Burnet, Texas
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Best Small Towns to Visit in Spring

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Burnet, Texas
Michael Clay Smith/istockphoto

Spring-Loaded Small Towns

Ah, spring. Flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, kites are flying, and seasonal festivals are packed with people who've been cooped up inside for far too long. Few places offer a more authentic springtime experience than small towns celebrating their local flora and fauna. From daffodils blooming in Washington to maple syrup flowing in Indiana, here are some of our favorite small towns to visit as the days lengthen and get warmer. For more ideas on what to do during the season, check out Every State's Best Free or Cheap Attraction to Visit This Spring.

Holland, Michigan
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Holland, Michigan

On the shores of Lake Macatawa, this town of around 33,000 celebrates spring with their annual Tulip Time Festival. Millions of the bulbs spring forth from the earth, and the town honors its Dutch heritage by offering visitors and locals a chance to marvel at the explosion of color. Tulip Time features a concert by Gladys Knight, as well as Dutch dancers, artisan markets, fireworks, and, of course, all the scenery and activities just off the shores of the lake. While in town, don't miss the opportunity to visit the photogenic (and bright red) Holland Harbor Lighthouse, then follow that up with a visit to one of Holland's many breweries, distilleries, or the local "brewstillery."

Islamorada, Florida
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Islamorada, Florida

This village spans a string of six islands 90 miles south of Miami, and it's host to the 30-year-old Island Fest, which features a juried art show, live music, lots of food, classic cars, homemade boat race, and more. Before and after that event, however, you can find plenty else to do here, including sportfishing — Islamorada is the self-proclaimed "Sportfishing Capital of the World" — visiting the History of Diving Museum, or exploring the tropical forests of Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park. Feeling adventurous? Head to Indian Key Historic State Park to kayak, hike, swim, or check out the island's 1800s-era ruins.

Nantucket, Massachusetts
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Nantucket, Massachusetts

This picturesque island village is home to multiple springtime events, including the Daffodil Festival in late April, Art Week from May 1-10, the Nantucket Wine and Food Festival in mid-May, and Spring Restaurant Week the first week in June. In between all that, you can visit the island's historic lighthouses, explore the area on a rented bike, visit the Whaling Museum, or check out all the great boutique shopping that Nantucket offers.

Wakarusa, Indiana
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Wakarusa, Indiana

If visiting Amish Country is on your bucket list, you can't go wrong with Wakarusa, which is home to the Maple Syrup Festival and is one of the locations along the Quilt Gardens Heritage Trail. For a dose of shopping nostalgia, be sure to visit Richmond's Feed Store, Wakarusa Dime Store, and the century-plus-year-old Wakarusa Hardware, where you'll marvel at the many, many drawers.

Amana Colonies, Iowa
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Amana Colonies, Iowa

The Amana Colonies are a community of seven villages founded by German pietists in the mid-19th century. Today, that heritage remains ingrained in the area's culture, food, shops, festivals, and more. Head to this part of the Hawkeye State in early May for Maifest, which features a Saturday morning parade followed by plenty of German food and music, international food trucks, and live music and dancing in the town's Festhalle Barn. Sunday features a Wine, Beer, and Chocolate walk, with plenty of opportunities to sample all three.

Ocean City Maryland Boardwalk
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Ocean City, Maryland

This quaint boardwalk town of around 7,000 has lots to offer, including golf, fishing, more restaurants than you would expect, and, of course, the beach. For four days in the second week of May, that boardwalk hosts Springfest, which features music, arts and crafts, food, and more under four massive big top tents. This year, music lovers who don't mind springing for tickets can see Jimmie Allen, Blues Traveler, and other acts.

Skagway, Alaska
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Skagway, Alaska

This small town north of Juneau near the British Columbia border is home to the annual Skagway Spring Festival, which includes folk music, an art show, a crafts market, yoga classes, and more. But the town itself is full of things to do: eateries (including a fudge company and popcorn emporium), museums (be sure to check out the Mascot Saloon), and lots of outdoor recreation. Don't miss the chance to go for a warmer-weather hike in Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park.

Wildwoods, New Jersey
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Wildwoods, New Jersey

This town of around 5,000 is a picturesque seaside resort with 5 miles of beaches and 38 blocks of boardwalk with everything from rides and water parks to shopping, arcades, dining, and nightlife. The spring fun ramps up in May with the first annual Pour Into Summer Wine Festival, which will be filled with wine tastings, live music, arts and crafts, and plenty of food trucks. Later in the month, check out the 35th annual Wildwoods International Kite Festival, taking place both beach-side and indoors.

Detroit Lakes, Minnesota
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Detroit Lakes, Minnesota

This town of around 10,000 is a popular summer destination, but it has plenty to offer in the spring, too (including fewer crowds). It will host the 23rd annual Festival of the Birds in mid-May, which gives participants the opportunity to learn about dozens of species and partake in field trips like the Thursday night "Birding by Pontoon" session. If ornithology isn't your thing, however, come for the last weekend in May, when the town's annual Street Faire at the Lakes features two days of music, food, and a 125-plus-booth outdoor art show.

Kearney, Nebraska
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Kearney, Nebraska

The Sandhill Crane Capital of the World will host you for the obvious reason — the spectacle of witnessing around 650,000 of the migratory birds upon their annual journey toward Canada, Alaska, and Siberia. But this Cornhusker town of around 33,000 has more to do on your birding breaks, including golfing, disc golf, and the 50,000-square-foot Classic Car Collection. Catch a junior ice Tri-City Storm hockey game. Visit the historic Archway. Or just stroll through downtown Kearney for a mix of eateries, pubs, and boutiques.

Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
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Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

Head to this town about 150 miles north of Albuquerque in early May for the Truth or Consequences Fiesta, a three-day event featuring barbecue, karaoke, arts and crafts, vendors, and lots of live music. Revelers can take advantage of free admission to the Geronimo Springs Museum during the festival, and there will be a downtown parade as well on Saturday morning. Need a break from the festivities? Visit one of the local hot springs for a relaxing soak, or book a tour of Spaceport America, "the world's first purpose-built commercial spaceport."

Chardon, Ohio
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Chardon, Ohio

With a population of around 5,300, Chardon is where maple syrup happens in Ohio, culminating in the Geauga County ​Maple Festival each spring. This year will mark the event's 91st year, and visitors can expect plenty of syrup-focused activities, including a sap run, baking contest, and general maple contest, as well as a parade and golfing. Be sure to check out the quaint, picturesque downtown area, too. If you've got still more time to fill, play 18 mini-golf holes at Chip's Clubhouse, or go for a hike in Big Creek Park.

Troy, Pennsylvania
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Troy, Pennsylvania

It's not every day a festival combines maple syrup with monster trucks, but Troy's late-April Endless Mountain Maple Festival does, as well as throwing in a demolition derby, mac-n-cheese cook-off, and more for good measure. This tiny town in upstate Pennsylvania offers plenty more when your ears and taste buds need a break. Check out a piece of history at the Heritage Village & Farm Museum, hike or fish at nearby Mt. Pisgah State Park, or grab a cone or baked good at Moose's Munchies.

LaConner, Washington
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La Conner, Washington

There are a lot of great reasons to visit La Conner in the spring, but two of the best involve — what else? — blooms. First up in March is the La Conner Daffodil Festival, in its sixth year with nine fields carpeted with the yellow blossoms as well as live music, an art show, and a pie and ice cream social. In April, let La Conner be your jumping off point for the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival — a driving tour of millions of tulips in a rainbow of colors bursting forth in fields dotted throughout Skagit Valley. But bring time and energy for other excursions, too, as La Conner is one of the most visited destinations in the state, with museums, historic site walking tours, a casino, marina, and lots of places to grab great seafood, craft beers, and local wines.

St. Michaels, Maryland
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St. Michaels, Maryland

Spring in the historic waterfront town of St. Michaels, population just over 1,000, gives visitors plenty to do and see. Play a round of golf at Links at Perry Cabin, check out the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and explore its 18-acre waterfront setting, grab a nip of something tasty at the town's brewery, distillery, or winery (or heck, hit all three), get your vintage car fill at the Classic Motor Museum, or just explore downtown and all its shops and restaurants. And, if you go at the right time (usually late March and early April), St. Michaels is just a hop and a skip (that's an hour and a half car drive) away from Washington, D.C.'s lovely cherry blossom season.

Burnet, Texas
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Burnet, Texas

In mid-April, this tiny town of around 6,000 grows to more than 30,000 due to the famed Bluebonnet Festival. The fields upon fields of blueish-purple blooms are something to behold, but the festival also features live music, a beer garden, grand parade, demolition derby, and lots more. Then, when you want to get a break from the bluebonnet crowds, you can explore Burnet County and the surrounding Texas Hill Country, where you'll find five lakes, the Longhorn Caverns, birding opportunities, and plenty of places to grab barbecue or tacos, have a drink, or get some retail therapy.

Mackinac Island, Michigan
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Mackinac Island, Michigan

Sure, it's late spring when this small town's Lilac Festival takes place, but the 10-day event is worth the wait for the scent of lilacs. The event, mostly taking place in Mackinac Island's scenic downtown, offers horse drawn carriage rides, wine tastings, a parade, live music, even a Dog and Pony Show. But the purple blooms are all over town, so be sure to rent some wheels at one of the area's many bike shops to explore the lilac action. There's tons else to do in the area, but beautiful Mackinac Island State Park is a must-see, with plenty to offer in the way of recreation and history.

Bell Buckle, Tennessee
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Bell Buckle, Tennessee

This charming little Tennessee town of around 500 starts spring off with a bang on March 21 when it hosts its annual Daffodil Day and the concurrent barbecue cook-off. But once you've had your fill of blooms and brisket, head downtown — also known as the Bell Buckle Historic District — to check out the many Victorian structures and antiques shops, then grab dessert in the form of homemade cakes, cobblers, and pie at the Bell Buckle Cafe.

Lombard, Illinois
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Lombard, Illinois

Go tiptoe among the tulips and loiter among the lilacs here from May 1-17 during Lilac Time. The event features 700 lilacs and 25,000 tulips, and you can expect everything from tastings and tours to concerts and even a coronation (a "Lilac Queen" will be anointed). Lombard is also home to the Sheldon Peck Homestead, one of the destinations along the Underground Railroad. Be sure to grab a bite to eat at the historic, stylish, and well-reviewed Babcock's Grove House.

Charleston,MO
Charleston,MO by aj stephens (CC BY-ND)

Charleston, Missouri

Each spring, this eastern Show Me State town hosts what Fodor's named one of "America's Best Spring Flower Festivals" — the 52-year-old Dogwood-Azalea Festival. Come for the 6-mile tour of gorgeous trees in peak bloom, but stay for the home tours, a plant sale, arts and crafts bazaar, a parade, dog show, carriage rides, and more. You also might want to stroll through Charleston's neighborhoods to take in some of the more than 200 historic homes, fish on Robert G. Delaney Lake, or hike amongst the eponymous giants of Big Oak Tree State Park.