Destinations in Bloom
Valley of the Flowers in India When to Go: July and August The park opens seasonally from April to October, but the best time to visit is July and August, when monsoon rains bring ample alpine flowers, including blue poppies, cobra lilies, and a wealth of orchids and rhododendrons. Where to Find the Valley of the Flowers in India: Hidden within the Himalayas in India's northern state of Uttarakhand -- about 370 miles from Delhi.
Lavender in Provence, Southern France When to Go: July The main blooming season runs late June through August, with most harvesting done between mid-July and late August. July is also when many towns throughout Provence begin hosting festivals, celebrating these native flowering plants. Some towns even host lavender tours. Best Places to See Lavender in Provence: To catch sight of lavender in bloom, consider visiting Plateau de Sault, the base of Mont Ventoux, and Sénanque Abbey.
Green Season in Costa Rica When to Go: May through mid-November What's considered Costa Rica's rainy season is also the country's most scenic. During this time, the land comes alive with greenery, flowering plants like orchids are in full bloom, the rivers are at their highest, and the rain forests thrive.
Bluebonnets in Texas Hill Country When to Go: Mid-April Where to See Bluebonnets in Texas: The central Texas Hill Country surrounding Austin is the state's premier place to see wildflowers in bloom, and the town of Burnet -- about an hour's drive north of the capital city -- is officially called the "Bluebonnet Capital of Texas." One of the best ways to view the blooms is on a scenic drive, particularly around Fredericksburg and San Marcos.
Tulips in Holland When to Go: Mid-April to mid-May Where to See Tulips in Holland: Two superb spots for viewing tulips are Keukenhof -- the world's largest flower garden -- near Lisse, and the Netherlands' 20-mile coastal region between Haarlem and Leiden (dubbed the Bloembollenstreek, or bulb growing region), best explored by bicycle.
California Poppies in Mojave Desert When to Go: March Though wildflower season generally lasts from mid-Feb through mid-May, come to Mojave Desert in March for prime viewing. Where to See California Poppies: Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve typically springs to life in March with the bright orange bulbs -- making for incredible photo ops. In fact, the reserve was established to protect the state's native wildflowers.
Cherry Blossoms in Japan When to Go: The end of March to early May Where to See Cherry Blossoms in Japan: Two places in Tokyo to view cherry blossoms -- particularly in early April -- are the popular Ueno Park and Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, which boasts about 1,500 cherry blossom trees.
Sunflowers in Thailand's Lop Buri Province -- When to Go: November through January -- About 96 miles north of Bangkok, Lop Buri is becoming increasingly known for its annual display of sunflowers, which turn the surrounding hills and valleys into a spectacular shade of gold. About 12,000 acres are grown here each year, mostly for producing seeds and oil. The fields are especially impressive when viewed against the backdrop of Lop Buri's limestone hills.
Fall Foliage in Quebec, Canada When to Go: Sep to Nov - Quebec province transforms into a virtual finger painting of vibrant yellows, oranges, reds, and gold during autumn, when the turning foliage of yellow birch and American beech mixes with that of native sugar maple trees. Where to View Fall Foliage in Quebec: For prime leap peeping, head to Montreal's Mont-Royal and Quebec's Mont Tremblant, which hosts the annual Symphony of Colours festival weekends in Sep and Oct.
Grape Harvest Season in Tuscany, Italy When to Go: Late September through October Tuscany comes alive during grape harvest season (known as the Vendemmia) with dozens of festivals and feasts taking place in villages and public squares throughout the region. Where to Celebrate the Grape Harvest Season in Tuscany: The annual Chianti Grape Harvest Festival, held in Impruneta on the last Sunday in September, features more than 800 wines, along with music, dancing, and costumes galore.
By Laura Kiniry Provence, France, awash in the light purple hue of lavender. Holland's vast tulip fields. These annual events are big tourist draws for a reason. But if you don't know when and where to see nature's best seasonal attractions, chances are you won't -- the best blooms, leaf turnings, and harvest seasons can last just a few weeks. From Costa Rica to Tuscany, here are 10 destinations in bloom that you won't want to miss.