The best fields, farms, and festivals to view amazing floral spectacles across the U.S.
After a wet and chilly winter, the spring brings a splash of color to landscapes across the country, making everything feel brighter. The days get longer and the sun stays out later as petals begin to pop up from the soil, the snow, or even the sand in a kaleidoscope of colors. From the iconic flower fields at Carlsbad Ranch on the West Coast to the charming cherry blossoms of the nation’s capital, these are the best places and ways to celebrate springtime in the States.
Top Picks for You
Flower Festivals Worth Visiting
It’s no secret that The National Cherry Blossom Festival held in Washington, D.C., is the nation’s greatest springtime celebration. This iconic festival includes spectacular weekends and daily events commemorating the meaningful anniversary of the gift of the cherry blossom trees and the enduring friendship between the United States and Japan. At Burnside Farms in Prince William County, Virginia, the Tulip Festival of Spring means planting more than 200 varieties of tulips and 30-plus varieties of daffodils. In Brandywine Valley, Pennsylvania, the Peony Festival highlights acres upon acres of peonies each May, with more than 100 varieties and many color variations. And The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, which is about 60 miles north of Seattle, Washington, is a beautiful sight to behold each spring when more than 300 acres of various colors of tulips bloom in full color.
Flower Fields and Farms
At the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm in Oregon from March to May, visitors can explore the 200-acre flower farm and enjoy time outdoors with a picnic lunch, amongst the 100 varieties of tulips. At Veldheer Tulip Garden in Michigan, there are more than 6 million tulips and 850 different types of other plants to ogle. At Cherry Valley Lilacs in Cherry Valley, New York, a family-owned lilac farm in the town of Cherry Valley, visitors will find more than 150 varieties of lilacs—including some incredibly rare variations. The destination opens for tours during the short bloom in spring when visitors can be surrounded by rows and rows of beautiful lilacs of all different shades. Gibbs Gardens, one of the largest garden estates in the nation nestled in the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains becomes a kaleidoscope of colors when the weather warms up.
Petal Trails and Flower-Inspired Activities
Texas Wine County region hosts a Wine and Wildflower trail, where guests can sip wine and wander freely through the blooming wildflowers—it’s the best of both worlds! And Bristol Hills Lavender and Flower Farm in Bloomfield, New York, focuses on growing peonies, lavender, dahlias, and other seasonal flowers with flower workshops, wreath classes, and lavender field picnics. Summer House Lavender Farm in Fennville, Michigan hosts yoga and meditation classes to take place right next to the relaxing scented fields. In Carlsbad, California, home to the iconic Carlsbad Flower Fields, the Pedal 2 Petal adventure is a cycling adventure and a celebration of food, activities, and fun. Visitors can bike around the outdoor destination and enjoy flower-inspired offerings, including flower scavenger hunts at the lagoon, flower-powered paddleboard yoga, and more.
Botanical Gardens and Arboretums
At the San Antonio Botanical Gardens, there’s a dedicated wildflower garden that blooms seasonally. In spring and early summer at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, spy a gently sloping meadow ablaze with California poppies, and abloom with dozens of other wildflowers, all backed by the Santa Ynez Mountain range. In Rochester, New York’s Rochester’s Highland Park, visitors will find the largest collection of lilacs in the country—more than 500 varieties of lilacs in bloom on over 1,200 bushes. At the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden’s Dallas Blooms event, the largest annual floral festival in the Southwest, visitors will encounter an explosion of color from 100 varieties of spring bulbs and 500,000 spring-blooming blossoms, thousands of azaleas, and hundreds of Japanese cherry trees. Highlights include four larger-than-life peacock topiaries, 500,000 spring-blooming bulbs, and a variety of themed programming including bird talks, bird flight shows, demonstrations, and more.
Champagne and Cherry Blossoms
At The Inn at Little Washington, located at the foothills of the Shenandoah Mountains, travelers will find a 23-room inn with a three-Michelin-star restaurant sprawled across a 24-acre campus of plentiful gardens blooming with more than 12,000 tulips. In Woodstock, Vermont, at Billings Farm & Museum, step into the 20,000 square foot “Sunflower House,”—the largest in the United States. This Instagram-worthy bucket list spot opens each July 2022 and peaks in mid-August, with blooms through early September featuring thousands of sunflowers planted in a maze-like structure to form various rooms and hallways for exploring 100 total sunflower varieties. The Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C., welcomes Cherry Blossom season with a “pedal and picnic” experience, where guests can pedal through DC on the Watergate Hotel bicycles and enjoy a Veuve Clicquot themed picnic with a curated charcuterie complete with champagne under the cherry blossoms.
Flowers That Bloom in the Desert
In the Sonoran and Mojave deserts of the American Southwest, the local flora is heartily built to thrive in the most uninhabitable of environments. The spring typically brings wildflower season in Arizona, which is the best time to see some unforgettably vibrant fields of color in an area that wouldn’t be typically associated with living beauty. Many of Arizona’s rocky desert landscapes are bright with the yellow flowers of brittlebush in the spring—common, but very pretty wildflower species. The New Mexico Thistle can bloom from March through September, typically after a year of above-average rainfall. And on the barrel cactus, which can be found from the desert floor all the way up to 5,000 feet in elevation, explorers can see flowers appear in the late summer which may be yellow, orange, or red depending on the location.
The Magic Purple Carpet
Although some people may consider coastal wildflowers to be weeds, they’re actually beneficial to the environment. These beach plants put their roots deep down into the earth in search of water and secure the sand and prevent erosion. They act as a buffer between land and sea during extreme weather and provide sustenance for butterflies, birds, bees, and other insects. At Pacific Grove, the well-photographed “Magic Purple Carpet” looks like a majestic purple blanket of magenta ice plants along Ocean View Boulevard. Beach morning glory is a drought-resistant, salt-tolerant vine with white flowers displaying yellow centers found as far north Jacksonville’s Nassau County, as far south as the Florida Keys.
The Largest Rhododendron Garden in the World
The Carson National Forest just outside of Taos, New Mexico, offers incredible mountain views, dozens of hikes, and spacious fields of wildflowers. Hike the Williams Lake trail, which departs from Taos Ski Valley and features vibrant colors of flowers like Osha, yellow avens, Richardson’s geranium, Parry’s thistle, pink common yarrow, light purple Jacob’s ladder, and more. Flagstaff, Arizona, sits at 7,000 feet and boasts an abundance of places to stroll through alpine meadows, enjoy a picnic, and hike some less-traveled trails which are blooming with color. In Oregon, climb the steep switchbacks at Dog Mountain, where explorers will find breezy meadows of yellow balsamroot and enjoy panoramic views of Wind Mountain, Mt. Hood, and the Columbia River. And Roan Mountain in Bakersville, North Carolina, is home to the largest natural Rhododendron garden in the world in spring, bringing 600 acres of thousands of beautiful pink blooms.
Petals on the Prairies
Southern Idaho’s Camas Prairie experiences a magnificent bloom of purple lilies between late May and early June. The native Shoshone-Bannock and Paiute people actually used the roots of the camas lilies as a food source, and some tribal members still come to the prairie to dig for camas bulbs today. The annual Camas Lily Festival and Sho-Ban Homecoming will return in 2022 and will take place the first weekend in June with live music, dancing, and a camas lily ceremony by the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe. In Central Minnesota, experience full bloom by midsummer with blazing star, purple prairie clover, wood lily, swamp milkweed, and prairie onions as far as the eye can see.
Many don’t know that North Dakota is the top-producing state in the U.S. for sunflowers, and it’s also the top producer of the edible or “confection” sunflower seeds in the States. Each year, North Dakota Tourism publishes a handy sunflower field guide that is updated constantly and selects fields throughout the state. There are even “Be Sunny” mailboxes, which have free packs of sunflowers seeds for visitors to take home.
Floral Tours You Won't Want to Miss
To see the legendary Cherry Blossoms of the Northeast up close, embark on a bike tour with Alexandria from Pedego Electric Bikes or Unlimited Biking. And at Hartford Blooms Garden Tours starting in June, hop on an open-top, double-decker bus with five different opportunities to tour various sites around Hartford. In Ennis, Texas, there are over 40 miles of driving trails that allow motorists to see the Bluebonnet flowers from the comfort of their car while winding through scenic country roads with picturesque sights of longhorns, horses, barns, and wineries. At Bibler Gardens, Montana—a 4-acre private display garden in Kalispell, Montana—hills of blossoms overlook the Flathead Valley, the Swan Mountains, and the peaks of Glacier National Park. Blooms include tulips, daffodils, petunias, marigolds, cosmos, daylilies, hollyhocks, and more. The garden is open to the public on select dates in May, July, and August, and also for private viewings.
Cities With Spectacular Urban Blooms
The Park of Roses in Columbus, Ohio, is a 13-acre garden consisting of 11,000 roses and over 350 different rose specimens. It’s located within Whetstone Park, a city park on the banks of the winding Olentangy River, and is a hidden gem of color in the densely populated urban neighborhood of Clintonville. In Chicago, Lurie Garden is a magically secret spot tucked away inside Chicago’s Millennium Park. And every April, Newport Rhode Island hosts its annual, urban “Daffodil Days” when the city comes alive with more than 1,200,000 Daffodils. Each year toward the end of April-beginning of May, all eyes are on New Orleans City Park as spectators await the coloring of the fields. 600-plus pounds of wildflower seeds are tilled and hand-planted over dozens of acres, in a creative way to create beauty in areas that collect water and are difficult to mow, after spring showers.
Pick Your Own Flowers
Miss Effie’s Country Flowers was the first U-pick flower farm in Iowa, located just outside of the Quad Cities in Donahue and nestled in the rolling hills of farm country. Visitors trade $25 for an empty milk jug gallon with the top cut-off and some gardening sheers and are set free to wander all around the farm picking flowers and enjoying the scenery.