This spring, ditch the same old tired vacay spots and travel to one of these underrated and relaxing locales. Whether you have a whole week to roam or you’re just taking a long weekend, you deserve to go somewhere interesting as well as relaxing. Here are a few of our picks:
Destination for: Architecture and Eating
Feel the Atlantic breeze as you stroll down the cobblestone streets of one of the nation’s prettiest cities. A trip down Rainbow Row will show you some of the oldest and most colorful homes, a perfect intro to the charm of Charleston.
The city has been serving up delicious food for ages, but a new wave of chefs has made Charleston a hub in the resurgence of Southern cooking. Lowcountry classics like shrimp and grits are a can’t-miss, and be sure to check out some of the modern takes on old-school dishes.
National Cherry Blossom Festival, DC
Destination for: Sightseeing and Museums
Not everyone can make it to the Land of the Rising Sun to see Japanese cherry blossoms (“sakura”) in full and legendary bloom. Luckily, a 1912 gift from the mayor of Tokyo has been bringing cherry blossoms to our nation’s capital ever since. The gifted trees line the shores of the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park and put on a stunning display each spring.
If the blossoms themselves fall victim to pesky frost, you’ll still be able to celebrate in style. The National Cherry Blossom Festival, which runs mid-March through mid-April, includes art exhibits, performances, a “Pink-Tie Party,” the Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival, a parade and more. Be sure to try your hand at “hanami,” the Japanese art of picnicking under the trees.
For your indoor-fun fix, the National Mall is just a skip away so you’ll be able to jot into one of the many wonderful museums DC has to offer—The Smithsonian National Air & Space is a go-to, and the newly opened Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture gets excellent reviews.
Destination for: The Arts, Wide Open Spaces and Those Who Want to Believe
With fewer than 2,000 full-time residents, this unique Texas town boasts one of the most impressive per capita art collections in the country. Galleries abound—current exhibitions include minimalist Donald Judd and Andy Warhol—and outdoor installations interact with the vast fields and blue skies, giving this small town a special feel.
One of the biggest attractions, however, defies a frame or exhibition. The Marfa Lights—colored beams that move across the night sky—are a mystery even to locals. Perfect if you want to add a little Area 51 flair to your spring break.
Sonoma County, CA
Destination for: Wine Aficionados, Beer Nerds
If you’re looking to go straight to the source of the best vino, you couldn’t do much better than Sonoma County in the Golden State. The area is world-renowned for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and the same climate that keeps the grapes happy is sure to put a smile on your face, too. Tasting and touring options are extensive, so feel free to play it by ear or see who specializes in your favorite varietals. Ravenswood, J Vineyards, Benziger and Hop Kiln are all solid options to get you started.
Speaking of hops, Sonoma’s breweries are also at the top of their game. Be sure to stop by Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa to try the infamous, hop-loaded Pliny the Elder, sample some of their wine-barrel-aged sours and snack on West Coast flatbreads. Swing around the corner to Moonlight Brewing to cleanse the palate with their crisp lagers. Sonoma taps are also sure to be flowing with brews from local heavy-hitters Lagunitas and Bear Republic.