32 great spring trips

Where to walk through wildflowers, bike by the sea, take in waterfalls and gardens, and sample the flavors of the West

Meditation retreat

Photo by Rachel Weill

Hikes: Marin's Green Gulch Zen center

Start your day at the Green Gulch Farm with a Zen meditation class, then head outdoors for a hike around the center's 115 acres of pristine Marin coastal ridgeline.

Circle back to the center for a tea break and walk in the gardens, and don't forget to pick up some of their freshly farmed produce to take home.

More:  Green Gulch center day trip

spring outdoor hike

Photo by Larry Ulrich

Hikes: Anza-Borrego's spring glory

The beauty of Anza-Borrego's wildflower bloom ― one of the best in all the West ― is not just the physical display but its ephemeral nature. This is glory on the go.

Here's how to catch Anza-Borrego at its peak, plus more things to do around the park in spring.

More:  Spring trip to California's desert park

wilderness hike

Photo courtesy of Russell Harrison

Hikes: Yellowstone National Park

Geysers, mountain peaks, meadows, and lake overlooks: No matter what your hiking ability, one of our favorite paths in Yellowstone National Park – like the open meadows of Canyon Road trail, pictured here – will have what you're looking for. 

More:  11 great Yellowstone hikes

best waterfalls

Hikes: The West's best waterfalls

Waterfalls are raging right now. Here are our favorite spots in the West where you can feel the spray.

Pictured: Multnoma Falls near Portland, OR, where a moderate 1.2-mile zigzagging trail leaves you feeling on top of the world.

More:  Top 10 waterfalls

Newport kayak rental

Dave Lauridsen

Nature: Upper Newport Bay

Locals come to this Southern California bay year-round to hike, bike, and escape the sound of freeway traffic. But with wildflowers like California sagebrush at their peak, the wetlands are at their best in April.

Day trip to Upper Newport Bay

Colorado biking trail

Carmel Zucker

Bike: Pedal to the next pint in Fort Collins

Cruise the Poudre River Trail past wildflowers and river wildlife, then turn in to one of the area's four breweries for a tour and tasting.

More: Fort Collins day trip

california bike tour

Photo by Rob Brodman

Bike: Explore Pacific Grove, CA

Mild weather and a spectacular seaside bike route make this low-key, lost-in-time Monterey Peninsula town ideal for a spring-time pedal. 

See where to get the most scenic workout, grab a giant chocolate croissant, get a deal on a room, and explore an Asian sanctuary.

More:  Pacific Grove weekend

Skagit Valley travel plans

Photo: José Mandojana

Bike: Skagit Valley's flowering fields

Spring is the right time to catch Skagit Valley's colorful crop of tulips in bloom. Celebrate at the area's annual tulip festival, then rent a bike and take to the road, exploring the valley while stopping for photo ops of the rainbow-striped flowering fields before you.

More:  Washington's Skagit Valley

ID bike trails

Photo by John Clark

Bike: Cruise around Boise, Idaho

This city is made for cyclists―and spring is an especially great time to visit, with leafy streets, wildflower-lined trails, and cool high-desert air.

Stretching 29.7 miles along the beautiful Boise River waterfront, the Boise River Greenbelt offers pretty, mellow riding suitable for all setups, with fun and food along the way.

More:  Explore Boise by bike

Bay Area biking destinations

Photo by David Fenton

Bike: Discover Union City's marshlands

Take a day trip over to the Bay's Union City, where over 20 miles of trails will have you zipping through the area's best waterfront parks.

More:  Day trip to Union City

Albuquerque's EDo neighborhood

Jen Judge

City: Walking through EDo

Spring is the best time for a stroll through Albuquerque's food loving neighborhood, just east of downtown (EDo, get it?).

More: Eat your way through EDo

craft shop

Andrea M. Gómez

City: Denver's South Broadway

Spend the day in Denver's up-and-coming South Broadway neighborhood. Stop into the area's many eclectic stores, get a tasty (and cheap) lunch at Sputnik, then head to the Mayan Theatre for Art Deco decor and an artsy film.

More: A day on South Broadway

Truckee River in Reno, NV

City: Reno's waterfront district

There’s no need to spend a weekend in Reno dancing with a one-armed bandit. Instead, stroll along the Truckee River Walk with a view of the cool Sierra Nevada peaks in the distance.

Better yet, get in the water for a cool-off, a mellow drift, or an adrenaline-pumping ride. In the spring, all the action is on the river. 

More:  Reno's Riverwalk District

Travel Palm desert

Photo by David Fenton

City: Spring in the capital of cool

Palm Desert's mood is mod, its art amazing, and it does the whole midcentury modern thing perfectly.

And of all California's desert resorts, it's also probably the most pedestrian- and bike-friendly. So ditch you car, hit the pool, stroll through galleries and gardens, and take your pick of excellent dining spots.

More:  48 hours in Palm Desert

Phoenix cactus garden

Photo by David Fenton

City: Phoenix's outdoor gardens

Explore Phoenix’s cutting-edge gardens and open spaces before summer heat sends you indoors.

See where locals line up for wood-fired pizzas, watch the waterworks at Arizona Falls, browse nurseries and gardens, and enjoy healthy, sophisticated food.

Here, steel arches at the Desert Botanical Gardens frame one of the country's most artful cactus and succulent collections.

More:  Where to go in Phoenix

Portland attractions

Photo by John Clark

City: Portland's Chinatown

A mix of old and new makes this riverside neighborhood a funky-fun place to spend the day.

Hire a pedicab to pedal you around the neighborhood's attractions, eat at the new hot spot, take in the cherry blossoms, and more.

More:  Things to do in Portland's Chinatown

Plant and nursery

Photo by Dave Lauridsen

Garden: Nursery day trip to Corona del Mar, CA

Bold botanical displays and a nursery stocked for spring are at the heart of this Newport Beach neighborhood’s best attractions.

More:  Nursery day trip to Corona del Mar

Rose garden

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Garden: Breathe deep in San Marino

Smell the flowers while you bask in the botanical oasis of a San Gabriel Valley town. The Huntington Gardens are only the beginning.

More:  Breathe deep in San Marino

denver botanical gardens

Photo by Jenifer Harrington

Garden: Park hop in Denver

Enjoy parks, botanic gardens, and dining amidst blooming plants in and around this mountain town. 

Get our guide to the best places to buy plants, where to dine in a garden, the most impressive rooftop garden, 4 Denver boutiques for stylish green thumbs, and a photo tour of the beautiful Tagawa Gardens.

More: Go garden hopping in Denver

PHoenix native plants

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Garden: Stock up on native plants in Phoenix

Spring in Phoenix is prime time for nursery shopping. Pick your plants, then either follow your nose to the heavenly scent of citrus groves in bloom, or head for a hike with breathtaking city views.

More:  Garden shopping in Phoenix, AZ

Livermore plant nursery

Photo by Emily Nathan

Garden: Nursery day trip to Livermore, CA

Spring doesn’t get any better than this. Grapevines leafing out and roses in mad bloom leave you itching to get your hands in the earth.

You may know Livermore for its wines, but you’ll love a day spent wandering its nurseries.

More:  Nursery day trip to Livermore

Descanso gardens

Photo by Steven Gunther

Garden: Spring fling in the San Gabriel mountains

Blooming gardens brighten the foothill city of La Cañada Flintridge, located just east of L.A. Take a day trip and explore the beauty of the town's Descanso Gardens and beyond.

More:  Spring fling

Garden: Day trip to Denver Botanical Gardens

Garden: Day trip to Denver Botanical Gardens

A visit to the almost-in-bloom Botanical Gardens, a plate of greens straight from the farm, and an abundance of plants and flowers available to buy are a great kickoff to spring. And don't miss the breathtaking views from City Park of the Rocky Mountains framing Denver.

More: One perfect day at Denver Gardens

Garden: Find your green thumb in Half Moon Bay, CA

Photo by David Fenton

Garden: Find your green thumb in Half Moon Bay, CA

Find everything you could ever need for your garden in this Northern California town.  From the usuals, like perennials, to funky accents, like a key-hiding garden gnome.

Don't miss the local food either. Fresh ingredients are used to make delicious meals like seared scallops with baby greens, avocado, mango and cucumbers, and the San Benito House Deli boasts its homemade bread.

More: One perfect day in Half Moon Bay

Garden: Nursery day trip to Portland's Sellwood neighborhood

Photo by John Clark

Garden: Nursery day trip to Portland's Sellwood neighborhood

Find your inner organic in this Portland town with fresh farm eats, a glueten-and dairy-free bakery, and enough nurserires and garden resources for everyone from ametuer to pro.

Check out Unique Antique shop for buckets of garden inspiration like bird feeders, birdhouses, locally made art, and potting benches crafted from old barn planks.

More: One perfect day in Portland's Sellwood neighborhood

Garden: Get ready for Spring in Goleta, CA

Photo by Andrea Gomez Romero

Garden: Get ready for Spring in Goleta, CA

Don't let it's beach-town disguise fool you. Grab your shovel and rake and get ready for spring gardening in Goleta. Browse Fairview Gardens for fresh fruit, veggies, and flowers. Take as many as you like--it's on the honor system. Go on a guilt-free buying binge at Knapp Nursery and get all the information you could ever want at Island Seed & Feed.

And after a hard day of gardening, kick back and relax on Goleta Beach.

More: One perfect day in Goleta, CA

Garden: Day trip to the Tucson Botanical Garden

Photo by Andrea Gomez Romero

Garden: Day trip to the Tucson Botanical Garden

Browse Southwestern nurseries full of succulents and Arizona flowers. Stop by Pure Beauty garden shop for some unique decor, that is also eco-friendly, like a plastic light fixture turned planter. And don't forget to reward yourself with some delicious grub from La Cocina's Mexican restaurants. With seasonal dishes like Vietnamese salad rolls, you're sure to be satisfied.

More: One perfect day at the Tucson Botanical Garden

Templeton vineyards

Chris Leschinsky

Flavor: Farm-fresh foods in Templeton

This small town just six miles south of Paso Robles has all the wine cred of its neighbor, but with a farm-friendly bent. Try your hand at making goat cheese, eat locally grown food, and stay at a cozy bed and breakfast that just happens to double as a vineyard.

More: Day trip to Templeton

Applegate Valley vineyards

Photo by Andrea Gómez

Flavor: Oregon's unsung wine country

The wilds of Southern Oregon is wine country the way it used to be. Here, you don't see bus tours and grand châteaux, just down-home folks enjoying a glass of Chardonnay on a sunny afternoon.

Here's how to get there, and where to eat, sip, and stay.

More:  Applegate Valley, OR

Orcas Island travel

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Flavor: Rustic gourmet on Orcas Island

Spring on Orcas Island has the same farm-fresh food―just fewer people. Rent your own little cabin by the water and savor the island’s bounty. 

Here's where to find the farms, orchard stands, cottages, and cafes.

More:  Gourmet getaway to Orcas Island

Long Beach food

Photo by Jim Henkens

Flavor: Washington's Long Beach Peninsula

Escape to this stretch of Washington coast where fresh oysters and salmon are caught right offshore, and cranberries, wild berries, and mushrooms florish.

Stay at an inn within earshot of the sea, sample exciting seafood, take in the silvery flocks of migrating shorebirds, and enjoy the absence of crowds.

PIctured: An oyster smokehouse on the Long Beach Peninsula.

More:  Washington's hidden coast

Dry Creek Valley

Photo by David Fenton

Flavor: A weekend in Sonoma's Dry Creek Valley

Early spring brings a green freshness to the vineyards of Dry Creek Valley.

Discover the ultimate picnic spot and more finds from our wine editor’s off-season escape to a quiet corner of California's wine country.

More:  Dry Creek Valley travel planner

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