Sometimes you just need to stop and smell the roses… and the wildflowers, peonies, lavender, buttercups, and poppies. If a flower-infused getaway sounds like the perfect late spring/early summer escape, these destinations to see the world’s super blooms are even more magical in full bloom. Bud voyage!
Sonoma County, CA
From the sunflower farms near Sacramento to the rainbow rows of ranunculus at Carlsbad’s Flower Fields, the Golden State is awash with sensory adventures. You’ll find the most beautiful blooms in Sonoma, one of California’s famed wine countries an hour north of San Francisco. Many of the area’s famed wineries feature tastings either in or within view of their immaculate gardens like Matanzas Creek and the Kendall-Jackson Estate. Tour the home and urban garden of game-changing botanist Luther Burbank in Santa Rosa, as well. Picnic among the poppies, (AKA, the state flower known as cups of gold), at Crane Creek Regional Park. Be tickled pink by a state reserve overflowing with rhododendrons every May outside of Jenner. Take all the photos for the ‘gram in June and July when the lavender fields at Monte-Bellaria di California are a sea of purple. And be sure to stock up on fresh honey at Lavender Bee Farm.
Where to Stay
The Lodge at Sonoma Resort, Autograph Collection is a boutique-style retreat where it’s easy to immerse yourself in the county’s gorgeous scenery, quaint charm, and endless vineyards. Continue to surround yourself with fresh air and lush and showy living decor at the pool bar, housed within a converted horse trailer, or on the patio of celebrity chef Michael Mina’s first foray in wine country. The charming and always bustling town square in Healdsburg has two other flower-centric options. Guests of Hotel Healdsburg can book the wildflower walks experience (now through May 31) to tiptoe through wide swaths of bright blue iris, purple lupine, deep orange poppies, pink wild rose, blue-eyed grass, yellow buttercups, and more. The private two-hour guided customizable hike with trail guide/certified health coach Karen Austin includes a gourmet picnic lunch from Dry Creek Kitchen. At its sister property, the h2hotel, guests can decorate their suite with a variety of plants from Dragonfly Floral, a local organic flower farm and florist that offers master classes in arranging.
London is always worth traveling for, but this year as the Queen celebrates her Platinum Jubilee, it’s really turning on the floral charm. Go wild at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, considered by most to be the world’s greatest botanical design showcase, May 24 – 28, 2022. Sip bubbly while hunting for houseplants, marveling at a wide variety of floral displays and genius garden plans including some featuring recycled/repurposed items, or digging into the science behind the health-boosting and climate-positive benefits of gardening — best interpreted by garden artist John Warland’s icy concept which symbolizes the problematic melting of Siberian permafrost. To celebrate the jubilee, the moat of the iconic Tower of London will be copiously carpeted with flowers come June. Budding botanists might also want to check out the Urban Tree Festival which will host a series of outdoor events in Mid May to celebrate the trees that grace London’s streets.
Where to Stay
The Beaverbrook Town House opened its grand doors on Sloane Street (scene of chic high-end boutiques) in London’s trendy Chelsea neighborhood in September 2021. Taking over two Georgian mansions, the property, reimaged as a Gatsby-era playground befitting the Beaverbrook’s flamboyant namesake lord who used to run elbows with Winston Churchill and Elizabeth Taylor. It is the first urban extension of the brand’s countryside estate in Surrey. Home to 14 suites, each styled and named after London theaters, accents like velvet curtains, scallops, and glossy tiles give it its deco decadence. That said, the focus here is also on immersing yourself in nature — the property grants guests exclusive access to nearby Cadogan Gardens where you’ll find pollinator meadows and 300-year-old mulberry trees.
It’s easy being green in this southern city thanks to more than 100 parks, 53,000 tree-lined street, and 30,000-plus acres of the state’s prized bluegrass. Rural backroads and rolling hills dotted with prized horse breeders and farmland pop with colorful flowers and the miles of trails at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill and Raven Run Nature Sanctuary are awash with wildflower patches. At the Castle & Key Distillery come for the bourbon (and gin) tastings and stay for the beautiful landscaping, gazebos, pools, and sunken gardens where you can enjoy concerts, food trucks and yoga classes. Walk the Botanical Trail, to see a showcase of the herbs and flowers used in their gin, trees, and bright blossoms.
Where to Stay
The new-in-town Elwood Hotel & Suites (minutes from Rupp Arena and Keeneland race track) bills itself as the world’s first plant-friendly hotel. The giant floral mural painted on the exterior proves how serious they take the growing trend of treating houseplants like pets. The boutique property encourages plant moms and dads to travel with their beloved potted blooms to experience the Gardener’s Premier Corner Room Package — stay in a suite overflowing with natural light, in-room live greenery provided by Pemberton’s, and locally made botanical toiletries from Kentucky Soaps & Such. Enjoy a complimentary themed Garden Mojito at the restaurant while your leafy travel companion slurps down a nourishing “tea.” Package participants will also leave with a new succulent as a parting gift.
Everything’s bigger in Texas including the sprays of wildflowers which are made up of around 2,700 vibrant species including skullcaps, beardtongue, thistles, Indian paintbrushes, pink evening primroses, and the Indian blanket. Expect to get a huge hit of color and fragrance no matter where you go in the Lone Star State as flowers grow free in empty fields, parks, and along rural roads of Hill Country towns like San Saba and Johnson City. The best tried-and-true destinations for flower-peeping, however, include Ennis (home of the Official Texas Bluebonnet Trail and a festival dedicated to the state’s signature blossom), the 80-mile stretch between Brenham and Burton (highways 49, 255, and 11), West Texas’ Terlingua and Big Bend arid areas (where the Chisos Bluebonnet, a variety unique to the state, thrives), and the dogwood trails of East Texas. As for the largest working wildflower farm in the US? You’ll find Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg, TX.
Where To Stay
A refined yet rustic Hill Country property in Sonora, JL Bar Ranch, Resort & Spa has 32 rooms and cabins decked out with woven textiles, custom-built furniture, and western art. Here, sit high in the saddle or behind the wheel of an ATV or UTV to explore the resort’s sprawling 13,000 acres to see the endless bluebonnets and spot local wildlife. In addition to horseback riding and off-roading, you can also indulge in wine tasting, weekend yoga, and shooting clays.
Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada
Banff and Jasper national parks get most of the Alberta tourist love, but bigger isn’t always better as is the case with this small slice of alpine wilderness. The tiniest national park in the Canadian Rockies explodes in the warmer months with thousands of native wildflower and plant species, 30 of which are not found anywhere else in the world. It also happens to be home to more than 50 of Canada’s rarest flowers. A UNESCO World Heritage site, and the world’s first International Peace Park (it shares a border with Montana’s Glacier National Park), Waterton Lakes is also a dark-sky preserve (so stargazing is as super as the blooms), and a biosphere reserve. Head here for seemingly endless hiking, guided tours, wildflower photography workshops, and Plein Air painting classes.
Where to Stay
The Prince of Wales Hotel brings regal British flair to a bluff with panoramic views of the park, the township of Waterton, and the surrounding towering alps. This stately lodge, built in 1927, has 86 rooms and the vibe here is comfy respite — there are plaid blankets, dark wood paneling, and the award-winning Royal Stewart Dining Room, which serves hearty Canadian cuisine. Think bison sirloin steaks, fettuccine with shredded elk, and steelhead trout from British Columbia.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
Thanks to the high PH level in the soil and underlying limestone some of the largest and oldest lilacs in the US and Canada grow on this quaint Northern Michigan island. They’ve been known to grow up to 40 feet tall and live to see their 200th birthday. The annual 10-day Lilac Festival — taking place in early June — began in 1948 and now features a parade, a 10K run, the coronation of the Lilac Festival Queen and her court, live music, planting workshops, and educational walking tours with Jeff “The Lilac Man” Young. When you work up a thirst, head to Mission Point Resort’s Cocktail Garden where edible ingredients like rose-scented geraniums, nasturtiums, and pineapple sage are cultivated for use in their craft cocktails. The drinks change with the season just as the garden’s bounty does.
Where to Stay
Step back in time at the Grand Hotel where horse-drawn carriages, dressing for dinner, afternoon tea parties in the parlor, croquet challenges, and sets by an in-house orchestra are all part of the grandeur. The National Historic Landmark dating back to 1887 also boasts the world’s longest porch (filled with rocking chairs), 16 restaurants, a spa, and 388 rooms in a rainbow of colors and floral motifs. Extra impressive: no two are the same. This hotel, nicknamed America’s Summer Place, also offers a festival package that includes a garden tour, a history lecture, and scoops of lilac ice cream from Northville’s Guernsey Farms Dairy.
The Croatian isle is known for its sunshine (all 2,800 hours per year), transparent waters, stunning beaches, seafood, historically significant architecture (dating back to 6,000 B.C.), and being home to the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country. Come June and July, the real draw however is lavender season when the hills are blanketed in purple and the air is alive with nature’s scent. Hike from the main town of Hvar to the villages of Grablje or Brusje, where farmers offer field tours or plan your trip around July’s Lavender Festival. Held in the 14th-century hamlet of Velo Grablje, it features exhibitions, workshops, concerts, and botanical flavored beer and chocolate.
Where To Stay
For a posh place to lay one’s head, check into Palace Elisabeth, a former 13th-century duke’s estate on a large main square in the heart of Hvar overlooking a yacht-filled harbor. A meticulous restoration has returned it to its Venetian and Austrian grandeur complete with arches, stone courtyards, and breathtaking balconies while adding modern amenities such as a pampering spa, a screening room, and an indoor pool.