The Best Places to Travel in May (Video)
From California to New York, enjoy spring weather and beautiful sights at these 10 destinations.
Editor’s Note: Travel might be complicated right now, but use our inspirational trip ideas to plan ahead for your next bucket list adventure.
You’ve probably heard that “April showers bring May flowers,” and that works for us this year, with many of our destinations focusing on spring blossoms as cities around the country welcome spring with festivals of flowers. A tulip festival takes place in New York’s Hudson Valley, celebrating one of the first flowers to appear in spring. In Southern California’s Carlsbad, the annual Flower Fields display of gorgeous color goes on for two months during this time of year.
May is a perfect time to visit the Sonoran desert city of Tucson to see the huge cacti in Saguaro National Park during their blooming season — it’s always a thrill to see the beautiful and rare cactus flowers. Virginia’s wine country is conveniently located near Washington D.C., where cherry blossoms appear in spring, making it one of the best places to travel in May.
Palmetto Bluff in South Carolina’s Lowcountry is lovely in spring, the ideal time to be outdoors there. In Tampa, a boat ride on the river or a stroll along the city’s RiverWalk is the way to take advantage of spring weather. El Paso, Texas and Bowling Green, Kentucky should be on your spring travel wish list as well for their fun and unique things to do.
We hope the April showers bring May flowers, and that your spring travel plans will take you to one of these colorful and welcoming places.
Related: More trip ideas
Hudson Valley, New York
The Hudson Valley consists of ten counties that border the east and west shores of the Hudson River. From the tip of Manhattan in the south to Albany in the north, the National Heritage Area encompasses history, art, a variety of scenery, agriculture, and the oldest wine-producing area in the United States. Westchester County, minutes from New York City, boasts a number of historic homes, including Kykuit, where four generations of Rockefellers lived, the John Jay Homestead, home of the first Chief Justice, and Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, final resting place of Washington Irving, Andrew Carnegie, and other notable figures. Albany, at the northwest end of the valley, began as a Dutch settlement before becoming New York’s capital in 1797. In May, more than 100,000 tulips bloom in Washington Park for the annual Tulip Festival. Tulips will also be blooming at Ulster County’s Mohonk Mountain House from April 24-May 8 when garden tours, live music, and afternoon tea with tulip cookies celebrate the Mohonk Tulip Festival.The Victorian castle resort, founded in 1869, is surrounded by pristine forest overlooking Mohonk Lake and includes an award-winning spa and indoor pool with views of the Catskill Mountains. Antique shops, wineries, breweries, distilleries, and cideries are plentiful in the Hudson Valley for shopping, touring, and tasting.
Cool, sunny weather, ocean breezes, and colorful flowers draw visitors to Carlsbad each May. At the Flower Fields, fifty acres of giant tecolote ranunculus flowers brighten the hills from March through early May. Visitors can ride an open-air tractor through the fields, pick blueberries, and take advantage of events like wine tasting, yoga, music, and demonstrations. Legoland is nearby, attracting children and adults for rides, shows, and hands-on play, as well as a water park and hotel. Carlsbad is also home to several unique museums, including the Museum of Making Music, where instruments, genres, and history are explored — visitors can enjoy performances there, too. The Miniature Engineering Craftsmanship Museum, Carlsbad Historical Society Museum, and nearby Oceanside Museum of Art are a few other museums definitely worth a visit. From camping on the beach to luxury resorts, Carlsbad has a variety of places to stay. The Cassara Carlsbad overlooks the Flower Fields and the Pacific, and both the Westin Carlsbad Resort & Spa and the Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa are conveniently located. The Park Hyatt Aviara, located above the Batiquitos Lagoon wildlife sanctuary, offers luxurious accommodations, a spa, and an Arnold Palmer-designed golf course. The Park Hyatt is also home to the VeraVia holistic wellness retreat.
Long Beach, California
Located in the southeastern corner of Los Angeles County about twenty miles from downtown L.A., Long Beach offers shoreline, a thriving food scene, an expanding downtown, and a busy seaport. The city is the permanent home of the Queen Mary, a ship larger than the Titanic that was once the Cunard Line’s pride. Today, guests can sleep in her staterooms, dine in her restaurants, and get to know the Queen Mary on several tours, including the Haunted Encounter, based on the ship’s ghostly legends. The Aquarium of the Pacific is home to thousands of sea animals, interactive exhibits, displays, and the new Pacific Visions theater. This year’s Long Beach Pride Festival and Parade will be celebrated on May 16-17. Shoreline Village is perfect for dining, shopping, boat rentals, and narrated harbor cruises. Long Beach’s various neighborhoods, cultures, and entrepreneurial chefs have made the city a dining destination, attracting foodies to downtown’s Promenade, where visitors find American tavern The Ordinarie, Portuguese Bend Distillery, newly opened Lupe’s Del Mar by Chef Jason Witzl, and not far away, his exceptional Southern Italian-inspired Ellie’s, tucked in a corner of a residential neighborhood. Stay at the recently renovated waterfront Hotel Maya for harbor and skyline views in a tropical setting.
Summer arrives early in Tucson, with May temperatures sometimes reaching the 90’s and little or no rainfall. This is considered shoulder season, so snowbirds have departed and hotel rates are more attractive. The Agave Heritage Festival, from April 23-May 5, celebrates the agave plant and its culinary, medicinal, and practical uses through special menus, music, art, foods, and spirits. Tucson was the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy, recognized in 2015 for its cuisine’s variety of cultural influences, including Native American, Mexican, Mediterranean, and others. That heritage is expressed in art as well, through a vibrant series of murals throughout downtown Tucson, depicting the region’s landscape, history, culture, and people. The Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block features a diverse collection of American, European, Latin American, Asian, and folk art. Shopping for art, jewelry, unique handmade items, clothing, and home furnishings is a favorite activity in Tucson, and the Sun Link streetcar system makes getting around easy and convenient. Get away from downtown to see the nation’s largest cacti at Saguaro National Park, and go for a drive, picnic, hike, or campout. Flowering season goes from late April through June, so it’s possible to see some rare and spectacular blooms during May. From camping to luxurious resorts, Tucson offers a variety of places to stay. A few suggestions are Casino del Sol Resort, Miraval, and Tanque Verde Ranch, for horseback riding and western-style fun.
Palmetto Bluff, Bluffton, South Carolina
May weather is ideal in South Carolina’s Lowcountry, with warm days and cooler evenings. The May River provides opportunities for outdoor activities like paddleboarding, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. Explore Palmetto Bluff by bike or on foot along the expansive trails that meander through the property among residential neighborhoods and parks, shaded by huge trees draped with Spanish moss. It’s the perfect place to try your skill at shooting sporting clays with the Palmetto Bluff Shooting Club’s 13 stations that wind through scenic wooded areas. Play golf at the Jack Nicklaus Signature Course, the May River Golf Course, with live oaks and river views. Through a collaboration with Garden & Gun magazine, the Artist in Residence Program celebrates the arts and provides interesting events for residents and guests. In May, Eric McKay and Patrick Murtaugh, childhood friends who launched Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, will host a variety of events, including a beer and food pairing workshop. Montage Palmetto Bluff offers rooms, suites, cottages, and private homes as well as a pool, spa, and several dining venues.
Just twenty minutes from Washington D.C., Loudoun County is home to more than 40 wineries and tasting rooms. Growers are cultivating about 60 grape varieties including Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot, and many lesser known grapes like Carmenere and Fer Servadou. Celebrate National Wine Day on May 25 with a Virginia wine and toast to Washington D.C.’s Wine Country, a relatively new area created in 1984. The historically German town of Lovettsville welcomes summer with their annual Lovettsville Mayfest on May 23 with family games, music, delicious food, wine, and the traditional cornhole tournament. The Loudoun County town of Middleburg is the nation’s horse and hunt capital, and it's home to horse-themed retail establishments like a coffee shop named “Cuppa Giddyup.” The nearby Salamander Resort & Spa, located on 340 picturesque acres, features 168 rooms and suites along with a luxury spa and the adorable miniature horse Cupcake, the property’s mascot. Loudoun County, a key Civil War battlefield area, is home to Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park, one of the smallest national cemeteries and a National Historic Landmark. Dulles International Airport is nearby, and the nation’s capital is just 25 miles away, making a visit to Loudoun County convenient as well as enjoyable.
Bowling Green, Kentucky
Located an hour’s drive north of Nashville, Bowling Green has lots going on this spring, and there's something for everyone, from sports car fans to aviation buffs to train enthusiasts. The National Corvette Museum features more than 80 Corvettes, including classics, prototypes, and modern cars, along with interactive kiosks and displays. At Aviation Heritage Park, visitors can learn about aviation history and see and touch actual aircraft. Bowling Green’s Historic RailPark & Train Museum includes a museum, restored rail cars, and railroad-themed escape games. For another kind of adventure, head for Lost River Cave and an underground boat ride. If you’re inspired to explore more caves after your boat ride, head to Mammoth Cave National Park, only a half hour away. The longest known cave system in the world, acres of forest, camping, and hiking provide plenty to see and do. Back in Bowling Green, local favorite Chaney’s Dairy Barn boasts the best ice cream in Kentucky, made on their working dairy farm. Visit for a farm tour, meal, a few scoops of their delicious ice cream, or one of their summer events. The Bowling Green Hot Rods minor league baseball team plays at their state-of-the-art downtown ballpark, perfect hometown summer entertainment. For a unique experience, visit the Be Happy Yoga & Salt Cave for a massage, yoga, meditation class, or sound healing.
Greater Zion, Utah
Utah is home to five national parks, including Zion National Park, which many visitors claim as their favorite. Its spectacular scenery attracts so many tourists in summer that personal cars are restricted during the busiest months, and shuttle service is provided. In addition to the national park, the Greater Zion area includes St. George, Hurricane, Virgin, and Springdale, with four state parks that visitors should check out. Sand Hollow State Park, one of the state's newer parks, offers red sandstone landscapes and boating, fishing, and diving at Sand Hollow Reservoir. Snow Canyon State Park, created in 1959, is located at the intersection of the Mojave Desert, Great Basin Desert, and Colorado Plateau. The park's nearly 40 hiking trails, nature studies, wildlife views, and camping attract visitors to its sandstone cliffs and desert environment. A variety of accommodations are available in St. George, including the new Advenire Hotel, the first luxury property in the community. In Springdale, there’s the Cliffrose Springdale, set in the high desert along the Virgin River near Zion National Park. Those planning to visit Utah’s national parks should check out guided vacation company Trafalgar’s 10-day Utah’s Mighty Five National Parks itinerary, which includes accommodations, transportation, several meals, and expert guides.
Set on Tampa Bay along Florida’s Gulf Coast, Tampa offers history, culture, boating, great food, and an annual lively pirate festival. Its historic Ybor City neighborhood dates back to the late 1800’s when immigrants from Cuba and Spain made it a center for the production of cigars. Today, the National Historic Landmark District is known for art, entertainment, food, and the annual Cuban Sandwich Festival. Take a boat ride along Tampa’s Hillsborough River, with opportunities for dolphin spotting, sunset cruises, and rides in pirate-themed boats. Tampa’s pirate connection goes back to Jose Gaspar, a pirate who called himself Gasparilla, who raided boats in the waters off western Florida. He was eventually defeated by the U.S. Navy, and an annual festival commemorates the pirate with food, games, boats, mock battles, music, and a parade. Tampa’s Riverwalk is a downtown focal point with restaurants, breweries, the Tampa Museum of Art, the Straz Center, and the Glazer Children’s Museum. The recently redesigned Tampa Marriott Water Street offers stunning river views. The new Westin Tampa Bay is located along a private beach on Tampa Bay’s Rocky Point Island, just three miles from Tampa International Airport.
El Paso, Texas
El Paso is set in western Texas on the Rio Grande River, near the New Mexico border. The city’s Mission Trail shows its rich history, dating back 400 years with three remaining adobe churches. History lovers will also appreciate Concordia Cemetery, El Paso’s “Boot Hill,” where famous outlaw gunfighter John Wesley Hardin is buried. Another famous Western outlaw, Billy the Kid, made history in El Paso, and visitors can see the jail he once broke into to release his friend. The San Elizario Historic District features that county jail museum and hosts the Billy the Kid Festival each year in June. Restaurants, shops, galleries, and other historic spots make this National Historic District a fun place to explore. A stay at The Plaza Hotel Pioneer Park, which recently reopened as a luxurious boutique property, will add to your appreciation of El Paso’s history. Originally opened in the 1930’s, the hotel once welcomed Hollywood’s elite, including Elizabeth Taylor. The hotel’s rooftop bar and lounge, La Perla, boasts views of El Paso, the Rocky Mountains, and the borders of Mexico and New Mexico.