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Looking for the perfect place to spend spring break or celebrate the end of your college year? We feel you! May is a great time to explore the world, whether you want to enjoy warm summer temperatures with outdoor activities or check out popular locales without the tourist crowds.
Here are our top recommendations for the best places to visit in May, both in the U.S. and beyond.
May is a gorgeous time to explore the nation’s capital city. Not only will you have great weather, with average temperatures in the 70s, but you’ll have to deal with fewer tourists during the low season. However, beware of the peak season crowds once Memorial Day hits!
Washington D.C.’s city center has plenty to fill your late spring days, from museums to gorgeous parks. Take advantage of the morning’s pleasant temperatures to visit the National Mall & Memorial Parks. You’ll see some fantastic historical sites, like the Lincoln Memorial, WWII Memorial, Washington Monument, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. There are more than 100 historical buildings, monuments, fountains, and parks to explore in this expansive chapter of the National Park System.
If you like art, you won’t want to miss the National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian American Art Gallery, or the National Portrait Gallery. For more fun, check out all the rest of the Smithsonian institutions, from the Natural History Museum to the National Zoo!
Inca Trail, Peru
Want to spend your spring break outside of the U.S.? Consider a trip to Peru, and spend your days hiking the Inca Trail!
This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the most popular hiking trails in South America. You’ll follow long-established paths through the Andean mountains, Inca ruins, and gorgeous countrysides until you finally reach the Sun Gate of Machu Picchu.
The Inca Trail is only 25 miles long, but it’s steep. So plan on spending four days and three nights taking your journey at a reasonable pace and spending the night in local towns.
Especially if you hate summer crowds, Peru is one of the best places to visit in May. The country’s shoulder season includes May, so you’ll have fewer crowds to deal with than June when the high season starts.
Plus, May marks the beginning of Peru’s dry season, so rain showers will be minimal! (Who wants to hike during the rainy season?) As a final bonus, you’ll get to enjoy milder temperatures now than in the first few months of the year, with average temperatures staying in the 60s.
Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia
Another of the best places to visit in May is the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia! Spring breakers won’t see much warm weather with the average temperature capping out in the 60s.
However, you’ll catch this beautiful stretch of mountains in the shoulder season, which means you’ll see some other people on the roads, but nowhere near the summer crowds of June.
The hiking trails through these mountains are stunning this time of year, thanks to the multitude of greenery and spring flowers from the area’s rainy season (avg. ten days in May).
You’ll have your pick of trails in Shenandoah National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as well as the area’s many state parks. Chart a few routes in advance to make sure you enjoy both scenic vistas and quiet forest trails. You can also book a horseback riding tour and have a guide show you their favorite routes.
Alternatively, you can take a road trip through some of the most beautiful parts of the mountain range. We highly recommend a journey through the gorgeous Skyline Drive or Blue Ridge Parkway.
Zion National Park, Utah
If you’d like to fill your trip with natural wonders and fresh air, Zion National Park is one of the best destinations in the nation! Just be sure to plan wisely to avoid the high season tourists and summer heat.
You’ll see significantly fewer crowds before Memorial day weekend. After that, be prepared for long days because the busy summer months are the peak season for this incredible park. Another reason to visit in May is because of the good weather. You’ll enjoy balmy average temperatures in the 70s before June shoots up to the 80s and 90s.
There’s no shortage of outdoor adventures in Zion National Park! We recommend a hike to the Canyon Overlook and Angels Landing. You will see some crowds here, so consider Kolob Canyon or Lava Point if you want some alone time.
For a day trip, consider a drive down the Zion Mt. Carmel Highway Scenic Drive. You’ll see a fantastic mix of natural wonders and a famous historical site: the Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel. This drive will also take you right by many great hiking trails, so leave time to explore off the road!
You never have to look far for a good time in Tennessee’s capital city! For music lovers, Nashville is one of the best places to visit any time of year. But there’s so much for everyone to love in May!
Nashville’s peak tourist season is in the summer months, but the music scene comes to life from April to October. So if you want to catch any of the fun festivals and free concerts in this vibrant city, mid-May is the sweet spot to check them out.
Before you ditch the music scene, don’t miss a performance at the iconic Grand Ole Opry, which hosts country music shows every week!
There’s still plenty to do when you’ve had your fill of country music! Browse through local shops, art galleries, and museums. Try some local food and fall in love with Nashville’s unique flavors as you fuel up for some outdoor activities. You won’t want to leave with our visits to the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park and Centennial Park. After that, there are extensive opportunities to enjoy the comfortable temperatures with hiking, fishing, zip lines, and more!
Tortuguero, Costa Rica
Trade the annual festivals for a trip filled with natural beauty and unforgettable experiences in Tortuguero, Costa Rica. This Caribbean village is one of the best destinations for sea turtles worldwide!
Costa Rica’s shores are home to different types of turtles, and Tortuguero National Park is the prime destination to see three of them during their nesting season. Visitors can book tours with the local research station between March and July to see Leatherback turtles nesting at night. What a fun event!
You’ll find no shortage of outdoor adventure in this part of Costa Rica. Spend time exploring Tortuguero National Park and Barra de Colorado Wildlife Refuge by kayak to see incredible creatures. Stop by Tortuguero Village to learn about conservation in the area. Or, book a boat tour to see some of the 300+ species of birds that inhabit the area!
Just be prepared to be a little flexible with your plans, as May marks the rainy season for this area, and you’ll be splitting sunny days with rain showers.
May is the perfect time to explore northern Michigan with comfortable temperatures. The average temperatures rarely drop below 52 or rise above 85, so you’ll be able to explore without freezing or sweating to death.
Michigan is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit this time of year because of the beauty of the Great Lakes! While it’ll be too cold for a swim, you can take a Great Lakes cruise, explore the pristine beaches of Sleeping Bear Dunes on Lake Michigan, or kayak around Isle Royal National Park in search of moose, wolves, and beavers. The waters will be beautiful wherever you go, and the spring flowers will make the shorelines positively beautiful.
In mid-May, a trip to Northern Michigan has to include a stop in Traverse City to see their famous Cherry Blossom festival! After you’ve seen their beauty, be sure to check out the local shops, food, and the area’s five lighthouses!
Last but not least, take a step back in time with a visit to Mackinac Island. This car-free paradise is famous for its fudge, Fort Mackinac, and the Grand Hotel. It’s so peaceful here, you’ll have a hard time getting back on the ferry!
Don’t wait to visit Savannah in the summer heat–it’s gorgeous in May! This popular vacation spot is the perfect getaway for spring breakers. You’ll enjoy fewer tourists, average temperatures in the 60s to 80s, and colorful flowers everywhere.
Many people make the mistake of visiting Savannah later in the year. But June to November marks the area’s hurricane season. And even if you’re not facing hurricanes, the rainy season peaks from June to September with more than 20 days of rain each month!
That’s why we love to prioritize Savannah as one of the best places to visit in May.
Tour the town’s endless historical sites, walk the swampy trails of Skidaway Island State Park, and enjoy the vibrant Savannah City Market. But don’t miss the area’s festivals and parades either! The Savannah College of Art and Design hosts a sidewalk Arts Festival through early May. (You can always check out the SCAD museum if you miss it.) Or, spice things up at the Savannah Scottish Games and the Doggie Carnival!
Other fantastic stops include Bonaventure Cemetery, the haunted Sorrel Weed house, and the stunning Cathedral of John the Baptist.
Conclusion: Where to Travel in May
Overall, May is a great time to visit different parts of the United States. The weather is comfortable in many areas, and there are plenty of events and activities to enjoy. If you’re looking for a beach vacation, Costa Rica is a great option. Or, if you want to explore some of the country’s natural beauty, consider northern Michigan or Savannah, Georgia. No matter where you go, you’re sure to have a great time!