With warm weather creeping in faster each year, spring flowers have been popping up earlier and earlier. So if you’re a flower fanatic, don’t delay this vacay. The time to start plotting your visit to the most gorgeous flora-covered locales in the country is right now.
Here are the most celebrated spring flower destinations in the United States.
Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve
Two hours outside Los Angeles, you’ll find the Antelope Valley in Lancaster, California. It’s a beautiful place to visit any time of year, but when Spring is in full bloom, the sloping hills and expansive fields are covered in vibrant orange, yellow, and red poppies.
From the road, it’s a magical sight to see. But there’s nothing quite like taking a leisurely walk through a poppy-filled meadow in nearly perfect weather. Just be sure to bring your panoramic lens to capture it all.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
During the spring and summer, there’s a reason this place is dubbed “Wildflower National Park,” but you’ll have to explore it to fully understand why. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park sprawls across North Carolina and Tennessee. Every year, tons of tourists flock here just to experience the gorgeous scenery and warmth of spring. Thanks to the climate, the wide array of wildflower varieties will all be nearing their peak at the start of spring.
If you’re going in early April, don’t miss the naturist-led Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage. They’ll make sure you see every inch of the blooms in all of their glory.
New York City
New York City in the fall is undoubtedly beautiful, but when I resided in the Big Apple, there was no season I looked more forward to than spring. It’s by far the most magical time to see the city. Daffodils, tulips, and of course, pink, purple, and white cherry blossoms suddenly appear. NYC’s famed botanical gardens and Central Park erupt with cherry blossom trees each year, changing the cityscape into something out of a dream.
No matter where you stroll during a New York City spring, you’ll stumble upon stunning flowers intertwining with the skyline and adorning the parks. Blooming off the heels of another gloomy, sunless New York winter, it’s also the one time of year when even the grumpiest locals find themselves in an unusually sunny mood. Do yourself a favor and check out the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens in spring. They hold the annual Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Festival) in late April. You won’t believe your eyes.
North Cascades National Park
One of the country’s largest national parks also boasts one of the largest wildflower spectacles come spring. North Cascades National Park claims about a half-million acres of lush landscape. The valleys and the grasslands are taken over by thousands of multi-hued, local wonders.
Tiger lilies, red flowering currant, evergreen violets, calypso orchids, and alpine aster all intermingle. And the snowcapped mountains in the backdrop give the overflowing flower fields a particularly whimsical feel.
Located between Houston and Austin, you may not be familiar with the small, but historically significant Texas town of Brenham. But it’s a nature lover’s hot spot in the spring. Everywhere you look, bluebonnets (the state flower) make their seasonal appearance in abundance and once you see everything blanketed in blue, you’ll never overlook this farm town again.
However, most of the glorious displays are located on private land, so resist the urge to frolic in a field of bluebonnets. If you want to see them up close, take part in nearby Chappell Hill’s Bluebonnet Festival. In Brenham, come for the bluebonnets and stay for the red Indian paintbrushes, buttercups, and coneflowers.
Crested Butte, Colorado
Crested Butte’s claim to fame is undoubtedly its winter sports scene. And it’s just as popular with hikers in the summer. But the spring should not be discounted. It’s revered as one of the most striking (and formerly underrated) wildflower displays in the country.
Once the bright pink, deep orange, and glittering gold alpine wildflowers got the adoration they deserved, the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival was born. Since 1986, it’s been dubbed Colorado’s wildflower capital. Whether you go in spring or summer, there’s no shortage of magnificent blooms, plants, and hummingbirds to ogle.
Tucked within five mountain ranges, there’s no spring quite like spring in the Sonoran Desert. The saturated and diverse blooms start early and last well into the summer, which is highly unusual in the United States and makes this locale extra special. From February to July, different flowers spring up and weave their way through the desert landscape.
Considering the terrain, it’s not the most plentiful place for flowers, but this is more about quality than quantity. Desert bells and desert stars are sprinkled across the desert floor. Cactus blooms are particularly eye-catching. Flowers like the evening primrose stay asleep until nightfall and then open their delicate, lemony petals. In other words, the more you explore Tucson in spring, the more you’ll see, and there will always be a new, and unique, flower to discover.
The Azalea Trail in Mobile, Alabama
Along the Gulf Coast, you’ll find the picturesque port city of Mobile. From mid-March into early April, this southern spring dream is swimming in azaleas. Winding through the city, the Azalea Trail is a 35-mile bloom-lined path of endless pink and white. Spring in Mobile feels quintessentially southern in the most charming of ways. But generally, southern springs are short, so don’t miss out on this remarkable, but fleeting moment.
As far as tulip fields in America go, this is the must-see. The Pacific Northwest is home to some truly unbelievable spring bloom displays, but Oregon is often said to wear the nation’s flower crown. Namely, the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in Woodburn, Oregon is a riot of color.
From March to May, one farm boasts jaw-dropping acres of vivid blooms as far as the eye can see. Depending on the weather, you may also get the chance for an aerial view. Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm is also well known for its hot air balloon rides.
Kauai is a flower lover’s paradise year-round. However, variety and volume are at their most wow-worthy in spring. You’ll be surrounded by the cascading blooms of the rainbow shower tree, garden orchids, and rich red heliconias (also known as lobster claws.) Tropical fruit trees will also be sporting colorful flowers all over the island.
To see some of the most magnificent flora Hawaii has to offer, take a scenic hike that ends at the McBryde Garden, a tropical botanical green space.
The Tidal Basin, Washington, D.C.
Who knew our nation’s capital could transform into something so romantic? Every spring, Washington D.C. is home to one of the most popular flower festivals on earth. From late March through early April, Tidal Basin is cloaked in soft pink and white cherry blossoms.
With so much splendor in a tourist-heavy town, expect heavy crowds all snapping flower shots this time of year. My advice: see the cherry blossoms in the early morning. Not only will it be quieter and the temperature will be cooler, watching the sunrise over the marbled monuments as petals reflect on the water and fill up your senses is sure to be an unforgettable moment.
The wildflowers you’ll find in the Seneca Regional Park and the Potomac Heritage Trail are unimaginably hard to top, especially in spring. Hundreds of acres of undisturbed forest floor definitely have allowed some true flora magic to happen. In fact, much of northern Virginia is carpeted in untouched natural beauty. So it’s best to take a hike if you want the full experience.
I’ve explored my fair share of wildflower meccas, but I’ve never seen a wider variety than what I’ve encountered during springtime in Virginia. There are so many unreal flowers I never knew existed. The locals often say they’re discovering new native wildflowers all the time. And I highly suggest you do the same.