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Spring Weekend Getaway Ideas: Smell the Flowers

Spring Weekend Getaway Ideas: Smell the Flowers

Covid 19 Update

Covid 19 altered plans for some of these flower shows in 2021. Philadelphia’s was delayed until June and Chelsea’s until September. Some had to cancel. I expect most to happen this year but some of the calendar and venue changes might be permanent.

Been to a flower show lately?

Nothing heralds Spring like seeing lots of your favorite favorite spring flowers. Daffodils, tulips, lilacs, cherry blossoms, magnolias or even late spring  roses help us to shrug off winter and feel inexplicably happy.

Formal flower shows and flower festivals are pretty reliably amazing and they are an easy, family friendly excuse for a  weekend getaway. As outdoor events that often include food, music, crafts and other activites, they’re usually kid-friendly, too.

But they are not the only way to appreciate seasonal blooms. Here are some of the best and most popular places to see spring blossoms and attend flower shows and festivals in the U.S., Europe and Japan.

The Best Destinations for Kid-Friendly Flower Shows & Festivals

Celebrate Cherry Blossoms in Washington, DC

Unless you happen to live in Japan, the best place to celebrate cherry blossoms is the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC (top).

Cherry blossoms on the tidal basin in washington, d. C, are one of nature's best flower shows.

The trees around the Tidal Basin near the Washington Monument were a gift from the people of Japan in 1912. It’s a stunning sight to see thousands of pink and white blossoms on the trees and floating to the ground along the water. It’s one of nature’s best flower shows for sure.

It’s always a bit of guess when the peak week will be but it’s generally later March or early April, depending on the winter and how quickly the weather warms. the National Park Serve is a bloom watch to help you plan your visit.


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The Brooklyn Botanic Garden in NYC has its Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom festival in early May.

It’s a smaller display but lovely and immensely popular. People line up for this festival that celebrates the blossoms as well as Japanese culture. Look for demonstrations of Japanese art and music and enjoy the opportunity to picnic annd frolic beneath the fluffy pink trees.

Several other cities across the U.S. have cherry blossom festivals, too.

See Wildflowers in Death Valley, CA

The desert may not come to mind for seeing beautiful spring flowers, but when conditions are right even Death Valley, one of the driest places on earth, can produce a stunning display of natural wildflowers.

A selection of the blooms you'll see when spring wild flowers grow in death valley.

April visitors to California’s Death Valley should head to the canyons and higher valleys to see spring blooms like Desert Paintbrush, Mojave Aster and Bigelow’s Coreopsis.

Since this is a National Park and these flowers are wild, there’s no guarantee that you’ll see blooms. But the park service offers a guide to the year’s blooming season and helps you to identify them.

Celebrate Magnolias in New York City

New York City’s Central Park shakes off the snow every spring and comes alive with blooming wild and planted flowers. The magnolias are the first to take center stage as the weather warms. Look for them behind the Metropolitan Museum and near the Obelisk on the East Drive.

White saucer magnolia blossoms near the obelisk in central park. The is always full of spring flowers.

You can easily spend a few hours strolling around the park on a sunny spring day, enjoying a colorful respite from the busy city.

Near Strawberry Fields you’ll see see azaleas, cherry blossoms and more magnolias blooming. If you prefer cultivated European-style gardens, the Conservatory Garden offers traditional English, French and Italian gardens—and more magnolias.


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Check Our Maryland’s Redbud Trees

Western Maryland’s answer to cherry blossoms, lilacs and magnolias are its somewhat misnamed Eastern redbud trees, which explode with fluffy bright pink blossom starting around mid-April.

An eastern redbud tree wth its fluffy pink springtime blossoms. Look for them all over western maryland.

Head to the cycling and hiking trails in mountainous Allegheny county. Lake Habeeb in Rocky Gap State Park is an especially scenice place to spot them. But you’ll see plenty along the roads and even towns like historic Cumberland.

You can also spot some of these popular local trees at the University of Maryland Arboretum in College Park, north of Washington, DC.

Celebrate Lilacs 2 Ways

It’s hard to miss the heady scent of lilacs, a sure sign the spring is advancing and summer is around the bend.

Rochester, NY and Mackinac Island, Michigan both hold town-wide festivals every year.

A fun run and other activites make rochester's lilac festival one of the country's top "flower shows. "

Rochester celebrates the purple and dark pink lilacs in it sprawling Highland Park. The ten-day festival features a fun run, a lilac parade and high-profile outdoor concerts as well as food and stalls selling handmade item in the park.


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On Mackinac Island the ten-day festival happens in June. They one-up Rochester by choosing a lilac queen for their lilac parade.

Horse and carriage rides are one of the best ways to the purple lilacs on mackinac island in the spring. Here a team of horses waits by a lilac tree.

There’s also a kids fun zone, an all-day local-food-tasting event, a fun run, and days of food, music and carriage rides at locations around this island off the Michigan shore of Lake Huron.

Don’t miss the dog and pony show where locals dress their pets up in— you guessed it— lots of lilacs.

Spring Flower Shows in the U.S.

Food & Flowers in Dollywood

One would expect a flower show in a theme park started by Dolly Parton to be colorful and fun. And sure enough, the Flower & Food Show at Dollywood is exactly that. From April to June the park comes alive with whimsical animal-themed topiary set amid 50,000 purple, pink and yellow blooms (photo: top).

Dollywood flower food

Special festival foods includes strawberry lemonade and sugar cookie that look like flowers and beehives. Seasonal street performances have a flowery theme, too.

The flower show is part of the regular admission but you can buy an optional festival food tasting pass to make the most of it.

Philadelphia Flower Show

Philadelphia boasts the largest and oldest flower show in the country, hosted by te Philadelphia Horticulture Society. I’d been wanting to attend for years and finally got my chance in 2021.

A landscaped urban patio in yellow celebrates small spaces at the philadelphia flower show.

It had previousl been held indoors in the city center March or early April. Thanks to covid, they’ve moved it outdoors, to FDR park in South Philly and to early June. They’re repeating the new venue this year so perhaps it’s a permanent thing.

The show celebrates floral displays, botanical art and landscape design. The outdoor show has venues for food, live music and interactive fun, too. Avid gardeners will love talking to the speciality vendors and browsing their wares.


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Spring flowers are hard to resist. Several more cities across the U.S. find ways to celebrate spring with flower festivals and flower shows.

Botanic Gardens don’t need festivals to look their best in the spring. Cherry blossoms give way to daffodils and tulips, which step aside just in time for the roses. But many have celebrations to show off their best buds anyway. Check out what’s happening at a Botanic Garden near you.

Flower Festivals Around the World

London’s Chelsea Flower Show

London, springtime, flowers. Really if that’s not enough to send you buying plane tickets I don’t know what would.

A lush, green outdoor living room with stairs, a balcony and a sitting area, at the chelsea flower show

The Royal Horticulture Society holds its annual flower fest for five days in May on the extensive grounds of Royal Hospital Chelsea.

Expect fanciful floral landscapes that will have you looking for Alice and White Rabbit. You can learn about new developments in horticultural science, get tips and inspiration for making the most of houseplants, and have a glass of champagne.

Keep your eye out for Windsors, too; the Royal family often attends.


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Fields of Tulips in The Netherlands

The Keukenhof gardens in The Netherlands calls itself “The most beautiful spring garden in the world.” If you’re a fan of tulips it’s hard to disagree.

A small sample of the millions of tulips in a riot of color at keukenhof in the netherlands.

Keukenhof’s unique flower show begins in March, when seven million tulips in 800 different varieties bloom You can walk through the 32 hectares of gardens, hop on a small boat or be very Dutch a ride bicycles.

If you want to know more about the quintessentiallu Dutch flower, Keukenhof has exhbits on tulip history, cultivation ideas and tips on how to make your garden as colorful as theirs (yeah, right).

Keukenhof is 35 minutes from Amsterdam. It might not be a staycation or weekend getaway, but you could more than justify timing a visit to the Netherlands to catch it.

In the mean time, you can look for tulip festivals around the world, including three in the U.S. and Canada.


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See Cherry Blossoms in Kyoto, Japan

The cherry blossoms in kyoto are spectacular

Japan heralds spring with what amounts to an island-wide flower show.. Up and down the country, people of all ages take time to sit under the blooming sakura, or Japanese cherry trees.

The delicate pink and white blossoms often hit their peak in April, and some of the best cherry blossom groves are in the traditional city of Kyoto, where visitors flock to see their beauty in full force.

While visiting, be sure to wander through the incredible temple complexes and maybe try some sakura-flavored snacks, too!


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Philadelphia Photo by Familieso! Photos courtesy of the event organizers except Chelsea Flower Show (Visit London), Maryland redbud (U.MD extension) and Washington, DC and Kyoto (stock photos).