Spring is in the air, and there's something about soggy lawns, blooming flowers, and mud on my shoes that gets me itching to travel. With 65 Southwest cities to choose from (including our newest: MSP as of March 8th!) it helps to have a special occasion to narrow it down. Say...a festival of some sorts? Food-based is preferable, but I'll settle for flower or art-related as well. The best place to start planning? Visit Southwest’s new Travel Guide, flip open a Spirit magazine or visit this handy-dandy online version of their event calendar: http://www.spiritmag.com/calendar/
They've already done the hard work for you: narrowing down a plethora of going-ons and hubbub to a select choice few. And you're in luck, as a nationwide ticket sale on southwest.com starts today. If you're feeling especially antsy in April, try combining the Virginia Arts Festival in Norfolk with the Improv Festival in Phoenix. Travel from Phoenix to any destination in the east (including Norfolk, VA) is on sale for $99 or lessone way. Then head to the West Coast for the perfect pairing: strawberries and bubbly. With one way trips within California on sale for just $49 one way, you can fly to SFO for a jaunt in the wine country, then head down to LAX for the California Strawberry Festival. To check out more red-hot deals, check out the link below. Also keep in mind these fares require a 14-day advance purchase.
As for choosing between BBQ ribs in Kansas City or funnel cake in Miami, well, you're on your own for that. Here are my top suggestions for spring field trips, courtesy of Spirit:
Virginia Arts Festival
When the six-week Virginia Arts Festival starts in mid-April, you’ve got to move fast. How else will you fit in the more than 50 acts spread out over 10 cities in the region, all within a 60-minute drive? Pick from performances by Liza Minnelli, Patti LuPone, the Czech National Theatre Ballet, Ravi Shankar, Emmylou Harris, the Kronos Quartet, and the Tokyo String Quartet. Stick around through May, when more fun arrives in the form of the Virginia International Tattoo (honoring centuries-old military musical traditions) and the Panorama Caribbean Music Fest, held the first and second weekends of May, respectively. Both events occur in conjunction with the Arts Festival and a beer fest on April 25th featuring nearly three dozen domestic and international breweries. With all this to see, we suggest bringing an appreciation for the arts—and your running shoes.
Phoenix Improv Festival
Quick: You’re the captain of a ship, and your crew is planning a mutiny. No, wait: You’re Indiana Jones, and you’re trying to rescue your precious bullwhip from a pit of snakes. OK, now you’re at a restaurant, and you’ve just found out your blind date is actually Albert Einstein. Action! Those are just a few scenarios that you may find at the Phoenix Improv Festival, where players create entire performances on the spur of the moment. The art of improvisation lies in not being prepared at all, so the shows in this three-day festival remain unwritten, and will stay that way until showtime. Now in its eighth year, the Phoenix Improv Festival hosts performances by improvisational troupes from around the country, while workshops provide inspiration for improv actors-in-training. Previous years have featured performers like Jack McBrayer from NBC’s 30 Rock and a workshop with Dan Bakkedahl from Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. We’d tell you who’s going to be at this year’s festival, but we’re planning to make it up on the spot.
California Strawberry Festival
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No, not that one: It’s strawberry season in Oxnard—located 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles—and therefore the perfect time for a Strawberry Festival. Fresh berries strewn across shortcake, dipped in chocolate, served in pie, skewered on kabobs, floating in beer—if you can dream it, this festival serves it. Strawberry purists, of course, can buy the fruit fresh from farmers on-site, as well as listen to live music and browse an arts and crafts show featuring more than 300 artists. If eating the berries isn’t enough, you can also stomp them, hunt for them, study how they’re grown, and in Strawberryland, let your kids play on rides resembling them. If you turn red and sprout a green top, don’t say we didn’t warn you.
St. Louis, MO
Rib America Festival
Whether you hail from San Antonio or Kansas City, you know that barbecued ribs come in all styles and spices. That’s why we like Memorial Day weekend at the Rib America Festival in St. Louis, where you can try them all. For four days at Soldier’s Memorial in St. Louis, party in the shade of the Gateway Arch to the smells of smoked meat and the sounds of local bands. Sample ribs from vendors across the country, and rock out to live musical acts. Last year’s party featured KC and the Sunshine Band, Jonny Lang, and Cross Canadian Ragweed, plus seven teams serving award-winning barbecue ribs. Don’t skip out on the sides, either: roasted sweet corn, bratwurst, and onion blossoms, with funnel cakes and deep-fried Oreos for dessert. That’s our idea of a well-rounded meal.