If you're like us, you're ready for this freezing weather -- courtesy of the polar vortex -- to be over. In fact, you've been ready for weeks now. And though the groundhog may not have predicted a quick return to warm weather, that hasn't stopped cities across the U.S. from making plans to usher in the spring, which makes its official entrance March 20. From Atlanta to Los Angeles, from Vermont to Savannah, popular vacation destinations are already prepping for the season's welcome with spring-themed festivals, parades, and parties. Here are seven destinations where you can celebrate spring.
Los Angeles, CA: Holi Festival of Colors, March 8
Traditionally a religious Hindu festival marking the beginning of spring, Holi has become a holiday celebrated around the globe by Hindu followers and non-followers alike, and few places stateside do the day justice like Los Angeles. This year, the festival takes place in L.A. on March 8 and includes group yoga sessions, musical performances, food vendors, and even “color throwings” ever hour. Dubbed by many as “the world’s happiest event,” Holi is all about reveling in the vibrant colors of spring.
Where to Stay: The Georgian Hotel
A picturesque Art Deco boutique hotel with a commanding view of the sea (from the sunny front porch, but not all rooms), the Georgian is a classy retreat with lovely rooms and a prime location on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica. On-site amenities, however, are few. You’ll have to drive to the festival, but when the festival is over, we recommend staying near the beach in Santa Monica to catch some rays.
Portland, OR: Portland Farmers Market at Portland State University, March 15
A destination that has made a name for itself by its focus on health and wellness (hence its reputation as a hipster haven), Portland is particularly beautiful at the start of spring. On March 15, the city ushers in the season with the opening of its massive farmers market held at Portland State University. Open every Saturday through December, the market attracts locals and visitors with fresh produce, gourmet food stands and pop-up restaurants, and live performances.
Where to Stay: Hotel Modera
Just a five-minute walk from PSU, Hotel Modera is an attractive, upscale hotel in downtown Portland. It doesn’t have a stuffy feel that some iconic hotels do: Instead, everything feels modern and casual, from the streamlined lobby — with local art, funky furniture, and a marble-and-wood front desk — to the 174 rooms, updated with iPod docks, Wi-Fi, and flat-screen TVs.
Washington, D.C.: National Cherry Blossom Festival, March 20
The National Cherry Blossom Festival is one of the most anticipated spring-themed festivals in the U.S. — and running from March 20 to April 13, it is also one of the longest. When spring is sprung, the capital is ripe with pale pink petals from the thousand cherry trees gifted to the U.S. by Japan in the early 1900s. Festival celebrations include parties, singing competitions, parades, art shows, sake tastings, workout classes, family activities, sports tournaments, and more.
Where to Stay: The Hay-Adams
The Hay-Adams draws powerbrokers from around the world with its impeccable service, great bar and restaurant, and elegant rooms. It is quite possibly the most famous hotel in D.C. and sits within walking distance of the White House and the Tidal Basin, where the cherry blossoms bloom.
Vermont: Vermont Maple Open House Weekend, March 22
Maple season lasts from late February to mid April, and as the country’s leading producer of maple syrup (the state produced 1.3 million gallons of the sugary goodness last year), Vermont is the perfect spot for celebrating it. The first big celebration spans across the state over the weekend of March 22; during Vermont Maple Open House Weekend, farms and sugarhouses open their doors so visitors can see the maple syrup-making process, and other activities include horse-drawn carriage rides. Then over the weekend of April 25, the 48th Vermont Maple Festival kicks off with parades and a massive pancake breakfast.
Where to Stay: Clay Brook at Sugarbush
The Clay Brook is an upscale slopeside property just outside Sugarbush Village (an aptly-named ski resort, home to plenty of maple syrup farms). It has 61 large units that range from studios to five-bedroom suites, all featuring full kitchens with modern appliances and washer/dryers, fireplaces, balconies, plush beds, and elegant rustic decor with wood and leather accents.
Savannah, GA: Savannah Tour of Homes and Gardens, March 27
A beautiful Southern town, Savannah is lucky enough to enjoy spring temperatures earlier than its neighbors to the north. The city is home to the largest urban landmark historic district in the states, and celebrates the start to spring with a weekend-long homes and gardens tour that has been in operation since 1935. Not only can visitors walk through historical homes and gardens, but there are numerous food and wine events as well.
Where to Stay: Kehoe House
The Kehoe House is a quaint, historic inn housed in a beautifully restored 1892 mansion. The 13 rooms are all elegant and classic (without feeling fussy or dated), with antique-style wood furniture, decorative fireplaces, hardwood floors, and chandeliers.
Atlanta, GA: Atlanta Dogwood Festival, April 11
Savannah’s more urban neighbor to the northwest, Atlanta knows how to celebrate the grandeur of spring as well, and marks the season with the annual Dogwood Festival, this year held from April 11 to 13. With an emphasis on the city’s multiculturalism, and of course — the flowering dogwood — the weekend-long festival includes both a main stage and an international stage for performances, as well as a kids village, an arts fair, a disc dog southern nationals tournament (you read that correctly), and over 200,000 attendees.
Where to Stay: Hyatt Place Atlanta/Buckhead
One of the most affordable options in the tony Buckhead neighborhood, the Hyatt Place offers nice freebies — such as breakfast, Wi-Fi, and parking — that add value. Rooms are large and contemporary (if not quite stylish) and all have separate living areas and 42-inch flat-screen TVs.
Finger Lakes, NY: Spring Wine and Cheese Weekend, April 26
Why, yes! Wine and cheese does sound like the perfect way to celebrate the return of spring. Located along the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, over 30 wineries participate in this weekend by offering attendees wine and cheese pairings. The beauty of this celebration is in its simplicity — no parades, no tournaments — just good old-fashioned sipping on local wines and noshing on gourmets cheeses as participants simultaneously take in the natural beauty of the Finger Lakes.
Where to Stay: Hope Lake Lodge
The 106-room Hope Lake Lodge is practically a town unto itself. Guests have access to an attached water park (for a fee), and free access to a pool and Jacuzzis. Ample activities in the area abound, as the property sits next to the highest point in the county — the ski resort — which is attached to a year-round adventure center for zip lining and snow tubing, to name a few.
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