With the first days of spring upon us, surely it’s about time for a vacation! If you are a citizen of a Visa Waiver Program member country, you can apply for ESTA online, and see what the USA has to offer as we say goodbye to winter!
Thanks to its expansive and diverse land, the USA hosts a variety of different climatic conditions. In the spring, most northern states can be snow-capped and still skiable, whilst those in the south, such as Florida and Texas, are basking in the sunshine.
American culture, a heterogeneous melting pot created born from a long history of diverse immigration, is today defined by regions with entirely different aesthetics, cuisine, and art. The USA spans three different climatic zones, each accompanied by different landscape, flora, and fauna. Home to the great plains, known for their desert climate and reddish hues, California’s lush Mediterranean-style forests, and Alaska’s optic white scenery, the country offers a destination for every taste. We have compiled a list of beautiful places to visit on your springtime trip to America, whether you are on a budget or feeling like a big spender, whether you are traveling with your family, with a group of friends, or solo.
If you’ve never been to Washington DC, the springtime is as good a time as any to learn about the nation’s history. There is something for everyone to do in this historic city. The first place to start would be to take one of the many extensive tours a day offered at the Capitol building. Here you will find myriad different galleries and art exhibitions hosted by the Smithsonian Institution. Visit the National Archives, where the actual Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution are stored. Next, you can go visit the Library of Congress, an architectural wonder with jaw-dropping Gilded Age decor. It is no wonder the building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965.
Once your thirst for history has been quenched, take a walk outside and enjoy the spring in this city, where greenery is never in shortage. Particularly beautiful and worth seeing are the cherry blossoms that bloom this time of the year, known to the locals as floral fireworks that foretell the advent of the warm season. Not everyone knows this, but most of the cherry trees in Washington are not autochthonous but are actually descendants from those gifted to the U.S. by Japan in 1912, marking 60 years of friendly relations. Sakura, as they are known in Japan, are known for blooming at a “peak” that lasts a few delightful days, leaving a blanket of pink covering the city. For those treating themselves to an opulent trip, the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown is gorgeous, even for a 5-star hotel. Located near the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, The Wink is also an excellent option for those of us looking to spend a little less.
Looking for a little more “Rock n Roll” this spring? Whether you’re a high-roller or on a shoestring budget, Las Vegas has you covered, offering a permanent playground for adults. If you have never been to the Strip, now is a good a time as any! This is one of the most popular destinations for group trips, bachelor parties and of course eloping.
The opulent buildings are more “more” than anything you’ll ever see. In fact, you can even expect to find some faux European landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Venetian canals, so you don’t feel too far from home. If you’re feeling lucky, you can take your chance at the slot machines, or play some cards and dice. Las Vegas also offers something for those who are looking for a more erudite excursion such as the Mob Museum, and if you’re looking for a little blast from the past, you will find plenty of retro gems such as the Champagnes Café, in all its glitzy 50’s glory.
Whether you’re here for the fantastic food or to get married in a chapel by an Elvis impersonator, Las Vegas won’t leave you indifferent. The Tru By Hilton Las Vegas Airport is a great accommodation option for those looking to spend their money at the casino. If money’s not an issue, the Waldorf Astoria is as elegant as it is modern.
Looking for a bit of nature? Yosemite National Park’s waterfalls may be your spot. Pronouncing the name alone is great fun; Yosemite meaning "killer" in Miwok, a renegade tribe that was driven out of the area by the Mariposa Battalion.
Here you will feast your eyes on North America’s highest waterfall. Yosemite Falls drops a whopping 2,425 feet. Yosemite Falls is actually not one single waterfall but made up of three separate falls known as Upper Yosemite Fall, the middle cascades and Lower Yosemite Fall. You can actually hike all the way to the top of the falls for some magnificent photos, but it’s a day-long trip so come prepared.
If you’re looking for a shorter hike, Bridalveil Fall trail may be the destination for you, a half-mile trail that will take you to one of the most beautiful waterfalls in America. With a 620-foot drop, Bridalveil Fall sounds like crashing thunder during the spring, the peak flow coming in May. Yosemite offers many accommodation options, from quaint bed and breakfasts and cabins to simply camping in the outdoors.
Also worthy of a visit are Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall, but these two are high up on a steep trail, so expect to have to “work for it”.
Are you looking for a little more relax, namely sipping on a glass of red wine whilst viewing a gorgeous sunset? Napa Valley may be the Californian destination better suited for you. America's most famous wine region is justifiably so. Although most visitors come either in the summer or during the fall to experience harvest time, the spring’s just as pleasant, if not more. This time of the year you will find fewer crowds, and the temperature is mild and balmy. Napa’s gorgeous Californian weather is perfect for starting the day off healthy with some cycling through the vineyards. This time of the year, you will see luscious lavender and mustard plants popping all over the place, inviting the beautiful local butterflies to come out and play. Speaking of play, when the sun sets (or sooner!) you will be able to visit the local picturesque wineries for complimentary samples of the local full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignons.
A lovely place to stay during your visit to Napa is the sophisticated Auberge du Soleil, an adults-only retreat for you to completely relax and soak in the sun (and wine). If your budget is a bit tighter, the Best Western Plus Elm House Inn is just a few minutes' drive or 15-minute walk from downtown Napa and offers excellent value for money.
Is California not warm enough for you? Then welcome to Miami! If you’re looking to come home with a tan-line, Miami in the spring is your best bet, as high temps fall in the upper 20s. If you’re travelling with kids, visit the Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition for the amazing carnival rides, and head over to the Riverday Festival and enjoy free boat rides and live outdoor music. Miami is also a hub for American Airlines, meaning that you will often find cheap airfare from Europe into their international airport.
If you’re in Miami for the glamour and can afford to pay a pretty penny, Fontainebleau in the iconic Miami Beach is the place for you. If you’re not a Rockefeller, the Rodeway Inn in South Miami Coral Gables is a great budget accommodation option.
If you’ve decided to go ahead and visit the US this Spring, now’s the time to get your travel documents in order. Don’t let an unwelcome surprise… spring on you. The best way to get to the United States without having to apply for a visa, especially if you make use of the last-minute deals you often find this time of the year, is by applying for an ESTA online. ESTA is short for the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, a permit that allows you to visit the USA for up to 90 days at a time without having to apply for the traditional US visa. The application process is short and can be done online, meaning no trips to the local US embassy, and lower costs. You will be prompted to answer a list of ESTA questions online, whereby you will, within the following 24 hours, receive your approval (or rejection) status at your given email address. The application process is a whole lot easier and more accommodating to our busy schedules than a visa application, and the cost of an ESTA is also much lower than that of a visa.
Please remember that your ESTA will only last for two years, or until your passport expires (whichever comes first). If your application is approved, you will be allowed to travel to the United States for a list of specific purposes, mainly limited to travelling as a tourist or on business, although there are some exceptions such as for medical reasons. During the two-year time that your ESTA is valid, you will be able to travel to the USA as frequently as you like, but remember that you cannot extend your visit for 90 days during any one single trip.
Winter is over! Apply for your ESTA online and start looking at those flight deals before the summer rush!