After a particularly brutal winter of staying close to home, the arrival of spring has never been more welcome. The splashes of color from suddenly blooming flowers. The birds singing as they arrive back from their sojourn south. The slowly extending hours of daylight. It all comes together to announce a spring awakening. We don’t know about you, but we’re ready to get outside and enjoy. Whether by taking a vacation in your own backyard or embarking on some long-awaited travel, read on for ways to celebrate spring!
Soak in the Season
We’re all ready for spring, but did you know this season is actually good for your health? Here, three reasons why you should get some sunshine.
Sunlight improves sleep.
According to a 2013 study from the Interdepartmental Neuroscience program at Northwestern University, there is a strong relationship between workplace daylight exposure and office workers’ sleep activity and quality of life. In the study, workers with windows received 173 percent more light exposure, which led to 46 more minutes of sleep per night. And that’s just if you get some light while you’re working. Imagine if you actually took a vacation day and spent it outside.
Sunshine makes you happy.
Maybe singer John Denver said it best: “Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy.” The popular song was on to something. Exposure to sunlight boosts serotonin levels in your body. Serotonin, otherwise known as the “happiness hormone,” has been shown to improve your mood, make you feel more calm and alert, and reduce seasonal depression. So take Denver’s advice and get outside.
Sunshine helps you function better.
Parents, take note. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Human Resources found that students who get more sunlight every day perform better on tests. The study actually made a case for starting the school day earlier so students could have an opportunity to get some sun before hitting the books. Walk the dog. Go outside for a run. Step outside to take your coffee. Whether students or adults, we think this study clearly shows the benefits of early-morning sunlight to kick off a great day.
Get a Spring in Your Step
Whether heading out on vacation or getting active in your own backyard, trying out a new and novel activity is always a great idea. Read on for some springtime activities you may not have tried before.
Play disc golf
It’s spring, and everyone is hitting the links. But what about disc golf? It works on the same premise, but is a bit more active because you have to throw a disc at a faraway target. There are plenty of public parks that offer the sport. And don’t worry: You can still partake in a cocktail on the back nine.
Try stand-up paddleboarding
No waves at your destination? Skip the surfboard and try SUP instead. It still involves a board and getting out on the water, but you get a paddle to propel you (and help you keep your balance). From Hawaii to the Potomac River closer to home, this has become a pretty popular sport for water lovers.
Look up at the stars
Spring is the start of camping season, and while there’s plenty to do during the day (like hiking, of course!), don’t leave out the evening activities from your itinerary. Whether sleeping in a tent or heading back to a lodge, make some time to take advantage of the great outdoors and do some stargazing. Bring a telescope or just a map and point out the constellations with your fellow cosmos lovers.
Hunt for treasure
You’ve seen those people on the beach with a metal detector. Don’t pretend you’re not curious. Instead of simply lying in the sun, buy or borrow a beach-friendly metal detector and go looking for treasure. Sure, you’re more likely to find someone’s long-lost watch than Blackbeard’s treasure, but it’s fun to look all the same.
Train for a triathlon
Remember how earlier we said sunlight is good for you? Combine it with a varied workout and you’re sure to be in a great mood all spring. Swim, bike, and run your way to fitness with a slow and steady training workout this spring. Bonus: There are a number of beachfront destinations that host triathlon competitions, so you can turn your hard work into a great escape.
Play lawn games
When was the last time, as an adult, you played a game? Whether a game of horseshoes, a bean bag toss, or something super silly like a potato-sack race, invite your best buds over and pretend like you’re a kid again.
Pack a potluck picnic
You know the drill. Put some sandwiches and a bottle of wine in your basket and walk to a pretty locale. But how about putting a spin on it? Get your friends together and ask everyone to make one element of the picnic. Voila! All-new desserts, sandwiches, and, of course, wine, to try on your tried-and-true picnic.
Swim with the fishes
This one may require a bit of advance planning, as there’s nowhere to don your goggles and snorkel in the DC region. But if you can book a vacation at a tropical beach, snorkeling is one of the best ways to commune with nature. The silence under the water coupled with the brightly colored fishes is like swimming in your own aquarium. A destination by plane isn’t on your radar yet? Look up local pools that offer scuba-diving lessons and check that off your bucket list whenever you head on vacation next.
April showers bring May flowers, right? Those rain showers also tend to bring a lot of rainbows. As you stare out the window pensively during a spring rainstorm, keep an eye out after the rain for any rainbows. Get your camera and Instagram away. Finding a rainbow after a storm is, after all, the perfect metaphor for the year we’ve all had.
Stock Up for Spring Travel
Getting ready for a long-awaited warm-weather vacation? Don’t forget to pack these essentials in your suitcase.
The sun is out. Hooray! Just protect yourself whether you’re hiking, swimming, or just sitting outside somewhere with a cocktail by slathering on some strong SPF.
A Sun Hat
Even with a good SPF, a cute sun hat is also a must on many people’s packing list. Raise your hand if you’ve ever inadvertently burned the top of your head. A hat will make sure that doesn’t happen again.
A Bathing Suit
After a long winter, who isn’t excited about finally getting to break out the bathing suits? Before you head out on vacation, make sure to try yours on at home and see if it fits in all the right places. If not? Don’t fret. That just means you get to buy a new favorite suit!
Whether going on a road trip, getting on a plane, or camping in your own backyard, emergency snacks aren’t just for the kids. Protect yourself against getting hunger pangs by having your favorite portable snacks with you.
A Great Book
There’s no required reading on vacation, but it is always a great time to read something that’s been on your reading list. Pick something you truly want to read, find a great spot in the sun, and settle in.
Springtime with your Little Ones
Any parent will tell you: It’s just a little bit easier to entertain kids in warm weather. But even though you can banish cabin fever, that doesn’t mean your little ones won’t tell you they’re bored. Here, a few ideas for easy activities that combat tedium.
Chalk the walk: Coloring with crayons is great, but there is just something about creating masterpieces on your sidewalk or driveway. Buy sidewalk chalk in bulk and let the kids get creative outside.
Break out the bubbles: What is it about bubbles? Kids. Love. Them. It’s a cheap and easy way to entertain children for hours. Stock up on wands of all sizes and watch your kids experience the inexplicable magic of bubbles.
Organize a scavenger hunt: In your backyard or even on a beach on vacation, put together a list of simple things to find (seashells, a pretty rock, etc.) and let your kids feel like they’re on a treasure hunt.
Celebrate the Holidays
April 3-National Find a Rainbow Day
April 7-National No Housework Day
April 13-National Peach Cobbler Day
April 23-National Picnic Day
April 28-National Superhero Day
May 4-Star Wars Day
May 14-National Dance Like a Chicken Day
May 21-National Pizza Party Day
May 31-Memorial Day (Goodbye spring, hello summer!)
Your Spring Bucket List
The Northern Virginia region has its very own world-famous spring festival in its own backyard. The National Cherry Blossom Festival is worth a visit every year (though this year, the fest will be primarily virtual), and these three famous spring fests in the U.S. are worth adding to your bucket list. Here’s to spring!
Chinese Lantern Festival, Philadelphia
Forget flowers. The lanterns and light displays that take over Philly’s Franklin Square every spring (May 1-June 30) are an equally wow-worthy way to welcome spring. Look for beautiful bright lights, along with Chinese acrobatics and crafts by Chinese folk artists all coming together for a truly bright experience.
Skagit Tulip Festival, Mount Vernon, Washington
DC has the cherry blossoms, but the other Washington has tulips. The Skagit Tulip Festival (April 1-30) features millions of blooming tulips in the Skagit Valley. Tour the fields and take part in bike tours, art shows and other festive ways to showcase the gorgeous flowers.
Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, Orlando
Pair your next Florida trip with a stop at the Disney theme park’s annual flower and garden fest (March 3-July 5). The festival features things like Disney-themed topiaries, all manner of gorgeous gardens, workshops and exhibits, specialty foods, live entertainment and—because it’s Disney—plenty for little ones to do.
Greet the Gardens
If you’ve got a green thumb, great. Spring is the best time to start prepping your planting beds. If not, no worries. These gorgeous gardens all around the world are worth a bucket-list visit.
Gardens of Versailles, France
Sure, the palace is plenty impressive, but for gardening fans, it’s the grounds of Louis XIV’s French estate that are the most breathtaking. Look for manicured lanes lined with flowers, sculptures and fountains across 2,000 acres. The perfectly preserved gardens are even a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Tulips and springtime are synonymous, and perhaps the blooms are nowhere more beautiful than in the gardens at Keukenhof. They boast more than 7 million spring-flowering bulbs each year that sprout up in a symphony of color from March to late May. In addition to tulips, visitors find daffodils, crocuses, and hyacinths.
Kew Gardens, England
If you’re looking for a proper English garden, look no further than Kew. Located in London, it’s home to the world’s largest Victorian glasshouse. There, visitors can find rare and threatened species of plants, along with a bamboo garden, arboretum, and the Princess of Wales Conservatory.
United States Botanic Garden
A bit closer to home, the U.S. Botanic Garden is just a stone’s throw away in DC. George Washington himself was the one who dreamed of a botanic garden in the nation’s capital, and this one was established by Congress in 1820, making it the country’s oldest continuously operating botanic garden. While the landmark is currently closed for safety, there’s plenty of programming on the garden’s website.
The Garden as Inspiration
If you’re just as excited for the arrival of spring as we are, let these famous quotes about the loveliness of nature perk you up even more.
“Earth laughs in flowers.”–Ralph Waldo Emerson
“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.”–Claude Monet
“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”–Audrey Hepburn
“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.”–Vincent van Gogh