Places to Shed Your Clothes

No, we are not talking about nude beaches. Instead, picture this: It's the first warm day after an endless winter -- here's where you want to sprawl out on a picnic blanket and soak up the sun.

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Kentucky Derby
Kentucky Derby

Kentucky Derby

On your mark, get set … it’s off to Louisville for the granddaddy of all horse races. In time-honored tradition, the 140th annual Kentucky Derby -- the first leg of the Triple Crown -- kicks off the first Saturday in May. Settle into your seat at Churchill Downs racetrack on Central Avenue, sip a mint julep and enjoy the "Most Exciting 2 Minutes in Sports." 960 1280

Getty Images  

Mother’s Day Tea at The Plaza

Mother’s Day Tea at The Plaza

Mom is always fussing over you, now’s your chance to turn the tables -- in style. Treat Mom to afternoon tea at The Plaza’s Tea Room. A tradition since the hotel opened in 1907, tea at this NYC landmark has inspired scenes in popular films and novels, including Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Mom can enjoy a selection of sandwiches and savories from the Fitzgerald Tea for the Ages and The New Yorker menus. 960 1280

The Plaza  

Cannes Film Festival

Cannes Film Festival

La lumière, la caméra, l'action! Slip on some shades, and head to the French Riviera for the largest annual showcase of cinema in the world. Don’t have a ticket to events inside the Palais des Festivals et des Congres building where the festival is held? Pas de probleme! Enjoy open-air shows at the Cinema de la Plage, and for celebrity sightings show up extra-early outside the Palais. You may just spot Ang Lee, Nicole Kidman or Steven Spielberg on this year’s red carpet. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Indianapolis 500

Indianapolis 500

Rev up for the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Part of the Triple Crown of Motorsports (with the Monaco Grand Prix and 24 Hours of Le Mans right behind) this annual race is quite possibly the largest single-day sporting event in the entire world, attracting roughly 400,000 spectators. Head to Indianapolis the last weekend in May, and prepare for a high-speed show around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 2.5-mile oval circuit. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Brighton Festival, England

Brighton Festival, England

Enjoy a 3-week celebration of music, theater, dance, art and film at the 47th annual Brighton Festival. Held each May in the southeastern English city of Brighton and Hove, the gathering is the largest multi-art form festival in all of England: More than 370 performances from artists such as Sinead O’Connor and 3-time Grammy winner Lucinda Williams, are slated for 2013. 960 1280

Brighton Festival  

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival

Take in the small-town charm of Winchester, VA, in this 6-day celebration of spring. First held in 1924, the annual festival packs a wallop of more than 30 events into its lineup: band competitions, dances, parades, carnival, a 10K race, the coronation of Queen Shenandoah and so much more, attracting crowds in excess of 250,000. 960 1280

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival   

Whale Watching, Stellwagen Bank

Whale Watching, Stellwagen Bank

Did winter come and go without you getting a chance to see whales? There’s still time: Between May and September, more than 400 orcas swim in the waters around Canada’s Vancouver Island. Or head to the Azores, the Portuguese archipelago about 1,000 miles from Lisbon, where sperm whales gather from May to October. Closer to home, Stellwagen Bank, a submerged sandbank between Cape Cod and Cape Ann in Massachusetts, attracts the endangered North Atlantic right whale to its waters. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

When chef Mark Abernathy of Arkansas restaurants Red Door and Loca Luna kicks the bucket, he wants to skip heaven and head straight for this food extravaganza. Such is the praise heaped on this annual fest by critically acclaimed chefs. Now in its third year, the gathering celebrates the best of Southern cuisine’s past and future, with cooking and cocktail demos, tasting tents and seminars on everything from the history of the Southern cocktail to Southern beer culture. 960 1280

AFWF/Raftermen  

National Bike Month

National Bike Month

Dust off that old bike, or buy a new one: It’s National Bike Month. Cities nationwide, including Austin, Boston, Santa Barbara, and Portland (pictured), are among the cities actively participating in the event. In San Francisco, you’ll find “energizer stations” this month, with food, drinks, red blinky lights and reflective leg bands available for bikers participating in the month-long public awareness campaign. Sounds like a great way to get free stuff -- and get in shape! 960 1280

Portland  

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo (meaning "fifth of May" in Spanish) right here in the United States. Nationwide, there are more than 120 official US celebrations, spanning 21 states, in cities such as Cleveland, Los Angeles, Dallas and Atlanta. The holiday stretches back to the first few years of the American Civil War, when Mexican-American communities sought to commemorate the causes of freedom and democracy. Head to downtown Denver for one such celebration: Here, members of a Mexican folkloric dance academy perform at the city’s Civic Center Park. 
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Getty Images  

Vesak (Buddha Day)

Vesak (Buddha Day)

Seeking enlightenment? Celebrate Buddha’s birthday this May. Or take in the festivities as Buddhist devotees mark the occasion in Southeast Asian countries from Nepal to the Indonesian island of Java (pictured). Here, Buddhist monks pray at Borobudur, a 9th-century temple (and UNESCO World Heritage Site) that is Indonesia’s single most visited tourist attraction. 960 1280

Getty Images   

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Head to this amphitheater at Carlsbad Caverns National Park for a grand show: Each May Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from a large, rocky passage within Carlsbad Cavern in search of a tasty mix of insects for dinner. In case you’ve happened on this wondrous sight in southeastern New Mexico with your family (and your kids have questions), a park ranger gives an informative talk as visitors wait for the bats to come out. 960 1280

carlfbagge, flickr  

May’s Must-Dos  12 Photos

Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy

“For a taste of some serious amore, jet-set to the city of Firenze, where couples canoodle in piazzas, sharing bites of creamy gelato and soaking up the warm sunshine. Stroll across the quaint Ponte Vecchio with your someone special-- perhaps they’ll splurge on a gift from one of the iconic jewelry shops that line the bridge. Single women, beware: As you wander the streets, you’re sure to hear an Italian man call out to you, “Excuse me, I think you dropped something!” When you turn around, concerned and confused, they’ll laugh and say, ‘You dropped my heart!’” -- Allee, Producer 960 1280

Getty Images  

Santa Monica, California

Santa Monica, California

“My favorite thing about spring is the changing of the weather, so I choose to be outside and by the water. My ideal spot for a spring fling would be Santa Monica, CA. I love Santa Monica’s quieter areas, away from the hustle and bustle of the boardwalk area, with lesser-known yet out-of-this-world restaurants that are home to memorable dishes. My first time having barbecued tofu was off the city’s Main Street. The restaurant, located behind a wooden fence, had no name on the front. Ask around. Folks will know!” -- Rani, Managing Producer 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Joe's Valley, Utah

Joe's Valley, Utah

“Spring is the perfect time for a climbing adventure in Joe’s Valley, Utah. With ideal springtime temps, this is the best season to enjoy bouldering, camping and other outdoor fun. Located about 2 hours north of Moab, this is one of the world’s premier bouldering destinations, offering hundreds of sandstone boulders for climbers ranging from novice to professional. There is no better place to see the beauty of Southern Utah.” -- Arthur, Video Project Manager 960 1280

Arthur Hsu  

Charleston

Charleston

"Blooming magnolia trees and 75 to 80 degree weather make Charleston a great spring destination. You'll enjoy a mix of lowcountry culture, mouthwatering cuisine and beautiful beaches. And what could feel more like spring than strolling through garden plantations sipping on a sweet tea cocktail? It seems we aren't the only ones who have this Southern belle on our radar lately. Conde Nast Traveler's Readers' Choice Awards just named Charleston the 'No.1 City in America.'" -- Kathleen, Producer 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

“When picking my perfect spring fling, my choice would have to be a road trip to Myrtle Beach. With over 100 courses, this stretch of coastal South Carolina is one of, if not the premier, destination for golf on the East Coast. Grab a few sixers, light up a couple of cigars and hit the links with some of your closest buddies -- it's the ideal mancation spring fling.” -- Ben, Producer 960 1280

Getty Images  

Paris

Paris

"I never knew the charm of spring … till April in Paris." American songwriter Vernon Duke's famous lyrics about the City of Light are so true. Paris' charm lies in its beautiful gardens, like the Jardin des Tuileries, where it's not uncommon to see couples and a group of good friends lying on the grass, chatting, sipping wine and snacking on a fresh baguette and cheese. Take a stroll by the Seine, visit the open-air market on Rue Montorgueil or people watch outside a café in Le Marais. Romance and a fun adventure are always around the corner no matter where you are in this historic city." -- Kwin, Managing Producer 960 1280

istock  

Washington, DC

Washington, DC

“Spring is a great time to visit DC’s National Mall. Enjoy a relaxing stroll along the Tidal Basin, the reservoir bordered by thousands of cherry blossoms in full bloom this time of year. Also, be sure not to miss the Tulip Library on the north side of the basin, where you’ll find nearly 100 varieties of tulips. And come nighttime, stop by the World War II Memorial, where you can sit by the edge of the cascading fountain at its center, resting your head on the shoulder of your evening date … who may just turn into more than a spring fling.” -- Lisa, Producer 960 1280

Thinkstock  

San Francisco

San Francisco

"My latest spring fling took me to San Francisco -- a city ideal for any gastronomically-inclined couple, thanks to its plethora of great dinner date spots. From the hole-in-the-wall Ramen Underground to the farm-to-table-fresh Super Duper Burger, you'll indulge in basically the best food ever. After stopping for tea and cookies at the picturesque Japanese Tea Garden and a scoop of "Chocolate Smoked Sea Salt" ice cream at Humphry Slocombe, go for a bike ride down the Embarcadero or head back across the Golden Gate Bridge for a hike through the Marin Headlands to work off your week of foodie fun." -- Amanda, Producer 960 1280

Amanda DiGiondomenico  

Charlottesville, Virginia

Charlottesville, Virginia

"I've heralded Charlottesville's charms before, but hear me out on why this college town is the perfect springtime getaway. Starting in April, you can catch the free concert series, Fridays After Five, and then dine alfresco on the Historic Downtown Mall. Round out the weekend with a bagel at Bodo's, a historic tour of Monticello and a drink on the patio of Blue Mountain Brewery or glass of wine at King Family Vineyards, with the Blue Ridge Mountains just beyond." - Sara, Producer 960 1280

istock  

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Celebrate the homegrown music and culture of the Big Easy at this annual jazz fest. This year’s lineup showcases old and new music greats, including John Mayer, the Dave Matthews Band, Earth, Wind & Fire, Fleetwood Mac, Maroon 5, The Black Keys, Patti Smith, Gipsy Kings and blues legend B.B. King. 960 1280

Rick Diamond/Getty Images  

Patrouille des Glaciers

Patrouille des Glaciers

Take in Switzerland’s grand vistas in this ski mountaineering race. Held every 2 years at the end of April, the nearly 32-mile-long race organized by the Swiss Army occurs in the southern part of the canton of Valais, below the summits of Switzerland’s Pennine Alps. By foot and ski, this mountaineering trek will be one for the memory books. 960 1280

FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images  

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

Head to Southern California’s Coachella Valley for this 3-day music fest. This year’s featured performers include alternative rock pioneers like The Stone Roses and Red Hot Chili Peppers. It also pays to think green: Drive to the event with 4 or more people in your car, marked “carpoolchella,” and a secret spotter may give everyone in the car VIP tickets. 960 1280

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic  

Earth Day

Earth Day

Be part of an awe-inspiring effort: Every year more than 1 billion people worldwide gather to protect Mother Earth. Held on April 22, this global campaign unites individuals, communities and more in an effort to combat climate change. In the weeks beforehand, another global event occurs: Earth Hour, in which individuals from more than 135 countries gather in a show of solidarity to protect the environment, as in this shot taken in Dubai. 960 1280

Reuters/Jumana El Heloueh   

Amsterdam’s Tulip Season

Amsterdam’s Tulip Season

Take in the breathtaking burst of color at Amsterdam’s Keukenhof Gardens. The world’s largest flower garden spans 70 acres, with more than 7 million bulbs in bloom come springtime: In addition to tulips, visitors can enjoy gardens of daffodils, hyacinths, gladioli and hyacinths -- you’ll want to make sure your camera phone has plenty of juice to capture this show. 960 1280

iStock   

Arctic Circle Race

Arctic Circle Race

Ready for a seriously awe-inspiring challenge? This annual skiing race is billed as “world’s toughest ski race” -- and that’s no exaggeration. Held in Sisimiut, Greenland, this extreme cross-country skiing event sees participants traverse nearly 100 miles, over the course of 3 days, through the stunning and sometimes harsh Greenlandic terrain. 960 1280

Article Circle Race   

Iceland’s First Day of Summer

Iceland’s First Day of Summer

With winter days that offer only 4 or 5 hours of daylight, the coming of summer is welcomed as a national holiday in Iceland. Even though the climate in late April isn’t summer-like just yet, after a long winter it’s still a welcome reprieve -- and the perfect excuse for Icelanders to celebrate with a lineup of parades, sporting events and other outdoor fun -- pony ride, anyone? 960 1280

Getty Images  

NCAA Final Four

NCAA Final Four

From awe-inspiring blocks to incredible dunks, see the most dramatic moments in men’s college basketball play out at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome this April. See the dizzying speed of March Madness conclude as the Final Four vie for the championship trophy. And the winner is …? 960 1280

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Masters Tournament

Masters Tournament

One of the 4 big-daddy events in professional golf, the Masters is the place to be this month for golf pros and enthusiasts alike. With Augusta National Golf Club as the home base, this year’s event is sure to hold plenty of nail-biting moments, like whether Tiger Woods can end his 5-year majors slump with a win on golf’s biggest stage. 960 1280

Andrew Redington/Getty Images  

Berck-Sur-Mer Kite Festival

Berck-Sur-Mer Kite Festival

See Europe’s biggest kite festival soar to astounding heights. Held annually in the French commune of Berck-sur-Mer, along northern France’s Opal Coast, the event draws kite fliers from all over the world, who dazzle with colorful, air-borne creations before crowds of roughly 600,000 spectators. 960 1280

PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images  

National Park Week

National Park Week

Incredible natural beauty is yours -- for free -- during National Park Week in late April. Enjoy free entrance to any of 401 national parks nationwide, taking in the sights of seashores, battlefields, archaeological sites, historic homes and magnificent natural wonders such as the many countless waterfalls at Yosemite National Park. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Boston Marathon

Boston Marathon

Few endurance competitions are more awe-inspiring than this: The world’s oldest annual marathon -- and one of the world’s most prestigious road-racing events -- held the third Monday of April, on Patriots’ Day. Here, Canada’s Joshua Cassidy races to the finish line in the men’s wheelchair race. 960 1280

John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images  

Biltmore Flower Festival

Biltmore Flower Festival

How’s this for a majestic sight: more than 72,000 tulips, spanning 4 acres, at Biltmore Estate. The stately grounds, tucked in the mountains of Asheville, NC, include the Walled Garden, where you’ll find all those vibrant tulips, as well as the Azalea and Spring Gardens, where your eyes can gorge on even more blooms. 960 1280

The Biltmore Company  

Toonik Tyme

Toonik Tyme

Mind-blowing creations await at the annual Inuit festival of Toonik Tyme, a weeklong event that welcomes back the sun to the Arctic. But, being just 100 miles from the Arctic Circle, it’s still mighty cold: Among the event’s headliners is an ice sculpture competition in a town called Auyuittuq -- an Inuktitut word that means “the land that never melts.” In years past, ice-carving competitors have competed for what just may be the ultimate prize round this neck of the woods: airline tickets for a trip down south (naturally). 960 1280

Ed Maruyama  

Photos

Madrid

Madrid

“Spanish people are sexy in general, but I love the locals in Madrid. In addition to good genes, they just have this confidence that oozes sex appeal. I think it's enhanced by the city's architecture, which could easily be the backdrop of a fashion shoot or fragrance campaign. It's just very romantic and Goth and moody. Throw in some flamenco dancers, soccer players, accents and dramatic hand gestures -- whatever it is, everything here is sexy to me.” – Jimmy Im 960 1280

Getty Images   

Stockholm

Stockholm

“Slim, tall and impeccably dressed, the people of Stockholm are more diverse than the blond-haired, blue-eyed stereotype would lead you to believe. Dressed-to-kill publishing types frequent the areas around Stureplan and trendy restaurants like Ekstedt, while the look in music and cafe-mad Sodermalm slants far more hipster. And while Swedes aren't exactly the outgoing-with-strangers types, they do love to practice their English with native speakers -- use it to your advantage to make friends.” – Terry Ward 960 1280

Nicho Södling -- Stockholm Visitors Board  

Italy

Italy

“Despite stretches of living, working and traveling across Italy, I never tire of ogling Italians; they exude a pervasive, innate sexiness. Whether they're -- against all odds -- making red-linen pants look seductive, casually sipping an espresso while perusing La Repubblica newspaper or being freakishly dexterous by simultaneously chattering on a cell phone, smoking a cigarette and eating a gelato while wearing a micro-mini skirt and careening through Rome's streets on a Vespa -- Italianos are dead sexy.” – Valerie Conners 960 1280

Getty Images   

Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv

"The the fun-loving, hedonist vibe of Tel Aviv's residents is definitely sexy. They don't need a special occasion to stay out until dawn any day of the week -- whether it's lounging inside a cozy wine bar, sipping cocktails at a glamorous restaurant created by a celebrity chef or rocking out to a deejay at a gritty nightclub. Residents take their leisure time very seriously and seem to pursue pleasure with a passion. Observing how they drink up the present moment despite living in a sometimes rocky corner of the world gives them a seductive charm that's all their own." –- Lost Girl Holly Corbett 960 1280

Getty Images   

Argentina

Argentina

“Argentina’s cowboys, known as gauchos, make my world’s sexiest list. On a trip to a ranch outside Buenos Aires, I was one of many women swooning over Luca. He excelled at a gaucho game called the ring race, where gauchos race on horseback to capture a small hanging ring on the end of a metal rod. When they capture the ring, they place it on the finger of a lady of their choosing. Every woman on that ranch, married or single, wanted Luca to put a ring on it.” -- Robin Bennefield 960 1280

Robin Bennefield  

Mexico City


Mexico City


"As one of the largest cities in the world, maybe the odds of having the sexiest people are simply this city's favor. Or maybe it is the outcome of the mixing of native Aztec and Mayan cultures with old world Spanish that has taken place over the centuries. Or maybe its the language. Even when you don't understand what is being said, it makes your heart beat faster from the mere sound of it. Regardless of the reason, this city's Latinos and Latinas are as spicy as its cuisine, as sultry as its music and as captivating as its history.” -- Troy Petenbrink 960 1280

istock  

Rome

Rome

“Perhaps I’m biased since my father’s from Italy, but a gene pool that turned out Roman native Sophia Loren is nothing if not sexy. And anyone who has seen La Dolce Vita may never look at the Trevi Fountain quite the same again. Add the art, passion, history, fashion and food–-even the language is romantic--and you have a city that pulses with excitement. Trim, tawny Romans dress beautifully and embody the idea of ‘bella figura.’ I’m pretty sure I have a good idea of what many Romans are up to during their daily siestas.” -- Rina Rapuano 960 1280

Getty Images   

Brazil

Brazil

“The sexiest people in the world can be found in that renowned epicenter of bulbous backsides, Brazil. The über-toned beach bodies and striking coal-to-cream complexion speak to Brazil’s virtually endless coastline and centuries-old history of intermixing and immigration. And there’s the pervasive friendliness and joie de vivre that Brazilians seem to be born with, resulting in people who are both sexy and sweet.” -- Ernest White II 960 1280

Getty Images   

Uruguay

Uruguay

“Even though I'm Argentine, I would always take the ‘Buquebus’ over to Punta del Este, Uruguay, during my winter break. I don't know whether it’s because a lot of the polo players, models, celebrities and the super posh vacation there, but every break I spent there was always amongst a sea of beautiful men and women. I now make sure to hit a month-long boot camp before I go, just so I don't feel so out of place!” -– Marianela Pereyra 960 1280

istock  

New York City

New York City

“It may not always be conventional, but sexy is waiting around every corner in New York. I love never knowing whom I'll meet next here, be it a gaggle of top international models or a crazy person channeling alien wisdom. And for me, New Yorkers get extra-sexy points just for living in this tough but glorious melting pot, where beauty and style take an infinite variety of forms, and span the widest spectrums of class and nationality. As Garbo well proved, this is a city where even the most extraordinarily sexy can blend in as just another New Yorker.” -– Dan Allen 960 1280

istock  

12 Photos
Kentucky Derby

Kentucky Derby

On your mark, get set … it’s off to Louisville for the granddaddy of all horse races. In time-honored tradition, the 140th annual Kentucky Derby -- the first leg of the Triple Crown -- kicks off the first Saturday in May. Settle into your seat at Churchill Downs racetrack on Central Avenue, sip a mint julep and enjoy the "Most Exciting 2 Minutes in Sports." 960 1280

Getty Images  

Mother’s Day Tea at The Plaza

Mother’s Day Tea at The Plaza

Mom is always fussing over you, now’s your chance to turn the tables -- in style. Treat Mom to afternoon tea at The Plaza’s Tea Room. A tradition since the hotel opened in 1907, tea at this NYC landmark has inspired scenes in popular films and novels, including Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Mom can enjoy a selection of sandwiches and savories from the Fitzgerald Tea for the Ages and The New Yorker menus. 960 1280

The Plaza  

Cannes Film Festival

Cannes Film Festival

La lumière, la caméra, l'action! Slip on some shades, and head to the French Riviera for the largest annual showcase of cinema in the world. Don’t have a ticket to events inside the Palais des Festivals et des Congres building where the festival is held? Pas de probleme! Enjoy open-air shows at the Cinema de la Plage, and for celebrity sightings show up extra-early outside the Palais. You may just spot Ang Lee, Nicole Kidman or Steven Spielberg on this year’s red carpet. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Indianapolis 500

Indianapolis 500

Rev up for the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Part of the Triple Crown of Motorsports (with the Monaco Grand Prix and 24 Hours of Le Mans right behind) this annual race is quite possibly the largest single-day sporting event in the entire world, attracting roughly 400,000 spectators. Head to Indianapolis the last weekend in May, and prepare for a high-speed show around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 2.5-mile oval circuit. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Brighton Festival, England

Brighton Festival, England

Enjoy a 3-week celebration of music, theater, dance, art and film at the 47th annual Brighton Festival. Held each May in the southeastern English city of Brighton and Hove, the gathering is the largest multi-art form festival in all of England: More than 370 performances from artists such as Sinead O’Connor and 3-time Grammy winner Lucinda Williams, are slated for 2013. 960 1280

Brighton Festival  

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival

Take in the small-town charm of Winchester, VA, in this 6-day celebration of spring. First held in 1924, the annual festival packs a wallop of more than 30 events into its lineup: band competitions, dances, parades, carnival, a 10K race, the coronation of Queen Shenandoah and so much more, attracting crowds in excess of 250,000. 960 1280

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival   

Whale Watching, Stellwagen Bank

Whale Watching, Stellwagen Bank

Did winter come and go without you getting a chance to see whales? There’s still time: Between May and September, more than 400 orcas swim in the waters around Canada’s Vancouver Island. Or head to the Azores, the Portuguese archipelago about 1,000 miles from Lisbon, where sperm whales gather from May to October. Closer to home, Stellwagen Bank, a submerged sandbank between Cape Cod and Cape Ann in Massachusetts, attracts the endangered North Atlantic right whale to its waters. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

When chef Mark Abernathy of Arkansas restaurants Red Door and Loca Luna kicks the bucket, he wants to skip heaven and head straight for this food extravaganza. Such is the praise heaped on this annual fest by critically acclaimed chefs. Now in its third year, the gathering celebrates the best of Southern cuisine’s past and future, with cooking and cocktail demos, tasting tents and seminars on everything from the history of the Southern cocktail to Southern beer culture. 960 1280

AFWF/Raftermen  

National Bike Month

National Bike Month

Dust off that old bike, or buy a new one: It’s National Bike Month. Cities nationwide, including Austin, Boston, Santa Barbara, and Portland (pictured), are among the cities actively participating in the event. In San Francisco, you’ll find “energizer stations” this month, with food, drinks, red blinky lights and reflective leg bands available for bikers participating in the month-long public awareness campaign. Sounds like a great way to get free stuff -- and get in shape! 960 1280

Portland  

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo (meaning "fifth of May" in Spanish) right here in the United States. Nationwide, there are more than 120 official US celebrations, spanning 21 states, in cities such as Cleveland, Los Angeles, Dallas and Atlanta. The holiday stretches back to the first few years of the American Civil War, when Mexican-American communities sought to commemorate the causes of freedom and democracy. Head to downtown Denver for one such celebration: Here, members of a Mexican folkloric dance academy perform at the city’s Civic Center Park. 
960 1280

Getty Images  

Vesak (Buddha Day)

Vesak (Buddha Day)

Seeking enlightenment? Celebrate Buddha’s birthday this May. Or take in the festivities as Buddhist devotees mark the occasion in Southeast Asian countries from Nepal to the Indonesian island of Java (pictured). Here, Buddhist monks pray at Borobudur, a 9th-century temple (and UNESCO World Heritage Site) that is Indonesia’s single most visited tourist attraction. 960 1280

Getty Images   

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Head to this amphitheater at Carlsbad Caverns National Park for a grand show: Each May Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from a large, rocky passage within Carlsbad Cavern in search of a tasty mix of insects for dinner. In case you’ve happened on this wondrous sight in southeastern New Mexico with your family (and your kids have questions), a park ranger gives an informative talk as visitors wait for the bats to come out. 960 1280

carlfbagge, flickr  

Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy

“For a taste of some serious amore, jet-set to the city of Firenze, where couples canoodle in piazzas, sharing bites of creamy gelato and soaking up the warm sunshine. Stroll across the quaint Ponte Vecchio with your someone special-- perhaps they’ll splurge on a gift from one of the iconic jewelry shops that line the bridge. Single women, beware: As you wander the streets, you’re sure to hear an Italian man call out to you, “Excuse me, I think you dropped something!” When you turn around, concerned and confused, they’ll laugh and say, ‘You dropped my heart!’” -- Allee, Producer 960 1280

Getty Images  

Santa Monica, California

Santa Monica, California

“My favorite thing about spring is the changing of the weather, so I choose to be outside and by the water. My ideal spot for a spring fling would be Santa Monica, CA. I love Santa Monica’s quieter areas, away from the hustle and bustle of the boardwalk area, with lesser-known yet out-of-this-world restaurants that are home to memorable dishes. My first time having barbecued tofu was off the city’s Main Street. The restaurant, located behind a wooden fence, had no name on the front. Ask around. Folks will know!” -- Rani, Managing Producer 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Joe's Valley, Utah

Joe's Valley, Utah

“Spring is the perfect time for a climbing adventure in Joe’s Valley, Utah. With ideal springtime temps, this is the best season to enjoy bouldering, camping and other outdoor fun. Located about 2 hours north of Moab, this is one of the world’s premier bouldering destinations, offering hundreds of sandstone boulders for climbers ranging from novice to professional. There is no better place to see the beauty of Southern Utah.” -- Arthur, Video Project Manager 960 1280

Arthur Hsu  

Charleston

Charleston

"Blooming magnolia trees and 75 to 80 degree weather make Charleston a great spring destination. You'll enjoy a mix of lowcountry culture, mouthwatering cuisine and beautiful beaches. And what could feel more like spring than strolling through garden plantations sipping on a sweet tea cocktail? It seems we aren't the only ones who have this Southern belle on our radar lately. Conde Nast Traveler's Readers' Choice Awards just named Charleston the 'No.1 City in America.'" -- Kathleen, Producer 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

“When picking my perfect spring fling, my choice would have to be a road trip to Myrtle Beach. With over 100 courses, this stretch of coastal South Carolina is one of, if not the premier, destination for golf on the East Coast. Grab a few sixers, light up a couple of cigars and hit the links with some of your closest buddies -- it's the ideal mancation spring fling.” -- Ben, Producer 960 1280

Getty Images  

Paris

Paris

"I never knew the charm of spring … till April in Paris." American songwriter Vernon Duke's famous lyrics about the City of Light are so true. Paris' charm lies in its beautiful gardens, like the Jardin des Tuileries, where it's not uncommon to see couples and a group of good friends lying on the grass, chatting, sipping wine and snacking on a fresh baguette and cheese. Take a stroll by the Seine, visit the open-air market on Rue Montorgueil or people watch outside a café in Le Marais. Romance and a fun adventure are always around the corner no matter where you are in this historic city." -- Kwin, Managing Producer 960 1280

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Washington, DC

Washington, DC

“Spring is a great time to visit DC’s National Mall. Enjoy a relaxing stroll along the Tidal Basin, the reservoir bordered by thousands of cherry blossoms in full bloom this time of year. Also, be sure not to miss the Tulip Library on the north side of the basin, where you’ll find nearly 100 varieties of tulips. And come nighttime, stop by the World War II Memorial, where you can sit by the edge of the cascading fountain at its center, resting your head on the shoulder of your evening date … who may just turn into more than a spring fling.” -- Lisa, Producer 960 1280

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San Francisco

San Francisco

"My latest spring fling took me to San Francisco -- a city ideal for any gastronomically-inclined couple, thanks to its plethora of great dinner date spots. From the hole-in-the-wall Ramen Underground to the farm-to-table-fresh Super Duper Burger, you'll indulge in basically the best food ever. After stopping for tea and cookies at the picturesque Japanese Tea Garden and a scoop of "Chocolate Smoked Sea Salt" ice cream at Humphry Slocombe, go for a bike ride down the Embarcadero or head back across the Golden Gate Bridge for a hike through the Marin Headlands to work off your week of foodie fun." -- Amanda, Producer 960 1280

Amanda DiGiondomenico  

Charlottesville, Virginia

Charlottesville, Virginia

"I've heralded Charlottesville's charms before, but hear me out on why this college town is the perfect springtime getaway. Starting in April, you can catch the free concert series, Fridays After Five, and then dine alfresco on the Historic Downtown Mall. Round out the weekend with a bagel at Bodo's, a historic tour of Monticello and a drink on the patio of Blue Mountain Brewery or glass of wine at King Family Vineyards, with the Blue Ridge Mountains just beyond." - Sara, Producer 960 1280

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