May is one of my favorite times to travel the USA. Summer crowds and prices haven’t yet caught up to the beautiful weather, spring blooms, and fun festival scene unfolding around the country. It’s a great time to kick off summer! Here then are the best places to visit in the USA in May.
- Best Places to Visit in the USA in May
- 1. Santa Barbara, California for Wine Tasting
- 2. Maui for Mother’s Day
- 3. Maine for Lighthouses
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- 4. Savannah, GA for the Sand Arts Festival
- 5. Zion National Park, UT
- 6. San Diego, CA for Cinqo de Mayo
- 7. Olympic National Park, WA for Rain Forest Hikes
- 8. Cannon Beach, OR for Bird Watching
- 9. Arches National Park, UT for Spring Hikes
- 10. New Orleans, LA
- 11. San Antonio, TX for the Parade
- 12. Naples & Marco Island, FL for Art and Music Festivals
- 13. Park City, UT for Fly Fishing
- 14. New York, NY for Central Park
- 15. Holland, MI for the Tulip Festival
- 16. Gulf Shores, AL for the Balloon Festival
- 17. Asheville, NC for Rushing Waterfalls
- 18. Newport, RI for Seafood
- 19. Clearwater, FL for Pier 60
- 20. Madison, WI for the World’s Largest Brat Fest
- 21. Breckenridge, CO for White Water Rafting
- 22. Burlington, VT for Cruising Lake Champlain
- 23. Yosemite National Park, CA for Spring Hikes
- 24. Denver, CO for Rooftop Patios
- 25. Black Canyon in Gunnison National Park, CO for Sunlit Canyons
- 26. Charleston, SC for Spring Blooms
- 27. Shenandoah National Park, VA for Wildflowers
- 28. Gatlinburg, TN
Best Places to Visit in the USA in May
1. Santa Barbara, California for Wine Tasting
There’s a reason that Santa Barbara, on California’s scenic central coast, is home to celebrities worldwide.
Framed by the Santa Ynez mountains, Santa Barbara is a walkable small town with big city amenities. It has far more than its fair share of top restaurants and unique independent boutiques.
Its red tile roofs and white stucco Spanish colonial architecture make living easy here. And in May, temps average a balmy high of 70 degrees F. It’s the perfect time to visit before summer vacationers arrive.
You’ll find live music at the city’s intimate outdoor amphitheater, the County Bowl. Plus, Santa Barbara also has its very own symphony!
Head to the vibrant Funk Zone on lower State Street for wine tasting. Or day trip up to wine country in nearby Santa Ynez Valley where you’ll find more than 120 world-class wineries.
2. Maui for Mother’s Day
Maui in May is glorious!
As one of the most popular Hawaiian islands, Maui can become quite crowded once school is out in June but shoulder season is the perfect time to visit.
The water’s warming up and daytime highs hover between mid-70s and mid-80s all month. Beautiful Plumeria, ginger, and hibiscus are blooming across the island.
It’s the perfect place to celebrate Mother’s Day. You’ll find plenty of excellent brunch options to honor mom. Try the Four Seasons Resort in Wailea and the Hali’imaile General Store. But don’t miss Maui’s food trucks while you’re here!
Other things to include if you’re on Maui for 3 to 5 days? Drive the astounding Road to Hana. Catch sunrise at the top of Mount Haleakala. Snorkel Molokini Crater. (But add a warm jacket to your Hawaii packing list. It’s cold up there!)
If it’s your first visit to Hawaii, be aware that the best places to stay in Maui are mostly located on the western side of the island. Book in Kihei and Lahaina for vacation rentals or Wailea for top resorts.
3. Maine for Lighthouses
Maine is easily one of the most scenic states in the USA, with hundreds of miles of beautiful coastline, forests and mountains, and all kinds of hiking trails in bucket list places like Acadia National Park.
There are also dozens of historic Maine lighthouses to see along the coast and on some of the islands, which can be a great way to spend a relaxing slow day after doing some hiking.
The month of May is a great time to visit because it’s less crowded than the middle of summer, and the temperatures are more mild.
Visit Acadia National Park to hit up some of the most popular spots like Beehive Trail and Jordan Pond crowd-free, as compared to the busiest months of the year (June through September).
Daytime temperatures in May hover around 60 Fahrenheit, which is perfect for hiking!
By May, the lighthouses in Maine are already starting to adjust their hours for summer, making them more accessible and easier to visit.
Some lighthouses allow you to look inside and climb to the top of the light tower. And some—such as the Burnt Coat Harbor Light—will even let you rent the keeper’s house for an overnight stay.
May is one of the best months to enjoy the beauty of Maine!
David & Intan | The World Travel Guy
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4. Savannah, GA for the Sand Arts Festival
May is a brilliant time to visit Savannah, Georgia, since the weather is mild and the area isn’t overwhelmed by summer tourists.
The exception to that rule is Memorial Day weekend. Travelers should book well in advance if they want to visit then.
Additionally, Savannah is home to a wide array of exciting May events that include Savannah Comic Con, the Savannah Scottish Games, and the Doggie Carnival in Forsyth Park.
Nearby Tybee Island also hosts a fun Sand Arts Festival while many Savannah Farmers Markets hold special concerts and live performances.
Savannah is a charming coastal city in Georgia that comes alive at this time of year with beautiful flowers. It’s a vibrant place that is also known for its stunning views, incredible architecture, amazing natural landscapes, haunted sites, and rich history.
When visiting Savannah in May, be sure to explore the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. The architecture is incredible to behold and dates all the way back to 1878.
Afterward, meander through picturesque Forsyth Park and take a photo or two by Forsyth Park Fountain before touring the Mercer Williams House.
It’s easily one of the best museums in Savannah and is renowned for its stained glass dome.
Victoria | Southern Trippers
5. Zion National Park, UT
Zion National Park is one of the most popular and beautiful US National Parks. It is one of the best places in the US to visit in May, full of stunning hiking trails, mind-blowing views, and perfect weather.
In May, crowds are fewer and hiking conditions are optimal. Most of the hiking trails are open at this time of the year and the scenery is particularly stunning.
It’s the perfect season for hikes that are too hot to do in summer such as Observation Point Trail and Angels Landing, one of the most spectacular hikes in the US!
Precipitation is extremely low in May, with just an average of 0.7 inches of rainfall over the whole month.
The weather is ideal, with warm sunny days and an average high of 83°F, average low of 52°F; plus you avoid monsoon season.
There are also a number of hikes that run along rivers and creeks—like the Riverside Walk or the Taylor Creek hike—so you can cool off if the weather does get hot.
Be sure to see the waterfalls at Emerald Pools and walk behind the waterfall through the mist. Tubing along the Virgin River is a great way to cool down!
Catrina | 24 Hours Layover
6. San Diego, CA for Cinqo de Mayo
During May, San Diego’s average temperatures range from 60-69°F, which is ideal weather for exploring the city.
Additionally, visitors can expect there to be fewer crowds compared to the summer tourist season, so it’ll likely be easier to get around the city!
Check out the Fiesta Old Town Cinco De Mayo festival that happens during the first week of May each year. This event at San Diego’s historic Old Town includes delicious Mexican food, live music, and tons of games!
Similarly, visitors can make their way to the Del Mar Fairgrounds to attend the Foodieland Night Market. This is a three-day event during the first weekend of May that features over 170 different vendors!
Or, for those who prefer to spend a day in nature, head up to Encinitas in north county for surfing! With the warm weather, stunning views, and easy surf, there’s hardly a reason not to partake in the local surf culture!
All in all, San Diego is one of the best places to visit in the US during May.
Kristin | Global Travel Escapades
7. Olympic National Park, WA for Rain Forest Hikes
Olympic National Park, located in Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula, is one of the most diverse parks in the U.S. National Park Service and most best places to visit in Washington. You’ll find impossibly green rainforests, towering mountains, and rugged beaches in its footprint.
If you’re looking for outdoor adventures, the park offers endless opportunities, from paddle boarding on Lake Crescent to exploringdozens and dozens of incredible hiking trails.
For example, the Hall of Mosses is a family-friendly hike through the Hoh Rainforest, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, where you’ll hike under a cathedral of ancient trees, dripping with moss and soaring over 300 feet overhead.
For another kind of adventure, soak up Olympic’s beauty at one of its dramatic beaches, like Ruby or Rialto Beach. Time your visit for sunset for a real treat!
Thanks to its proximity to the coastline, Olympic offers moderate temperatures all year round and is much more pleasant and accessible in May than the two other national parks in Washington, which remain snowy into July.
In fact, come May, you may be able to access some of the country’s best backpacking trails in Olympic for the first time of the year.
Check out the Enchanted Valley Trail, where you’ll hike through the lush Quinault Rainforest to the Enchanted Valley Chalet, a rustic cabin surrounded on all sides by dense pine trees, rushing waterfalls, and towering mountains.
The park will also start to see its first smattering of colorful wildflowers, like lupine and balsamroot, which makes the stunning scenery look that much more jaw-dropping.
Jessica | Uprooted Traveler
8. Cannon Beach, OR for Bird Watching
Cannon Beach is one of the best places to visit in the USA in May. Renowned for its beauty, Cannon Beach is a small-town beach paradise.
A true gem of the Oregon coast, it’s a great place to wander at your own pace. Strolling downtown and exploring local shops, restaurants, and art galleries are just a few fun things to do in Cannon Beach.
Adventurous travelers can take in the spectacular views at Ecola State Park. The state park offers a great vantage point to catch a glimpse of Tillamook Rock Lighthouse and also provides a prime surfing location at Indian Beach.
May is also the perfect time to visit one of Cannon Beach’s most notable landmarks, Haystack Rock. The dramatic rock formation rises 235 feet from the shoreline. A visit at low tide allows travelers the opportunity to walk out to the sea stack.
You’ll find gorgeous tide pools here as well as a chance to glimpse the famed Tufted Puffin.
Most of the year, these birds blend into the gray sky, but a spring breeding season transforms the bird into hues of white, yellow, and an unmissable orange bill, a real treat for any avid birdwatcher.
Whale sightings also happen here while gazing out at the beautiful Pacific Ocean.
Candice | CS Ginger
9. Arches National Park, UT for Spring Hikes
There are so many amazing things to do in Arches National Park. It’s a great place to include on a Utah road trip.
Of course, one of the best things to do is hit the incredible hiking trails the park offers.
There are plenty of options for everyone looking to do some hiking in Arches. One of the easiest trails that takes you to some of the most amazing arches in the park is The Windows Trail, a one mile loop where you can see 3 incredible rock arches that will take your breath away.
Devil’s Garden is an eight mile loop, and can be quite challenging in some sections. This trail is not recommended for people with young children due to the steep drop offs and rock scrambling sections.
If you’re up for the challenge, you will have the opportunity to see eight incredible arches on this hike!
May is a great time to visit Arches National Park because it’s right before the weather heats up for the summer. The highs are usually in the 70s and the lows are somewhere in the 50s.
This means it’s great for hiking during the day, and perfect weather for camping or stargazing at night. May is also one of the best months of the year to see the desert wildflowers in bloom!
If you’re visiting in May, check out the Moab Arts Festival. Moab is just a 15 minute drive from the park.
Jessica | Unearth the Voyage
10. New Orleans, LA
Head south to NOLA: New Orleans, Louisiana!
May is a great time to visit New Orleans. Mardi Gras has passed and the crowds have dwindled.
The weather is still mild— right before the summer heat and humidity really kick in—and spring has sprung around the city.
While visiting NOLA, be sure to explore the vibrant French Quarter. Admire the quintessential architecture of bright colors and iron balconies. (You might even find a rouge Mardi Gras bead or two still hanging here).
Note that Royal Street in particular is known for some of the most beautiful buildings in the French Quarter.
A few more sites to enjoy outside in the nice weather would be the Garden District and a cemetery. The Garden District is known for its beautiful homes along tree lined streets. It’s especially beautiful when the flowers are in bloom this time of year.
And last, visiting a cemetery is a must on any trip to NOLA.
Graves in New Orleans need to be above ground since parts of the city are below sea level, and it’s also known to flood. The pathways of large tombs that fill these cemeteries are something that shouldn’t be missed.
Enjoy your trip to the Big Easy!
Chelsea | Adventures of Chels
11. San Antonio, TX for the Parade
May is a great time to visit San Antonio as the weather is just perfect, the hotel rates are lower, and there are less crowds!
San Antonio is a really fun city…and even if you only have one day in San Antonio you can still see lots!
The San Antonio Riverwalk is Texas’s most visited tourist attraction. You can walk the downtown loop of The Riverwalk in 45 minutes. It’s a very picturesque area with delicious Tex-Mex restaurants galore.
While you’re here, visit The Alamo, known worldwide as the site of The Battle of the Alamo between Mexico and Texas in the Texas Revolution.
Not only that, but because San Antonio is known as “Military City USA”, the city hosts an Armed Forces Parade along the river in May. With patriotic music and decorated floats, this is a lovely way to pay tribute to the Servicemen & women who serve the country.
Other May celebrations? Check out the Tejano Conjunto Festival, full of great music and Texan culture and Rockfest.
Springfest, the largest carnival in North America, is fun for all the family!
Catrina | 24 Hours Layover
12. Naples & Marco Island, FL for Art and Music Festivals
If you’re longing for the perfect May escape, the beautiful Paradise Coast of Naples and Marco Island, Florida is a great choice.
The two sister cities make up one ultimate fun-in-the-sun destination and May is ideal, when snowbirds and tourists have gone and the summer heat has yet to come.
The low humidity and moderate temps are an ideal match for the warm spring water in the Gulf of Mexico.
Naples and Marco Island are two of Florida’s best beach destinations, but it’s the combined proximity to the natural world that truly make the area shine.
Located at the gateway to the 10,000 Islands, Florida Everglades and Florida Bay, there’s plenty for both lovers of the beach and adventure to enjoy.
Downtown Naples and the Esplanade on Marco Island are the hubs of shopping and dining. However, there are are new and eclectic shops and foodie parks in unexpected places, with lots of unique offerings for nightlife, from tiki bars to upscale jazz clubs.
May also brings a wealth of outdoor art and music festivals, with Artis Naples—the community’s biggest performing arts center—taking center stage.
Visitors can enjoy everything from free concerts and stage performances to art activities for kids and families.
Lori | Naples Florida Travel Guide
13. Park City, UT for Fly Fishing
Best known as a ski town—once even hosting the Winter Olympics—Park City is also well worth a May trip; there are plenty of things to do in Park City, Utah in spring and summer.
Temperatures in Park City, Utah in May are typically in the cool and comfortable 60s Fahrenheit.
May is peak fly fishing season in Park City; the winter snow has melted, the rivers are flowing and flies and larva begin hatching. Park City offers lessons and guided experiences for new and experienced fly fishers.
In May, restaurants also begin to open up after weeks of winter closure. Park City has a great foodie scene. Visiting in May, which is a quieter month for general tourism, offers the opportunity to enjoy the city’s cuisine and activities without crushing crowds.
And finally, the melting snow transforms ski trails into idyllic mountain biking trails this month.
Exploring Park City’s mountains by bike is a wonderful way to enjoy May.
Nausheen | Globe Gazers
14. New York, NY for Central Park
When planning a May getaway, New York City is the perfect place to go!
Get outdoors to explore Central Park. Stroll the Mall and Liberty Walk, both especially beautiful in the spring.
Bikes are available to rent and ride around the park; you’ll find boats available for rent near the Loeb Boathouse.
Check out the view from a skyscraper at either Rockefeller Center or the Empire State Building.
The views from the top are spectacular and the weather is perfect this time of year. (Insider tip: Consider purchasing tickets online in advance to avoid waiting in the line.)
Comfortable weather in May also makes it a great time to enjoy a relaxed ferry ride to Liberty Island to visit the Statue of Liberty.
Don’t miss Ellis island, once the busiest immigrant processing station in the U.S. while you’re here. (Admittance to Ellis island is included with your visit to the Statue of Liberty).
Chelsea | Adventures of Chels
15. Holland, MI for the Tulip Festival
In Holland, located near the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, “lake life” vacation vibes meet proud Dutch ancestry.
In this charming small town in West Michigan, you can sail past Big Red, the most-photographed of Michigan’s 129 lighthouses, to the second-largest of the Great Lakes.
Or tour a working 18th century mill from the Netherlands at the 36-acre Windmill Island Gardens, featuring 100,000 colorful blooming tulips this month.
Ready to dive deeper into Holland’s Dutch heritage? Learn to Klompen dance at Nelis’ Dutch Village.
In downtown Holland, you’ll find more than 100 unique local businesses, from gastropubs and winery tasting rooms to gourmet food boutiques, Dutch and Scandinavian gift stores, and so much more.
Of course, the optimal time to see Holland’s Dutch roots is in May.
This Dutch-settled city planted 100,000 tulip bulbs back in 1929 and has celebrated the annual spring bloom ever since.
For eight days in early to mid-May, the annual Tulip Time Festival celebrates Holland’s heritage with lively Dutch dance performances, traditional costumes, multiple parades, and the blooming of millions of tulips.
You’ll see flower beds filled with blossoming tulips along city streets, in city parks, and at local attractions.
Veldheer Tulip Gardens plants 5 million tulips in addition to daffodil, crocus, and hyacinth flowers for the beautiful and “Insta-worthy” May bloom.
Erin | The Epicurean Traveler
16. Gulf Shores, AL for the Balloon Festival
Gulf Shores, Alabama is home to the best beaches in the lower 48 of the United States. And that’s just the beginning of
For birding, hiking, and views of the Gulf of Mexico, head to the Jeff Friend Trail.
With fresh oysters and farm-to-table restaurants on offer, you’ll find the foodie scene in Gulf Shores is on epoint.
From relaxation to an on-the-go vacation experience, Gulf Shores has it all. Kayakers and cyclists will find plenty of opportunities to get out in nature.
And in May, weather is a comfortable 76 degrees. Don’t miss the award-winning Gulf Hot Air Balloon Festival, the first weekend in May.
The Hangout Music Festival in late May features lives music on the beach. If you add a day or two to enjoy Gulf Shores’ charms on either end of the festival, you may end up making it an annual event.
Sara | Travel with Sara
17. Asheville, NC for Rushing Waterfalls
But because Asheville is located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains range, it’s also surrounded by an incredible assortment of natural attractions.
Asheville is a rapidly growing Blue Ridge Mountain town that offers an exceptional array of things to do. An Asheville weekend getaway is ideal as is a longer visit.
It’s home to outstanding art deco architecture, numerous nationally acclaimed restaurants and breweries, the cultural hub of the River Arts District, and of course the world-renowned Biltmore Estate, which is the largest privately owned home in America.
These include some of the biggest mountains in the eastern US (such as 6,684-foot Mt Mitchell, the tallest east of the Mississippi River), hundreds of hiking trails, dazzling waterfalls, and the jaw-dropping scenic overlooks along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
May is an incredible time to explore the Asheville area, as winter’s chill gives way to warmer temperatures, budding wildflowers (such as mountain laurel and rhododendron), and much smaller crowds than you’ll see in summer.
The Botanical Gardens at Asheville, NC Arboretum, and the Biltmore Estate Gardens are all great places to see the native North Carolina flora at its finest.
With an average of 3.5 inches of rain, May is also a wonderful time for exploring the wondrous waterfalls near Asheville NC, including those in DuPont State Recreational Forest, along the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway, and right off the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Bret & Mary | Blue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide
18. Newport, RI for Seafood
Often referred to as The City By The Sea, Newport is packed with history, stunning coastal views, amazing shopping and tons of New England charm.
One of the top things to do here is tour the Gilded Age Mansions, many of which were owned by the Vanderbilt family, and exude the opulence of their time, and offer incredible views of the ocean.
For even more coastal views in Newport, you’ll want to be sure to add the Cliff Walk and Ocean Drive to your itinerary. And, of course, you can’t miss strolling down Bowen’s Wharf and Thames Street for some of the best shopping in the region!
May is one of the best times to visit Newport, as the weather is beautiful, the summer crowds have yet to set in, and there are tons of events and festivals to celebrate spring.
The Newport Food Truck and Craft Beer Festival is a fun festival that happens in May each year bringing together the area’s most popular food trucks and craft brewers from all over the country for a special two day event.
Later in the month, Newport celebrates the Oyster & Chowder Festival, which is completely free for all to attend.
During the festival at Bowen’s Wharf, you can sample local, fresh oysters and the best homemade chowders, all while enjoying the water views and live music.
Sam | New England Wanderlust
19. Clearwater, FL for Pier 60
Just west of Tampa, Clearwater is the perfect place for a late spring getaway for travelers of all ages.
The weather is perfect in May—it’s warm, but not humid—like the months that follow.
Beautiful beaches abound, with options like Clearwater Beach, Honeymoon Island State Park, and Caladesi Island State Park. Enjoy some rest and relaxation, slide into a kayak or jump on a jet ski.
May is the perfect time to explore another Clearwater treasure, Pier 60 at Clearwater Beach.
Pier 60 features a 1,080-foot fishing pier and one of the gulf coast’s largest beach playgrounds. It’s heaven for all ages.
The bait house at the pier is stocked with all the fishing essentials you might need and also offers food and drink options. The pier comes alive each night at sunset, with crafts and entertainment.
If you’d rather stay indoors, check out Clearwater Marine Aquarium, one of the best things to do in Clearwater with kids.
Unlike most aquarium experiences, Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a rescue facility. It features not only countless species of sea life, but also an animal hospital.
Candice | Exploring the Gulf
20. Madison, WI for the World’s Largest Brat Fest
May is a great time to visit Madison, as the city is excited to be shaking off winter with loads of festivals and activities throughout the month.
May features the ‘Uncork Me Wisconsin’ wine festival, a must for aficionados of the grape.
No trip to Wisconsin is complete without indulging in local favorites like brats and cheese curds, so why not attend the World’s Largest Brat Fest? This annual extravaganza of music, food, and fun is held over Memorial Day weekend and is the kickoff welcoming summer.
Since Madison is Wisconsin’s capitol, a visit to the stunning Capitol building is a must. Be sure to climb to the observation deck and walk around the Capitol’s dome for incredible bird’s-eye views of Madison.
Olbrich Gardens is another top Madison attraction. While there is a fee to enter the conservatory, it’s free to visit the outdoor gardens.
Don’t miss the gorgeous Thai pavilion, painstakingly reconstructed in Madison and embellished with gold leaf.
And fine arts fans will enjoy a visit to the Chazen Museum of Art. The Chazen’s collection spans a wide variety of art including works from famous artists Picasso and Warhol.
Lisa | Waves and Cobblestones
21. Breckenridge, CO for White Water Rafting
Breckenridge is a popular Colorado mountain town in the Rocky Mountains. A 2.5 hour drive from Aspen, many know Aspen for its 2,908 skiable acres and 187 skiiable trails in winter.
But it’s much more than ski resorts. Ten Mile Range offers spectacular views and plentiful opportunities for hiking and cycling in spring.
In May, as the snow melts and the weather warms up, visitors come for hiking, fishing in the rivers and streams, white water rafting, and golfing. The wildflowers also bloom in May, making it a great time to enjoy the area’s natural beauty.
This mountain town in Colorado is filled with a variety of shops, restaurants, and bars for visitors to enjoy.
One of Breckenridge’s most on-demand hotels is One Ski Hill Place, A RockResort. This luxury hotel offers ski-in/ski-out access and features a full-service spa, fitness center, and indoor/outdoor pool at a reasonable price.
Breckenridge is the perfect place to visit in the US in May to rejuvenate your energy.
Trijit | Budget Travel Buff
22. Burlington, VT for Cruising Lake Champlain
Burlington, Vermont is the largest city in the highly rural state of Vermont, but it’s far from a big city. This incredibly charming place has a small town feel with lots to offer.
Burlington is hip, artsy, outdoorsy, and a little bit crunchy. A progressive town in a progressive state, Burlington is welcoming to all!
And there’s lots to do. From strolling down Church Street to sailing on Lake Champlain, there are so many great things to do in Burlington at any time of the year.
May, however, is perhaps one of the most enchanting months to visit.
Vermont’s Northern New England setting means that “spring” arrives late here. So May is when the season is in full throttle, with the landscape bursting into vibrant greens and flowers blooming abundantly.
It’s an the ideal time to grab a beverage at one of the area’s numerous craft breweries and find a seat outside if you can!
May is also when locals and visitors start to take to Lake Champlain.
Scenic cruises aboard The Spirit of Ethan Allen begin this month, and it’s a prime opportunity to climb aboard for some fantastic views of Vermont’s Green Mountains and New York’s Adirondacks to the west.
Amy | New England with Love
23. Yosemite National Park, CA for Spring Hikes
May in Yosemite Valley is a time of awakening as the valley floor springs to life after months of cold and snow blanketing the National Park. It’s one of the best national parks in the west and also makes a nice getaway from San Francisco.
The weather in May is perfect for exploring the park, with only three days of rain and average high temperatures in the mid 70’s.
This warmer weather means the park’s waterfalls, including the majestic Yosemite Falls, will be at their peak flow, and the bears will have come out of their wintertime slumber.
Another benefit of a May visit is that visitors heading to Yosemite from San Francisco will be greeted with clear roads and short waits at the park entrance.
May is a perfect time for hikers to visit as the trails in the lower elevations will be clear for exploring top attractions like Mirror Lake or Vernal Falls.
In the upper elevations, there will be plenty of late-season snow for some snowshoeing up to Glacier Point for an epic view of the park.
Another fun adventure in Yosemite in May is to rent a bicycle and ride to Mariposa Grove, where you can surround yourself with the Giant Sequoias.
You can also take advantage of the quiet before the busy season to just relax and take in the breathtaking granite monoliths that make the park so famous. Fall in Yosemite is another great crowd-free time to visit!
Gabriel | Chef Travel Guide
24. Denver, CO for Rooftop Patios
May is a lovely time to visit Denver because the city will be basking in the almostsummery weather and celebrating the end of winter.
Visitors can sip craft beers on rooftop patios and enjoy the city’s vibrant nightlife, one of the advantages of visiting Denver instead of Boulder for your Colorado city break.
For a free activity, take a sunshine-soaked stroll through the River North Arts District, known for its street art.
While you’re in the area, grab a coffee from Crema, a RiNo cafe covered in artwork—complete with eclectic furniture—or squeeze in a yoga class at BIG Power Yoga.
If you visit in May, be sure that your itinerary includes a visit to Red Rocks Amphitheater, a local venue carved into the red sandstone that overlooks Denver.
The weather will be warm but not hot, ideal for an outdoor afternoon concert.
In the event that a show doesn’t fit in your itinerary or budget, you can usually find cheap or free events happening at Red Rocks, like Yoga on the Rocks or Film on the Rocks.
Try to squeeze in a quick hike in the adjoining park so that you can see the sandstone in its more natural forms.
Amber | Amber Everywhere
25. Black Canyon in Gunnison National Park, CO for Sunlit Canyons
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park (BCGNP) is one of the smallest national parks in the U.S., covering more than 30,000 acres. It’s also one of the least visited.
While nearby Rocky Mountain National Park sees more than 4.4 million visitors annually, BCGNP saw just over 308,000!
It’s one of North America’s deepest, darkest, narrowest, and steepest canyons and is just 40 feet wide at its narrowest point.
What are the best things to do in Black Canyon of the Gunnison? Drive North Rim Drive Road with stops at scenic overlooks: The Narrows, Island Peaks View, and Kneeling Camel View.
Hike to Exclamation Point (three miles) or Deadhorse Trail (five miles).
Stop at Painted Wall, the highest cliff in Colorado at 2250 ft on South Rim Route. Don’t miss stargazing here…The park is designated an International Dark Sky Park for optimal viewing.
May is ideal for a visit as the North Rim—due to its high elevation and harsh climate is only open from late April to October.
The North Rim offers the most exciting trails. Plus, roads are entirely passable in May, with no snow.
Second, the canyon is so dark that, according to calculations, there are only 33 minutes of sunlight per day in some places. In May, days are very sunny, and the sky is cloudless for spectacular views in the canyon. (Visit around noon).
Visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison in May to skip the crowds in Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s an excellent alternative for excellent hiking, rafting, and fishing, with an average temperature of 66.4 °F.
Agnes | The Van Escape
26. Charleston, SC for Spring Blooms
There are many exciting things to do in Charleston, SC! Think historic vibes, beautiful plantations, and a vibrant food scene.
Charleston’s Historic District is walkable in May with mild weather, big festivals, and farmers’ markets.
Spring blooms are everywhere and fresh harvest fills the farmers’ markets this month. Visitors flock to the beach for surfing, dolphin watching, and morning yoga.
Major events in May include the Charleston Greek Festival, North Charleston Arts Fest, Charleston Battery soccer games, and Spoleto Festival USA.
While you’re in town be sure to visit Rainbow row, Pineapple fountain, and The Battery. Water lovers should head to Myrtle beach, Folly Beach, and Hilton Head nearby. T
See the stunning gardens at Boone Plantation. Visit Drayton House and Magnolia Plantation, too.
Insider tip: Hotels in Charleston can be pricey all year long, but even more so in May so book well in advance. Stay in the Historic District for close proximity to major attractions.
Yukti | Travel with Me 24×7
27. Shenandoah National Park, VA for Wildflowers
Just 50 miles from Washington, DC, Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park provides an escape from the urban life.
With over 200,000 acres of gushing waterfalls, thick deciduous forest, hiking trails, and east coast wildlife—deer and bobcats and black bears, oh my!—it’s a can’t-miss destination for outdoor lovers in May.
While Shenandoah is gorgeous year-round, May is one of the best times to visit. The weather is pleasant, warmer than winter, but not as humid and hot as mid-summer with fewer crowds than in early spring and in fall when the leaves change.
What many don’t realize is that the park is just as beautiful in the spring with the mountain laurel and rhododendrons in full bloom. In fact, mid-May is the park’s Wildflower Weekend, featuring special hikes and talks led by rangers.
It’s also peak birdwatching month, the only time of year that many migratory birds make an appearance in the park.
If you’re looking for a crowd-free city escape in May, visit Shenandoah National Park!
Maggie | Pink Caddie Travelogue
28. Gatlinburg, TN
Nestled in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, lies one of the best destinations to visit in May, Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The temperatures are mild, and everything is in full bloom.
This small town is home to endless outdoor activities, breathtaking scenery, and warm-hearted locals.
May also brings Wilderness Wildlife Week—free to visitors—with guided hikes and informational presentations and the Gatlinburg Beans and Cornbread Festival.
For the best views, head to Clingman’s Dome, the highest point in Tennessee. Its observation deck gives way to 360-degree panoramic views over the mountains.
Nature lovers shouldn’t miss the ever-scenic Roaring Fork Motor Trail This 5.5-mile one-way loop is short, but there are so many things to see, it’s easy to spend an entire day here.
Hike to Rainbow Falls, visit cabins from the 19th century, or stop by the souvenir shop for some homemade jam.
Jen | Dabbling in Jet Lag