Scouted Destinations: 5 Cities to Visit This Spring
Nature is waking up from her slumber and the weather is getting better—which makes spring the ideal time to plan a getaway. Bonus: Peak summer crowds have yet to roll in, and the scorching heat and soaking humidity are still a couple months away. Want to get out there and enjoy the season? We’ve scouted five fabulous destinations—from a southern seaside oasis to an outdoor adventurers’ paradise out West—certain to put a spring in your step.
MOBILE BAY, ALABAMA
Fountains at The Grand Hotel. Photography by Chad Riley.
While other areas are still experiencing low temperatures and even snowfall, Mobile Bay’s spring season begins swiftly, with warm days and cool breezes at night. “Our infamous bright pink and white azaleas are already in full bloom by the end of February,” explains Katie McNeil and Jamie Conger, editors of The Scout Guide Mobile Bay. “We thrive on the outdoors here and spring is the best time to enjoy all Mobile Bay has to offer! As soon as the bay warms up, expect children swimming and boats voyaging again for cocktail cruises and fishing excursions.” The bay, nestled right off the Gulf of Mexico, connects the towns in southwest Alabama and is a part of daily life for these communities.
The outdoor events season is in full swing beginning in March in Mobile Bay. Creatives congregate for the Fairhope Arts and Crafts festival, an event that brings artists and artisans from all over the region, followed by the southeast’s largest outdoor flower show, Festival of Flowers. When you’re ready to explore the area’s retail and dining options, Jamie suggests heading to downtown Mobile for the many musical performances, theater productions, and amazing dining experiences, or “over the bay” to the picturesque downtown of Fairhope to peruse the local boutiques and indulge in more tasty southern cuisine. If you’re looking for accommodations in downtown Fairhope, The Fairhope Inn is an intimate option, featuring four elegant rooms. While the historical Grand Hotel, just a short drive away, is ideal for those in search of a resort experience. Set on 550 acres overlooking Mobile Bay in Point Clear, just strolling the Grand Hotel’s picturesque oak tree-dotted property is a treat.
To plan your Mobile Bay getaway, check out the Mobile Bay Dining Guide, Mobile Bay Shopping Guide, and Mobile Bay Lodging Guide. And for additional recommendations for what to do, see, and experience in Mobile Bay, Alabama, follow The Scout Guide Mobile Bay on Instagram and visit The Scout Guide Mobile Bay website, where you can browse or buy the latest volume of The Scout Guide Mobile Bay.
PHOENIX & SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA
Desert Botanical Garden. Photography courtesy of Desert Botanical Garden.
It’s hard to beat the desert in the spring in the “Valley of the Sun,” where warm days make an entrance in mid-February. “A springtime visit to Phoenix and Scottsdale is a must,” shares Sasha Clements, editor of The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale. “Not only does the balmy weather welcome a host of outdoor activities—from catching a Cactus League Spring Training baseball game to enjoying a Camelback hike, it’s also the perfect season to enjoy the many amenities of the Valley’s world class resorts, plus our excellent dining and shopping offerings.”
To kick off your desert weekend, make your way to the Desert Botanical Garden’s spring concert series, held most Friday evenings from February through May, Music in the Garden features a variety of genres from jazz and blues to country and world beats. Stroll the Garden’s paths and enjoy dinner at Gertrude’s, then settle in for music under the starry desert sky. On Saturday morning, Sasha suggests visiting the Old Town Scottsdale’s Farmers Market or the Uptown Farmers Market featuring everything from freshly baked breads and seasonal produce to homemade jams and tamales.
Golf enthusiasts will rejoice at the variety of world-class courses to choose from, including Troon North, TPC Scottsdale, Papago Golf Club, and Mountain Shadows. If you’re not too spent from your morning round, Sasha recommends taking to the trails to soak up more of that breathtaking desert landscape. Take your pick from a wide range of hikes—from easy jaunts like Double Butte Loop and Hole-in-the-Rock Trail in Papago Park, to a more challenging expedition like the Echo Canyon trail. If your preferred cardio is more in the vein of retail therapy, head to the bustling heart of Scottsdale with a visit to Old Town boasting a mix of boutique shops, art galleries, design showrooms, and the obligatory Arizona souvenir. After a day of activity, sit back and enjoy one of the renowned spring desert sunsets. Sanctuary and Andaz are two gorgeous resorts, with perfect spots to take in those cotton candy skies, preferably with a cocktail in hand.
To plan your Phoenix & Scottsdale getaway, check out the Phoenix & Scottsdale Cheat Sheets. And for additional recommendations for what to do, see, and experience in Phoenix & Scottsdale, Arizona, follow The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale on Instagram and visit The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale website, where you can browse or buy the latest volume of The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale.
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS
Fiesta in San Antonio. Photography by Betsy Newman Photography.
The Alamo City is a great place to visit year round, but it’s especially worth the trip in the spring when the city is abloom, the weather is mild, and festivals abound. In late April, San Antonio celebrates Fiesta, a 10-day party offering over 100 events including carnivals, festivals, concerts, cook-offs, charreadas, and parties, allowing locals and visitors alike to celebrate the rich history of Texas and San Antonio’s cultural impact. Some of the stand-out events include the Coronation of the Queen of The Order of the Alamo at the beautiful Majestic theater, The Texas Cavaliers River Parade, The Battle of Flowers Parade and NIOSA (Night in Old San Antonio). A trip to San Antonio would not be complete without enjoying excellent Mexican food and margaritas. “We have hundreds of Mexican restaurants, and there’s a dual cultural mix because of the proximity to Mexico,” explains Francie Mannix, editor of The Scout Guide San Antonio. “You can find authentic, delicious Mexican food and margaritas at Soluna, La Fonda, Paloma Blanca, Los Barrios, La Gloria, and Mi Tierra, just to name a few.”
Francie also recommends taking in San Antonio’s many historic sites and cultural attractions, before the heat gets too intense. “This is a historical city with five wonderfully restored Missions, including the world-renowned Alamo. There’s also the beautiful Riverwalk with shops and restaurants running through downtown,” she says. “Visit these historical sites by riding bikes along the Mission Trail or hop on a river taxi from downtown to the Pearl District. Once people visit San Antonio they are immediately hooked by its cultural charm and history.” Francie notes that if you’re yearning to get out of the city, the nearby Texas Hill Country is worth a day trip for stunning vistas, quaint shops, and excellent wineries, especially in March when the countryside is awash in blue, when the bluebonnet, the state flower, are in bloom.
To plan your San Antonio getaway, check out the San Antonio Dine Like a Local Guide, San Antonio Shopping Guide, and Health, Wellness & Beauty Guide. For additional recommendations for what to do, see, and experience in San Antonio, Texas, follow The Scout Guide San Antonio on Instagram and visit The Scout Guide San Antonio website, where you can browse or buy the latest volume of The Scout Guide San Antonio.
Swing on the Boise River. Photography by CS Nafzger.
If The City of Trees doesn’t immediately conjure thoughts of a hip downtown with bustling culinary and cultural scenes, then we think it’s prime time for a visit. Boise is the perfect mix of urban and rural, giving you the best of both worlds, especially during the spring months. “We’re an outdoor community year-round, but come spring, we’re all ready for a change,” explains Allie Mann, editor of The Scout Guide Boise and The Treasure Valley. “Boise residents make their outdoor leisure and hobbies a top priority, whether that’s within town or just outside in the beautiful forests and scenic mountains.”
This big-little city shines in the springtime, boasting well over 200 days of sunshine throughout the year. Spring temperatures range from roughly 50-70ºF, making it an ideal locale for outdoor recreation. Thanks to Idaho’s mountain topography, skiing at local snow hub Bogus Basin and teeing off at one of Boise’s many golf courses are both possible on the same spring day. Allie also suggests a visit to the Boise River Greenbelt, a 25-mile pedestrian path that follows the picturesque Boise River, a local go-to for hiking, biking, and jogging. After a day of recreation, Boise’s outdoor patios and eating areas are a welcome sight: from tasting rooms to farmers markets, food truck parks to breweries, there is something to please all palates. When it comes to cultural experiences, Treefort Music Fest, held each March, ranks high amongst locals and visitors alike. A multi-day festival in the heart of Downtown Boise, this well-loved event brings together the worlds of music, art, food, comedy, yoga, podcasts, sci-fi, and more.
To plan your Boise getaway, check out the Boise Dining Guide, Boise Shopping Guide, Boise Lodging Guide, and The Treasure Valley Mountain Guide. And for additional recommendations for what to do, see, and experience in Boise, Idaho, follow The Scout Guide Boise and The Treasure Valley on Instagram and visit The Scout Guide Boise and The Treasure Valley website, where you can browse or buy the latest volume of The Scout Guide Boise and The Treasure Valley.
Dogwood Arts Festival. Photography courtesy of Dogwood Arts Festival.
Knoxville is known for its vibrant food scene, an overabundance of breweries, and outdoor activities, all which really shine in the spring season. “We are fortunate that we get all four seasons in East Tennessee, but spring is the best,” reports Frances King, editor of The Scout Guide Knoxville. “From the daffodils popping up to the dogwoods blooming, we have a bounty of blooms. As the gateway to the smokies, we are a nature lovers’ paradise.”
As mother nature begins to show off, Knoxville’s calendar of events ramps up. Enjoy cultural events like the Big Ears Festival, a music experience that brings innovative music performers to dozens of venues across the city, and the Dogwood Arts Festival, featuring fine art vendors, live music, entertainment, children’s activities, and food and beverage vendors. Plus, farmers markets vendors are eager to show off their spring produce and artisan goods. It’s also a great time to hit the trails! Mark your calendars, lace up your hiking boots, or jump on your trail bikes, for the Dogwood Trails Opening celebration at the end of March. In town the Urban Wilderness adventure area is chock full of trails for all levels, and just a short car ride away, is Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited national park in the country (for good reason).
To plan your Knoxville getaway, check out the Knoxville Dining Guide, Knoxville Sips Guide, Knoxville Shopping Guide, and Knoxville Lodging Guide. For additional recommendations for what to do, see, and experience in Knoxville, Tennessee, follow The Scout Guide Knoxville on Instagram and visit The Scout Guide Knoxville website, where you can browse or buy the latest volume of The Scout Guide Knoxville.
Feature photo: Desert Botanical Garden. Photography courtesy of Desert Botanical Garden.