14 Destinations to Visit and See Gorgeous Spring Flowers
From poppy-filled valleys in California to a rose-covered city in Oregon, we're exploring some of the most beautiful spots to admire springtime in the United States.
Is there anything better than heading outside after a long winter and watching your neighborhood return to full bloom? If you're lucky enough to grow a garden of your own, you're able to watch this natural phenomena unfold each and every spring. Others are willing to travel far and wide to see breathtaking flowers that make their appearance just once a year.
We spoke with travel experts and locals alike to find out more about America's most exuberant gardens, which are well-manicured spaces curated by museums and other community authorities. They're often celebrated with local festivals and events, which we highlight in the following slides. But we also searched far and wide for natural beauty that can only be found in the wild—including national parks and flowerbeds tucked away in more secluded spots. Andrea DeLong-Amaya, the director of horticulture at the University of Texas' Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, says the season for wildflowers in the United States often depends on the weather—but most of the following locales experience full blooms well into June, and even longer in wetter climates. For those living on the East Coast, one shining example is Washington, D.C., where millions of visitors enjoy the hundreds of cherry blossom trees that flower each and every spring. There are so many more destinations beyond our nation's capital, however, where you can spot spectacular flowers.
We're celebrating spring's blossoms in all of their forms, from wildflowers on Colorado mountaintops to cacti in the heart of the deserts of Arizona. Celebrate America's bountiful florals all season long by visiting these destinations, where there's plenty to see and experience for yourself.
Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
Like a rippling magic carpet, three million perennial bulbs, including bell-like blue squill and buttercup-yellow daffodils, flutter in the fields at Longwood Gardens.
Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville is nestled beneath the Southern Appalachian Mountains, which is home to forests full of japonicas, lady slippers, mountain laurels, primroses, and hundreds of other native species (you can learn more about Ashville's bloom schedule here). Stop along the Blue Ridge Parkway to see wild rhododendron and azaleas in the foothills of the mountains, where you'll also catch city panoramas.
In the city, plan a visit to the Biltmore mansion, the former residence of George W. Vanderbilt, where almost three miles of sprawling grounds play host to the Biltmore Blooms event (April 1 through May 23). Here, you'll see nearly 100,000 tulips on display in the Walled Garden, as well as azaleas, dogwoods, and redbuds.
There's plenty of wildflowers to be found in the Midwest, but this small town—just about 45 minutes away from Des Moines in Southeast Iowa—pays the ultimate tribute to tulips every spring. Pella's Tulip Time Festival has been celebrated annually for nearly 85 years: there are parades, Dutch costumes, and delicacies as a nod to Pella's founding by Dutch immigrants in 1847. The event, which features nearly 250,000 tulips in different colors and varieties in the heart of town, usually takes place in the first weekend of May.
Nature's earliest bloomers burst onto the scene this month, heralding warmer days ahead. For a spectacular preview, visit Cheekwood Estate & Gardens, in Nashville. During Cheekwood in Bloom, you can wander along 150,000 unfurling tulips, and unwind in weekend meditation classes. Here, more places to see spring's awakening.
Albany, New York
Who knew you could find a sea of 100,000 tulips just a few hours north of New York City? Albany hosts a Tulip Festival over Mother's Day weekend, and Mom will certainly get a kick out of the celebration of New York's Dutch heritage at this event. Marco Del Rosario, the chief operating officer of online booking app VacationRenter, tells us that the event begins with traditional Dutch "street scrubbing," which is a custom that marks the start of an important event.
You'll find more than 150 varieties of tulips in Albany in early May, and if you attend the free event, you'll also be privy to the Royal Tulip Ball and the coronation of a Tulip Queen. Perhaps Mom would like to enter?
Vero Beach, Florida
Water lilies are one of the most spectacular flowers that you can lay eyes on, but finding them in the wild can be tough. If you're a fan of these aquatic wonders, the McKee Botanical Gardens in Vero Beach hosts an annual Water Lily Celebration that draws crowds from near and far. It's the largest water lily collection in Florida with nearly 500 free-floating flowers that you can see for yourself. Experts will be on hand to show you how to replant water lilies at home, should you be interested in starting a crop of your own at home.
You may be familiar with Telluride, known for some of the most exciting ski terrain in the continental United States. But in the springtime, Telluride's signature pristine snow gives way to eye-popping hues and wildflowers that naturally grow in the region. On the shores of Hope Lake, you can find bushels of bluebells, pink trumpet vines, and white daisies in nearly any field you approach. Near the ski resorts in Telluride, there's also wild lupine and Indian Paintbrush growing in hiking trails around the San Juan Valley area. Because of the rather cool climate, some of Telluride's flora doesn't bloom fully until July, which means you can still visit well into the summer.
If you're looking for a curated presentation of Texas' most stunning specimens, you'll find plenty at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in the heart of Austin, including the Lone Star state's iconic bluebonnet flower, DeLong-Amaya says. The wildflower center was officially designated the State Botanic Garden and Arboretum of Texas in 2017, and the property houses species like Indian Blankets and Antelope Horn Milkweeds. Off the beaten path, however, there's no better place to see wildflowers in Texas than Big Bend National Park. You'll also catch stunning vistas of rivers, deserts, and mountain ranges, too.
At Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, you'll take in the hyacinths, pansies, and tulips at ground level, and the snowy blossoms of 150 Yoshino cherry trees, which pop in late March, overhead.
If you're a fan of roses, there's one city that should be on your short list of destinations to visit: the bustling city of Portland, where residents celebrate spring with the Portland Rose Festival. There's more than 400 varieties of flowers here (in addition to thousands of roses you can peruse) and it's one of the best excuses to head out to the Pacific Northwest. Events kick off in May, and are scattered throughout the month of June, so there's plenty of opportunity to visit the city and see spectacular hues of pink and red roses on parade.
The Sonoran Desert may conjure images of barren wastelands—and in some areas, that's exactly the case. But many of Arizona's state parks are home to desert environments that spring to life after bouts of winter rains, including the Lost Dutchman State Park, located just outside of Phoenix. You'll find chuckwallas, lizards native to the Southwest region, lounging next to towering saguaro cacti any time of year, but in the spring, lucky visitors can catch glimpses of the elusive Mexican Gold Poppy, which has a short bloom season in April and May.
Other finds in this area include wild lupine flowers and brittlebush. Most of Arizona's state parks are accessible by car and are family-friendly. Nature lovers can hike to find even more secluded wildflowers in Lost Dutchman.
Lake Tahoe, California
If you're crazy about flowers, you'll want to bookmark the Lake Tahoe area—and not because of the locale's sapphire waters. After the snow has melted during the winter, North Lake Tahoe bursts into bloom, meaning hikers and nature lovers can find pristine trails full of flowers. Lake Tahoe is known for its majestic lupine flowers with tall stems of lush purple petals that catch your eye from miles away. According to local tourism experts, lupine begins blooming in May and can reach their peak in early June.
Antelope Valley, California
There are almost too many places to see beautiful spring flora in California—and you may have heard that California is due for another "super bloom" later this season. Just about 90 minutes north of Los Angeles, however, you'll find eight miles of vivid colors in bloom at the Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve. Depending on the rain season, blooms can peak in early March or as late as May. There's an annual California Poppy Festival held here every spring, but visitors can stop by anytime they'd like to see California's state flower. Our sources tell us that it's best to head to the park in the mid-morning hours, as each poppy flower will slowly bloom in the first rays of sunlight, and you'll have plenty of time to admire the fields before visitors start pouring in.