Who doesn't love flowers? In addition to the fact that they're beautiful and (mostly) smell great, they make great photographic subjects, gifts and decoration, to name just a few of their uses. They also add a fun, colorful flair to many of the world's most popular destinations, from Japan's cherry blossom festivals in the spring, to rolling fields of blooming lavender during the summer in the south of France.
No matter when or where you want to travel, chances are there'll be some beautiful flowers blooming to perfume your trip. Here's a look at some of the most amazing flower tourism destinations around the world.
Bluebonnets in the Texas Hill Country
Even if you're not a native Texan, it's difficult to deny the beauty of the the bluebonnet, the state's official flower. Bluebonnets carpet the ground all over Texas during March and April, a spectacle that's particularly gorgeous in the aptly named Hill Country to the west of Austin and San Antonio.
A word of caution: While bluebonnets are beautiful and fun for the whole family, they're also a natural rattlesnake habitat. As a result, you should match sure the patch you want to take pics in is free and clear before you or your children scurry around in it.
Jacaranda in Pretoria, South Africa
You might've heard that South Africa has three capitals, but chances are you didn't know that Pretoria is one of them. Indeed, Pretoria is a city even South Africans tend to be ambivalent about, although they certainly know of its existence.
One thing about Pretoria that's anything but apathy-inducing, however, is the bright purple display of Jacaranda flowers that takes over the city every spring. Even if you don't plan to spend a lot of time in Pretoria, it's worth at least a day trip from Johannesburg in the spring months.
Japan's Cherry Blossoms
Cherry blossoms are much more than one of Japan's national symbols—among Japanese, cherry blossom viewing (officially known as "hanami") is practically a ritual and draws crowds that might seem more befitting of a major sporting event or Mariah Carey concert. Starting in Okinawa as early as January and continuing into late May in far northern Hokkaido, cherry blossom season is the perfect time to spend three weeks in Japan—or longer.
You should keep in mind, as the time of your visit to Japan approaches, that cherry blossoms can be fickle, in spite of how dedicated the teams who create the national sakura blooming forecast tend to be. A late freeze (or early warm day) can push the opening of the blossoms (and thus their "peak") backward or forward a few days, so leave some wiggle room in your itinerary to avoid disappointment.
Lavender Fields in the South of France
If you've ever walked by a L'Occitance en Provence store at the mall, or seen their advertisements in a magazine, then you've probably seen the image of lavender fields extending as far as the eye can see, to say nothing of their delightfully pervasive perfume. If you head to the south of France (specifically, the countryside just outside the city of Aix-en-Provence) in July or August, these advertisements come to life in delightful 3D reality.
Wisteria Tunnel in Kyushu, Japan
Japan, as you'll notice if you read TripSavvy with any regularity, is a common fixture among writers. When you walk through the Wisteria tunnel, on the country's southernmost big island of Kyushu, you'll understand why it deserves a separate entry, apart from the sakura. Indeed, Japanese wisteria is only a fraction as ubiquitous as cherry blossoms: The Wisteria tunnel is confined to a random public park not far from Fukuoka, a city you've likely never heard of before now.
Bangkok, Thailand's Flower Market
Of the many entries on this flowery list so far, all have concerned live flowers. Although the flowers at Pak Khlong Talat, a massive flower market (and the world's only 24-hour one, as of this writing) in Bangkok's Thailand are technically dead, you can't walk through the market's lively stalls, day or night, and feel any less than totally revitalized.
Another great thing about Pak Khlong Talat is how cheap it is. Cheap enough, in fact, that you can buy flowers there to decorate your hotel room for the duration of your stay and hardly notice the amount you've spent.