white sands
Really hilly beach? Or the surreal White Sands National Park? (It's the latter.) | ferrantraite/E+/Getty Images
Really hilly beach? Or the surreal White Sands National Park? (It's the latter.) | ferrantraite/E+/Getty Images

Spin Right Round Into Spring with These Travel Ideas

From Pi Day to St. Patrick’s Day, plus one frozen dead guy.

Like the ladies we celebrate this Women’s History Month, March never divulges her secrets. Will we plunge headfirst into a pleasant spring this March 20? Or will she linger on winter? What we do know is that there is much to celebrate this month, no matter the temperature, kicking off with Mardi Gras and taking us through St. Patrick’s Day, Holi, Spring Break, and, sure, National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day, all sandwiched between February and April.

We’ve got hot springs to soak in, frozen dead guys to celebrate, and glorious beaches on which to bask. There are new museums, the return of SXSW, and virtual events galore. So join us as we march into March. And don’t forget to have a pie handy, or at least a round vessel filled with liquid. As math enthusiasts and dessert lovers will both remind you, March 14 is Pi Day.

Dust off your beads for Mardi Gras

Have you heard? After a hiatus, Mardi Gras is back. And this year in New Orleans they’re playing it safe: proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test is required for indoor festivities, and masks are recommended while in a crowd. Then, party, with festivities beginning at 5 am on Fat Tuesday (!). If you’re not too sure about the crowds, the Krewe of House Floats is also happening this year with decked-out houses waiting for you to come and admire them. This year’s theme is “Vaccinate, Decorate, Celebrate,” and we’re especially partial to this abode.

Can’t make it to New Orleans? Have your King Cake in Baton Rouge, or pop into a parade in Mobile, Alabama, whose celebrations pre-date the ones in New Orleans. Find yourselves some biodegradable beads and go.

Celebrate pioneering women

All you really need to do to celebrate Women’s History Month is find someone you admire that identifies as female, and celebrate them. But should you need some guidance, might we suggest Amelia Earhart? Her childhood home of Atchison, Kansas not only has a museum dedicated to the pilot, it comes with its own very cool earthwork. Or perhaps you’d prefer Beverly Cleary, the beloved author we lost last year in March. Retrace her life in Portland, Oregon and see sites where Ramona Quimby came of age in a self-guided walking tour.

Celebrate the accomplishments of one of the nation’s most significant spies at the Harriet Tubman Museum & Educational Center in Cambridge, Maryland; visit the outdoor memorial at the Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Park in Richmond, California; or the head to the Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, New York, where 300 women gathered to produce a declaration of rights for American women in 1848. And most importantly, don’t forget to call your mom.

Learn about Ukrainian culture

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine unfolds, we have ways to support the Ukrainian community locally, as many immigrants still have strong ties to people and businesses in the homeland. We also have ways to learn more about their culture. Take a deep dive at Chicago’s Ukrainian Village—the area is home to the second-largest Ukrainian immigrant population, with Ukrainian-owned restaurants, bakeries, and the Ukrainian National Museum of Chicago, with 10,000 items to peruse including a replica of a Carpathian wooden church, ancient Bibles, and shelves of pysanky, ornately decorated Ukrainian Easter eggs. Nearby, the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art covers Ukrainian artists like Alexis Gritchenko, a painter and art theorist.

Founded in 1976, the Ukrainian Museum of New York has a wide array of folk art and fine art, and an archive of 30,000 artifacts documenting the life, history, and cultural legacy of the Ukrainian people, including photographs documenting their immigration to the US dating back to the late 1800s.

Hey, what’s new in Nashville?

Music City can’t stop, won’t stop: In the past pandemic years Nashville has continued to flex. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2021, the spectacular National Museum of African American Music opened right down the street from Broadway's honky tonk central. Sing with a gospel choir, produce your own beats, and learn from 1,500 artifacts spanning 50 genres.

The Music City Brew Hop, a hop on hop off craft brewery trolley tour, also launched last year, and the Country Music Hall of Fame installed two new exhibits: “Martina McBride: The Power of Her Voice” and “Bill Anderson: As Far as I Can See.” This year, the Ryman Auditorium turns 130, with a roster of celebratory events. And in rock ‘n’ roll news, Jack Black’s Third Man Records allows you to go where previously you needed to be on a private tour. Their intimate venue the Blue Room is now open Thursdays through Saturdays, with DJs, live performances, trivia nights (with Third Man co-founder Ben Blackwell) and one giant paper elephant head. There’s also outdoor space if you’re just in it for a drink.

The new, ultramodern W Hotel, located in The Gulch, comes with its own venue with nightly singer-songwriters. Outside you'll find a pool with its own stage, and rooftop bar with as much space outdoors as in. And if you get peckish, downstairs is the new Nashville outpost of Andrew Carmellini’s The Dutch, plus the luxe Carne Mare steakhouse, where you can order desserts engulfed in flames.

Say an Irish hello

Did you know that St. Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in Ireland? This year they’ve also been gifted an extra day off on Friday, March 18, ensuring a four-day weekend and a grand return after a pandemic hiatus. If you’re in the area, look for Dublin Pride, which will be marching in the parade on the 17th for the first time ever. Then take a jaunt over to the Hill of Slane, about 45 minutes away, where St. Patrick lit a fire to commemorate Easter in defiance of the orders of the king. While you’re there, stop by the distillery in Slane Castle for a dram of the good stuff.

But more likely you’re celebrating stateside. Parades are happening in Boston (March 20), Chicago (March 12, complete with river dyeing), New York, Savannah, Los Angeles (March 12, Hermosa Beach), and New Orleans. That one’s a week and half celebration. They love a parade.

For some extra credit, take a virtual tour of Connecticut’s Great Hunger Museum, with art about and influenced by Ireland’s potato famine. Or visit the Irish-American Heritage Museum in Albany, New York. Or stay home and watch the Dropkick Murphys live streaming their show from the House of Blues in Boston. It’s free on their YouTube and Facebook pages.

Have a beer at the only brewery in a National Park

Speaking of St. Patrick’s Day, in Hot Springs, Arkansas, you’ll find what they’re claiming is the World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade: 98 feet of fun capping off with a live performance by Slow Riders themselves, Foghat. This might be worth the trip? Especially since it just so happens that Hot Springs is also one the featured spots in our Hidden Gems package, spotlighting small towns just a stone’s throw away from big cities. Surrounding a National Park of the same name, you’ll find bathhouses left over from the early 20th century, a gangster museum telling the tales of when Al Capone used to spend his time soaking, and a brewery that uses the water from the hot springs to make their product. Turns out, it’s energy-efficient, and tasty. And maybe on St. Patrick’s they’ll be turning some beer green.

We’ve also got Wamego, Kansas, home of the Oz Museum, Willow Creek, California, stomping grounds of Bigfoot, the ghost towns of Beatty, Nevada, sunken ships of Jamestown, Rhode Island, psychics of Cassadaga, Florida, the fantastically-named Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, just near White Sands National Park, and so much more. Check it out, why don't ya.

Go west (in Manhattan)

New York always has something new and exciting going on: art exhibits, outdoor saunas, a Drive-Thru outdoor theater where you don’t actually need a car, to name a few. But if you haven’t been to the West Side of Manhattan lately, you’re in for a surprise. For example, did you know you could now climb a skyscraper? City Climb takes you soaring (but strapped in) above Hudson Yards. While you’re in the area arts venue The Shed lets you make like an airborne spider—and examine intricate and ghostly webs made by them—at “Tomás Saraceno: Particular Matter(s),” a three-part immersive exhibition by the Argentine artist and environmentalist.

Pop into the Whole Foods in Manhattan West and check out the only vertical farm in Manhattan, then travel through your tastebuds in the new Citizens New York Culinary Center, where the cutting-edge and sprawling Casa Dani showcases the culture of Mediterranean South through the skills of three Michelin-starred chef Dani García, with a wine list encompassing both old-world producers and innovative new winemakers, and dishes like oxtail brioche and a whole menu of just tuna. It’s a show in itself: With just glass between you and the kitchen you can see your food before you eat it, and watch them do things like skewer and flame whole fish.

Dip a toe into live music

As the weather starts to be not so frightful, it can only mean one thing: music festival season. After two years off, SXSW makes a triumphant return (March 14-20) with music, comedy, tech, and films, including Richard Linklater’s latest and the Sandra Bullock-Channing Tatum comedy The Lost City. We’ve got the best places to eat near the fest, because trust us, you do not want to hit it on an empty stomach. And as long as you’re in Austin, we’ve got Black-owned businesses to patronize, the hottest spots to drink, plus craft breweries, donut shops, and delicious-sounding vegan ice-cream.

Jump right over spring to summer, at the McDowell Mountain Music Festival in Phoenix (March 3-5)—or M3F—with acts like Leon Bridges, Kaytranada, and Cautious Clay, with 100% of the proceeds going to charity. And speaking of summer (imagine!), that same weekend My Morning Jacket’s One Big Holiday is in Cancun (March 2- 5), with a lineup including Brittany Howard, Sharon Van Etten, and Black Pumas. Can’t make it to SXSW? Head to Georgia, where Savannah Stopover’s whole thing is that they host bands en route to the festival (March 11-12), including SASAMI and Scotland’s We Were Promised Jetpacks.

Or just stay home. This March 3, Tibet House celebrates Philip Glass’s 85th birthday with a streaming benefit concert featuring Trey Anastasio, Patti Smith, Nathaniel Rateliff, Punch Brothers, and Keanu Reeves (he will probably not be singing). You’ll find that on Mandolin.

Celebrate the cryogenically frozen in Colorado

Seems they’ll celebrate anything in Nederland, Colorado. Including the cryogenically frozen Grandpa Bredo Morstoel, who died of a heart attack in Norway (so the story goes) in 1989. He was transported to a cryonics facility in California by his daughter and grandson, advocates of cryogenics, where he was stored in liquid nitrogen. Then he was brought to stay with them in Colorado, and is now the reason it’s illegal in Nederland to store a dead guy on your property.

The son was deported, the daughter evicted (details get murky here), but Grandpa Bredo was grandfathered in, as it were, and is currently kept in a Tuff shed, with dry ice replenished every so often by an iceman named Brad. And since 2002, the community has honored him with the Frozen Dead Guy Days festival (March 18-22), a morbidly rambunctious weekend of coffin races (BYOC), a hearse parade, frozen t-shirt contest, costumed polar plunge, human foosball, a brain freeze contest where you down frozen slushies and so much more. including 30 bands. Did we mention there was music?

Spend Spring Break in the sun

If frozen dead guys aren’t your thing, no worries: March also means fun in the sun at Spring Break. How about the best Caribbean destinations for an easy beach getaway? We've got spots from the dreamy Costa Maya, Mexico to the unbelievably gorgeous British Virgin Islands, home to an island that used to be run by a pirate, to the twin peaks of St. Lucia (some advice: if you see a boat covered in banana leaves, flag it down. The owner, Blaze, will make you the best piña colada of your life).

Can’t make it to the beach? We’ve narrowed down the best springtime destinations, one that might be near you. Alternatively, why not just pick a beautiful state and go. Of course, they’re all gorgeous, but we’ve ranked them anyway.

Sniff some wildflowers (but mind your allergies)

As Tom Petty sings, you belong among the wildflowers (the part he missed: unless you are allergic). And Mother Nature agrees. This month, the blooms begin to make an appearance. California is always a good bet, with forthcoming blooms (hopefully) at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in eastern San Diego, the Carlsbad Flower Fields in north San Diego, and the famous Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve (that one’s just starting to bloom according to the livecam). Chappell Hill, Texas is bluebonnet central, and if you can’t make it to Washington, DC or nearby Alexandria, Virginia to see the cherry blossoms check out The National Cherry Blossom Festival from March 20 to April 17. It features virtual events that honor both American and Japanese cultures, and is a great alternative should the real blooms make you sniffle.

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Vanita Salisbury is a Senior Travel Writer at Thrillist. In her mind she is currently having a piña colada in St. Lucia. Do not tell her otherwise.