All Articles Where to travel in April

Where to travel in April

See kangaroos, Impressionist paintings, and a total solar eclipse.

Nicholas DeRenzo
By Nicholas DeRenzo7 Feb 2024 8 minutes read
Parisians and tourists at cafe, in Paris
Paris in bloom
Image: Elena Dijour/Getty Images

Think of April as a time to thaw out and wake up after the big chill of winter. In many places, it’s quite literally a time of rebirth and renewal, as baby animals are born, trees fill up with bright green leaves, and wildflowers begin to poke through the ground. With that new warm weather and sunshine (at least in the Northern Hemisphere), travelers are also raring to go, kicking off a hectic spring break season that can often feel more rowdy than relaxing if you don’t know where to book. These 10 spots offer a perfect mix of shoulder-season finds and springtime deals for all kinds of travelers, from art lovers to national parks enthusiasts to Beat poetry fans. And of course we’re telling you where to check out the month’s rare total solar eclipse.


Paris

For museum goers

Average temp: 62ºF high, 46ºF low

People viewing art at Museum d’Orsay, in Paris
Paris's Museum d’Orsay
Image: Diane Picchiottino/Unsplash

Paris will host the 2024 Summer Olympics in July, and this spring marks the calm before the storm. The shoulder season may bring April showers, but that’s a perfect excuse to hang out in the city’s world-class museums. Joining classics like the Louvre and the Centre Pompidou (which closes later this year for a five-year refurbishment) are a slew of cultural newcomers: Maison Gainsbourg, the treasure-filled former home of singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg; Bourse de Commerce - Pinault Collection, a modern art collection; and the revitalized Musée Carnavalet - Histoire de Paris, which reopened in 2021 after a $70 million renovation.

Perhaps the biggest exhibit of the year is Paris 1874: Inventing Impressionism at the Musée d’Orsay (March 26 to July 14), which marks a major art history milestone: April 15 is the 150th anniversary of the first impressionist exhibition in Paris, and the show will feature works by heavyweights like Paul Cézanne and Edgar Degas. And if you want to get outside the city limits, the d’Orsay has planned something clever: The museum is loaning out 178 of its works to 34 galleries across the country in a scheme that’s been dubbed the 'Tour de France.'

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Milwaukee

ForTop Chef fanatics

Average temp: 50ºF high, 39ºF low

Dinner at Amilinda, in Milwaukee
Dinner at Amilinda
Image: Management/Tripadvisor

This spring sees the premiere of the 21st season of Top Chef, which was filmed in Milwaukee and Madison. Recently, the city has become a culinary powerhouse—no longer just the land of cheese curds, Friday fish fry, and bratwursts (though those are all pretty stellar, too). Last year, French-Italian standout Lupi & Iris received a James Beard nomination for best new restaurant in the country, while Gregory León at Iberian-influenced Amilinda and Dan Jacobs and Dan Van Rite of EsterEv and Dandan, earned nods for best chef in the Midwest. (EsterEv, which operated for years as a pop-up inside Dandan, is moving into its own space this spring, giving you even more chances to taste the seasonally-influenced tasting menu.)

Befitting a city with a baseball team called the Brewers, the microbrewery scene is positively booming, thanks to newcomers like Pilot Project Brewing, a Chicago-born incubator and tasting room dedicated to up-and-coming brewers. Right now, you can find creations such as Azadi Brewing’s chai stout and basmati rice lager or the self-explanatory Donna’s Pickle Beer.

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Queensland Outback

For wannabe cowboys

Average temp: 95ºF high, 71ºF low

Tourists viewing airplane at the Quantas Founders Museum, in Queensland
The Quantas Founders Museum
Image: Courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland

You don’t have to go all the way out to Australia’s remote red center to experience the Outback: Just a two-hour flight from Brisbane sits a collection of small cattle and mining towns—and in April, the weather is finally cool enough for you to enjoy them.

From Brisbane, fly Qantas (which was born in the Queensland Outback) to Longreach for a mini road trip through the region. Longreach itself feels like the Wild West, but with kangaroos, and you can visit the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Heritage Center and the Qantas Founders Museum. (Don't miss the new light and sound show that's projected on the side of a huge 747.) An hour away, Barcaldine played a major role in the Aussie labor movement, which you can learn about at the fascinating Tree of Knowledge monument.

Slightly farther afield is Winton, which is booming, thanks to Rangelands Outback Camp, a new glamping spot built on a jump-up (a.k.a. a mesa) with stunning views, and the well-curated Waltzing Matilda Centre, the world’s first museum dedicated to a song. The center's collection features Outback-themed art, as well as artifacts related to the world of 19th-century sheep stations that birthed Australia’s unofficial anthem. But the can’t-miss destination in these parts is the Australian Age of Dinosaurs, which features the largest collection of Aussie dinosaur fossils and the most productive fossil-prep lab in the Southern Hemisphere. If you want to stay longer, they’re always looking for volunteers—you can even sign up to join a dig team or help prepare fossils in the lab.

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Texas Hill Country

For budding astronomers

Average temp: 79ºF high, 55ºF low

Mainstreet in Fredericksburg, Texas

Stretching westward from Austin and San Antonio, the Texas Hill Country sprawls for 31,000 square miles of historic small towns, killer barbecue joints, burgeoning wineries, and rolling landscapes. This month, it’s also a perfect spot to catch the total solar eclipse, which will cross 13 U.S. states on April 8, bringing four-and-a-half minutes of total darkness to the towns closest to the path of the totality. It’ll be the last total solar eclipse visible in the contiguous United States until 2044.

A great homebase is the German-accented Fredericksburg, which will see four minutes and 24 seconds of totality; when you’re not taking in the eclipse through special safety glasses, you can climb in the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, drop into the National Museum of the Pacific War, or book a tasting at Grape Creek Vineyards.

Other eclipse-friendly stops around Hill Country include Marble Falls (4:13 of totality) for paddling on Lake Marble Falls or a slice of pie at the nearly 100-year-old Blue Bonnet Cafe; Johnson City (3:59) for a stop at Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park; or Boerne (3:34) for a tour of Cascade Caverns.

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Edinburgh

For pagan partiers

Average temp: 52ºF high, 39ºF low

Tourist viewing skyline of Edinburgh, Scotland
Image: Stuart Hay/Unsplash

You may have heard of the ill-fated Fyre Festival, but every year on April 30, the Scottish capital hosts a very different kind of fire festival, called Beltane. The ancient Celtic celebration traces its roots to pre-Roman Britain, when farmers would drive their livestock around a massive bonfire in a purification ritual to mark the start of summer. The festival went widely uncelebrated for centuries, until four students from the University of Edinburgh revived it in 1988.

Now, revelers gather on Calton Hill, where a procession kicks off at the National Monument, an unfinished war memorial that looks like Greek ruins. Spurred on by drumming, there’s a parade with a May Queen and a Green Man, who symbolize the transition of the seasons, and it all culminates in the lighting of an enormous bonfire. If you want to learn more about Scotland’s ancient history, step into the National Museum of Scotland, which features such archaeological finds as a wild-boar-shaped Celtic carnyx (trumpet), or plan a day trip to the Neolithic-era Cairnpapple Hill or other nearby burial mounds and defensive forts that date back thousands of years.

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San Francisco

For budding Beat poets

Average temp: 63ºF high, 50ºF low

People walking past City Light Booksellers, in San Francisco

Celebrate National Poetry Month in a city that became defined by the Beat movement in the 1950s. Your hub for exploration will be the border between the North Beach and Chinatown neighborhoods, where poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti opened his City Lights Booksellers in 1953. The literary emporium gained notoriety after Ferlinghetti published Alan Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems and defended the groundbreaking work in an obscenity trial. Out back, you’ll find Jack Kerouac Alley, which is lined with street art and commemorative plaques.

Across the street, The Beat Museum is home to such ephemera as Jack Kerouac’s jacket and a 1949 Hudson (the same make and model driven by Neal Cassady) used in the filming of the 2012 On the Road movie. Save time to stop by Caffe Trieste, the first espresso house on the West Coast, which opened in 1956, and Vesuvio Cafe, a saloon frequented by the Beats.

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Luang Prabang, Laos

For adventurous festival-goers

Average temp: 96ºF high, 71ºF low

Night Market under the Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos
Wat Xieng Thong's night market
Image: kampee patisena/Getty Images

One of the most important festivals on the calendar in Laos is the new year celebration, also called Pi Mai or Songkran, which is held from April 14 to 16. Set at the start of monsoon season, it’s all about purification and cleansing, and the festivities involve removing images of Buddha from temples and washing them in flower-perfumed water. People then collect the runoff to pour it over monks, elders, and friends, which often erupts into a water party.

While the holiday is celebrated for three days nationwide, the fun stretches for up to 10 days in Luang Prabang, which is known for its mix of French colonial architecture and golden-roofed temples. As part of the festival, you may see people picking flowers to decorate temples (like Wat Xieng Thong) or building sand stupas (or mounds). But any time of year, Luang Prabang offers a full roster of delights, including shopping at the night market or learning about the process of planting and harvesting a rice paddy at the popular Living Land Farm. Bonus: You may even get to help plow the field with the help of their water buffalo Susan.

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Utah's national parks

For outdoor enthusiasts

Average temp: 73ºF high, 42ºF low

Hiker viewing the Delicate Arch at Arches National Park, Utah
Delicate Arch at Arches National Par
Image: Strauss Western/Unsplash

National Park Week kicks off with free park admission on April 20 and includes programming for junior rangers and opportunities for volunteering. To get the most bang for your buck, it’s hard to beat the natural splendors of Southern Utah, which is home to a popular quintet of national parks: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion.

Because of the dramatic elevation shifts in this region, April is a transitional month, weather-wise. In Zion, for instance, you’ll see snow in the peaks, just as wildflowers like desert marigold and slickrock paintbrush begin to bloom in lower elevations (along trails like the Riverside Walk), and mule deer fawns and baby bighorn sheep make their adorable entrance; you’re likeliest to see the sheep and their lambs between the Zion–Mt. Carmel Tunnel and the East Entrance.

Note that spring also means the start of high season: Arches starts its seasonal timed-entry ticketing system on April 1.

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Istanbul

For tulip heads

Average temp: 62ºF high, 47ºF low

Tulip carpet at Sultanahmet Square, in Istanbul
Sultanahmet Square
Image: Francesco Riccardo Iacomino/Getty Images

Long before they became associated with the Netherlands, tulips grew wild in Central Asia and Türkiye, and their name is thought to be derived from the Persian word for turban, due to their bulbous shape. The blooms became a symbol of the Ottoman Empire, with Sultan Mehmed II requiring a staff of 920 gardeners to tend to his 12 gardens. And in the 18th-century reign of Ahmed III, there was even a peaceful postwar period known as the “Tulip Period,” during which art and literature blossomed, and the flowers showed up on everything from textiles and carpets to tombstones and buildings.

In recent years, Türkiye’s biggest city has planted an astonishing 30 million tulips, including the world’s largest tulip carpet at Sultanahmet Square in front of the Blue Mosque. Other major gardens throughout the city can be found in Gülhane Park, Yildiz Park, and especially Emirgan Park, where millions of flowers are planted in patterns like the Turkish flag or a flowing river. For a great view of the tulip groves in Emirgan Park, check out the park’s 19th-century Ottoman pavilions, which now house cafés and restaurants. And if you want to get a feel for the grand old Tulip Period, The Galata Istanbul Hotel MGallery offers guests access to the neighboring hammam, which dates back to the late 1720s.

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Oaxaca, Mexico

For alternative spring breakers

Average temp: 87ºF high, 58ºF low

Woman admiring the handmade rugs in Oaxaca, Mexico
Image: Marco Bottigel li/Getty Images

Come spring break, the Mexican coast fills up with party-minded playa-goers—making it a great time to head in the opposite direction and go inland to spots like Oaxaca. Crowds flock here for autumn’s Día de Muertos and spring’s Semana Santa (which comes in late March this year), but the town’s streets are relatively quiet by the start of April. (If you’re still missing that celebratory vibe, plan a trip timed to the city’s founding—April 25, 1532—which often involves music and colorful decorations in the Zócalo.)

For a more authentic view of Mexican culture, book a tour with Zapotec Travel. Indigenous owner Liliana “Lily” Palma puts together itineraries of Indigenous-owned cooking classes, craft markets, palenques (distilleries), and restaurants, including her family’s own place, Criollito, in the nearby town of Tlacolula.

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Nicholas DeRenzo
Nicholas DeRenzo is a freelance travel and culture writer based in Brooklyn. A graduate of NYU's Cultural Reporting and Criticism program, he worked as an editor at Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel and, most recently, as executive editor at Hemispheres, the in-flight magazine of United Airlines. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, New York, Travel + Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, Afar, BBC Travel, Wine Enthusiast, and more. Follow him on Instagram at @nderenzo to see his many, many pictures of birds.