The Best Places to Travel in May 2023

These are the best places to visit in May in the United States and around the world.

Aerial view of Antipaxos island near Corfu, Greece

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A vacation in May lets you take advantage of lower rates in the shoulder season before summer travelers head to their favorite spots and the end of the school year sends families out on road trips and European journeys. In many places, May weather is mild, and travelers can embark upon outdoor adventures or escape to a white-sand beach. Festivals in many destinations also attract May vacationers, making late spring a great time to travel. 

Here are 12 of the best places to travel in May in the United States and around the world.

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Virginia Beach shoreline at dawn

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Located along the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay, Virginia Beach is just 20 minutes from Norfolk International Airport. May temperatures in the low 70s make it a pleasant time to stroll or bike along the three-mile oceanfront boardwalk. Restaurants serving the area’s famed seafood line the walkway, and the statue of King Neptune is a reminder of the annual fall festival. Springtime brings festivals too, and the Atlantic Coast Kite Festival (May 6-7) promises to be a colorful event. The Virginia International PANFest celebrates Caribbean music May 12-13, and the annual Salute to Summer (May 26-28) honors the U.S. military with non-stop music on three oceanfront stages. From April 28-30, Virginia Beach native Pharrell Williams brings his Something in the Water music festival with a star-studded weekend of live music, art, and culture.

St. Lucia

Stunning view of the Pitons, in St. Lucia

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Known for its natural beauty, rainforests, quaint fishing villages, and UNESCO-recognized Piton Mountains, St. Lucia is a beautiful Caribbean destination. White-sand beaches, island food, nightlife, volcanic mud baths, and clear turquoise waters for swimming and snorkeling offer visitors much to enjoy. From May 5-14, the Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival will bring globally-recognized performers playing music ranging from classic jazz to Afrobeat, gospel, reggae, pop, and more. Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort boasts a variety of accommodations, a spa, and beachside dining. The Landings Resort & Spa offers one, two, and three-bedroom suites. Also on Rodney Bay, The Harbor Club features five unique eateries. The new Zoetry Marigot Bay, BodyHoliday, and adults-only StolenTime are other options.


Tiger's Nest, in Bhutan

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Located high in the eastern Himalayas, Bhutan is lovely during the spring, when flowers bloom and the weather is clear and dry, with temperatures in the mid-60s. The fascinating Buddhist kingdom offers rugged mountains, lush valleys, ancient monasteries, and untouched rural villages. From May 2-6, the Annual Royal Bhutan Flower Exhibition in the country’s capital, Thimphu, will feature local gardeners, artisans, crafts, an expansive mural, and an array of medicinal plants. Visitors who wish to tour with a group can join one of several trips offered by Red Savannah with stays at luxury properties including Six Senses Thimphu and Six Senses Paro. Reopened to international travelers in September 2022, Bhutan requires a visa and a daily Sustainable Development Fee.

North Carolina’s Coast

Lighthouse on seashore, North Carolina

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May weather in the 70s makes for a great time to visit the coast of North Carolina. With about 300 miles of barrier island beaches, coastal towns, history, seafood, and wildlife, the state’s coastal area is perfect for a spring vacation. On the 85-mile stretch of the southern Outer Banks known as “The Crystal Coast,” events include the Beaufort Music Festival (May 19-20) and the Atlantic Beach Music Festival on May 20. Cape Lookout National Seashore features the 19th-century Cape Lookout Lighthouse, which opens to visitors in May. The area has been designated as an International Dark Sky Park, creating a perfect place for stargazing. Wineries, breweries, oysters, Marshallberg Caviar Farm, and a variety of restaurants make dining another North Carolina coast pleasure.

Ibiza, Spain

Paradise beach in Ibiza

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Get ahead of Ibiza's summer crowds with a May trip to the Spanish island. The annual Medieval Festival is held in the Old Town, with music, art, dancers, and street parties, and the Moda Adlib Fashion Show is another May event. This year the Ibiza International Music Summit, featuring concerts, nightclub openings, and international stars, is set for April 26-28. The five-star Ibiza Gran Hotel is open for the season, and La Gaia by Michelin-starred Chef Óscar Molina is a must visit. Six Senses Ibiza features an expansive spa and multi-day immersive retreats, and Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay offers a variety of guest rooms and sea-view suites.


The Porch of the Caryatids, at the Acropolis, Athens, Greece

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The weather is warm, and most of the summer tourists haven’t arrived yet, making May one of the best months to visit Greece. There are thousands of islands in addition to the Greek mainland, so your favorite destination will depend on your plans — and whether you're most interested in the beach, history, romance, nightlife, or wine. Most trips begin in Athens, so spend a few days exploring the historical city before heading to the islands. Cali Mykonos opens on May 1 for its first full season, with a spa and a variety of spacious villas. Kalesma is another luxury option. On Santorini, Andronis Arcadia offers suites and villas. Magma Resort Santorini, a secluded hilltop sanctuary, and Mystique on the Caldera cliffs are other options. You may want to consider a luxury villa from The Thinking Traveller or an island cruise with Variety Cruises.

Sydney, Australia

Central business district of Sydney and the Opera House, Sydney, Australia

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Vivid Sydney, Australia’s premier light, music, and food festival, will open on May 26 for 23 days and nights of creativity, technology, and excitement. For the first time in three years, American travelers will be able to visit, as Australia reopened its borders last fall. Visitors can expect to see the Vivid Sydney Light Walk, a multi-sensory experience of light, color, and sound at The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney with more than 49 light installations and 3-D projects along a five-mile walk. Enjoy all that Sydney has to offer during the festival, including food, live music performances, art, and luxurious hotels like the Shangri-La Sydney and others.

Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis, Tennessee skyline

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May offers the perfect combination of beautiful weather and exciting festivals in Memphis. The month-long Memphis in May International Festival starts with the Beale Street Music Festival from May 5-7, followed by the World Championship Barbeque Cooking Contest from May 18-20. There’s time to explore the outdoors and some Memphis attractions like Elvis Presley’s Graceland, the National Civil Rights Museum, the Mississippi Riverfront, and the Memphis Zoo. May is a popular time in Memphis, so book your hotel soon if you plan to visit. Stay downtown along the river at the wilderness-themed Big Cypress Lodge or at the Hyatt Centric Beale Street.

Healdsburg, California

Aerial view of Healdsburg, California

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Located 45 miles north of San Francisco in Sonoma Wine Country, Healdsburg’s walkable downtown is home to restaurants, shops, galleries, and boutiques. From there, visitors head to wineries in the Dry Creek, Russian River, and Alexander Valley AVAs for tastings, dining, and the beautiful farms and vineyards. The Farmers Market, founded in 1978, features fruits, vegetables, cheeses, honey, and more, as well as cooking demos, music, and special events. The Healdsburg Wine & Food Experience will take place from May 18-21, and the Healdsburg Jazz Festival is planned for June 17-25. Stay in town at the Hotel Healdsburg or Harmon Guest House. Set on 258 acres among vineyards and oak trees, the elegant Montage Healdsburg features 130 bungalow-style rooms, 40 private Montage Residences, three dining options, and an expansive spa.

Palm Beach, Florida

West Palm Beach, Florida

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Before the weather gets too warm and after most of the snowbirds have flown, May is the ideal time to visit the Palm Beach area. Florida’s largest waterfront music and art festival, SunFest, is planned for May 4-7 in West Palm Beach, a lively spot with entertainment, restaurants, shopping, and more at The Square. The Cultural Council for Palm Beach County suggests visiting the Norton Museum of Art, Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, and the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens, for some enrichment before (or after) you head to the beach or pool. Stay at the luxe White Elephant Palm Beach or, for a longer visit, consider a furnished apartment at AKA West Palm. Palm Beach is served by Palm Beach International Airport, Fort Lauderdale International Airport, and, about two hours away, Miami International Airport. Take advantage of Florida’s Brightline high-speed trains to get around the area.

Mobile, Alabama

Downtown Mobile, Alabama

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This coastal city on the Gulf of Mexico and Mobile River boasts a lively waterfront and beaches on Dauphin Island. Kayaks, canoes, airboats, fishing tours, and dinner cruises on the river are all ways to enjoy Mobile’s waterways. Along with fresh seafood, Mobile’s cuisine blends Southern, French, Spanish, and Creole flavors. From May 4-6, the Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival takes place nearby, with tethered rides, entertainment, and art displays. Mobile embraces its history and culture, and visitors can learn along the Dora Franklin Finley African American Heritage Trail as well as by visiting the History Museum of Mobile which is curating an exhibition about the Clotilda at the Africatown Heritage House. The Mobile Carnival Museum reminds visitors that Mobile was the birthplace of Mardi Gras celebrations. Stay at The Admiral Hotel, conveniently located near the convention center and entertainment district.

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Marconi beach, Cape Cod Massachusetts

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This classic summer vacation area is lovely in May when temperatures begin to warm and crowds haven’t yet arrived. Before Memorial Day weekend, the "official" beginning of summer, enjoy hiking and biking in the beautiful Cape Cod National Seashore, visit some of the Cape’s famous lighthouses, and devour the area’s lobster and oysters. Stay in one of Cape Cod’s quaint towns at a hotel, resort, or guest house. The historic Wequassett Resort & Golf Club is set on 27 waterfront acres. Chatham Bars Inn, Salt House Nantucket, and Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club are other options for a luxurious stay in Cape Cod. If you decide to stick around into June, there’s the Provincetown International Film Festival from June 14-18.

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