There are plenty of reasons to look forward to the spring season – there’s beautiful blooming flowers, green grass and sunny weather (for the most part). But this time of year is also a popular season to hop on a plane and jet set to a vacation destination. Here are a few underrated locations for leisure travel, and what you can do while you’re there.
Japan: Cherry Blossom Festival
Traveling to Japan in the spring means that you get to see all of the cherry blossom trees in bloom, covering Japan’s landscape with stunning pink flowers. The viewing of these flowers actually has a name: hanami. This flower-viewing tradition started in the late 8th century and was known as the beginning of the new year’s harvest.
The best spot to take in these cherry blossom trees is the center of the Nara Prefecture, which is the capital city of Nara. In this city, you’ll find the Yoshinoyama, a north-facing mountain filled with more than 30,000 cherry blossom trees.
Other popular attractions: Pick fresh strawberries at Kawatsura Strawberry Farm, go clam digging around Tokyo Bay, or try a walking-eating tour, known as tabearuku, in Tokyo.
Amsterdam, Holland: Keukenhof Flower Park
You haven’t seen colorful spring flowers until you’ve visited Keukenhof Flower Park in Amsterdam, Holland. It contains seven million flower bulbs and four grand pavilions that show off the stunning blooms. Each year, the flower park has a different theme, with 2015 being “Van Gogh: 125 years of inspiration.” There will be a huge tulip plateau inspired by Van Gogh’s self portraits.
Other popular attractions: If you’re looking for a few other things to do around the Netherlands during your visit, consider Rijksmuseum – the largest and most prestigious museum for art and history in the Netherlands.
California, USA: Yosemite Park
If you find yourself in the U.S. over spring break, check out Yosemite National Park in Yosemite Village, California. This breathtaking park is made up of 1,200 square feet of waterfalls, deep valleys, magnificent sequoias and beautiful meadows. Spring at Yosemite is the best season for seeing the waterfalls. The melting snow cascades along the valley rim, and the waterfalls will be in full force come May or June. Hike through Yosemite Valley, which is typically free of snow by mid April.
Other popular attractions: There are plenty of other things to do around Yosemite, including touring the Madera Wine Trail, visiting the Coarsegold Historic Museum or seeing the true beauty of Yosemite through art at the Timberline Art Gallery.
Quepos, Costa Rica: Manuel Antonio National Park
This is a one-of-a-kind location to see in Costa Rica because it contains some of the area’s endangered species. The park was created in 1972 in an effort to preserve the stunning landscape and the animals that lived within. Some of those species include howler monkeys, two and three-toed sloths, iguanas, squirrel monkeys and 184 species of birds. Travel along any of the well marked trails to catch a glimpse of the wildlife or to admire the pristine white sandy beaches.
Other popular attractions: Continue to explore the natural beauty of Costa Rica at either Carara National Park or Marino Ballena National Park.
China: Spring Festival
This popular festival, which has been around for more than 4,000 years, takes place every spring, and is also known as the Lunar New Year. Traditions at the event include worshiping ancestors, setting off fireworks, and watching dragon and lion dances. You’ll see a lot of red decorations, as this is the main color for the festival. Certain foods such as fish and Chinese dumplings are eaten because they’re said to bring good fortune in the coming year. If you want to take part in this festival during your spring break, head to Beijing, Guangzhou, Xian or Pingyao.
Other popular attractions: Some other can’t-miss China attractions include the Pudong Skyline, the Mogao Caves, Mount Huang and Victoria Harbour.
Catemaco, Mexico: Noche de Brujas
Taking place the first Friday in March, this “Night of the Witches” is designated of ridding any of the previous year’s negative energies so that everyone can start the new year fresh and on a good note. It takes place in Catemaco, because it’s known as the “Capital of Witchcraft.” Get a tarot reading enjoy a drink and some food as you watch a variety of song and dance performances.
Other popular attractions: Visit the Catemaco Lagoon, which is filled with 585 species of birds, lots of monkeys and a wealth of flora and fauna.
Northern India and Nepal: Holi
Holi is otherwise known as the Festival of Colors, and is meant to welcome the start of spring. It starts off with major bonfires throughout the city to signify that good trumps evil. The next day, children and adults travel the streets throwing colorful powder, called gulal, all over each other. The substance is dumped from buckets, poured into balloons and squirted from syringes.
Other popular attractions: Don’t leave Nepal without riding an elephant Chitwan National Park or taking in the remarkable sights at Gokyo Lakes, where you’ll have a majestic view of Mt. Everest.
Valencia, Spain: Las Fallas
This unique five-day festival translates to “the fires,” because it’s celebrated with flames. Each night of the festival contains a firework display. On the final night, puppets or dolls known as ninots, are stuffed with fireworks and set off. These ninots typically poke fun at corrupt politicians and Spanish celebrities.
Other popular attractions: When you’re ready to get away from the excitement of the festival. visit the Gardens of Turia, which is one of the most tranquil locations in the city.