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Did you know that being in the company of flowers can make people happy long-term? According to a study at Rutgers University, research suggests that recipients of flower bouquets displayed “Duchenne smiles,” which scientists believe convey an experience of authentic enjoyment. A bouquet is one thing, but imagine acquainting yourself with millions and millions of vibrant, fragrant flowers of varying shapes and colors, stretching as far as the eye can see.
Luckily, there are many destinations around the world where enjoying extraordinary blossoms is possible, from spectacular desert wildflower superblooms to wonderfully whimsical planted gardens. Here are 17 mesmerizing locations to find flowers around the globe. When you venture out to see the blossoms, make sure you visit responsibly and stick to trails and follow signs. Many of these gorgeous species only thrive when they are left alone and untouched!
Hitachi Seaside Park, Japan
Located two hours northeast of Tokyo in Ibaraki Prefecture, Hitachi Seaside Park spans roughly 865 acres, and boasts expansive, seasonal blooms of several varieties. The park is open to visitors year-round, though its most sensational flower displays occur between April and October. Of these, the early spring explosion of blue nemophila or “baby blue eyes” is especially renowned. Later in the year, you can see blooms of beautiful narcissus, lakeside tulips, and the green-to-red evolution of cartoonishly pleasing kokia bushes. Check the park’s website for updates as to what’s in bloom day-to-day, so you can make sure to time your trip to see the best displays.
Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, United States
In 2019, California’s poppies made headlines when hordes of Instagrammers and tourists flocked to a town called Lake Elsinore to bear witness to the fiery-colored flowers. This particular proliferation of poppies was caused by a desert superbloom, which results from an unusually wet season in an otherwise arid area. In other words, you shouldn’t expect such a spectacle in Lake Elsinore every year. For more reliable viewings, however, you can make a springtime trip to Los Angeles County’s Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, where you can walk the eight miles of protected trails through fields and fields of red-orange beauties. The Antelope Valley poppy season tends to span mid-February through May, although the intensity of the bloom you’ll see will vary from year to year.
Namaqualand Flower Route, South Africa
If you’re keen on flora-tourism, South Africa is the perfect place to visit. Beginning in Cape Town and ending about 500 miles north in Port Nolloth, the Namaqualand Flower Route showcases the area’s signature Namaqualand daisies, as well as 3,500 other species of flower. En route, you can make stops at stunning destinations like the Hantam National Botanical Gardens and the Skilpad Wildflower Reserve. The whole route takes about nine hours by car, but to take in all the beauty the route has to offer, a weeklong trip is preferred. Remember: South Africa’s spring occurs during the Northern Hemisphere’s autumn, so most flowers will bloom between August and October.
Keukenhof, The Netherlands
Unlike some of the other spots on this list, the blooms at Keukenhof don’t appear naturally, but that doesn’t make seeing them any less sensational. In fact, Keukenhof has some of the most incredible floral displays in the world, thanks to the brilliant artistry of its gardeners, who plant seven million bulbs by hand every year. At the park, you can experience 79 acres of flowers, seven “Inspiration Gardens,” and annual flower shows of orchids, hyacinths, tulips, freesia, and more. The park has also been known to plant flowers so that they grow in whimsical patterns and shapes according to annual themes.
Valley of Flowers National Park, India
High in the western Himalayas — a mountain range typically known for the challenges it presents climbers — you can find the Valley of Flowers National Park. Notable for its wealth of biodiversity and expansive stretches of stunning natural landscape, the area was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1988, and has been protected ever since. Open to the public between June and October, the Valley of Flowers is often marked by arresting blooms of orchids, poppies, marigolds, petunias, zinnia, and many other species. You might also encounter rare and endangered wildlife, like the snow leopard or the Himalayan musk deer.
Lake Tekapo, New Zealand
While native to both North and South America, lupines (statuesque flowers of the pea or legume family), grow all over the world. During late spring in the Southern Hemisphere, they are especially profuse around Lake Tekapo, on the South Island of New Zealand, where they tend to sprout in beautiful shades of purple, pink, and yellow that look lovely against the crystalline water. Once you see how gorgeous Lake Tekapo’s lupines are, you may find it difficult to believe that in New Zealand, lupines are considered an invasive species in addition to a lovely flower to behold.
Farm Tomita, Japan
Located on Hokkaido, the second-largest island in Japan, the flower fields of Farm Tomita attract over a million visitors every year. The farm is best known for its lavender, which can be explored in several different places within the main farm campus: the Traditional Lavender Field, the Lavender Forest Field, and the Sakiwai Field. Another field, Lavender East, is a couple of miles down the road, and is said to be one of the largest lavender fields in Japan. Other flower varieties grow at Farm Tomita, too. At Idori Field, for example, baby’s breath, catchflies, poppies, and other varieties of flower are planted in wide, undulating rows that make the land look like it is blanketed by a rainbow. To see the flowers in their most radiant states, visit Farm Tomita sometime between late June and early August.
Imagine this — an entire island dedicated to flowers! This is what you’ll experience if you visit Mainau or the “Flower Island,” a completely unique locale in southwestern Germany. Amazingly, flowers are in bloom year-round here, from yellow Oregon grape flowers in wintry January to sherbet-colored frangipani in August. The island also has a fascinating history, having housed a naval base and a monastery and eventually wound up in the hands of Grand Duke Frederick I of Baden, who greatly expanded its horticultural delights, like the Italian rose garden and the orangery. Visit Mainau in early spring to experience its annual orchid show, where you’ll see over 3,000 blooms; in June to participate in selecting the island’s most gorgeous rose (nicknamed the “Mainau Queen of Roses”); or in late August through October, when 12,000 dahlias blossom.
Crested Butte, United States
The small mountain town of Crested Butte nestled in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado definitely deserves its moniker the “Wildflower Capital of Colorado.” Once the snow melts in late spring, Crested Butte’s extraordinary wildflower bloom begins, coming to its apex in July for the annual Crested Butte Wildflower Festival, which offers hikes, photography workshops, and other activities for flower-lovers from around the world. From spring to fall, Crested Butte is an amazing place to encounter a wide variety of blooms in their natural habitats, like sizable Mules Ears sunflowers on Kebler Pass and lupines and corn lilies along the Lupine Trail. Keep your eyes peeled for Colorado’s state flower, the Colorado blue columbine, which tends to crop up where other wildflowers are growing.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, United States
When superblooms occur, southern California’s Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, located within the Colorado Desert, can be another amazing place to see thousands of wildflowers blooming all at once. To find out whether one of these phenomenal events will occur, you’ll have to follow the weather. Superblooms follow unprecedented rainfall as winter turns to spring. In the best years, Anza-Borrego gets entirely blanketed with 92 plant families, 346 genera, and hundreds of different species of wildflower that appear in bursts of purple, white, yellow, and other stunning colors. Several nonprofit organizations, like the Anza Borrego Foundation and the Anza-Borrego Desert National History Association, track wildflower blooms in a given year, and post their updates and findings on their websites.
Texas Hill Country, United States
The bluebonnet is the official state flower of Texas, and though the blue-purple flowers can be spotted in a variety of locations across the state, your best bet for seeing lots of them at once is to head to Hill Country, a region of central and south Texas. Interestingly, several different cities in Hill Country claim the title of “Bluebonnet Capital of Texas”: Ennis, which is outside of Dallas and is home to the “Official Texas Bluebonnet Trail”; Burnet, which is nearer to Austin, and hosts an annual Bluebonnet Festival in April; and Llano, which is a short drive from Burnet where the Highland Lakes Bluebonnet Trail begins. Fun fact: bluebonnets are difficult to grow in gardens, which makes seeing them in the wild even more special.
Mount Yoshino, Japan
You might have heard that in Japanese culture, cherry blossoms, known as sakura, play an important and symbolic role — they represent renewal and happiness. Every year, locals and visitors to Japan practice hanami, which is, quite beautifully, the simple practice of viewing cherry blossoms, and taking in their spirit. Cherry blossoms, which grow on elegant cherry trees, are native to Japan. In fact, the famous cherry trees lining the Tidal Basin that blossom each spring in Washington, D.C. were a gift from Japan to the United States. But the best place to see sakura blossom is Mount Yoshino, located in central Japan’s Nara Prefecture. Here, thousands of cherry trees grow, erupting in delicate, light-pink blooms come early spring. There are several different parts of Mount Yoshino where cherry blossoms grow; the most popular for practicing hanami is the Naka Senbon, or the mountain’s middle region.
Lupines first arrived in mostly vegetation-free Iceland in 1945 in the suitcase of the director of the Icelandic Forest Service, who sought to reinvigorate the country’s stark landscapes. Native to Alaska and British Columbia, lupines, however beautiful, are considered an invasive species in Iceland. As such, they have proliferated since their initial mid-century germination, and can be found growing in the wild in many locations across this small, Nordic nation. Though lupines come in many different colors around the world, most lupines in Iceland are a rich bluish-purple and tend to start blooming in June and July. One favored spot to catch sight of them is in the seaside village of Vík í Mýrdal, shortened to Vík, where they surround the bucolic Reyniskyrka Church.
It might surprise you to learn that the same plants that produce lentils, or lenticchia as they’re called in Italian, have gorgeous flowers. Lenticchia di Castelluccio di Norcia, a particularly prized variety of lentil, grows in the plains of a village in Umbria known as Castelluccio di Norcia. Every year from May to July, when these plants bloom in the plains at the base of the Sibillini Mountains, the fiorita, or flowering of Castelluccio di Norcia, begins. It’s not only white lentil flowers you’ll find here, though. In early spring, you’ll also see wild mustard, orchids, and tulips, followed by poppies in June and cornflowers in July. The yellow mountain tulips that grow on the area’s Pian Grande or Great Plain are also an endangered species, which is all the more reason to go see them now.
Carlsbad Ranch, United States
Just north of San Diego in the city of Carlsbad, California, sits another incredible destination for bloom-spotting. The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch, a 50-acre flower farm with its own, homegrown variety of ranunculus known as tecolote. Here, you can unwind by taking a stroll through the ranch’s signature array of red, orange, yellow, pink, and white tecolote, which tend to blossom in April. The ranch has other floral attractions too, like a sweetpea maze, a greenhouse for orchids, and a massive bedded American flag made of red, white, and blue petunias.
Bluebell Woods, United Kingdom
About half of all the world’s bluebells grow in the United Kingdom, and there are many beautiful spots in the country to experience their springtime bloom. Take the 5,000-acre Ashridge Estate in the town of Swindon in southwestern England, for example. Here, a famous site called Dockey Wood becomes carpeted by bluebells every spring, providing a breathtaking stage for towering beech and oak trees. The estate has marked walking, cycling, and riding trails for the convenience of visitors. Stick to them! Bluebells are delicate flowers. If they get trampled, they could take years to rebound. In Northern Ireland, check out Castle Ward. In Wales, visit the gardens that surround the historic Penrhyn Castle. And in Scotland, the Kinclaven Bluebell Wood near Perth will surely not disappoint.
Part of the mint family, lavender is prolific in the region of southeastern France known as Provence. Blooming in a modest, powdery purple color, lavender has a pleasant, calming scent, and is cultivated for all kinds of culinary, medicinal, and aesthetic purposes. Among the many places to see lavender in Provence is the Valensole Plateau, which is accessible via the Route de Manosque. Here, lavender grows on picturesque hills, and is tended to by farmers who sometimes make lavender products in-house. Some lavender farms are closed to the public, but others, like Lavandes Angelvin, welcome visitors to tour the fields and take home essential oils, soaps, sachets, and other sweet-smelling goods.