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Sailing through Venice, Italy aboard the Crystal Serenity. Photo courtesy Crystal Cruises.

BY: BROOK WILKINSON

Lupins bloom above the ancient Inca ruins of Choquequirao in the Andes, Peru. Photo: Adriana Von Hagen

Lupins bloom above the ancient Inca ruins of Choquequirao in the Andes, Peru. Photo: Adriana Von Hagen

Where to go in April? That’s easy: Flowers in full bloom, festive celebrations, and mild temperatures make this early spring month a lovely time to visit many parts of the globe. The best deals usually appear starting one week after Easter (April 1 this year).

 

Washington, D.C.

National Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington, D.C. Photo: National Cherry Blossom Festival

National Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington, D.C. Photo: National Cherry Blossom Festival

Washington, D.C., is great in the spring before Memorial Day, when you can avoid the high season while taking advantage of the balmy weather. Several fun events take place in April this year: the National Cherry Blossom Festival’s Petalpalooza Parade (April 15); the Home Opener Day for the Washington Nationals (April 5); the Smithsonian Craft Show (April 27–30); and the Wine and Food Fest just down the Potomac River in National Harbor, Maryland (April 28–29).

 

Paris

There’s nothing more romantic than a view of the Eiffel Tower. Photo: Paris Perfect

There’s nothing more romantic than a view of the Eiffel Tower. Photo: Paris Perfect

Discover the first hints of spring in Paris while strolling through the Tuileries or pausing a moment under the blossoming trees by Notre Dame Cathedral; in April, the weather is usually mild and the city is bedecked in blossoms. You’ll beat the tourist crowds before they arrive later in the spring and catch some excellent art exhibits, too: a long-awaited retrospective of Mary Cassatt at the Musée Jacquemart-André, a celebration of the 80th anniversary of the creation of Guernica at the Musée Picasso, and an exhibition illustrating the beginning of modernity at the Centre Pompidou, to name a few.

 

Riviera Maya, Mexico

Tulum, Riviera Maya. Courtesy Journey Mexico

Tulum, Riviera Maya. Courtesy Journey Mexico

Starting a week after Easter Sunday and running through May, rates are low, resorts aren’t too crowded, and the weather is pleasant (mid to high 80s) with little rain.

 

Hawaii

Makena, Maui. Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

Makena, Maui. Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

April means an optimal combination of great weather and relatively low prices in the islands. (Just make sure to avoid the crush of visitors and higher rates that Spring Break brings.)

 

Peru

Lupins bloom above the ancient Inca ruins of Choquequirao in the Andes, Peru. Photo: Adriana Von Hagen

Lupins bloom above the ancient Inca ruins of Choquequirao in the Andes, Peru. Photo: Adriana Von Hagen

April sees the best mix of weather both inland and on Peru’s coast; it’s sunny and warm in Lima, and dry and temperate in the Andes. Since the rainy season has just ended, the air is clear, and the fields are green and lush, dotted with the yellow, pink, and mauve hues of quinoa, amaranth, lupins, and potatoes ready to harvest.

 

Seville and Andalusia

Seville, Spain

Seville, Spain

Spain is always at its best when people are celebrating something—such as Feria, Seville’s April Fair (it always take place two weeks after Easter, so occasionally falls during May). If you visit then, we can get you into a private casita belonging to a respected family, not a corporation—a huge deal. April is also a lovely time to relax in the sun on the Costa del Sol, before it gets crowded with summer visitors. 

 

Netherlands

Spring is tulip time in the Netherlands. Photo: Keukenhof Gardens

Spring is tulip time in the Netherlands. Photo: Keukenhof Gardens

April is bright and pleasant, and it’s prime time for Tulipmania, when the Keukenhof (one of the world’s largest flower gardens) is full of blooms. King’s Day, on April 27, is the biggest street party of the year in Amsterdam; it’s very busy, but a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the Dutch joie de vivre (you can also enjoy the parades and festivities in a more rural setting). There’s also the Spring Beer Festival in the Posthoornkerk, a beautiful old basilica, on April 22. By traveling in April, you’ll also miss the public holidays in May that bring out large crowds.

 

Mediterranean Cruises

Sailing through Venice, Italy aboard the Crystal Serenity. Photo courtesy Crystal Cruises.

Sailing through Venice, Italy aboard the Crystal Serenity. Photo courtesy Crystal Cruises.

April is the perfect month to enjoy the brilliant blue skies in the Mediterranean, when the sunny days start to outnumber the cold and cloudy ones of winter. Cruise ships have just re-positioned to the region, so you can explore iconic ports such as Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Rome, and Venice without the crowds and heat of summertime. And fares are lower, since this is considered the off-season.

 

Istanbul

Istanbul, Turkey. Photo courtesy Crystal Cruises.

Istanbul, Turkey. Photo courtesy Crystal Cruises.

During the annual tulip festival in April, the city is awash in millions (literally) of colorful blooms. The weather is temperate, perfect for visiting the outdoor ancient sites that can be scorching in summer—and the tourist hordes have not yet arrived. Since it’s shoulder season, there are deals to be had at hotels.

 

Austria, Hungary, and the Czech Republic

Prague, Czech Republic. Photo: Joseph Pisani

Prague, Czech Republic. Photo: Joseph Pisani

April means mild weather, springtime flowers, and no bus-tour crowds in Eastern Europe. This year Easter is April 1 and there are charming holiday markets and festivals in Vienna leading up to the holiday. In Budapest, the Spring Fair runs all month long with folk music, dancing, and concerts. In Prague, popular Easter Markets are running through April 8. Crowded summertime destinations, such as Lake Balaton in Hungary and the Wachau Valley in Austria, are relatively tranquil. In the Czech Republic, all the countryside castles are just reopening from their winter dormancy.

 

Crete

The island of Spinalonga, Crete, Greece. Photo: Blue Palace Resort and Spa

The island of Spinalonga, Crete, Greece. Photo: Blue Palace Resort and Spa

Renowned for its rich local culture, Crete is a wonderful place to visit in April when Greek Orthodox Easter falls during that month, as it does this year (on the 8th). Experience renowned Cretan hospitality throughout the festive celebrations, which are distinctive to Greece’s most southern (and thus warmest) island. There are also beautiful wildflowers in April, fewer crowds, and lower hotel rates than you’ll find later in spring.

 

Maldives

Huvafen Fushi, Maldives. Photo: Huvafen Fush

Huvafen Fushi, Maldives. Photo: Huvafen Fush

European vacationers drive up prices from Christmas through Easter, but for the few weeks after this period, you’ll find a sweet spot of lower hotel rates and ideal weather: Temperatures are consistently in the high 80s year-round, but in late April there is almost no rain or wind, so the water is calm for snorkeling and diving.

 

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea. Photo: Pixabay/freesally

Papua New Guinea. Photo: Pixabay/freesally

In April the rainy season is just ending, so prices are better than in the high months of May, June, and July.

 

Luang Prabang, Laos

Monks in Luang Prabang, Laos. Photo: Flickr/jayarc

Monks in Luang Prabang, Laos. Photo: Flickr/jayarc

Songkran, the Lao New Year, is celebrated in mid-April with a whole week of parades, street markets, and concerts. Tradition holds that revelers douse one another with water in order to wash away the past year’s sins; unlike in Thailand, where you might well be ambushed outside your hotel in the morning, in Laos the locals usually ask before splashing you.

CroatiaCuba

England: Castles,

Germany: Bavaria

Greece: Athens

Israel

Israel: Jerusalem

Italy: Lake Como villas

ItalMexico City

Myanmar

Namibia

Nepal

New Zealand

New Zealand: Bay of Islands

New Zealand: Queenstown hiking and cycling

Patagonia

Peru: Machu Picchu

River Rafting in the American West

Russia: Moscow

Russia: St. Petersburg

Scotland: wildflowers and deals

Seychelles

South Africa: Cape Town and Vietnam: north and Central region

Where to Go in February: The Best Places to Travel

The depths of winter make for the heights of sightseeing in many destinations that are usually overcrowded. Here are the best places to travel in February.

Where to Go in December: The Best Places to Travel

BROOK WILKINSON

While the last 10 days of December spell crowds and exorbitant prices, the first two-thirds of the month can be a serene time to travel.

Travel Tips

Save yourself time, money, headaches—and make your travels extraordinary.

AIRLINE TRAVEL

Airline Miles and Points: How to Get the Best Award Flights in 2018

GARY LEFF

By: Michelle-Marie Heinemann
CEO and Publisher of Old Fashioned Mom Magazine and Show
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Bill Gates, Father of three adorable children shares his love of books. Reading is crucial and the backbone to everything we do in life….here are some of his favorites.

 

~My Favorite Books~
By Bill Gates

 
Never before have I felt so empowered to learn as I do today. When I was young, there were few options to learn on my own. My parents had a set of World Book Encyclopedias, which I read through in alphabetical order. But there were no online courses, video lectures, or podcasts to introduce me to new ideas and thinkers as we have today.
Still, reading books is my favorite way to learn about a new topic. I’ve been reading about a book a week on average since I was a kid. Even when my schedule is out of control, I carve out a lot of time for reading.

 
If you’re looking for a book to enjoy, here are some of my favorites from this year. They cover an eclectic mix of topics—from tennis to tennis shoes, genomics to great leadership. They’re all very well written, and they all dropped me down a rabbit hole of unexpected insights and pleasures.

 

 

String Theory, by David Foster Wallace. This book has nothing to do with physics, but its title will make you look super smart if you’re reading it on a train or plane. String Theory is a collection of five of Wallace’s best essays on tennis, a sport I gave up in my Microsoft days and am once again pursuing with a passion. You don’t have to play or even watch tennis to love this book. The late author wielded a pen as skillfully as Roger Federer wields a tennis racket. Here, as in his other brilliant works, Wallace found mind-blowing ways of bending language like a metal spoon.

 
Shoe Dog, by Phil Knight. This memoir, by the co-founder of Nike, is a refreshingly honest reminder of what the path to business success really looks like: messy, precarious, and riddled with mistakes. I’ve met Knight a few times over the years. He’s super nice, but he’s also quiet and difficult to get to know. Here Knight opens up in a way few CEOs are willing to do. I don’t think Knight sets out to teach the reader anything. Instead, he accomplishes something better. He tells his story as honestly as he can. It’s an amazing tale.

 
The Gene, by Siddhartha Mukherjee. Doctors are deemed a “triple threat” when they take care of patients, teach medical students, and conduct research. Mukherjee, who does all of these things at Columbia University, is a “quadruple threat,” because he’s also a Pulitzer Prize– winning author. In his latest book, Mukherjee guides us through the past, present, and future of genome science, with a special focus on huge ethical questions that the latest and greatest genome technologies provoke. Mukherjee wrote this book for a lay audience, because he knows that the new genome technologies are at the cusp of affecting us all in profound ways.

 
The Myth of the Strong Leader, by Archie Brown. This year’s fierce election battle prompted me to pick up this 2014 book, by an Oxford University scholar who has studied political leadership—good, bad, and ugly—for more than 50 years. Brown shows that the leaders who make the biggest contributions to history and humanity generally are not the ones we perceive to be “strong leaders.” Instead, they tend to be the ones who collaborate, delegate, and negotiate—and recognize that no one person can or should have all the answers. Brown could not have predicted how resonant his book would become in 2016.

 
Honorable mention: The Grid, by Gretchen Bakke. This book, about our aging electrical grid, fits in one of my favorite genres: “Books About Mundane Stuff That Are Actually Fascinating.” Part of the reason I find this topic fascinating is because my first job, in high school, was writing software for the entity that controls the power grid in the Northwest. But even if you have never given a moment’s thought to how electricity reaches your outlets, I think this book would convince you that the electrical grid is one of the greatest engineering wonders of the modern world. I think you would also come to see why modernizing the grid is so complex and so critical for building our clean-energy future.