The Best Places to Travel in April
In April, signs of spring are all around us — warmer days, daffodils poking their yellow petals through the soil, and in a few places, cherry blossoms. Winter sports lovers: there’s still snow in northern locales including Lake Tahoe, where you can end the season in style before stowing away your gear.
Along with comfortable spring temperatures comes the urge to enjoy the outdoors, and what better place to satisfy that wish than state and national parks? A trip to Tucson’s mountains and deserts would fit the bill, and St. George in Utah combines natural beauty with artistic creations at their annual Art Festival in April. In South Carolina, Palmetto Bluff offers mild temperatures and much to do on both land and water, with a golf course, shooting club, equestrian stables, as well as a river and wetlands for fishing and boating.
If flowers are a sure indication of the season for you, cherry blossoms in Japan’s Aomori Prefecture will send their message loud and clear. Closer to home, Toronto’s Sakura cherry blossoms usually appear by late April. In Wilmington, North Carolina, spring brings azaleas, celebrated in their annual Azalea Festival from April 3-7 with concerts, parades, and other events to welcome the season.
You can have your summer a bit early with a trip to Grand Cayman where warm, dry weather will provide the perfect backdrop for water sports or just lounging on the beach. On Florida’s Gulf Coast, Dunedin’s beaches, state parks, and jazz age heritage make this a unique spring destination. Get to California’s Newport Beach before summer crowds to enjoy the shore and last month of the gray whale migration.
If there’s time for a longer trip, Western Australia’s early autumn brings beach weather and a quirky street arts festival in Fremantle, a short trip from Perth. April is an excellent time to visit Venice, and for fans of cruising, Crystal Cruises offers Mediterranean adventures with Venice shore excursions designed to meet everyone’s interests.
Visiting a new destination or returning to a favorite one somehow both relaxes and energizes us. You might find that a springtime trip can be as refreshing as an April shower.
Spring promises pleasant temperatures in the low 80s with cool nights and sunny days. It’s the perfect time to explore Saguaro National Park, named for Tucson’s large cacti, which have become a symbol of the American West. The park offers hiking and mountain biking trails, camping, and the chance to see petroglyphs left by the ancient Hohokam people. Tucson’s Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum includes a zoo, aquarium, botanical garden, natural history museum, and art gallery. From April 10-21, Tucson welcomes the 28th Arizona International Film Festival to venues throughout the city. The annual event includes children’s films, documentaries, animation, and both short and feature-length movies. The Tucson International Mariachi Conference will be held from April 24-27, with workshops and three public concerts. For an authentic Old West experience with luxury amenities, a stay at Tanque Verde Ranch combines both. Located on 60,000 acres of breathtaking desert landscape adjacent to Saguaro National Park, the Ranch offers horseback riding, mountain biking, fishing, hiking, children’s activities, and LaSonora Spa. It's your last chance in 2019 to try a unique Under Canvas Tucson glamping experience at Tanque Verde Ranch before it closes on April 21. In deluxe tents with en-suite bathrooms and comfortable furnishings, guests will enjoy “camping” in style, with full access to ranch activities and amenities that include an outdoor pool, fitness center, dining, tennis, hot tubs, and more.
Located on the northern tip of Honshu Island, Aomori is among the best places in Japan for viewing cherry blossoms in late April through early May. Travel + Leisure’s 2018 Destination of the Year, Japan offers hot springs, mountain vistas, beautiful castles, and spectacular cherry trees in full bloom each year. In Aomori Prefecture, the Hirosaki Sakura-Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival attracts visitors who enjoy the colorful blooms from boats, under tunnels of trees, or illuminated at night. The nearly 3,000 trees are pruned in a unique way that produces lush flowers whose weight causes the trees’ branches to bend gracefully. The area also includes the Sannai-Maruyama Ruins, an archaeological discovery of structures and artifacts dating back 5,500 years and the Aomori Museum of Art which features contemporary Japanese works as well as traditional international art. The Nebuta Museum focuses on Aomori’s August Nebuta festivals, with displays of colorful floats, parade videos, and bright paintings, the next best thing to actually being at the event. For local culture, relaxation, authentic Japanese dining, and apple-scented baths fed by the Owani Hot Spring, visit Hoshino Resorts KAI Tsugaru, a hot spring ryokan, located 50 minutes by train from Aomori Airport.
Newport Beach, California
Set along California’s Orange County Coast about 45 miles south of Los Angeles and 90 miles north of San Diego, Newport Beach is home to spectacular beaches and plentiful waterways for boating. April usually marks the last month of gray whale migration when thousands of gray whales head back to the Bering Sea after spending winter in the warm lagoons of Baja California. The gray whales, along with dolphins and other whale species, can be seen on boat trips from Newport Landing and often from the coast as they pass. The 20th Newport Beach Film Festival is set for April 25-May 2, 2019, featuring the best of classic and contemporary films from around the world. Entertainment abounds, even while the weather may still be a bit cool for swimming at the beach. The Balboa Fun Zone is an old-fashioned amusement park with rides and games. Shopping is a favorite pastime, with Fashion Island, Crystal Cove Shopping Center, boutiques, surf shops, and more. Lido House, Autograph Collection, on the site of the former city hall, offers a spa, pool, dining, comfortable guestrooms, suites, and private three-level cottages, each exquisitely decorated by a local designer. The newly updated waterfront Balboa Bay Resort features modern furnishings, spa, pool, and casual elegant style.
Lake Tahoe, Nevada & California
Split between two states, Lake Tahoe is a year-round recreation area — a stunning blue lake surrounded by huge pines, mountain peaks, and miles of spectacular scenery. April is a season of transition with daytime temperatures reaching the 50s and chilly nights. Crowds thin as ski season draws to a close, but it’s not too late to get in a few more downhill runs or cross-country treks through the snow. On the south shore of the lake, spring skiing at Heavenly Mountain continues until April 21, with 30 lifts, two snowboard parks, and the Heavenly Gondola which travels over two miles to an observation deck for panoramic views of the lake and mountains. The Lodge at Edgewood Tahoe, a lakefront resort, provides a courtesy shuttle to Heavenly Mountain as well as a year-round heated pool and hot tub, spa, and luxury accommodations with fireplaces, terraces, and balconies. On the northern end of the lake, skiing at Northstar California Resort continues until April 14. Nearby Truckee also offers dog sledding, showshoeing, snowmobiling, ice skating, and tubing in addition to its historic downtown for shopping and dining. The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe, located mid-mountain on Northstar, provides elegant surroundings, spa, and ski-in/ski-out convenience with mountain concierge services.
Tucked along the Gulf Coast of Florida lies the city of Dunedin, a quaint and vibrant waterfront community. It is unique for its colorful landscaping and deep roots in the arts, as well as its Celtic culture. Dunedin is home to Honeymoon Island, one of Florida’s most beloved state parks, with over four miles of white sand beaches, an abundance of wildlife, and outdoor activities including fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and more. The Island even features a pet beach for you to enjoy with your four-legged friends. Guests can take the ferry from Honeymoon Island to Caladesi Island, another notable state park, and one of the few completely natural, untouched islands along Florida’s Gulf Coast. Have a drink at Dunedin Brewery, the state’s oldest microbrewery, to experience world-class beers, delicious food, and live entertainment. In April, the Dunedin Blue Jays begin their season when the Toronto Blue Jays complete spring training, giving locals the chance to cheer for their team. Home to the county’s first radio station, the recently renovated Fenway Hotel is the perfect place to stay to take in the musical heritage of the jazz age and to enjoy Hi-Fi, its rooftop bar with island and sunset views. The boutique hotel also offers tai-chi programming through the Taoist Tai Chi Society’s International Center for guests and locals alike. There is something for everyone in Dunedin, but if you can’t find it there, you’re just a short ride away from Clearwater, St. Petersburg, and Tampa.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Spring arrives with temperatures in the mid-50s, most welcome after a cold winter along Lake Ontario. Visitors and residents wait for the arrival of the Sakura cherry blossoms in the city’s High Park, usually in full bloom in late April and early May. From April 25-May 5, Toronto is home to Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary festival which includes conference sessions and educational services in addition to films from around the world. The Hot Docs Cinema, a restored century-old theater, and other downtown venues will present the films and festival events. Toronto’s Casa Loma, once the extravagant castle-inspired home of Sir Henry Pellatt until financial misfortunes led him to sell his ornate mansion, was the filming location for more than 20 major movies including "X-Men," "Chicago," "Cocktail," "Goosebumps," and a recent remake of the "Rocky Horror Picture Show." The restored estate is now open to the public with tours of its lavishly furnished rooms, a restaurant, and wedding venue. Downtown Toronto’s Rogers Centre, originally called SkyDome, is home to Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays. The season will be in full swing in April following opening day on March 28. Explore Toronto’s varied food scene with a fun and friendly tour through Culinary Adventure Co. and discover different neighborhoods while sampling local specialties. Lodging in Toronto includes The Delta, with views of Lake Ontario, CN Tower, and Rogers Center as well as the luxurious Ritz-Carlton and recently renovated St. Regis.
Perth, Western Australia
It’s autumn down under, but temperatures are in the comfortable 70s, and miles of beaches welcome swimmers and snorkelers to warm, clear waters. It’s a perfect time to explore the city as well as the shores. Kings Park, one of the world’s largest inner city parks, would be a great place to start, with views of the skyline and Swan River. Visit the Perth Cultural Centre to learn about the area’s history, arts, and culture or explore Elizabeth Quay’s waterpark, playground, and cafes. Just about 11 miles and a ferry ride from Perth is Rottnest Island, car-free and home to 63 beaches, 20 bays, bike trails, snorkeling, coral reefs, and the island’s cute, friendly native marsupial, the quokka. Discovery Eco Village, opening in March 2019, will offer accommodations ranging from luxury glamping to affordable family tents. A short train trip, drive, or cruise down the Swan River takes visitors to Fremantle, a vibrant, historic port city with restaurants, bars, boutiques, aboriginal art, and a carnival atmosphere on weekends. From April 19-22, the Fremantle International Street Arts Festival expands its local entertainment culture, showcasing wild and wacky open-air theater, music, and comedy along with alfresco dining and pop-up bars.
Wilmington, North Carolina
This city along the Cape Fear River near the Atlantic coast was incorporated in 1739, and Victorian mansions can still be seen from horse-drawn carriage tours through its historic district. The Bellamy Mansion Museum in downtown Wilmington is an excellent example of antebellum architecture, and its carriage house and original home are open for visitors. Airlie Gardens, a 67-acre property featuring native flora and fauna, a butterfly house, and walking paths, is another inviting Wilmington venue. History fans will also enjoy a tour of the Battleship North Carolina moored in the Cape Fear River and open for the public to learn about its role in World War II. Spring weather in the high 60s most days makes it a pleasure to be outdoors, and the annual Azalea Festival from April 3-7 celebrates the new season with concerts, art shows, entertainment, culinary events, galas, beer gardens, parade, and fireworks over the Cape Fear River on April 6. North Carolina has earned the title of “Hollywood of the East” based on the many TV shows and movies that have been filmed there to take advantage of the state’s tax incentives. Wilmington has been home to productions of Dawson’s Creek, One Tree Hill, Ironman 3, and others. Area beaches include Wrightsville Beach, popular for water sports, as well as Carolina Beach with its boardwalk and retro style.
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, Caribbean
Winter crowds start to thin in April, and the weather is perfect — warm and dry, with cooling trade winds, well before the rainy season that starts in late May. Beaches, turquoise seas, duty-free shopping, nightlife, island cuisine, and luxurious resorts attract visitors to the Caymans. Grand Cayman is the largest of the three islands, boasting the award-winning Seven Mile Beach on the island’s west side. Snorkeling among the coral reefs, scuba diving, paddle boarding, fishing, kitesurfing, and boating are popular activities, and there’s history to explore as well. The 18th-century Pedro St. James, an authentic home and the oldest building on Grand Cayman, is open for tours of its expansive grounds and cottages. The Cayman Crystal Caves will fascinate with their stalactites and stalagmite formations, and adventure seekers will find hiking, horseback riding, biking trails, and rainforests to explore. Stingray City, where visitors can wade on sandbars among Atlantic stingrays, is a popular attraction, and for golfers, there are courses at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and the North Sound Club. About an hour by plane from Miami, Grand Cayman is served by non-stop flights from many other cities as well. The Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spa on Seven Mile Beach boasts an open-air design and dazzling sunsets that inspired their name.
St. George, Utah
Located in the southwest corner of Utah in the Mojave Desert just 120 miles from Las Vegas, St. George has a warm climate year-round, significantly hotter than the rest of Utah. The city is known for its incredible outdoor recreation, arts, and proximity to several state and national parks. Just minutes from downtown St. George is Snow Canyon State Park, with its stunning red, orange, and pink rocks. Visitors to nearby Zion National Park can hike up Angels Landing, rent bikes to ride along one of the park’s many trails, and even relax and watch a movie at the Zion Canyon Theatre. This year, the 40th annual St. George Art Festival will be held in the Town Square April 19-20. The event showcases thousands of original works of art from sculptures, to paintings, photography, and everything in between. In addition to the stunning art displays, festival goers can enjoy live musical performances and eat delicious foods from a diverse selection of vendors. At the Kid’s Creation Station, children join in a variety of creative activities. The Red Rock Golf Trail is a golf enthusiast’s paradise, and the St. George Tourism Office has created a golf getaway trip planner with all the information needed to explore the area’s spectacular golf courses. Red Mountain Resort, ideally located among red rock cliffs and canyons, would be a perfect home base for exploring St. George as well as a place to enjoy luxury, comfort, and the resort’s wellness programs.
Bluffton, South Carolina
Spring temperatures average in the mid-70s, and there’s much to do outdoors in this South Carolina Lowcountry town. About 25 miles from Savannah and 95 miles from Charleston, Bluffton is set among ponds, lakes, wetlands, and the May River. Visitors can explore by kayak, canoe, paddleboard, or boat to take advantage of the area’s waters. On land, there are miles of trails that meander among woods, along the river, and through parks and neighborhoods, inviting bicycling, walking, and jogging to enjoy the changing scenes. Palmetto Bluff, a 20,000-acre vacation and residential community, includes the elegant Montage Palmetto Bluff with rooms, suites, cottages, and homes where guests enjoy an array of amenities. A nature preserve, marina, restaurants, Spa Montage, equestrian stables, Shooting Club, and May River Golf Club provide something for everyone to do. At the end of the day, visitors have their choice of places to relax with a cocktail from the hotel’s Octagon Bar & Lounge to River House Lounge where they can warm up or roast marshmallows around a fire pit. The Artist in Residence Program, a collaboration between Garden & Gun and Palmetto Bluff, in April hosts Cocktail & Sons, makers of handcrafted cocktail syrups. Each month, visitors can learn from a different creative resident of the Artist Cottage.
April is one of the best times to visit this romantic city of canals and history. The weather is pleasant, and the summer tourist season and humidity are still months away. Start exploring in St. Mark’s Square, named for the patron saint of Venice who is symbolized by a winged lion holding a bible. On April 25, Venice celebrates St. Mark’s feast day with the Festa di San Marco featuring a gondolier regatta and other festivities in St. Mark’s Square. Doges Palace on St. Mark’s Square offers not only a glimpse of the city’s fascinating history, but also its art and architecture. Museums include the Gallerie dell’Accademia, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, and many others. Music lovers will find church concerts and opera at famed Teatro La Fenice. A gondola ride is traditional for most visitors, but a ride on a vaporetto, Venice’s public transportation, is a fun and economical way to get around. Strolling among the canals and small bridges, dining on cichetti, Venice’s version of small plates, and enjoying the view from the Rialto Bridge are all memorable experiences for visitors. Cruise fans aboard a Crystal Cruises ship have several Venice excursions to choose from, including a guided walking tour and a motor launch through the lagoon and islands. Aboard the Crystal Serenity, guests can board in Venice and sail to Athens or begin their cruise in Monaco and end in Venice — just a few of Crystal’s Mediterranean cruise offerings.