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The month of May brings sunshine and flowers and the official kick-off to the summer season. Around the world, May offers near-perfect weather. Traveling in May means you’ll get the warm, sunny days but not have to deal with peak summer heat or the equally uncomfortable summer crowds and prices. So, where are the best places to travel in May? Here are ten fantastic options from all corners of the globe to put on your wish list for May.
1. New York City
Springtime in New York is magical. The weather is warm, the air is fresh and everything is in bloom around the city.
There is no shortage of things to do in New York. The attractions, museums, shopping and theater are all top notch.
Explore New York City’s many great neighborhoods and parks. New York has the best public transportation system in the USA, so it is easy and inexpensive to get around. If it happens to rain, spend a few hours at one of the world class museums that call New York home.
It is easy to see why New York is often called the greatest city in the world, and easily one of the best places to visit on the east coast in May.
Fun Things to Do in New York in May
- Have a picnic in Central Park
- Stroll down Fifth Avenue
- Visit the 9/11 Memorial & Museum
- Take a Hop On, Hop Off bus tour of the city
- Ride to the top of the Empire State Building
- View the city from the water on a Circle Line New York City Landmark Cruise
- Visit the Statue of Liberty
2. Atlanta, Georgia
Georgia’s capital city of Atlanta is a fantastic destination, known for its world-class attractions, green parks and nice downtown area. Atlanta makes a great year-round travel destination, but the city’s shoulder seasons, from March to May and September to November, provide the perfect weather to explore the city, with average highs in the 70s.
Fun Things to Do in Atlanta in May
- Visit the Georgia Aquarium
- Spend time outdoors at the Atlanta Botanical Garden
- Explore the World of Coca Cola
- Take a narrated sightseeing trolley tour
- Learn about the history of flight at the Delta Flight Museum
- Take a Studio Tour at CNN Headquarters
- Ride the SkyView Atlanta ferris wheel
3. The Bahamas
Ready for a beach getaway? The Bahamas is the perfect place to go to enjoy sun and sand, and it is easy to travel to from almost anywhere in the USA.
Some of the finest beaches in the world are located in the Bahamas, and some of the most fantastic resorts, as well! The weather in May is ideal, with low humidity and temperatures that are not too hot, and hurricane season is still months away.
Comprised of several islands, there are plenty of things to do in the Bahamas. The most popular activities involve the water – with excursions offered for everything from snorkeling to parasailing to taking a sunset cruise.
May is also when the Junkanoo Carnival takes place on the island of Nassau. Be sure to check it out to experience the true flavor of Bahamian culture.
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If you are planning to travel to the Bahamas with kids, consider a stay at Atlantis. It is a gorgeous resort with an amazing on-site waterpark and lazy river. We have stayed here a number of times and it is truly a once in a lifetime experience. Even if you choose not to stay there, Atlantis offers day passes to use the Aquaventure waterpark and beaches.
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Fun Things to Do in the Bahamas in May
- Go snorkeling or diving
- Visit Lucayan National Park on Grand Bahama Island
- Take a boat tour
- Go on a cultural walking tour
- Visit the Straw Market and shop on Bay Street
- Take an excursion to pig beach
- Enjoy the waterslides and lazy river with a day pass to Aquaventure at Atlantis
- Climb the Queen’s Staircase on New Providence Island
If you’ve ever dreamed of visiting the Greek islands, May is the best time of year to do it. Like much of Europe, the weather in Greece is ideal in May. Destinations such as Athens, Santorini, Mykonos and Crete all have great weather. May is considered the shoulder season, so rates for hotels and airfare are more reasonable than the summertime high season.
You’ll also experience fewer crowds in the spring on your European vacation. This means the beaches, shops, restaurants and attractions will be much more enjoyable.
Spend your days wandering through ancient towns or watch the sunset over the Mediterranean Sea. Greece has a bunch of festivals happening in May, too. The Medieval Rose Festival at Rhodes features medieval music, dancing, games and a dragon’s quest. For music lovers, check out the Athens Technopolis Jazz Festival.
Fun Things to Do in Greece in May
- Tour the Acropolis in Athens
- Go to the Greek Wedding Show in Thira
- Take a catamaran sunset cruise
- Visit the Santorini Wine Museum
- Take a photo tour on Santorini
- Enjoy the shopping and nightlife on Mykonos
- Go to the beach
- Admire the white and blue architecture in Oia
5. Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the USA, filled with natural beauty and amazing wildlife. May is the best time of year to visit.
The park covers more than 3,400 square miles, spread across northwestern Wyoming and parts of southern Montana and eastern Idaho. In short, it is BIG. And because of its northern location, winters are very cold, meaning tourists can really only enjoy it several months of the year. Summer months can be unbearably crowded, but May—with the exception of Memorial Day weekend—is a great time to visit.
Fewer crowds mean less traffic on the roads and more opportunities to hike, see the waterfalls, spot wildlife and view Old Faithful and the many other geysers in the park.
Fun Things to Do at Yellowstone National Park in May
- Go hiking
- Watch Old Faithful and other geysers erupt
- See giant, colorful hot springs
- Take a kayaking excursion on Yellowstone Lake
- Stop and smell the wildflowers
- Explore Yellowstone on horseback
- Go river rafting
- Go camping
- Visit the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center
6. Machu Picchu, Peru
Climbing Machu Pichu in Peru is a bucket list item for many people. If hiking this Inca trail is something you want to do, May is the ideal month to do it. The rainy season has ended, but summer crowds have not yet arrived. Peru is at its best in May, with sunny days, lush greenery, clear skies and dry weather.
Machu Picchu is an ancient city situated high in the Andean hills. It is one of the top UNESCO World Heritage sites, with temples, tombs and scenic vistas at every turn. It is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Peru.
You can arrive by train or participate in a guided sightseeing excursion. If you are up for a major outdoor adventure, consider a multi-day Inca Trail Trekking Package.
Fun Things to Do at Machu Picchu in May
- Tour the ancient ruins
- Hike the Inca trail
- Book an Inca Trail Trekking Package
- Visit the nearby Amazon rainforests
7. Charleston, South Carolina
One of the most historic destinations in the south, Charleston, South Carolina is a big city with a charming small town feel.
From its beautiful architecture to its not-always-so-beautiful history, a visit to South Carolina can be educational as well as entertaining. Experience great food, southern hospitality and an array of interesting attractions.
May is a great time of year to visit Charleston. The weather is ideal for being outdoors. You can explore the old streets, historic buildings and farmers markets. There are a number of walking tours which will take you around to all the city’s highlights.
Fun Things to Do in Charleston in May
- Take a Charleston Walking Tour
- Visit Magnolia Plantation & Gardens
- Visit Drayton Hall, one of the oldest surviving plantation houses in the South
- Go on a ghost tour
- Take the ferry to Fort Sumter National Monument
- Visit the South Carolina Aquarium
- Tour the Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon
8. Big Sur, California
There’s a reason Highway 1 in California is revered as one of the best road trips in the USA! That reason is Big Sur, one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the world.
Big Sur is located between Carmel and San Simeon in Central California. It is a gorgeous stretch of land overlooking the Pacific Ocean, known for its seaside cliffs, stunning views, waterfalls, secluded beaches and the winding road you need to take to see it.
Big Sur is one of the best places to travel to in May because it is the start of their dry season. The weather is mild and wildflowers are in bloom. There are a number of state parks where you can enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking and biking. There are numerous hiking trails and campgrounds in the area, as well as an endless number of lookout points where you can pull over and enjoy the view.
Big Sur is located around two hours south of San Francisco, so it is a great destination for a day trip if you are visiting the city.
Fun Things to Do in Big Sur in May
- See the waterfall at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
- Drive across the iconic Bixby Creek Bridge at Big Sur
- Go hiking in Garrapata State Park
- Take a tour of Hearst Castle in San Simeon
- Relax on Sand Dollar Beach
- Spend the night camping (or glamping!) in Big Sur
- Stop and take in the scenic vistas
- Spend the day in Monterey and visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium at the north end of the road to Big Sur
9. Barcelona, Spain
One of the most beautiful coastal cities in Europe, Barcelona is a great place to visit in May. Its stunning location, beautiful European architecture, world-class dining, art, entertainment and beach are just some of the reasons to visit Spain’s Catalan capital.
Fun Things to Do in Barcelona in May
- Visit the Barcelona Cathedral
- Visit the Barcelona City History Museum
- Relax on the beaches of Barcelona
- Take a bike tour or walking tour of the city
- Stroll Down Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s most famous street
- Take in the masterpieces at the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Museu Nacional d’Art and the Picasso Museum
- Take a Hop On, Hop Off bus tour of the city
- Experience Barcelona’s vibrant nightlife
Walt Disney World
There really is no bad time of year to visit Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, but May is arguably the best. Summers can get hot and crowded, and Halloween and the holiday season are also packed.
Winter is great if you don’t mind the rain. But May? May hits the sweet spot where you’ll find fewer crowds, warm but not hot and humid weather, and great deals on hotels. It is the perfect time to plan your Florida vacation!
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Fun Things to Do at
Walt Disney World in May
- Visit the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom theme parks
- Shop and dine at Disney Springs
- Zip down a waterslide at Disney waterpark
- Watch the parades, fireworks and nighttime spectaculars inside the parks
- Enjoy a resort day at one of the amazing
Walt Disney Worldon-property hotels
- Walk around Disney’s Boardwalk
- Visit nearby Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex at Cape Canaveral
- Enjoy a beach day at Cocoa Beach
Gwen Kleist is an award-winning writer based in Southern California. She is the mother of one very active son who shares her love of travel and adventure. She writes about their adventures and more on her family travel website, CaliforniaFamilyTravel.com. Her articles have appeared in San Diego Family Magazine, Sunset Magazine, Cat Fancy, Huntington Beach Magazine, and she was a contributing author to Explorer Publishing’s guidebook, Los Angeles: The Complete Resident’s Guide.