Top spring destinations around the world

It is ten to seven and you are woken up by your alarm clock radio playing nature sounds. You get up from bed, open the windows and there’s a bright blue sky above the neighborhood, but suddenly you realize your alarm clock hasn’t gone off yet and what you are listening to is the chirping and fluttering of real live birds outside your window. “Ah spring is here!” you say and gleefully foresee an end to the grim wintertime.

Spring is the season many of us await with fidgety impatience. Now that it’s finally here (for the northern hemisphere), we begin to feel more energy as the days get longer, our city landscapes and forests regain their green freshness, and the temperatures rise for pleasant strolls through parks. It is also a time we can consider doing some traveling, whether a few hours’ drive to a relative or booking a flight to an exciting vacation destination.

SlotoMagazine’s correspondent Kathleen Saron has been an avid traveler all her life. We have given her the task to review the top spring destinations around the world for Sloto Lifestyle. We hope to inspire you to take on an adventure somewhere and enrich your life with new experiences.

1) Costa Rica

This small pearl of a country is located in Central America and is renowned for its lush nature, pristine beaches and adventure activities and sports such as canopy, trekking, white water rafting, surfing and scuba diving. While being a small country (just under 20,000 square miles) this country receives over 2 million tourists a year thanks to its array of volcanoes and hot springs, rain forests and national parks (with 26% of the territory being protected areas), flavorful cuisine and peaceful environment (Costa Rica was the first modern country to abolish its army in 1948). The high season for traveling to Costa Rica runs from December to April, also known as the dry season. While rains may start appearing by mid-April, it is still possible to travel in the country, with rains usually coming in the afternoon or late at night. Costa Rica can accommodate both luxury-seeking and budget-minded travelers. 5-star resorts abound all around the country as well as small cabins and hostels.

Recommended spots: Manuel Antonio national park, Puerto Viejo beach town, Arenal Volcano, Osa Peninsula.

2) Yosemite National Park, USA

There are few places like Yosemite National Park on this earth, with its towering granite cliffs and giant sequoia groves. And spring is the best time to see it all! Huge crowds flock this historic national park during the summer. Avoid long queues and congested areas by visiting before Memorial Day (last Monday of May). Not only will you experience a more tranquil and idyllic view of the park, you also will encounter an explosive blossoming of flowers and trees, and gushing waterfalls and rivers from the melting ice. Note that some areas in the north are still inaccessible in spring due to snow, so call the park authorities prior to your visit to make sure your desired entry point is accessible.

Recommended activities: Camping, hiking, horseback riding, rock climbing and kayaking.

3) Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

This is one of the most breathtaking cities in the world. Set within staggering green peaks at the mouth of a bay harbor that is lined with white-sand beaches and abundant waves. While everybody has heard of its famous carnival (February), it is actually quite refreshing to visit this city after the carnival crowds have dispersed. Without the flurry of glitter, golden masks and samba-dancing parades, you get to experience a completely different place with quaint colonial neighborhoods, elegant and fashionable quarters, laid back joie de vivre beach-goers, and art-filled streets. During the months of March, April and May (Brazil's autumn), temperatures are still warm while not reaching extreme heat. Rainfall is expected nearly year-round in Rio; but take note that it is highest in April.

Things to see: Christ-the-Redeemer statue atop Corcovado mountain, Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, Escadaria Selaron (staircase decorated with tiles from all over the world) in the beautiful Santa Teresa neighborhood.

4) The Netherlands

Better known as Holland, this is a majestic little European country that literally blossoms to life in the springtime. Both their wonderful people appear rejuvenated with the end of a long winter and their fields bloom with billions of tulips and daffodils as far as the eyes can see. The historically-rich cities of Amsterdam, Delft and Rotterdam are all little gems to be explored. Their long involvement within the history art has preserved masterpieces in their museums from many famous Dutch painters such as Rembrandt, Vermeer and van Gogh. To explore the landscape and blooming fields one can take 19-mile bike tour called the Flower Bulb Route in North Holland. Daffodils are in full bloom in April and Tulips peak during the month of May.

Places to visit: Keukenhof Gardens, Royal Palace of Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank House.

5) The Grand Canyon, USA

A monumental feat of natural architecture, the Grand Canyon runs 277 miles long and 18 miles wide. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979 and often considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world. As with Yosemite Park, my favorite time to visit is during the spring months of March, April and May. Temperatures are cool and crowds are less prominent. While most people travel to the South Rim because of its sweeping views and panoramas, I also suggest to go down into the canyon to experience up close the geological beauty, whether on a mule trip (for the adventurous type) or with a trekking guide. There are plenty of hotels, lodges and camping sites for all types of travelers.

Recommended activities: Sunset at Hermit's Rest Road, Ranger-led geology tour, Shoshone Point viewpoint.