Spring is the region’s sweet spot: temps are in the low 80s, hurricane season is months away, and those high-season winter rates at most hotels start to drop. Experience one of the carnival celebrations that take place in the spring. In St. Thomas, USVI, costumed paraders, calypso bands and fireworks take over in the capital of Charlotte Amalie, or try Carnival in St. Maarten, known for its casinos and restaurants. Sailors will enjoy the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival, which takes over the isles in early April.
Due to summer break, Europe is hopping from June through August. Go in spring and escape the long lines while still enjoying mild weather. Another bonus: Room rates are cheaper, and hotels don’t book up as fast. In Italian spots like Cinque Terra and Tuscany, expect highs in the 60s — great for coastal hikes and wine tastings. Ireland, famous for its fickle weather, may surprise you with warm spells, and what better place to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Sunny days in Barcelona, Spain, call for strolls through Park Guell and lunches at one of Las Ramblas’ many cafes. And Paris is so gorgeous in spring that Frank Sinatra sang about it (“April in Paris”).
3. Orlando, Florida
Spring is the time to visit the famed theme parks: Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Studios. And while the rest of the country is just warming up, temps here are in the low 80s. The popular Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, featuring Disney-themed topiaries and a butterfly garden, runs from March 3 to May 16. But there’s more than the mouse: Take a trip downtown to lunch at one of Thornton Park’s stylish eateries and stroll around Lake Eola, often the site of art fairs and live concerts. Don’t miss the shopping either, be it bargains at the Prime Outlets or chic finds at the boutiques on Winter Park’s Park Avenue.
4. Mexico’s Colonial Cities
With historic architecture, bustling plazas and vibrant arts scenes, these colonial cities reveal another side of Mexico. A springtime visit to these central highland spots is ideal, especially timed to spirited Cinco de Mayo festivities. Each city boasts its own claim to fame, be it Mexico’s tallest cathedral and chiles en nogada (chilies in walnut sauce) in Puebla; the incredible wood carvers and artisans in Oaxaca; or the stunning cathedral and lively expat community in San Miguel de Allende.
5. American West
If your heart’s set on adventure, go west, where spring will spare you the summer tourists at popular national parks like Arches, Grand Canyon, Glacier, Yellowstone and Yosemite. In the Southwestern desert, expect warm temps (70s), while farther north, prepare for the 40s and 50s. Thanks to northern snowmelts, you’ll also find rip-roaring rapids. Sign on for a multiday rafting run with O.A.R.S., offered in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon and Utah (they even have specialty packages that include fine wines and gourmet food). Or stay at a guest ranch for horseback riding, hiking and cozying up around the campfire.
6. Coastal South Carolina
Like sandy beaches, historic sites and Southern hospitality without humidity, mosquitoes and heat? Then head to the Palmetto State’s coast in the spring for sunshine and temps in the 70s. The milder weather is also great for hitting the links; courses on Hilton Head and Kiawah islands consistently rank among the nation’s best. Look to the Low Country’s marshes and tidal creeks for wildlife viewing; spy migrating birds, alligators, bobcats, deer, foxes, turtles and river otters. Mix in some urban fun in Charleston with carriage rides, walking tours and pub-crawls past city landmarks.