After a long slog through the coldest months of the year, Easter weekend is the perfect time to shed your winter blues and take a memorable trip. Although the dates of Easter vary, this springtime holiday always occurs in late March or early April, coinciding with warmer temperatures and the return of flowers and sunshine. Whether you're looking for some natural beauty to welcome the changing seasons or a place to gather for a meaningful religious experience, there are plenty of excellent options for Easter weekend getaways across the United States.
The nation's capital is at its very best in the early spring, when the world-famous cherry blossoms open and blanket the city with their sweet scent. The National Cherry Blossom Festival typically runs from late March through mid-April, which coincides with Easter weekend most years. In addition to the natural beauty on display around the Tidal Basin and Washington Monument, the festival includes a parade, kite celebration, and special art shows.
Let's be honest: coastal Maine is not a warm destination for Easter weekend. But for visitors who enjoy rising at dawn on Easter Sunday, this quaint seaside town offers one of the first sunrises in the continental United States. If conditions permit, you may be able to drive to the summit of Cadillac Mountain for an amazing panoramic view of the sunrise. Otherwise, enjoy the annual Easter egg hunt at the Bar Harbor Inn for your chance at classic treats as well as "golden tickets" to spa treatments and fine dining.
This coastal city in San Diego County has one of the best spring blooms in the state at the Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch. Here you'll find spring-themed events centered around the main show: 50 acres of giant ranunculus flowers in a rainbow of colors. There's often a special Easter sunrise service here and at nearby Pacific coast beaches. Afterward, enjoy Easter brunch in the walkable Carlsbad Village.
There's always plenty to do in the Big Apple, including Broadway shows and some of the world's greatest museums. Easter weekend is a wonderful time to go, as the weather is warmer, but the summer tourists haven't yet arrived. On Easter Sunday, head to Saint Patrick's Cathedral on Fifth Avenue to take in the annual Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival, where you'll see locals in old-fashioned dress and elaborate, artistic hats.
The state flower of Texas blooms lavishly across open fields in April, and the Ennis Bluebonnet Trail is ground zero for the spectacular show. Located 40 miles south of Dallas, Ennis has miles of scenic drives through the most popular wildflower fields in the state. You can grab some local produce at the Ennis Farmer's Market for a picnic lunch at nearby Lake Bardwell.
Having been spared destruction during the Civil War, Savannah is one of the most historic cities in the South, with gracious architecture and shady parks throughout the walkable downtown area. You can enjoy an Easter service at one of the city's many historic churches or commune with nature at the Savannah Botanical Gardens.
If you're looking for great beach weather on Easter, Hawaii is your best bet. Winter storms are over, and waters are calmer for beachgoers in the spring—and with temperatures in the 70s and 80s, you can walk the beach or hike local trails to your heart's content. For fun on the water, visit a local outfitter for diving, snorkeling, and kayaking tours.
Founded in 1565 by devout Spanish settlers, Saint Augustine has a long history of Easter celebrations. The annual Easter Parade is a colorful event that takes place in the historic district. It features floats, marching bands, and elaborate costumes. The parade usually starts at the Plaza de la Constitución and ends at the Mission of Nombre de Diós.
Pigeon Forge is the perfect place to stay to explore the natural beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains, where everything is bursting back to life at Eastertime. You can also enjoy the Dollywood theme park or take the Bunny Hopper Express Easter Train to a special event featuring an egg hunt and other family-friendly activities.
Branson is a popular vacation destination known for its live entertainment, theme parks, and scenic beauty. Silver Dollar City, an Old West theme park, hosts several special events during March and April to welcome visitors back to the area. You can also enjoy egg hunts and local Easter sunrise services at churches all over town.
South Street in Philadelphia might be one of the coolest neighborhoods in the country, with a thriving arts community, unique shops, and delicious street food. The annual South Street Easter Promenade is a costume contest and parade judged by the Easter Bunny himself. Afterward, your best Easter brunch is a cheesesteak.
If you're a snow bunny whose idea of a great Easter weekend is a last-chance ski trip, Colorado offers skiing throughout the month of April most years. After a day on the slopes, head back into the city for the Lenten seafood menu at Downtown Aquarium, where you can get a unique look at aquatic life.
Spring comes earlier in the South, so Easter weekend is an excellent time to explore this gracious city. Enjoy the sea air, stroll through White Point Garden, and take your pick of fine dining from many upscale local restaurants. Easter often coincides with the popular Lowcountry Strawberry Festival, a classic fair complete with rise, food, shows, and animal exhibits.
Sedona is justly famous for its spas and spiritual bent, so it's the perfect place for a little self-care and renewal to welcome spring. For a unique place to worship or meditate, try the Chapel of the Holy Cross, built right into a bluff of sacred red rocks. The chapel is closed on Easter Sunday, but you can visit any other day of your trip.
Though it's more famous for Mardi Gras, New Orleans also celebrates the end of Lent in style with several Easter parades in the historic French Quarter. Expect to see floats, jazz bands, and the city's residents showing off their springtime finery and Sunday best hats. Keep the party going all night at the many restaurants and bars along Bourbon Street. For a quiet moment, tour the Old Ursuline Convent at the Saint Louis Cathedral.