Spring Flower Fests in Bloom
Lancaster, Calif., and the surrounding countryside are the backdrop for fields of poppies, one of nature's gaudiest fashion shows. (Courtesy City of Lancaster)
California Poppy Festival
Lancaster, Calif. and vicinity
The highlight of this festival is out in the country, an hour north of Los Angeles: the eight miles of hiking trails in the Antelope Valley California Poppy Preserve. Rolling hills and Mojave desert grasslands are the backdrop for an eye-searing display of yellow-orange poppies; it's a Teletubbies set for grownups, without those models of good behavior. This all-natural flower show varies a lot from year to year; you can call the state park's wildflower hotline (661-724-1180) to check on what's in blossom. Back in the city of Lancaster, the festival's non-blooming attractions include arts and crafts vendors, live music, and high- and low-brow treats from local restaurants.
If you're in a mood indigo, the fields of bluebonnets in and around Ennis, Texas (a beeline from Dallas) should satisfy a quest for bluebonnet bloom. (Courtesy of Ennis Convention and Visitors Bureau)
Bluebonnet Trails Festival
April 21 and 22
Whether you prefer an endless vista of pure indigo, or bluebonnets mixed with the flaming oranges and reds of Indian paintbrush, the fields in and around Ennis--45 minutes south of Dallas--are the place to be in April. Drive the country roads that crease the great expanses of blue, then get out to stretch your legs and get up close and personal with those enchanting blooms. Back in town, there's a traditional menu of bluegrass and country music on stage and lunch to fuel you for more afternoon viewing of those amazing blues. Call 800-452-9292 for the latest information on the state of bluebonnet bloom.
It's a soft invasion: Daffodils transform the landscape of Meriden, Ct., a town that claims 600,000 daffodils in more than 60 varieties. (© Southern Stock/Getty Images)
April 28 and 29
Daffodils are to lucky patches of the New England woods what wildflowers are to the sunny Southwest: an invasion of spring that transforms the landscape. Meriden claims 600,000 daffodil bulbs in 61 varieties spread across the town's Hubbard Park, an 1,800-acre bounty in this town half an hour north of New Haven. Free musical acts range from The D. Smith Blues Band to River City Slim & The Zydeco Hogs. Lunch, served up by local nonprofits, range from clam fritters to pinchos (a small but hearty snack related to tapas) to peach shortcake, enough to induce a nap among all those gold-, white- and orange-cupped blooms.
Pella Tulip Time
Pella, the settlement that Dutch immigrants (and, more recently, window manufacturing) built, is the ideal Middle American setting for a tulip festival. This town of 10,000 people an hour east of Des Moines celebrates its Dutch roots by not only nurturing thousands of tulip bulbs in its city parks, but also with Dutch-style Main Street storefronts and even the Vermeer Windmill. Festival highlight: the Tulip Queen and her court, who crown the town's tulip parade, which also entrains a float bearing "Tulip Queens of yesteryear." Proost!