Traveling in May? Then you’ve chosen to travel during one of the best times of year in the US. Throughout much of the US, the flowers are in bloom, the trees are lush and green, and the weather is starting to heat up.
But there’s another reason why this time of year is so great to travel – fewer crowds. Popular spring break spots like Myrtle Beach are seeing fewer college students on their shores in May, even though the temperatures are climbing and creating even better beach weather. Meanwhile, popular family-friendly locations like Orlando are seeing lower crowd levels as kids aren’t yet off for the summer.
Throughout May, many spots throughout the US, like New York City, are waking from their winter slumber and getting ready for the summer months, even though the summer crowds have yet to arrive. You’ll find that many of the top tourist locations throughout the country are warm enough for outdoor excursions but quiet enough that you don’t have to contend with tons of other visitors as you book your activities.
With so many places to visit and see, you may need some help planning your perfect May vacation. That’s why we’ve compiled our list of the best places to travel in the US in May for you. From picturesque national parks to bustling and beautiful cities, stick with these May travel recommendations, and you’re bound to have an incredible time on your spring vacation!
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15 Amazing Places to Visit in the USA in May
1. Enjoy the Nightlife in New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans tends to have its busiest season around Mardi Gras, which means tons of crowds coming in from all over. If you want to avoid the busy season, visiting New Orleans in May is a great way to enjoy the city without many people around.
The weather in New Orleans in May is quite warm, but not uncomfortably so. It’s the perfect weather for lounging by a pool or hanging out by Bayou St. John. In fact, May brings out some of the best festivals in New Orleans, including Bayou Boogaloo. The festival invites you to float about on the bayou while taking in music from top artists, food from vendors all over the city, and art from local talent.
But Bayou Boogaloo isn’t the only big event happening in New Orleans in May. Although the 10-day party begins in late April, the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival lasts into May. With New Orleans being considered the birthplace of jazz, it’s no surprise that this massive festival is such a top attraction in the city.
Over Memorial Day weekend, you’ll discover the New Orleans Greek Festival, which is filled with events all weekend long. From dance performances to cathedral tours to incredible takes on Greek cuisine, this festival is a can’t-miss way to spend May in New Orleans.
2. Explore Yellowstone National Park
May is one of the best times to visit the beautiful Yellowstone National Park, which can be found in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Yellowstone is typically much busier in the summer, so going in May will prevent you from having to navigate through heavier crowds.
The temperature is also optimal for a visit. You’ll be greeted by sunny days, but remember to bring layers because the mornings can often be chilly this time of year. Going toward the middle or end of the month will also mean avoiding snow on the hiking paths. You can expect that nearly all of the hiking paths in this stunning location will be clear for you to travel.
As the snow melts, you’ll find that Yellowstone truly comes to life. From the blooming wildflowers to the newborn bison and elk, there’s so much beauty to be found in Yellowstone National Park in May.
3. Ride the Roller Coasters in Orlando, Florida
Orlando is the “Theme Park Capital of the World.” And we often think of theme parks as being very family-friendly destinations. From Walt Disney World to Universal Studios Florida to LEGOLAND Florida, there are plenty of options for all levels of thrill seekers.
But because these spots are big with families, parents typically have to rely on their kids’ school schedules before booking vacations to these locations. That’s a big reason why Orlando tends to be packed over the summer or during spring or winter break.
With May being after spring break but before summer break, it tends to be a quieter month for Orlando, making it a great time to travel to the city. Plus, Orlando in the summer is often very hot and humid.
In comparison, May is far more pleasant. It’s easier to spend more time outside in May than it is in the summer. With so many things to do in Orlando and perfect weather to do it in, this city is one of the best places to visit in the US in May.
4. Camp at Grand Teton National Park
Like Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park is one of the best places to travel in the US in May, particularly if you go from mid to late May. All roads are usually open by mid-May, but you should still keep an eye on the weather before your trip. It can still snow in May in Grand Teton.
Unlike in the summer, fewer crowds are typically in Wyoming-based Grand Teton in May. May is also a top time for wildlife sightseeing. The landscape during this time is just as incredible as the creatures around you. From the snowcapped mountains to the lush wildflowers beginning to bloom, you’re not going to want to forget your camera to capture it all.
Hiking will take you up to wonderful viewpoints, but keep in mind that there may still be mud and snow on the trails. Pack your gear accordingly. And because the wildlife is also emerging from their winter hideouts, May is an active time for bears. Be sure to pack bear spray and make noise on the trails. The weather can also change quickly in May, so wear layers and bring lots of water on your hikes.
5. Take in a Beach Sunset in Santa Barbara, California
Santa Barbara is a top summer destination, which means busy crowds. May is a far calmer time to visit, but the weather is just as beautiful. When you visit Santa Barbara in May, you’ll be met with warm but mild days. It’s plenty warm enough to spend a day at the beach, but be sure to pack a light sweater for when the sun goes down.
Santa Barbara is known for its gorgeous beaches, vibrant art scene, and incredible food, all of which you get to enjoy when you visit in May. There are plenty of festivals celebrating Santa Barbara’s culture in May, but there are a few standouts that you can’t miss.
For one week in May, you’ll dine on delicious cuisine at Taste of Santa Barbara. This celebration of all things food and drink will have you going on cocktail crawls, trying your hand at cooking workshops, and eating your way around Santa Barbara.
Over Memorial Day weekend, you’ll discover incredible artistic talents at the I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival. This event, which has a sister festival in Grazie di Curtatone, Italy, is all about the admiration of art and raising funds for arts education. Artists of all ages turn the street into their canvas. The result is stunning artwork you can’t find anywhere else.
6. Hike around Sedona, Arizona
During the summer, Sedona can get so hot that it’s not a good idea to be going on long hikes while the sun is beating down. Monsoon season, which lasts from June to September, can also keep you from your Sedona adventures.
But May is a perfect time to visit Sedona. Warm days meet chilly nights, creating a comfortable environment to get out and see the beauty of this city. It’s the ideal weather to explore those stunning red rocks.
May can be a bit busy in Sedona since the weather is so ideal, so arrive at trails early to beat the crowds. You can also book guided tours that will help you uncover more of the area’s natural beauty. From rock-climbing tours to Jeep tours, you’ll be met with breathtaking views everywhere you go!
Sedona has a rich history with deep ties to Mexican culture, which is why it’s one of the best places to spend Cinco de Mayo. The Cinco de Mayo Celebration is filled with vibrancy, from the folklorico dancers to the mariachi musicians. You’ll love immersing yourself in the lively culture here.
7. Take in the Sights in New York City
For much of the year, New York City is rather cold. It seems like the winters here just keep getting longer and longer. However, people often brave the cold to experience the holiday season in December here, drawing in huge crowds. Those crowds are only matched by the influx of visitors who arrive to spend time in the warm summers.
With busy end-of-year celebrations and an equally busy summertime, finding the perfect time to visit New York City is hard. But May just may be the answer. The weather is warming up enough to spend more time outside sans your heavy winter coat.
One thing to keep in mind is that late spring can be rainy in New York, so be sure to pack an umbrella. But if you’re willing to brave a little rain, you’ll find that New York City in May is filled with plenty to do but fewer people to have to do it all with.
From strolling around the cherry blossom trees to taking in the skyline on rooftop bars, so much of New York City becomes livelier when the weather heats up. And if you time your trip right, you might just see the incredible Manhattanhenge phenomenon. Because New York City is a grid, there are certain times of the year when the sun is at a perfect angle through the skyscrapers.
8. Go Behind the Scenes of Hollywood in Los Angeles
Los Angeles is a top summer destination, but May tends to be a little quieter in the City of Angels. However, the weather tends to be warm but not too hot, creating the perfect climate for outdoor activities. Bring a light sweater, though, because it can get quite chilly when the sun goes down.
Take advantage of the lack of crowds in May by visiting some of the many highlights of Los Angeles. From seeing your favorite sets on studio tours to hiking in Griffith Park, you’ll find May is an ideal time to do it all. Because kids aren’t out on summer vacation yet, you’ll discover that many of the top family-friendly spots in the Los Angeles area are especially quieter.
Be sure to fit in a day at Knott’s Berry Farm, Disneyland, or Universal Studios Hollywood if you’re a theme park fan. These spots tend to be packed during the summer, but May will give you a break from the long wait times for your favorite rides. You’ll find the same to be true for the beloved Santa Monica Pier, especially if you’re able to visit it during the week instead of on a weekend.
9. See Beautiful Blooms in Savannah, Georgia
While Savannah tends to get quite hot and humid in the summer, May is considerably milder, but it’s still plenty warm enough to explore outside. You’ll find that the parks are in bloom, with lush greenery and colorful flowers abound.
Have a picnic in Forsyth Park, and don’t forget to stroll through its Fragrant Garden. If you’re an animal lover, you should be sure to stop by Forsyth Park on May 7 for the annual Doggie Carnival, an event that’s filled with fun for the whole family, including the furry members of the family.
Later in the month, you’ll find perfect weather for a day at the beach or a kayaking adventure. And although you’re not visiting during the spooky season, you can enjoy the haunted happenings of this historically ghostly city. Strolling through the beautiful Bonaventure Cemetery is a must-do, as it’s considered one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world and is gorgeously green in May.
10. Hike Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon is a part of the Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park, located near the Arizona–Utah border. It also happens to be one of the most beautiful and unique places in the US. And May is a perfect time to visit.
Only accessible through a guided tour, Antelope Canyon was shaped by millions of years of water and wind erosion. As sunlight enters through the canyon, it illuminates it and paints it a stunning pattern of pinks, reds, oranges, and golds.
You’ll want to visit when these light beams are most common, which is between May and September. But May is also a bit cooler than the weather you’ll find over the summer. You also may want to aim to arrive around midday, when the light is most likely to hit the canyon.
The hiking terrain of the Upper Antelope Canyon is mostly flat, making it attainable for even new hikers, though it does require the ability to climb some steep stairs. More adventurous hikers can take the Lower Antelope Canyon, which has more elevation changes, stairways, and ladders.
11. Take in the Views at Death Valley National Park
Another beautiful place to visit in the US in May doesn’t sound like it would be as stunning as it is. But you’ll want to go very early in May if you don’t want to face temperatures that are too hot to hike in.
Summer is a long season in Death Valley National Park, and May may as well be summer in this gorgeous area of the world. Still, visiting in May instead of earlier in spring will keep your trip quieter since most of the spring breakers will be gone.
So, be prepared for heat, but also be prepared to see some of the most impressive sights in the world. Look out over Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the US, from Dante’s View, or watch the sunset from Zabriskie Point.
Take in the pink, blue, and purple hills of Artist’s Palette, or watch the water cascade through Darwin Falls. The diverse beauty of this incredible place would surprise anyone who heard the name of this national park and pictured a desolate wasteland. This area is anything but breathtaking.
12. Study the History of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
With mild temperatures and gentle breezes, May is an optimal time to explore Philadelphia. If you’re a history buff, there are few places in the US more incredible to visit than Philly. From the Liberty Bell to Independence Hall, stepping foot in Philadelphia is like stepping back in time.
Like New York City, Philadelphia can get rather cold during the winter months. But things come back to life in spring, with many attractions popping up for the summer in May.
Spruce Street Harbor Park along the Delaware River is one such place that comes back to life in May. Here you’ll find colorful hammocks, floating gardens, light-filled trees, local craft brews, and food from some of Philly’s best vendors. It’s a perfect place to spend a May evening.
May also brings about some of the best of Philadelphia’s festivals, like the South 9th Street Italian Market Festival. This annual event is held on a weekend in May and invites guests to celebrate Italian culture. Be sure to arrive with an empty stomach because this festival is considered one of the best food festivals in the country.
13. Relax in the Water at Kauai, Hawaii
There’s so much beauty on every island in Hawaii, but the lush greenery of Kauai is what makes it one of the best places to visit in the US in May. The Garden Island is known for its natural beauty, waterfalls, and stunning views.
The rainy season in Kauai typically ends at the end of March, so you should expect the dry season to be fully in effect by May. Temperatures should be rising, creating the perfect climate to spend your days in the water.
Go paddleboarding through the Wailua River, cruise along the Na Pali Coast, or go snorkeling at Anini Beach. With so much natural beauty here, you should take your days slowly. Just enjoy the sights and the fresh air.
If you arrive early enough in the month, be sure to take part in Lei Day, which happens on the first of May. Lei Day is one of Hawaii’s biggest holidays. It celebrates the Aloha spirit and is all about Hawaiian culture and history.
14. Enjoy the Music in Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville is one of the biggest music hubs in the US and a great place to visit in May. Nashville’s busiest season is typically from June to August, so you can expect that you’ll have to contend with fewer crowds if you visit in May. Early in May, you’ll find the weather fairly warm but mild, but it heats up throughout the month.
With the weather being nice and warm, you’ll be able to enjoy both the indoor and outdoor activities that Nashville has to offer. Since you’re in Music City, you should definitely see a show while you’re there.
There’s always a concert happening in Nashville. But you don’t have to shell out a lot to hear great music in this city. Head to Centennial Park to enjoy free concerts Friday and Saturday nights throughout May.
It’s also a great time of year to book a hop-on, hop-off bus tour, letting you see all of the city’s top landmarks. May also is Street Food Month in Nashville, so keep your eyes peeled for an influx of food trucks throughout the city.
15. Spend a Day at the Beach in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach is a top summer vacation spot, so June, July, and August are typically busy months for this beachy location. But May has equally gorgeous weather without the same crowd levels. The weather here typically heats up quite a bit throughout the month. You’ll find going later in the month will mean warmer days and better swimming conditions.
Spring in Myrtle Beach is also golf season, and there are plenty of courses to spend a day out on the links. May also brings about the world-famous Blue Crab Festival, during which you can spend the weekend dining on local seafood, listening to music on the beaches, and finding souvenirs from local artisans!
There you have it! The 15 best places to visit in the US in May. What’s your favorite place to vacation in May?
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