The Best Southeastern US Destinations to Visit in the Spring

Azaleas on path in spring in Savannah, Georgia
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Celebrate spring at a spectacular destination in the Southeastern United States. From flower gardens bursting with spring color and tranquil mountain retreats to several of America's top golf courses, beach resorts, and vibrant cities, these spring trip ideas offer several options for fun, including wonderful Easter celebrations, Memorial Day weekend getaways, annual spring festivals, and more.

01 of 09

Charleston, South Carolina

Springtime azalea (Rhododendron) blooming in Middleton Plantation, Charleston, South Carolina, USA

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The BB&T Charleston Wine and Food Festival kicks off in March with an array of deliciously fun events. Mid-March brings the peak blooming season and the annual Festival of Houses and Gardens, plus the prestigious Charleston International Antiques Show. In late March, visitors may enjoy Charleston Fashion Week.

The annual Festival of Houses and Gardens continues into April, while food lovers may enjoy the yearly one-day Lowcountry Cajun Festival. Also in early April, the popular annual Cooper River Bridge Run attracts a diverse crowd from across South Carolina and beyond.

Mexico comes to downtown Charleston in May during the Cinco de Mayo Festival. Beginning in late May and continuing into June, Spoleto Festival USA, Charleston's most popular festival and established as one of the world's major arts festivals, fills historic theaters, churches, and outdoor spaces with more than 120 performances by renowned artists as well as emerging performers in an array of disciplines.

02 of 09

Callaway Gardens, Georgia

Yellow fruited holly berries with a defocused blurry background with red fruited hollies provide copy space. This image was shot at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain Georgia USA

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Callaway Gardens, a secluded all-season resort, is spectacular during the spring, featuring a stunning collection of azaleas, mountain laurel, dogwoods, daffodils, and daisies. A wonderful choice for both family and romantic getaways, an array of activities includes options for exploring nature, enjoying wholesome outdoor activities, and much more.

The annual Spring Flowerfest at Callaway Gardens offers a number of special events including hands-on activities, educational experiences, and stimulating guided hikes. While the vibrant display of springtime azaleas is an annual Callaway Gardens highlight, visitors can enjoy many other blossoms and activities as well. Also in bloom around Callaway Gardens are dogwoods, crabapples, daffodils, and tulips, which you can see while biking around the premises or taking a serene boat ride on the lake.

Easter at Callaway Gardens is always special, offering a weekend of family activities in a spectacular setting. Easter celebrations include the ever-popular Easter "Eggstravaganza" Egg Hunt for candy and prize eggs takes place on the Saturday before Easter. Even the Easter Bunny visits during specified hours for Easter photo ops. A non-denominational Easter Sunrise Service starts the day on Easter Sunday, followed by the popular annual Easter Brunch Buffet.

03 of 09

Louisville, Kentucky

USA, Kentucky, Churchill Downs, Kentucky Derby

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Home of the time-honored Kentucky Derby, held each year on the first Saturday in May, Louisville is a great springtime destination. In addition to the actual race, Louisville bursts into celebration during the weeks preceding the Derby with the annual Kentucky Derby Festival, which offers something for everyone with over 70 events including Thunder Over Louisville, the largest fireworks spectacular in North America.

A few other fun spring events in Louisville include the Humana Festival of New American Plays in March and April, the annual Cherokee Triangle Art Fair in April, and Abbey Road on the River in May, the largest Beatles tribute festival in the U.S.

04 of 09

Asheville, North Carolina

Biltmore Estate Gardens

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Asheville is known as the "Cradle of Forestry," and there's no better time to visit this garden-friendly city than spring. The most popular place to take in the season is at Biltmore Estate, where thousands of tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and other flowers take center stage. The warming temperatures of the season are ideal for enjoying a full schedule of special springtime activities and exploring the 8,000 acres of this magnificent country home, which still belongs to the Vanderbilts. On-site activities include float trips, carriage rides, horseback riding, off-road Land Rover adventures, kayaking, hiking, and much more.

From March to May, Biltmore Blooms offers a variety of events for all ages featuring exquisite floral displays of tulips, azaleas, and other spring flowers in a beautiful setting surrounded by the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains. Estate restaurants feature special menu items, and the winery offers wine seminars (with tastings, of course).

Biltmore is one of the most dramatic displays, but it's not the only one. The North Carolina Arboretum is home to 434 acres of Appalachian flora and offers not only cultivated gardens but also 10 miles of hiking trails. And just outside of Asheville you can take a drive along one of the most scenic routes in the country, the Blue Ridge Parkway, which usually hits peak bloom around late April to mid-May. These are just a few of the many outdoor getaways in Asheville's backyard, making this city a perfect springtime destination.

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05 of 09

Alexandria and Mount Vernon, Virginia

Mount Vernon, Home of George Washington

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Steeped in history and charm, Old Town Alexandria is a wonderful destination with each season offering something unique. Equally appealing to couples, families, and pet lovers, Alexandria is an ideal home base while exploring the many sights of the area. The King Street Metro Station—part of the Washington public transit system—provides convenient service to Washington, D.C., Arlington National Cemetery, and more.

Old Town gets a jump on St. Patrick's Day with a fun-filled parade and events, usually held a week or two before actual St. Paddy's Day (so it doesn't coincide with the event in D.C.).

To celebrate Virginia Garden Week, Alexandria offers tours of privately owned homes, gardens, and historic properties throughout mid-April. George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate features several events throughout the spring.

During the spring, two of only three annual public memorial services take place at Arlington National Cemetery, including an Easter Sunrise Service and a Memorial Day Service.

The nearby nation's capital offers fantastic sightseeing and wonderful spring events, including the National Cherry Blossom Festival, White House Garden Tours, and the White House Easter Egg Roll.

06 of 09

Stone Mountain Park, Georgia

Stone Mountain Cherokee Trail

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If you're traveling around the Southeast with kids, then check out Spring Fun Break at Georgia's popular Stone Mountain Park. This annual event usually takes place during the week leading up to Easter since many local schools have that week off for spring break, and it features kids' activities galore and great family fun for all ages. On Easter Sunday, many visitors enjoy attending the annual Easter Sunrise Services.

If you don't make it in time for spring break activities, the park has plenty going on for the Memorial Day long weekend as well. Stone Mountain Park celebrates the American spirit with entertainment, music, activities, and above all, the ever-popular Lasershow Spectacular.

07 of 09

Richmond, Virginia

Richmond, Virginia Cityscape

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Richmond offers a convenient Virginia location near many popular attractions and gardens. Kings Dominion theme park is just north of Richmond, while Colonial Williamsburg and America's Historic Triangle are about an hour's drive to the southeast.

If your spring vacation to Richmond happens to coincide with Easter weekend, there are a few extra special holiday events to sweeten the trip. On the Saturday of Easter weekend, the Maymont Victorian Estate is filled with holiday activities for children, including an "Egg-cellent" Egg Hunt, bonnet making, storytelling, carriage rides, baby animals, and visits with the Easter Bunny. Across town at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Easter weekend activities include photo ops with Peter Rabbit, storytelling, Easter Sunday brunch in the Tea House, a concert performed by the Richmond Concert Band, and more.

One of Richmond's most popular annual holiday celebrations is the Easter on Parade. This Easter festival along Monument Avenue on Easter Sunday brings an array of Easter bonnets plus live music, clowns, crafts, and food vendors.

08 of 09

Savannah, Georgia

Spanish Moss, Street, Savannah, Georgia, America

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A city of historic park squares, elegant fountains, and moss-draped live oaks, Savannah welcomes spring with several traditions. From March until May, visitors can enjoy an array of events, beginning with Savannah's St. Patrick's Day Celebration, the city's largest annual celebration and the second largest in the nation.

Other fun spring events include the Savannah Music Festival, which is one of the largest music festivals in the Southeast, and the NOGS Tour of Homes and Gardens in mid-April, sponsored by the Garden Club of Savannah.

Beginning in March, many visitors enjoy First Saturday on the River each month along historic River Street featuring arts and crafts, entertainment, and fun for all ages. More River Street fun takes place on the first Friday of each month during First Friday Fireworks on the River.

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09 of 09

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Sea oats and small beach fences are illuminated at sunrise on a beach on Hilton Head Island, SC

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Hilton Head is world-renowned for its pristine beaches, abundant golf courses, superb tennis facilities, and picturesque seascapes, salt marshes, lagoons, tall pine forests, magnolias, and majestic moss-draped oaks. Hilton Head Island attracts approximately 2.5 million annual visitors, and it's a wonderful spring destination before the crowds and humidity of summer arrive. Spring visitors can enjoy comfortable daytime temperatures and cool nights, usually ideal for brisk walks on the beach, golf, tennis, biking, horseback riding, and many other outdoor activities

There are also more than a few seasonal festivals going on in the springtime, many of which revolve around food. Wingfest is in March, followed by the Hilton Head Island Seafood Festival in April. But the biggest culinary event in the area is the Hilton Head Island Wine and Food Festival, one of the largest outdoor wine-tasting events on the East Coast.

Golf lovers can check out the RBC Heritage, South Carolina’s only PGA Tour event. It's played at the world-renowned Harbour Town Golf Links in The Sea Pines Resort each year. If your tastes lean more towards music, head to the Hilton Head Island International Piano Competition, which highlights established concert pianists and rising young stars.

Easter Egg Eggstravaganza is the annual Easter celebration at Shelter Cove Park and is geared toward families with activities and games like egg hunts and pictures with the Easter bunny.