Daffodils. Songbirds. The promise of long summer days ahead. Spring is in the air, and you know what that means: it’s time to get out and explore! Road Scholar has chosen some of the best spring destinations for older adults and young families alike. From Central Park to the plains of the Serengeti, these are Road Scholar’s top 12 picks for spring travel, learning, and adventure.
Top Picks for Spring Travel Destinations
1. The Netherlands
Tulips, tulips and more tulips! Need we say more? Ok, just a bit. The Netherlands is fascinating to explore any time of year, but nothing beats the sight of Holland’s tulips in full bloom. Fields and fields of colorful petals can make the Netherlands look like a rainbow from above. Add in the idyllic windmills, charming cafes and leisurely walks, and you have one of the best spring destinations for older adults.
Seeking more beauty? Head to the museums. A springtime journey to the Netherlands is never complete without admiring the works of Dutch masters. When you’re done snapping photos of tulips, tulips and more tulips, move on to Vermeer, Rembrandt and van Gogh!
Check out the land of seven million Dutch tulips on the Road Scholar Bountiful Holland tour.
2. New York City, USA
The “City that Never Sleeps” is as vibrant as ever in spring, when thawing temperatures make a stroll through Central Park or people-watching in Times Square even more enticing. You can never run out of enriching ways to experience Manhattan, no matter the season, but we sure are suckers for daffodils, lilacs and the stunning wildflower meadow in Strawberry Fields. After you stop to smell the roses, learn about history at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, check out Radio City Musical Hall, and take in the view from the roof deck of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Spring is also the season of festivals and food fairs. The food trucks are out of this world, and even the simple hot dogs in New York somehow taste better than all others.
Explore Ellis Island, The Met Museum, Harlem and more during beautiful spring on the Road Scholar Educational Travel to New York City tour.
3. Tanzania, Africa
This may not be one you’ve considered, but Tanzania is a fantastic country to visit in spring. Spring in Tanzania means calving season, which runs from January to April. This is the time you can watch all sorts of animal babies being born each day. Talk about a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! The spring also presents extraordinary opportunities to witness big game, like lions and leopards, whose predatory action increases. Just make sure to bring your rain gear (and/or a great attitude about not-so-perfect weather). Spring is also the wet season. The bright side is the scenery is lush, there are fewer travelers, and migratory birds make spring in Tanzania a must for bird lovers. Go solo, as a couple, or with the whole family!
Visit Africa in springtime on the Road Scholar’s Safari in Kenya & Tanzania tour.
4. The Swiss Alps, Switzerland
Springtime in the Swiss Alps means the hills are alive with the sight of wildflowers. Think majestic snow-capped peaks in the background and grassy meadows adorned with bright blooms in the foreground. Cherry and apple trees start to bloom, the fog dissipates, and wildflowers like narcissi begin to awaken and poke through the ground. Spring is also a great time for skiing because you get both the warmer temperatures from the sun and alpine regions that are still covered in snow. May, in particular, is a nice time to take advantage of smaller crowds while witnessing the first flowers of spring. If you want to see the full floral alpine show, consider June, when wildflowers are at their peak.
Take a trip through Switzerland in spring on the Road Scholar’s Splendors of Switzerland by Rail.
5. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA
No spring travel destination list is complete without mentioning Yellowstone. My colleague, Carmela Cavanaugh, Road Scholar’s director of North America programs, puts this natural wonderland at the top of her list. Here are her exact words: “I actually saw a mama bear and her cubs in Yellowstone last April — it was amazing!” Thanks for the tip, Carmela. This is the time of year when newborn bears, bison, wolves, elk and more make their debut. Get your camera ready because you’ll also want to take home memories of the breathtaking scenery, from Old Faithful to geothermal hot springs.
Take the Road Scholar tour, Discover Yellowstone: The Great Caldera, in spring, where travelers will explore the natural wonders of the park.
6. Washington, D.C., USA
When it comes to learning about history and politics, D.C. is the place to be. But this is spring, so we’re focusing on the real stars of the show: cherry blossoms. If you’ve seen the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C., you already know why our capital makes this list. And if you haven’t, take a look at the picture above and ask yourself, “What am I waiting for?”
The National Cherry Blossom Festival runs from mid-March to mid-April every year. The average peak bloom, when 70 percent of the flowers on the cherry blossom trees are open, is typically around April 4th, but it all depends on the conditions and weather. Known as “sakura” in Japan, the cherry blossom is beloved both for its beauty and scent. The festival dates back to March 27, 1912, when Tokyo’s mayor gifted the Japanese cherry trees to the city of Washington, D.C. Friendship, learning, flowers — good stuff!
Discover Washington D.C. on a Road Scholar tour this coming spring as travelers embark on expert-led explorations of Capitol Hill and enjoy visits to historical institutions.
7. Los Angeles, California, USA
This great suggestion comes from long-time staffer Elaine Chu, who develops Road Scholar’s International programs, including all of our learning adventures in Cuba. To be honest, we were expecting her to say, “Well, Cuba.” Nope. Her favorite place to be in spring is Los Angeles. Says Elaine: “The weather is beautiful, the flowers are in bloom, and there has usually been enough rain that there is very little smog. Everything is green!” If you're looking for some great spring activities for older adults while you're there, check out the Walk of Fame and LaBrea Tar Pits, or explore the Descanso Gardens.
Take the Art Collectors and Their Collections Road Scholar tour in Los Angeles in springtime to enjoy near-perfect weather and all the culture one could ask for.
8. Skagit Valley, Washington, USA
Did you know that there are more tulips and daffodil bulbs produced in Skagit Valley than in any other county in the U.S.? The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival driving tour is open during the month of April each year, with fun events sprinkled through the Valley during festival time.
The Skagit Valley provides a habitat for thousands of swans, snow geese and ducks, making it a very beautiful natural paradise for travelers.
Along with the Tulip festival showcasing all the beautiful colors of the rainbow, Skagit Valley is a wonderful place for springtime recreational activities like whitewater rafting along the Skagit River and hiking on one of 36 miles of trails in the Walker Valley Forest.
9. Cherry Blossom Festival, Japan
In Japan, the “sakura,” also known as the cherry blossom, marks the beginning of spring. Travelers come from all over the world to admire the spring celebrations in Japan at the Cherry Blossom Festival.
The famous cherry blossom festival season begins around the end of March and lasts for approximately two weeks, depending on where you are in the country. Sometimes the cherry trees bloom through May; it all depends on the winter weather and atmospheric conditions that year.
One of the best places to travel in spring to view the Cherry Blossom Festival is Maruyama Park, Mount Yoshino, Himeji Castle and Fuji Five Lakes. In addition to some of the world's most beautiful cherry blossoms, people celebrate the beginning of spring by eating, drinking and coming together to enjoy the bounty that spring brings.
Road Scholar offers an epic tour of Japan called The Cultural Highlights of Japan that showcases the landscape, culture and monuments of this beautiful island.
10. Castelluccio, Umbria, Italy
From May to July, Italy marks the beginning of spring with the prized bloom of the lenticchia di Castelluccio di Norcia IGP plant as they blossom into beautifully colored flowers on the Piani di Castelluccio plain in Umbria. The amazing flower spectacle is known as ‘La Fiorita,’ a mix of yellow, red, blue and white flowers, and it draws hoards of visitors to its rolling hills each spring. These flowers are the blooms of the lentil plant, which produces a full-flavored, much-sought-after legume. These plants have been cultivated on the karstic plains of Umbria for centuries.
Learn from local farmers as you walk the meandering hills of Umbria, discovering vineyards, olive groves, villages and delicious cuisine on Road Scholar’s Walking The Hill Towns of Umbria tour.
11. Provence, France
The cities of Provence in springtime offer fairytale countryside charm, delicious market fruits and vegetables, perfect conditions for outdoor dining and blossoms from the famous lavender plants. The wine vineyards become oceans of green, and the beaches around Nice are quiet before the crazy crowds of summer descend upon the sand.
Provence is one of the best places to travel in the spring for the scent of red poppies, pink peonies and yellow broom flowers. Let your eyes feast on the romantic wisteria draping from old stone buildings. If you time your springtime visit right, you may run into a gourmet food and wine festival, like Just Rosé, in seaside Sanary-sur-Mer.
Road Scholar offers many springtime tours of Provence, including The Best of Southern France.
12. Palouse Region, Washington State, USA
Photographers flock to the Palouse Region of Washington State in the springtime to capture the rolling hills in bloom, which resemble something from a painting. Palouse is one of the best spring travel destinations — its vibrant hills are covered in shades of green, purple and yellow when the wheat, barley, peas, lentils, garbanzos, bluegrass, mustard and canola are in bloom.
In more recent years, the Palouse region has become known for its wineries, including the Palouse Winery, which makes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. They also craft several lesser-known varietals, such as Petit Verdot, Malbec, Petite Sirah and Zinfandel.
Road Scholar Springtime Tours
At Road Scholar, you’ll find many springtime adventures around the globe that you can search for based on your desired destination, date range, price, activity level and duration. Enroll in one of our Road Scholar tours today to explore the unique and diverse landscapes the world offers.