Spring has finally inched it’s way out of winter’s long shadow this year and with it comes one of our favorite pastimes – watching the vivid colors start to dot the landscape. While most of us are content to sit back and let the flowers seep into our world, as they slowly start to make their appearance, others make a kaleidoscopic event of it. Luckily for us here in the States, there are lots of great places to see an abundance of flora making their way out of the cold winter. Here’s our completely objective shortlist of the best places to experience a spectacular show of flowers across the country.
Tulip Fest, Woodburn, OR
March 23 to April 30, 2018
The adorably named Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm in Woodburn, Oregon is the site of the annual Tulip Fest, the largest such fest this side of the Netherlands. We highly recommend this family friendly event that will have you wandering through more than 40 acres of stunning tulips, sampling wines from local vineyards, buncing along on the famous “cow trains,” and picnicking with your family (you can bring your own or purchase on site). Mt. Hood stands majestically in the background and you’re just 45 minutes from Portland (30 from Salem).
California Poppy Festival, Lancaster, CA
April 21 – 22, 2018
The California Poppy Festival is nestled in the heart of the Antelope Valley in the town of Lancaster for just two days each year. The magnificent poppies that bloom in the valley serve as the backdrop to this festival that has grown from its initial aim of celebrating the blooms (along with participating in Earth Day celebrations) to encompass a wide range of family-friendly activities, including a kid’s “Adventure Zone,” a car show and a local farmer’s market. You can get to Lancaster easily from Los Angeles, as it’s just 70 miles north of the city. Why not plan a day trip out of the city?
Dallas Blooms, Dallas, TX
February 24 to April 8, 2018
This year’s theme for Dallas Blooms is “A World of Flowers” and with more than 100 varieties of spring bulbs and an anticipated 500,000 total blooms over the course of the festival, it’s sure to be another showstopper from the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. This event is a class act from start to finish, with a rotating schedule of floral and cultural activities depending on the part of the world highlighted. A full array of Easter activities are also planned, and there are weekend yoga classes and scheduled walks for all kinds of visitors.
Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, Orlando, FL
February 28 to May 28, 2018
Though a lot of families make their annual trek to Disney World in the summer, we’d like to make the case for going in the springtime, when you will also be able to enjoy the International Flower & Garden Festival events. The Disney crew sets up a variety of outdoor tasting “kitchens” where you can sample cuisines from around the world, along with an instructional “How-To” garden – but the biggest draw by far has to be the impressive Disney-themed topiaries constructed all over the park. Most festival activities are included with the price of park admission.
National Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington D.C.
March 17 to April 15, 2018
No U.S. spring flower festival has a more storied history than the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C. Back in 1912, the mayor of Tokyo gifted the District of Columbia 3,000 cherry trees. Over the years, this initial gift has helped foster communication between our countries and has become a much-loved backbone of the landscape of the city. Fairfax County (just outside of the capital) offers self-guided tours at many magnificent gardens housing cherry trees. You must have a ticket to tour, but tickets are free and available online at the festival site. A number of Potomac cruises are also available to visitors, so you can wind down the river enjoying the pink-festooned landscape while dining on a stately dinner. Finally, the city itself is a wondrous backdrop to the cherry blossom blooms. Feel free just to have a wander and enjoy the scenery for free!
Portland Rose Festival, Portland OR
May 25 to June 9, 2018
The Portland Rose Festival was launched over 100 years with the aim to better brand Portland as a summer vacation destination. Now a full century on, no one can deny that the city is a great destination for all sorts of fun. The Rose Festival has evolved over the years along the waterfront to be much more than just a flower festival. But you will not want to miss the centerpiece of the event, the Grand Floral Parade. Local businesses and charities spend countless hours creating phenomenal floats covered in a myriad of flora and fauna. Think of it as the Pasadena Rose Parade’s quirky cousin. It’s a ‘can’t miss’ part of the festivities.
Lilac Festival, Mackinac Island, MI
June 8 -17, 2018
If you ever needed a reason to get yourself to Mackinac Island, let this be the one. The Lilac Festival is a warm, homey slice of Americana. There are a ton of activities for all ages including a 10K run and the “Taste of Mackinac” food and drink showcase. There are also a number of parades to celebrate the fragrant lilac. We like the “Dog and Pony” parade, that showcases all sorts of local silliness, and features (you guessed it) a bunch of canines and show ponies!
Philadelphia Flower Show, Philadelphia, PA
Now the Philadelphia Flower Show is our one entry that is less a celebration of all things floral, than a serious competition for floral artists and growers around the world. But don’t let the business of winning get in the way of your good time! There’s much to see and do while attending the show as a visitor. The educational and interactive “Butterflies Live!” experience offers kids and adults alike the chance to get up close and personal with our delicate insect friends in dazzling garden displays, and there are adult activities all with the backdrop of amazing floral displays.
Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Festival), Brooklyn, NY
April 28-29, 2018
If you find yourself in New York City or Brooklyn the last weekend in April, we highly recommend a visit to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden for the Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival. The festival touts itself as a celebration of Japanese culture through the prism of the beloved cherry blossom season and they offer more than 60 events to prove it. Traditional musical performances rub elbows with J-pop and urban Japanese dance artists. You can participate in a traditional tea ceremony or talk with manga artists. It’s the full spectrum of cultural experiences. We’d expect nothing less of Brooklyn.
Historic Virginia Garden Week, Statewide locations, VA
April 21-28, 2018
Every spring for one week, some of the finest gardens across Virginia open their homes to the public. This year, 250 homes and historic landmarks will be on display. Pick up your guidebook at any of the locations on this list or just ask a Virginian to point you in the right direction. Garden Week is a point of pride for many local people and a great way to meet them. While it would be impossible to visit every location on the tour, the festival organizers have put together a list of suggested itineraries to help you organize your visits.