Spring break season is just starting, but if you plan well, it’s possible to find a holiday spot with great weather—and no crushing crowds.
March is when the cold starts to let up and much of the country finally gets signs of warm weather. But if you start planning a trip for the summer months, you’ll hit high season for most destinations. Instead, seek out places you can go now—an ideal combination of warm weather and no crowds.
If you’re looking for a quick jaunt, there are tons of exciting happenings in New Orleans, New York City, and Washington, D.C. All three cities have exciting food scenes, but they each have March-specific attractions as well, from new hotel openings to the famous cherry blossoms.
Wine lovers should head to Portugal, where the Douro River area is in full bloom and you’ll have the vineyards practically to yourself. In Reykjavik, it feels like spring but looks like winter still, due to the snow on the ground—perfect for exploring the beautiful city.
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For a slightly more far-flung trip, head to Buenos Aires—the cheapest place to travel this month, where you can find some incredible deals. Sydney is also a steal right now, with the Australian dollar ten percent cheaper than it was last year. The star opening there is the Old Clare Hotel in Chippendale, which made Travel + Leisure list of the best new hotel openings last year.
No matter where your travels take you—and whether you want to avoid spring break destinations or embrace them—there are plenty of places to go that are both warm and cheap. What are you waiting for?
1. Hangzhou, China
This is the spring retreat of choice for many Chinese, and visitors from other parts of the world are just starting to catch on. Visit the former artists’ escape (the city’s West Lake, a UNESCO Heritage Site, is the inspiration behind countless poems and paintings) in early March, when the weather is warm but spring tourists have yet to descend. Slightly later in the month is when you’ll catch the peach flower blossoms as they bloom. Make your home base the new Luxury Collection property, the Pierre-Yves Rochon-designed Azure Qiantang.
2. New Orleans, Louisiana
Mardi Gras is over, but that’s perhaps even more of a reason to head to New Orleans now. Stay at the new Roman and Williams-designed Ace Hotel, which opens this month in an Art Deco building dating back to 1928. The hotel will house the first Southern outpost of Stumptown Coffee Roasters, as well as a restaurant from Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman. Given that modern cocktail culture was invented in this city (there are tons of cocktail tours you can go on), it’s no surprise that the bar scene is fantastic. The ideal place to recover is Willa Jean bakery, a bread-centric restaurant that serves breakfast all day and incredible sweets.
3. Douro Valley, Portugal
This region—which holds the world’s first official wine designation—has its own micro-climate, which explains why the grapes here are so spectacular. Spring comes early to Douro Valley, and in March, there’s the chance to see beautiful white and pink clouds, particularly in the hills. The wellness-focused Six Senses makes for a wonderful spa-cation, where wine permeates every aspect of your stay. Or if you prefer to fully explore the location, hop on one of the Viking Douro River ships (the latest one, Osfrid, launches this month), built specifically to navigate these waters.
Most people don’t realize that Tanzania is practically a year-round destination. There is great wildlife viewing in both the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater in March, and the weather is quite optimal: the humidity drops in March, and the rainy season doesn’t start until April. This year sees several openings in the country as well. Asilia opens its Highlands property on the slopes of the Olmoti Volcano this month, with ultra-cool glass geodesic tents.
5. Washington, D.C.
America’s capital has become a hot destination for much more than politics and history. There’s now a significant dining scene that’s well worth a visit, including the prix fixe-only Rose’s Luxury (no reservations, so go early to snag a seat) and Filipino-American fare at Purple Patch. But the best reason to go in March? It’s when the city’s famed cherry blossoms, a gift from Japan in 1910, starts to bloom—the annual Cherry Blossom Festival starts on March 20.
6. Sydney, Australia
You probably didn’t get a seat at Noma Sydney (the 10-week pop-up sold out within minutes, and the waitlist is reportedly 27,000 deep). But there are still plenty of reasons to head over to the booming city. The neighborhood du jour is Chippendale—home to the Old Clare Hotel, in a former brewery and pub, as well restaurants from Jason Atherton and Clayton Wells.
7. New York City
March is one of those blissful months in New York City where the weather is pleasant but the crowds have yet to descend. Fittingly, there’s a group of new hotels worth staying at as well. The 348-room Renaissance in Midtown bills itself as New York’s first “multi-sensory” hotel, with an interactive installation in the lobby that provides visitors with tips on food, theater, shopping, and more. Downtown, the 11 Howard soft opens this month. It has a prime Soho location, minimalist yet cozy rooms, and a restaurant from Stephen Starr and Parisian chef Daniel Rose. And the most exciting new restaurant opening is April Bloomfield’s Salvation Burger—the top chef’s take on fast food—with fried fruit pies, thick shakes, and burgers of every type.