Each year as March fades into April, acres of Indian paintbrush and Mexican poppies blossom across Arizona's Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park. It is one of America's best spots to watch the desert bloom each spring-and it's just an hour outside of Phoenix.
For much of the country that has spent this lingering winter cooped up indoors, once the weather begins to warm, the urge to take off for some long weekend getaways can be overwhelming-so why resist?
We've planned easy weekend getaways from major U.S. cities to help you take advantage of the rising temperatures. Each itinerary includes suggestions for where to stay, eat, and play.
Sporty types can ditch D.C. to watch a horse race in Middleburg, VA, or chant "Hey batter batter" during spring training in Port St. Lucie, FL. Since state and national parks are most crowded later in the year, a weekend getaway in spring is an especially peaceful time for nature lovers to stretch their legs, be it for a hike through Franconia Notch in New Hampshire's White Mountains, close to Boston; a wildflower tour around red rock formations at California's Pinnacles; or a kayak around Maine's Acadia National Park.
Browse these spring getaways, and sign up for T+L's weekend getaways email newsletter for more warmer weather ideas.
Tom Bean / Alamy
Hiking Pinnacles National Park, CA
Getaway from: San Francisco, Los Angeles
Formed more then 23 million years ago, the red rocks at this year-old national park, in California's Steinbeck country, rival Sedona's. But Pinnacles is more than just rock formations: between March and May, 80 percent of the scrubby plants that surround the rocky landscape are in bloom. Use the park's western entrance to get to the High Peaks Trail, a 5.5-mile round-trip hike among eerie volcanic-remnant rock spires, blooming lupines, and springtime poppies. The park also draws bird-watchers for its endangered condor and raptor populations.
Watch Mermaids Swim in Weeki Wachee Springs, FL
Getaway from: Miami, Atlanta
Weeki Wachee Springs is a quirky Old Florida oddity where for more than 60 years mermaids (a.k.a. a troupe of aquatic acrobats in mermaid-like tails) perform Esther Williams-esque routines entirely underwater in a giant hot-spring-fed aquarium pool. There are also bird shows and a river cruise included in the entry fee, but the kitschy show is the main lure at this one-of-a-kind amusement park.
National Geographic Image Collection
Port St. Lucie Spring Training, FL
Getaway from: Miami
Burgeoning A-Rods can pick up tips during the spring training season in Port St. Lucie, FL, when the New York Mets are in temporary residence. It all goes down at Tradition Field, which seats up to 7,000 and is only minutes from the PGA Village golf complex with its 54 holes. Join other like-minded fans over a beer and hot dog and take it all in. See the New York Mets baseball team practice at Digital Domain Park in March; there's also a local minor-league team, the St. Lucie Mets, which plays from April on.