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Best Places to Visit in May
May, with its pleasantly warm weather and thinned crowds, is the perfect time to take a vacation before the expensive summer season. Considering sights, weather, traveler sentiment and annual events (among other factors), U.S. News rounded up the best places to visit in May. Whether you're looking for an outdoor adventure or a beach getaway, you can't go wrong with these destinations. Cast your vote below to help determine next year's list. (Note: Some of the below destinations may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Check with the CDC and the U.S. Department of State before traveling.)
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By late May, most of Yellowstone's trails and attractions are open, welcoming eager nature enthusiasts seeking a breath of fresh air. The 50-degree temperatures provide the perfect atmosphere for a hike on one of the Old Faithful Area's trails or a kayaking excursion on Yellowstone Lake. For a glimpse of wildlife, head to Lamar Valley to view wolf pups emerging from their dens. Keep in mind that if you visit during Memorial Day weekend, you'll likely run into crowds.
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May is a great time to visit this seaside Spanish city before the heat and humidity become unbearable. Can't-miss architectural marvels to check out include Antoni Gaudí's whimsical Park Güell and the Gothic-style Sagrada Família. Make sure to also visit some of Barcelona's highly regarded museums, such as the Picasso Museum, and relax at La Barceloneta beach. Remember to bring good walking shoes to wear while exploring the city.
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Few places in the world are as beautiful as Big Sur. This roughly 90-mile stretch of California coastline features numerous hiking trails spread throughout several state parks. Big Sur is also home to some of the country's most secluded, picturesque beaches, such as Pfeiffer Beach. May's comfortable temps and stunning spring blooms make this month a popular time to visit, so arrive early in the day to avoid the thickest crowds.
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While this Wyoming valley is known for its superb ski conditions, Jackson Hole offers a host of outdoor attractions off of the slopes that are best enjoyed in the mild spring climate. Get in touch with your inner cowboy by horseback riding, or go fly-fishing to catch your own dinner. You can also attend the annual ElkFest, where the local Boy Scout troop auctions off elk antlers to help pay for upkeep of the National Elk Refuge. Another major plus: You'll find reduced room rates at many upscale resorts and hotels.
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The nation's capital brims with bright blooms come late spring thanks to daytime highs in the 70s. The weather is ideal for hopping between the city's free museums and photo ops at monuments along the National Mall, including the Lincoln Memorial and the World War II Memorial. Visiting in May also ensures that you'll sidestep the tourist crowds and inflated prices of early spring's National Cherry Blossom Festival. If you're set on seeing beautiful flowers, head to the U.S. Botanic Gardens or the U.S. National Arboretum.
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Itching for a Florida beach getaway before summer is in full swing? Miami Beach is the place to go. Not only are daytime temperatures in the mid-80s, but by May, spring breakers are long gone, leaving you plenty of space to stretch out on South Beach's sand. On particularly sunny days, enjoy sweeping water views from the comfort of a shaded pavilion at South Pointe Park. You may want to catch a midafternoon nap if you plan on partying until the wee hours at the nightclubs along Ocean Drive.
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This Virginia town is jampacked with historical sites that provide a window into how colonists lived. Travelers can visit blacksmith and masonry shops or tour restored 18th-century homes complete with reenactors dressed in period garb. Vacationers who arrive in May – before school lets out for the summer – will be rewarded with fewer crowds at Colonial Williamsburg and nearby Busch Gardens. Plus, daytime temperatures in May hover in the 70s, making it a great month for walking around and scoring some deals at the Williamsburg Premium Outlets.
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Considered the birthplace of democracy and drama, Athens boasts a historical legacy that is hard to top. The main reason to visit is to see the ancient city's impressive ruins, which you'll find at the Acropolis and Ancient Agora. For an additional look at Athens' past, check out the incredible Greek artifacts on display at the National Archaeological Museum and the Benaki Museum. May vacations are especially enjoyable thanks to comfortable daytime temps hovering between the mid-70s and low 80s.
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May falls within this Peruvian city's winter season, though you probably wouldn't notice thanks to its consistently mild temperatures. This month rarely sees rain showers, and you'll encounter fewer tourists at archaeological wonders like La Catedral – which sits in the restaurant- and coffee shop-filled Plaza de Armas – and Machu Picchu – a UNESCO World Heritage Site located about 50 miles northwest of Cusco. If you're up for a challenge, hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. This difficult trek through the area's towering mountains takes about four days to complete.
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Bright turquoise water, gorgeous white sand and lush green vegetation await vacationers in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Composed of 32 islands and cays, this Caribbean archipelago is perfect for a tropical getaway. May falls between the country's peak winter season and its hurricane-prone low season, making it an ideal time for scuba diving and snorkeling in the Tobago Cays, swimming and soaking up some rays at Canouan's beaches and hiking to beautiful waterfalls like Dark View Falls. Travelers will also want to check out the country's 20-acre Botanical Gardens, the oldest available in the Western Hemisphere.
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For some truly spectacular wildlife viewing, head to Kruger National Park. This nearly 5 million-acre South African park is home to Africa's Big Five – buffaloes, elephants, leopards, lions and rhinos – as well as other animals like cheetahs, crocodiles and more than 500 species of birds. Sign up for multiple game drives and bush walks during different times for improved chances of seeing a variety of animals. In May, prioritize visits to wet landmarks like the Hippo Pool since many animals congregate around diminishing watering holes during this dry season month.
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Visit Laguna Beach for a laid-back beach vacation. May is part of this Southern California town's spring shoulder season, so you'll find fewer people on popular stretches of sand like Main Beach and Crescent Bay. Plus, the quieter month is ideal for relaxation-focused activities, such as outdoor yoga and hiking. When travelers need a break from reconnecting with themselves or nature, they can check out Laguna Beach's thriving art scene, which includes hundreds of galleries, studios and public works of art.
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Kakadu National Park#13 in Best Places to Visit in May
Kakadu National Park – Australia's largest national park – is one of the most unique places on Earth. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its natural and cultural value, Kakadu is an excellent place to visit in May, a month at the beginning of Yegge (the area's dry season). Here, you can learn about the indigenous Australians who have inhabited the land for more than 40,000 years and view rock art that's up to 20,000 years old. Kakadu also boasts stunning waterfalls, dramatic landscapes and rare animals like wallabies and crocodiles, so pack a camera and a pair of binoculars.
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Mont-Tremblant#14 in Best Places to Visit in May
Although it is best known as a ski resort, Mont-Tremblant is equally appealing to visit during the warmer months. Arrive in May after the ski crowds have dispersed to enjoy hiking and biking through Quebec's Laurentian Mountains. May is also considered one of the best months for hitting the links on Mont-Tremblant's six championship golf courses. If you're traveling with children, try kid-friendly activities like go-karting, horseback riding and falconry.
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Huatulco#15 in Best Places to Visit in May
May is toward the end of Huatulco's dry season, meaning you can still enjoy this Mexican destination's warm, sunny weather without the crowds and high accommodation rates commonly found during the peak winter and spring months. This resort town in Oaxaca draws sun-seeking travelers to its nine bays and 36 beaches. Common beach activities range from snorkeling to bird-watching. Vacationers can also hike through some of Huatulco National Park's thousands of acres or take a daytrip to Hagia Sofia to see its beautiful butterflies and flowers.
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