The Best Vacation Destinations To Visit In The Spring, According To Samantha Brown

Since 1999, TV host and travel expert Samantha Brown has been sharing her top destinations and travel tips with communities around the world. If there's one thing Brown can offer her viewers, it's the world's best destinations to visit. Springtime, in particular, stimulates a renewed passion in travelers to experience the birth of a fresh season in a new location. Vibrant wildflowers, floral notes carried on the breeze, and the sound of new life permeating across the land — all universal announcements that spring has officially sprung! And some destinations display this rebirth more vividly than others. 

As Brown told Cloud Nine, most residents in bustling urban centers migrate away from their city lifestyles as the spring season approaches. The emptiness of certain cities means travelers can bypass the chaotic crowds and long lines that permeate restaurants and iconic hot spots. Underrated gems are Brown's first-choice when settling on a vacation spot. She recommends bypassing the more popular cities, like New York City and Los Angeles, and looking beyond at what she calls B-side cities — destinations that are often overlooked but are rich in cultural experiences and local charm. 

As exciting as the world's larger metropolitan capitals may be, under-the-radar cities offer something buzzing urban centers often fail to provide: a local's perspective. Combine that with budget-friendly prices and fewer crowds, and you've found a golden travel spot. From exploring some of America's best Southern gems to a European excursion in France, pass up the world's more fashionable cities for these hidden beauties instead.

Consider a southern spring break

Nashville — the capital of country music! A spring break trip to Music City may be what Brown calls an "alternative spring break," but it's a city chock-full of contemporary charm and Southern hospitality. The city comes to life in springtime, ushered in by flower trucks selling vibrant bouquets, local farmers markets, and Franklin's rolling green hillsides, located just 20 miles outside Nashville. Contrary to popular belief, Broadway isn't the only thing calling your name in this city. If you love country music but want to skip the crowded streets and the honky-tonks, check out The Listening Room Cafe instead. It's a popular place to hear up-and-coming artists present their craft while indulging in some famous Nashville hot chicken. Alternatively, visit The Flower Kitchen in Franklin. This adorable coffee house doubles as a floral shop, with frequently-held flower workshops.

Asheville might just be North Carolina's top spot for a spring break getaway in the natural serenity of the wilderness, according to Brown. Bordered by Shenandoah National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains, there are few better places to take in the revival of spring than Asheville. Known as the "Paris of the South," this city is known for its French-style architecture and vibrant arts scene. From exploring the grounds of the famous Biltmore Estate and perusing the River Arts District to embarking on a scenic road trip along Blue Ridge Parkway, there's an endless collection of gems to be discovered in this Southern city.

Ring in flower season in France

If Paris is France's A-side star, then Lyon, France, is the B-side city that constitutes one of the country's best-kept hidden gems. As the second-largest city and foodie capital of France, Lyon is the underrated jewel of this European nation. According to Brown, unlike Paris, Lyon is a city of leisure and relaxation where travelers can ease into the laid back culture of the town and experience the city from a local's lens. With the addition of French cafes and vegetative flower gardens, what's not to love?

The botanical gardens in Parc de la Tête d'Or are a non-negotiable when visiting Lyon in the peak of spring season. The lush greenery and colorful wildflowers are a sight to behold against the backdrop of the city. Of course, a picnic never hurts. Stop by one of the local artisan cheese shops or produce markets and curate a colorful picnic lunch with fresh delicacies, like strawberries, crackers, cheese, and wine (all the culinary essentials when in France).

Of course, what better way to ring in the spring season than in the fresh air and sunshine? Lyon was built for embracing the warmer months, with several designated walking and biking paths. The La Voie Bleue bike path runs parallel to the Saône River all the way to the border of Luxembourg. Even if you don't complete the entire route, it's a fun way to see the sights of the city on wheels.