Best Destinations for April

Delicate Arch with a view of the mountains in Arches National Park, UtahIt’s time for a spring adventure. The weather is perfect in so many places and peak season has often ended (along with peak prices). Here are some of the best destinations for April.

North America

Utah

It was my first American road trip. I’ll never forget the stunning red rock scenery; so strangely familiar even though I’d never been there. Probably because it’s been featured on-screen so often, and rightly so. It’s a photographer’s paradise.

Monument Valley is probably the most recognized piece of landscape. It’s an iconic must-see, but there’s much more upon which to feast your eyes. Utah has four national monuments and five national parks within its borders. That makes it perfect for celebrating the US National Park Service 100th anniversary this year.

The big parks are:

  • Arches – the biggest concentration of sandstone arches in the world, and my favourite Utah spot. There’s something magical and spiritual about the natural stone ‘doorways’ in the wild, formed by hundreds of years of weather and erosion.
  • Bryce Canyon – a huge natural amphitheatre packed with sculpted rock spires. Views from the top looking in are mind-blowing, and you get a completely different perspective when you descend to hike through the formations.
  • Canyonlands – four different zones with varied landscapes. The  ‘island in the sky’ district provides especially spectacular views of the surrounding canyons.
  • Capitol Reef – a lush winding oasis along the river flanked by creamy sandstone domes and striking rock formations
  • Zion – a dramatic red-road scenic drive through a slot canyon lined by massive cliffs of pink, cream and red.

red rock spires in Bryce Canyon, Utah, one of the best destinations for April

If you want to get active, you can try  hiking, canyoning, rock climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding and ranger-led interpretive programs. The mild spring weather means you won’t be freezing or melting as you ride and scramble among the rocks. If you prefer to take it easy, there are more scenic drives than you can possibly take in.

You’d need eight to ten days to see all five parks, or you can chose one or two for a shorter road trip. You can sleep under the stars at one of the many campgrounds or find cozy hotel/motel accommodations at towns near the parks.

view of Canyonlands National Park, Utah

For a taste of a guided experience while you drive, download the Arches and Canyonlands GyPSy Guides to your device. Commentary plays automatically as you drive and the maps are offline, so you won’t have to worry about data roaming.

New York

Springtime in New York: the chill of winter is gone, the summer crowds haven’t yet arrived, and the theatre/arts season is still running strong. If you’re Canadian (like me), our current low dollar could make an expensive city even pricier, but there are lots of ways to see the city on a budget.

Times Square Manhattan New York City at night

And even if you’ve been to the Big Apple before, there are reasons to visit again this spring:

  • Cirque du Soleil is coming to Broadway for the first time with its new show Paramour.
  • The High Line has been expanded in recent years. The former elevated rail line is now a winding public park featuring green spaces, overlooks, fountains and performance spaces.
  • The 9/11 Memorial and Museum both pay tribute to the tragic events of 2001, and the adjacent One World Observatory at the rebuilt Freedom Tower offers stunning views of the city and harbour from the 100th floor.
  • The Whitney Museum has a sparkling new and expanded location, and the Met Museum’s Breuer expansion will be recently opened.

Victoria

Since I have a good friend living in Canada’s westernmost provincial capital, I’ve visited at various times of year, and I’ll be going back this April. It’s always green, but I’ve found it most lush and gorgeous in mid to late spring. By this time, the rains have mostly subsided, the sun is out and blossoms are everywhere.

For travellers, prices are lower in spring than in the peak summer timeframe. April is also the beginning of whale-watching season, with high chances of sighting killer, humpback and/or gray whales. You also have a good chance of seeing dolphins, porpoises, seals or sea lions.

colourful buildigs in downtown Victoria

Victoria has been influenced by a mix of cultures, including First Nations people, the British and immigrants from Asia and elsewhere. You’ll find high tea, hearty pub fare, tasty Asian food and fresh seafood to fill your belly. Some  favourite spots for food and drink:

  • Stage Wine Bar – mouthwatering small plates for sharing, and of course a great wine list. It’s set in a funky heritage building and the restaurant creates amazing homemade breads, pastas and charcuterie.
  • Blue Fox Cafe – fresh, generous portions of all-day breakfast items, sandwiches, burgers and salads
  • Don Mee – yummy daily Dim Sum in Chinatown
  • Murchie’s – Sample their exquisitely blended teas and buy some to take home along with tea-related accessories.

To work off those calories while enjoying the island’s scenery, you can hike, bike or paddle in and around the city. There are lots of rental places for getting you gear, including Ocean River Sports with its 3 locations and Cycle BC.

Central/South America & the Caribbean

Belize

The tiny and tropical Central American country offers a unique combination of Mayan history, jungle adventure opportunities, turquoise waters, coral reefs, and Garifuna culture.

The high season ends around mid April, so prices tend to get better towards the end of the month. When I traveled to Belize a number of Aprils ago, the weather was sunny, hot and breezy in the Cayes – in other words, perfect. In the jungle the humidity was higher, so we worked up a sweat while exploring. No matter though – there were lots of cool caves, rivers, pools and waterfalls for refreshing ourselves.

dock and turquoise water in Caye Caulker, Belize

Cuba

Beaches, period cars and architecture, music, salsa dancing, cocktails, karst scenery and quirky history. Visiting Cuba was fun and fascinating, and April was a perfect time to go.

It’s the tail end of the dry season and usually after high season (depending when Easter falls). With travel opening up to more Americans, development is escalating. If you want to see it before it changes too much, go soon.

vintage cars and colonial architecture in Havana Cuba

Galapagos

For nature lovers, the Galapagos Islands are a a dream destination. The landscape is surreal and the islands are home to many unique species of birds, reptiles and mammals. The islands were the inspiration for Darwin’s ideas about evolution in the 19th century, and they continue to inspire wildlife enthusiasts today.

galapagos desert landscape, sea lion, iguana and blue-footed booby

In the spring, wildflowers are in bloom, new-born sea-lion pups frolic on the beaches and the seas are calm.  Spring rain showers are not uncommon at this time of year, but the water is warm enough for swimming and snorkeling (it cools off in summer). April and May are considered low season, so it’s easier to find space on a tour boat – the only way to see the islands.

Middle East & Asia

Jordan

My time in Jordan last year was one of my favourite trips ever. The mesmerizing desert scenery and the wonders of Petra were the highlights, but I also enjoyed the many other historic sites, most of which are thousands of years old. There are crusader castles, classical ruins and biblical sites. Water-based experiences include the Red Sea beaches and floating in the Dead Sea.

In April, Jordan’s temperatures are toasty but not scorching. The hills and valleys are carpeted with greenery and colourful wildflowers and the sunsets are spectacular.

long shadows cast by our camels on a sunrise ride in Wadi Rum, Jordan

Vietnam

Not unlike Cambodia, Vietnam has a troubled not-so-distant past. But so much has changed in the past few decades, it’s more intriguing than ever to visit.

It’s a land of lush green rice paddies, shimmering pagodas, white sand beaches, rugged mountains and vibrant cities. Glitzy Ho Chi Minh City is rapidly evolving, but Old Hanoi still offers a glimpse into the past with it’s narrow alley-streets, bicycles and traditional shops.

Vietnam is a long narrow country with varied landscapes and climate from north to south. April is the best month to catch good weather the entire length of the country.

women in traditional conical hats carrying items to market in Hanoi, Vietnam

Here’s to spring adventures,

Mona signature

 

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