It’s finally bloomin’ spring, and nothing instills hope that winter is gone and summer is on its way like the darling buds of April and May. Chart a course for one of these cities to see the most spectacular springtime displays by Mother Nature (with some help from humans).
Where to stay: Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam
Tulips, some seven million of them in 800 varieties can be found at Keukenhof Gardens, the second largest in the world, which is open March 20 to May 17. More than just browsing, you can christen your own tulip and get bulb tips for your own home garden. We say stay in Amsterdam and enjoy the city by bike, then head out to Keukenhof for the day (roughly 40-minutes away).
Where to stay: Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo
Just as Holland is synonymous with tulips, Japan is cherry blossom central. From the end of March to early May, they bloom across the country, but Ueno Park is one of the most popular spots, with its more than 1,000 trees that get lit up in the evening (bring some sake to toast with). There’s also Shinjuku Gyoen Park. Spring also bursts with festivals in Tokyo, so there’s no shortage of other things to do.
Where to stay: Ellenborough Park
Wild daffodils blanket the countryside through the first two weeks of April—a tradition that’s inspired many poems and tales. Take advantage of one of the free guided walks with views of the nature reserves. Equally breathtaking are the area’s hotels that have been converted from old estates, with their own gorgeous grounds and gardens surrounding them. A day at Cheltenham Racecourse is another very English activity to tack on.
Where to stay: Four Seasons Hotel Austin
Bluebonnet, the state’s official flower, can be found along highways, fields and farms in April. Discover the Hill Country starting at the beginning of the Bluebonnet Trail, which weaves through small communities, then dip into another kind of blue at the Hamilton Pool Preserve, an historic natural swimming hole and grotto.
Where to stay: Hotel deLuxe
Every June, the Portland Rose Festival rolls out with a month of events, including a city fair, concerts and two parades, one of which is the second biggest floral parade in the U.S. There’s also The Annual Spring Rose Show, which is the largest, longest-running rose show in the country, with some 4,000 blooms. Like Amsterdam, Portland is a fantastic city for exploring on a bike, cycling from one craft brewery to the next.
Where to stay: Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain
One might not associate darling buds with Arizona’s dry climate, but they’ve got blooms all their own. Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden boasts more than 4,000 desert plant species. On a self-guided tour see flowering cacti, poppies and yellow evening primroses, which all begin blooming in April. A hot air balloon ride is another way to take in the landscape.
This feature originally appeared in Huffington Post.