Our spring bucket list will inspire a whole season of fun outings for every age and ability in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland. Whether you are active or relaxed, adults-only or family-focused, we’ve got ideas for you. Just click the links for details on each destination, and check them off as you go.
Our Spring activities and destinations are listed below in three groups. First, we’ve highlighted gardens and destinations to see spring flowers. Second, we list woodland and waterfront trails that are especially beautiful when new foliage and wildlife emerge. Third, you’ll find scenic drives and viewpoints that are perfect for a bright spring morning.
In 2021, some destinations may have reduced services or hours. Always check current restrictions before you head out.
Spring Bucket List: Gardens and Wildflowers
DC-area gardens come alive and spring wildflowers fill fields and woods when we finally say farewell to winter. These 10 destinations fill with beautiful flowers in spring, whether planted in formal garden beds or spread by nature in parks and trails.
- Meadowlark Botanical Garden, Vienna Virginia. This beautiful year-round destination fills with blooms and colors in spring. Flowering cherry and magnolia trees are a highlight in late March and early April.
- Green Spring Gardens, Alexandria Virginia. 31 acres of demonstration gardens, quiet paths, and a horticultural center welcome visitors to this Fairfax County garden.
- Cherry Blossoms in Virginia and Washington DC. Follow the link for a complete guide to the best places to see cherry blossoms in the greater DC/Northern Virginia region.
- Cherry Blossoms in Kenwood Maryland. Skip the Tidal Basin crowds and stroll through Maryland streets lined with cherry trees.
- Bluebells at Riverbend Regional Park, Great Falls Virginia. In early April, bluebells, trillium, and other spring wildflowers line the trail at Riverbend Park. The easy Bluebell Trail hike at Bull Run Park is another gorgeous bluebell destination. Or extend your outing with a longer hike on the northern Bull Run Occoquan Trail to see the blooms.
- Tulips at Burnside Farms, Haymarket Virginia. 2.5 million tulips and daffodils cover 15 acres during Burnside Farms Festival of Spring. The festival usually opens in mid-April and lasts 21 to 30 days.
- Apple blossoms in Winchester Virginia. The Shenandoah Apple Festival celebrates blooming apple orchards in late April and early May. Join the celebration on a day trip or weekend getaway to Winchester.
- Azaleas at the National Arboretum, Washington DC. In late April, the National Arboretum’s Mount Hamilton is covered with thousands of azaleas in bloom. An impressive collection of Dogwoods bloom from mid-April to early June.
- Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond Virginia. A glass-domed conservatory overlooks 12 themed gardens and two miles of pathways.
- River Farm, Alexandria Virginia. Part of George Washington’s original farmland is now home to public gardens.
- BONUS! Visit spring babies at Frying Pan Park, where baby lambs, pigs, goats, and sheep welcome guests of all ages.
Spring Bucket List: Green Woodlands and Waterside Walks
There is nothing quite like the vibrant green of emerging foliage, and the rush of water in rivers and runs after spring rains. Explore these local woods and parks to enjoy leafy trails, water views, and more of those spring wildflowers. Trails may be muddy in spring so break out your hiking boots.
- Seneca Regional Park Hike, Great Falls Virginia. Woodland trails lead to the Potomac River and a nice section of the Potomac Heritage Trail.
- Great Falls Park River Trail McLean Virginia. Dramatic views of Great Falls and Mather Gorge make this one of the most beautiful and popular hikes in the DC region.
- Difficult Run and Ridge Trail, McLean Virginia. Explore a quieter side of Great Falls Park on a pretty hike next to Difficult Run and the Potomac River.
- Huntley Meadows Park, Alexandria Virginia. Watch wetland birds and wildlife from an easy, wheelchair-accessible trail and boardwalk over a unique hemi-marsh. Find more easy trails in 7 Beautiful Boardwalk Hikes in Northern Virginia.
- Bull Run Occoquan Trail, Clifton Virginia. Take a hike by the river then visit the quaint town of Clifton and the closest winery to Washington DC.
- Great Falls Tavern and Olmsted Island, Potomac Maryland. A short walk over boardwalks and bridges leads to a spectacular view of Great Falls from the Maryland side. You’ll also learn about the history of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal at Great Falls Tavern.
- Mason Neck State Park Bayview Trail, Lorton Virginia. An easy, family-friendly trail leads to pretty views of Belmont Bay at this beautiful Virginia State Park.
- Theodore Roosevelt Island, Arlington Virginia. Take a hike around the island and enjoy DC views from the Swamp Trail. boardwalk Then climb the hill to a statue and plaza dedicated to President Theodore Roosevelt.
- Burke Lake, Burke Virginia. Hike or bike the 4.5-mile trail that circles Burke Lake, or enjoy some of the best fishing in Northern Virginia.
- Annapolis Waterfront, Annapolis Maryland. Shop, dine, and explore the downtown in historic Annapolis. Then enjoy a different view from the water taxi or a tour boat.
Spring Bucket List: Scenic Drives and Views
When lush spring foliage replaces the bare trees of winter, country roads and nature trails beckon travelers. Take your waterproof boots along, but don’t let spring rains and snowmelt keep you away from local trails. The views you will enjoy make up for any mud you may encounter.
- Washington DC Cherry Blossom Scenic Drive, DC. See the Washington DC cherry blossoms from the comfort of your car.
- George Washington Memorial Parkway, Virginia. Explore nature and American history at stops on the scenic GW Parkway including Arlington National Cemetery and George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
- Snickersville Turnpike, Loudoun County Virginia. Enjoy quiet country roads and small towns on the historic Snickersville Turnpike.
- Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. 105 miles of scenic overlooks, classic park lodges, and fantastic trails are in easy reach from Shenandoah Park’s Skyline Drive.
- Sugarloaf Mountain, Urbana Maryland. Drive to scenic overlooks and hike to the summit for beautiful views of the Maryland countryside.
- Bear’s Den Overlook or Raven Rocks Hike, Bluemont Virginia. Take a short hike on the Appalachian Trail to Bear’s Den, or tackle a challenging stretch of the AT to Raven Rocks. Both likes lead to spectacular views. Find more nearby fun in our guide 15 Fantastic Fun Things to Do in Bluemont Virginia.
- Sky Meadows State Park Piedmont Overlook Trail, Delaplane Virginia. A 3-mile loop hike leads to lovely views of the Virginia Piedmont.
- Leesylvania State Park Pier and Freestone Point, Woodbridge Virginia. Relax on the Leesylvania fishing pier or take a short hike to Freestone Point for a broader view and a little history. The pier is one of the best places to see the sunrise in Northern Virginia.
- Mary’s Rock Hike, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. A moderately challenging hike on the AT leads to dramatic Blue Ridge views from Mary’s Rock. Reach two more great views on easier trails on a Stony Man Mountain hike.
- Dirt Farm Brewing and Wineries with Sensational Northern Virginia Views. Kick back with a brew or a glass of wine and soak in the views from Northern Virginia wineries and breweries.
How many fun outings on our spring bucket list have you visited, and which will be on your to-do list this year? Pick at least a couple of destinations from each category to experience the changes that spring brings to the mid-Atlantic region. If the weather cooperates, this could be the year to tackle them all.
Plan a Spring Getaway
Prefer a longer getaway? Find beautiful and unique places to stay near our spring bucket list destinations with these guides:
- 17 Amazing Northern Virginia Airbnb and Vacation Rentals
- 17 Fantastic Northern Virginia Wine Country Vacation Rentals
- 21 Fantastic Weekend Getaways In and Near Northern Virginia
- 22 Fabulous Romantic Getaways from Washington DC
This article was published in 2017 and last updated in 2021.