“Spring: a lovely reminder of how beautiful change can truly be." – Unknown
Turning the page on winter and finally stepping into spring adds a palpable optimism whether traveling for business or pleasure. After the challenges presented by the pandemic over the past two years, it’s no surprise that consumer confidence is on the rise and 2022 travel projections look promising.
According to U.S. Travel, the non-profit association representing the travel industry, 82% of American travelers are excited to travel in the next 12 months—the highest level since the start of the pandemic, and four in five business travel organizations feel their employees are currently ready to hit the road. As more countries loosen COVID restrictions, Americans are also looking to travel overseas. So no matter where you’re headed, spring travel will allow you to beat the crowds and congestion of summer vacationers.
Here are four fabulous must-see destinations this spring:
The nation’s capital is a thrill any time of year, but springtime in Washington, D.C. means one thing: cherry blossoms. The majestic cherry trees were planted in 1912 as a gift of friendship from Japan. Since then, the cotton candy-esque blossoms have lined the city’s iconic Tidal Basin each spring, launching what would become the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival.
Here you’ll also find an authentic Japanese Stone Lantern standing eight feet tall and weighing approximately two tons. It’s lit every year to mark the beginning of the festival, and a Japanese Pagoda can be found on the southwest bank of the Tidal Basin.
Make time to explore the museums in D.C., from the National Museum of Natural History and International Spy Museum to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and National Museum of African American History and Culture (pro tip: the museum is free but passes must be secured in advance), not to mention the many monuments and memorials. Bring your LEIGH tote to carry your souvenirs or if you want to slip your sneakers on for a rite of passage along The Mall – power walking!
One museum that sometimes gets overlooked is the National Portrait Gallery. Though it opened to the public in 1968, it’s wildly contemporary with cutting edge exhibits. Traveling for work? Tuck your laptop into your LEIGH backpack and head to the museum’s Kogod Courtyard for inspiration. The architectural marvel is a treasure with its wavy glass canopy and free wi-fi. Grab a bite or cup of Joe at the nearby courtyard cafe.
The Gray Lady is enchanting any time of year, but spring is the island’s hidden gem and there are a few of reasons why.
First, springtime is when Nantucket officially reawakens its restaurants, shops and hotels. Second, it has been said that Nantucket has two price points: expensive and more expensive! But this time of year, lodging rates are lower than the sticker-shock rates of summer. Third, Nantucket’s population explodes nearly ten-fold in summer, but in spring you can enjoy the spoils of this magical place without throngs of vacationers.
But the absolute highlight of Nantucket’s spring season is the annual Daffodil Festival. This celebration of the more than three million daffodils that bloom across the island takes place April 22 - 24, 2022. Experience the legendary Daffodil Antique Car Parade followed by a tailgate picnic in Siasconset Village, a children's bike parade, the Daffy Hat Parade and for Fido, the Daffodil Dog Parade.
The westernmost part of The Bay State is an expansive area that shines in the springtime, perhaps none more so than at Mount Sugarloaf State Reservation. This time of year, blooms are bursting through the ground, leaves and buds bespeckle the sky-reaching trees and a hike here affords amazing views of the Connecticut River Valley (pro tip: the park is idyllic for picnics and mountain biking too). Be sure to pack a few power bars in your backpack.
In the Berkshires, you’ll find more than half a dozen must-see museums including the Norman Rockwell Museum, MASS MoCA art museum, Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum, and The Mount (Edith Wharton’s home), among others.
And for treasure seekers, Western Massachusetts is synonymous with a springtime staple: Brimfield. Named for the town it takes place in, the Brimfield Antique Flea Market is the mother of all Northeast flea markets, taking place just three times a year and featuring literally thousands of dealers. Whether a skilled scourer or a casual antique appreciator, Brimfield is a springtime must!
Charleston, South Carolina
That image you have in your head of Charleston’s centuries-old Rainbow Row historic houses draped in lavender-hued wisteria comes to life in the spring. The flowering plant cascades from pergolas, gates and archways city-wide, rivaled only by the prolific shrubs and vines of fragrant jasmine. Snap a selfie with these blooms for some Insta-envy on your feed!
Springtime also welcomes the popular 75th Annual Festival of Houses & Gardens, which provides intimate glimpses into some of the most beautiful homes and gardens in the Holy City. Happening now through April 9, 2022, the festival includes tons of events aside from garden tours including walking photography tours, lectures, concerts, wine tastings and more. Even better, Breeze Airlines is offering new service to/from Charleston to San Francisco, Las Vegas, Syracuse, Providence, Fort Myers and more, so pack your LEIGH duffle for an idyllic time in South Carolina’s Lowcountry.
As always, happy and safe travels!
- Andrea E. McHugh
Andrea E. McHugh is a travel and lifestyle writer, food editor and content creator whose work has appeared in USA Today, Family Circle, Yankee Magazine, Yahoo! News, MSN, Travel Pulse, The Hartford Courant, Providence Journal and Daily Candy in addition to appearing on Good Morning America, featured in Conde Nast Traveler and more. She’s the founder of NewportStylephile.com. And in her free time (lol), Andrea blogs for LEIGH 2-3 times per month (lucky us)!