Are you ready to break free from winter? There’s no better place to get in the mood for spring than at a flower festival. Whether you love to get out in the yard and tend to flowers yourself or you’re more of an armchair gardener, annual “bloom” festivals heat up each spring. Revel at these fantastic garden shows in Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington state.
1. Attend Dallas Blooms in Texas (February 23–April 8)
Photo courtesy of Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
One of the top floral display gardens in North America, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden hosts Dallas Blooms. This top flower festival bursts into a blooming extravaganza beginning in late February and continuing through early April. Whether you’re a gardener or simply enjoy the sights and smells of beautiful flowers, a day or two of walking the arboretum’s grounds is a lovely way to prep for spring.
With more than 500,000 bulbs, 3,000 azaleas and thousands of colorful annuals and perennials, there’s plenty of blooming fun to go around. Music, lectures, food and special events complete the experience. The Dallas Arboretum allows guests to bring in food and drink, so why not picnic among the mass of azalea blooms that peak in April?
Driving distance: 1 hour from Fort Worth, Texas | 3 hours from Austin, Texas | 3 hours 30 minutes from Houston, Texas and Shreveport, Louisiana | 4 hours from San Antonio, Texas
2. Count the flowers at Biltmore Blooms in Asheville, North Carolina (April 1–May 23)
Photo courtesy of The Biltmore Company
American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted stretched spring into three months when he designed the gardens at Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina. In early spring, daffodils and forsythia illuminate the gardens with a bright yellow glow, while 1,000 blooming orchids decorate the conservatory. Next, 96,000 tulips show their vibrant hues before the blossoms of native azalea, rhododendron, roses, annuals and perennials complete the blooming cycle.
The three-month festival offers gardening advice, concerts and wine tastings. Children will have a blast petting baby goats, lambs, chicks and bunnies at the barnyard in Antler Hill Village or stomping grapes at weekend winery events. A daytime admission ticket includes a self-guided tour inside the Biltmore House, access to the historic gardens and Antler Hill Village, plus a free wine tasting at the winery (for adults). Save $10 by purchasing tickets in advance. The Biltmore also offers $10 off the ticket price to military veterans and seniors.
Lesson-plan pesources: Learn about honeybees in the garden.
Resources to plan Your trip: Explore Asheville | Visit NC
Driving distances: 2 hours from Knoxville, Tennessee and Charlotte, North Carolina | 3 hours and 30 minutes from Atlanta, Georgia | 4 hours from Roanoke, Virginia
3. Celebrate Holland at the Philadelphia Flower Show (March 2–10)
Photo courtesy of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
You’ll see plenty of peace signs and international floral designs at the 2019 Philadelphia Flower Show, along with a heavy emphasis on eco-design, urban greening and sustainability. Held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, this year’s floral experience focuses on the theme “Flower Power” and plays host to the Florists Transworld Delivery World Cup. The world’s largest and oldest indoor flower show will be packed with displays, lectures and people.
To avoid the crowds, purchase tickets for an early morning docent-led tour for a before-opening look at the stories behind the exhibits, design challenges and history of the show. Or choose the early morning photography tour to learn tips and tricks from nationally renowned photographers.
Watch your child squeal in delight as a butterfly gently lands on his or her hand at the butterfly exhibit. Or sip a cup of tea with your favorite princess at the Teddy Bear Tea (separate tickets required for some events).
Lesson-plan resources: Let the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society teach you and your students how to press flowers.
Driving distance: 1 hour from Trenton, New Jersey | 1 hours 30 minutes from Dover, Delaware | 2 hours from Baltimore, Maryland and New York, New York | 3 hours from Washington, D.C. | 5 hours from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
4. Tiptoe through the tulips in Skagit Valley, Washington (April 1–30)
Photo by Adull Petchsanguansri courtesy of Skagit Valley Tulip Festival Photo Contest
You’ve probably seen photos of the tulip fields in Washington state’s Skagit Valley. The patchwork of vibrant colors—tulip crops from RoozenGaarde/Washington Bulb Co., Inc., and Tulip Town—are the centerpiece of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. Bring your camera for a self-driving tour of the fields that stretch from Mount Vernon and Burlington to La Conner. Better yet, take a bicycle tour. When you tire of tulip watching, enjoy an art show, attend a concert or tour local shellfish or cheese operations.
Driving distance: 30 minutes from Bellingham, Washington | 1 hour from Seattle, Washington | 3 hours from Yakima, Washington | 4 hours from Portland, Oregon
5. Celebrate history at the Mackinac Island Lilac Festival in Michigan (June 7–16)
Photo courtesy of Mackinac Island Lilac Festival
For 10 days in June, lilacs are the stars on this car-free island in Michigan. Stroll Mackinac’s streets and country lanes where some of North America’s oldest living lilacs scent the air with their heady fragrance. But there’s more to the Mackinac Island Lilac Festival besides touring purple-colored gardens. Enjoy the free concerts, family hayrides, boat cruises, scavenger hunts and country line dancing events. But whatever you do, don’t miss the horse-drawn carts and carriages, decorated with lilacs, of course, in the Lilac Festival Grand Parade.
Lesson-plan resources: Introduce your students to Living and Working at Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse.
Driving distance: 3 hours 30 minutes from Traverse City, Michigan | 4 hours 30 minutes from Lansing, Michigan | 5 hours from Grand Rapids, Michigan | 6 hours from Detroit, Michigan