THE BEST PLACES TO TRAVEL IN APRIL
Beat the summer heat (and the crowds) by vacationing during the pinnacle of spring.
As temperatures start to warm up, it’s time to plan a trip that takes full advantage of the great outdoors. Right before peak summer crowds flood favorite beach destinations and temperatures skyrocket, April offers the chance to explore popular cities in the off-season, or watch an artsy neighborhood come back to life after the dark winter months.
This April, Travel + Leisure is highlighting a few of the best destinations for off-the-beaten-path getaway. In southern Italy, you’ll find cheap hotel rates that make exploring the Amalfi Coast a cinch. Meanwhile, in a less-frequented corner of Vietnam, there’s a spectacular, untouched coastline that will appeal to adventure-seeking travelers.
There are high-spirited festivals taking place in cities like New Orleans, and on stunning islands like Koh Samui and St Maarten. In each of these destinations, locals take to the streets in April to pursue good old-fashioned fun — from mass water fights to world-class jazz performances. (Never been with a super soaker on the streets of Koh Samui? Well, now’s your chance.)
Whatever your taste, the month of April is your chance to view world-class art installations, dreamy cherry blossom displays, and tropical street festivals. It’s a chance to let loose and get lost. Below, find our picks for the 15 best places to travel in April.
Sakura season only lasts for a few weeks, usually starting in the beginning of April, and it’s a time for locals to celebrate the arrival of spring. All around Kyoto, the explosion of cherry blossoms serves as a technicolor backdrop for an endless variety of festivities, ranging from an informal picnic in Ryoanji Temple to contemplative strolls along the Philosopher’s Path. For a more deluxe experience, book a room at the Ritz-Carlton Kyoto. During the month of April, the hotel’s bar will be serving a specialty Goemon cocktail that blends Japanese whiskey, Mancino Rosso, Sakura liqueur, and salted sakura and yuzu peel.
With its leafy, sophisticated neighborhoods and vibrant nightlife, the spirited Colombian capital is an ideal spot for a mid-spring escape. When you’re not admiring views of the sprawling city from a top room at the W Bogotá (which boasts a full service spa and hammam-style soaking pool), dive into more plucky neighborhoods for a fiery cocktail at Salvo Patria, or for a memorable night of salsa dancing at the always upbeat Mesa Franca.
An interactive art festival brightens up the East Coast this month, when Light City comes to Baltimore, Maryland’s new capital of cool. Over a two-week period, Charm City will host free concerts, exhibits, and dazzling outdoor light installations. In one piece, Fireflies, by the renowned ‘explosion artist’ Cai Guo-Qiang, 900 hand-assembled lanterns will be attached to 27 pedicabs, in a nod to the city’s active bike culture. Meanwhile, special concerts by artists and DJs like Grandmaster Flash, G. Love & Special Sauce, and Kimbra, will take place throughout the month.
If you’re looking for a Florida spring break getaway that isn’t Miami, consider Clearwater. Every April, the glimmering central Florida vacation spot — about an hour’s drive from Tampa — hosts the Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival (April 13 to 22), which brings together 11 of the world’s top sand sculptors for an 11-day competition that demonstrates their unique ability to form iconic towers, mythical animals, and small villages purely out of sand. Nearby, travelers can crash at the newly opened Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach, which will even offer exclusive sand sculpting classes for guests.
April is just shy of tourist season on the Amalfi Coast, making it an ideal time to visit of Italy’s most beloved coastal stretches. Sorrento is staggeringly beautiful anytime of year (some zip over from Naples for a quick lunch outing), but it’s definitely easier to experience the clifftop city, and all the surrounding little villages, before the heat of summer and the crush of crowds. You can explore the small, rocky beaches along the bottom of the city, smell jasmine on the vine, and sample some of the region’s famous limoncello. Even better, April means cheaper hotel rates at places like Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria, which offers 40 percent off select room categories this month.
It’s a fabulous time of year to find yourself in Europe’s capital of chic — and what better way to celebrate the colors of spring than at an art fair? The annual Art Paris highlights contemporary artists like Shepard Fairey and Philippe Favier alongside more obscure creators tapped from more than 20 countries in Europe. The exhibits take place inside the Grand Palais, a Beaux Arts building dating back to 1897 that features a glass-and-steel barrel-arched roof reminiscent of London’s Crystal Palace from the same era
April isn’t actually spring in Argentina — it’s fall. Which happens to be harvest season for the hundreds of vineyards that call Mendoza home. Every March through May, the region attracts more than 70,000 wine lovers to witness the gathering of the grapes in one of Argentina’s most prolific winemaking zones. In the Uco Valley, head to Casa de Uco, a 790-acre estate and luxury resort that offers travelers a firsthand glimpse of the winemaking process. Of course, since it’s a vacation, there’s also plenty of time set aside for more leisurely pursuits, like horseback rides through the vineyards and vinotherapy spa treatments.
Tilghman Island, Maryland
April is prime crabbing and fishing season out on Tilghman Island. Sticking out mid-way into the Chesapeake Bay, about two hours from Baltimore, the Wylder Hotel Tilghman Island sets the stage for rustic relaxation, with its saltwater pools, fire pits, and on-site fishermen. The latter will be able to help you navigate the highly anticipated trophy striped bass (rockfish) season, which officially gets underway April 22.
Koh Samui, Thailand
It’s safe to say that Songkran is the biggest and most important event on the Thai calendar. Known as the Thai New Year, Songkran is a five-day public holiday (this year, it stretches from April 12 to 16), during which joyful water fights break out in the streets. Don’t shy away: the splashing around is just a traditional part of the festivities. For guests who wind up at Banyan Tree Samui, there will be opportunities to enjoy the wild water slinging — including a makeshift “street market” with traditional Thai dance performers — before retreating to your own personal infinity pool for a more serene kind of soak.
April marks the beginning of Patagonia’s fall foliage season — and for anyone who hasn’t yet made it to these remote, mystical peaks along the southern fringes of Chile and Argentina, this month adds a bit of extra magic to the already spectacular scenery. Temperatures in April are mild, and there are fewer visitors on the park trails. For a real adrenaline rush, try a puma tracking safari (a six-day self-guided Jeep tour designed for spotting elusive pumas), while also staying at some of the top lodges in South America.
Like green tea? You’ll love China’s Jiangsu Province — specifically, Dongting Mountain, where an obscure strain known as biluochun is harvested. The emerald-hued, spiral-shaped leaf is the main event during the Biluochun Tea Culture and Tourism Festival, which takes place throughout April. In addition to exploring a few of the surrounding tea estates, which will set up folk art exhibits and food vendors, visitors can try their hand at picking the tea leaves from thousand-year-old bushes. In fact, specialized tea tours are even being organized to bring leaf lovers as close to the action as possible.
St. Maarten, Leeward Islands
If you assumed carnival season was over, think again. While other places like Rio and New Orleans have already wrapped up their raucous festivities, those on the island of St. Maarten are just beginning. Here, travelers will find the longest carnival celebration in the Caribbean, complete with ample Johnny cakes, hotel feasts, and island-wide parties like jouvert, which transforms the colorful streets into a flurry of tropical beats and pyrotechnics, in a day-long gathering that kicks off at 4:00 a.m. and lasts well into the following morning.
It’s the biggest agricultural event of the year in sunny, laid-back Ojai: pixie season. Over three million pounds of the petite, super sweet, pseudo-tangerines are harvested in the valley each year, and they’re celebrated all over the world (in Japan, demand is particularly high). Time your visit in April, the peak of pixie season, and enjoy heaps of the beloved citrus as they’re hauled in fresh from surrounding farms. In town, plan on stopping in at Azufor a pre-dinner pixie cocktail — and during the day, wind your way up to Ojai Olive Oil Company, where you can drizzle locally made olive oil and pixie vinegar on fresh baked bread.