Summer has arrived! Time for vacays and to get out there and explore this beautiful earth! Lately I’ve been reminiscing about one of the best travel themes I’ve done to date; my “Botanical Bonanza” of a year, visiting gorgeous floral and foliage destinations in the U.S (and Japan)! The gloriousness of the earth candy that awaited me was nothing short of spectacular. What a gorgeous year…
To do a full year of botanical bonanzary, Spring is the obvious start. My first stop was the AMAZING Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA, not far from home. It is incredible! Rows and rows and rows of the most beautiful ranunculus flowers you’ve ever seen. You can take tractor rides around the farm, enjoy a strawberry shortcake as you take in the view or get your perfect selfie. It doesn’t hurt to take 2 of the cutest kids in the world (proud Auntie). Or your Bestie! Mid-March to May is a good time to see the flower fields.
Next stop was my #1 favorite spring destination, the Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival! I got a chance to see the blooms in Tokyo, Kyoto, Himeji and Hiroshima! So gorgeous. These fleeting beauties only last for about 2 weeks, generally in late March, so it’s tricky to catch them when you live so far away. You can check out my write ups on the cherry blossoms here. Another great place to visit an epic Cherry Blossom Festival is Washington D.C.
When I got home, I barely had the chance to unpack before it was time to sneak up to Washington state and see the world-famous Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. Talk about earth candy! The colors are so rich, the tulips are so healthy looking and wow, even the rainy/stormy days are gorgeous. Towards the end of March, they have amazing daffodil fields. But the winner is still the tulips. This festival runs the month of April, but weather lately has been complicating the peak predictions. It wasn’t until the first week of May that these flowers made their debut. I didn’t quite catch PEAK peak, but it was close.
You may think Spring has all the flower power, but summer has its charms too. Wildflower season can be incredible, and one of the best places in the U.S. for wildflowers is in North Carolina. The best destination for blooms is Asheville and the infamous Biltmore Estate. The original estate covered 125,000 acres (now down to 8,000) and they are well known not only for the incredible estate, but for their impeccable gardens. I’ll have to do a separate post on this place because it is one of the most amazing attractions in the U.S. In May they are known for their azaleas, but you can check out their calendar for all the “Biltmore Blooms” throughout the year.
The surrounding areas of Asheville are also just as stunning to behold when the flowers are out. You’ll drive down the highway and find yourself having to pull over to see the wildflowers growing alongside the roads. My favorite stop was the Flowering Bridge at Lake Lure.
Wildflower season is not over! But at this point in the year, you’ll have to go up, up and up to find them. Turns out, my beloved National Park system has some celebrity wildflower destinations such as Mt. Rainier National Park. This is a famous destination for wildflowers, and it is quite unique because they don’t even bloom until late July and August! With an elevation of 14,411 feet, the snow in the accessible parts of the mountain barely melts by July. This national park is one of my top 10… maybe top 5 parks in the U.S. It is ga-ga-gorgeous!
Flowers may be gone by now, but this is my favorite time of year. Fall foliage is really something to marvel at. The most obvious fall foliage destination in the U.S. is the New England area of the East Coast. While I have gotten to see their foliage, I did not get to do it as part of my botanical travel year. Instead, I explored some lesser-known fall destinations that I did not even know had fall colors… Northern California and Oregon! Fall DOES exist in California, who knew! I would say they have mostly golden colors, but we found some pops of red and orange too. Fall on the West Coast tends to peak later than the rest of the country, so we caught these colors in late October.
You can still find some fall color here and there in November, but it starts to become more and more sparse. On this stop, I was not even thinking I’d get to see fall foliage. I was actually hoping for snow. But we got a bonus stop in the Great Smoky Mountains to round out a full year of botanical bliss! The smokies are known for their fall foliage. I’d love to go back and experience it in all its glory.
And there you have it! A successful botanical year. Keep following my blog for more of my themed travel experiences! I hope you are getting lots of ideas for travels of your own!
Until next time….
-The Time Traveler