full of useless song lyrics and movie quotes.