Traveling in spring: 8 ideas for where to go

Ahh, spring. Time to banish the cabin fever and get outdoors — and beyond. This season brings chances to make discoveries dug from the dirt of the distant past to outer space, and in some cases, the air in between. Hop aboard a new roller coaster, zip line or space simulator, or settle into a seat at one of Paris’ newest sweet spots. Options to try something new abound at destinations around the globe this spring.

Mars Training, Cape Canaveral, Fla.

At the Kennedy Space Center, getting to Mars and thriving there are more than daydreams. The center’s new Astronaut Training Experience demonstrates exactly how all aspects of the challenge have been addressed by NASA scientists. Based on those concepts, simulation technology demonstrates what traveling to and working in the harsh environment of the Red Planet might be like. Visitors can sign on for sessions that duplicate training programs for the professional astronauts, including how to perform base operations, science experiments and engineering tasks. The experiences are enhanced by the Land-and-Drive-on-Mars motion simulator; Walk-on-Mars virtual reality and spacewalk training. And participants will have the chance to team up with NASA scientists to work on food production and experiments in the Mars Botany Lab. Closer to Planet Earth, the center also features exhibits around the moon landings, the space shuttle and NASA’s distinguished astronauts who have been inducted into the year-old Heroes and Legends hall.

State Road 405, Kennedy Space Center, Fla. 1-855-433-4210,

Le Meurice, Paris

As the song suggests, April is the best month to be in Paris, when the city’s gardens and grand boulevards are blossoming with color. This spring, the chance to sample sweet indulgences by the chef lauded as the best in the world just adds to the city’s allure. Cédric Grolet of the historic Le Meurice hotel was voted Best Pastry Chef 2018 by the French Gault & Millau guide for his artistic and delicious creations, highlighted in his recent book, “Fruits.” To showcase his talents, a pastry shop is set to open in the hotel this month. The shop is a sweet addition to the hotel’s Michelin two-star restaurant, Le Meurice Alain Ducasse. The recently renovated palace hotel, dating back to the early 1800s, has long been a backdrop for exquisite dining served to some of the world’s most glamorous travelers, including Salvador Dali and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

228 Rue de Rivoli, Paris, France. 33-01-44-58-10-10 (add the 011 prefix when dialing from the U.S.),

Museum of the Bible, Washington, D.C.

Since opening in November, this attraction has drawn tourists and visitors intrigued by the concept of putting the Bible on display. The 430,000-square-foot space goes well beyond presenting versions and historical documents from the world’s most-published book; it also explores how the Bible has served as an inspiration for art and culture, how it has been translated through the ages and how it has embraced technology. Docent-led walks through Nazareth give a sense of what the ancient land was like in the time of Christ’s youth.

400 Fourth St. SW, Washington, D.C. 1-855-554-5300,

Documentary Film Festival, Vancouver, Canada

Be the first to see the documentary films that will rock 2018 by heading to Vancouver, where the Documentary Media Society presents the 17th Annual DOXA Documentary Film Festival. This year’s event, slated for May 3-13, features films from around the world that are judged in categories that include short film, youth programming, female-directed and Canadian. Among last year’s entries were films exploring Ben Carson’s political career, the making of the famous shower scene in “Psycho” and how freelance reporters cover news in some of the world’s most dangerous locations. Can’t get to this British Columbian city in May? The society hosts programs and panels throughout the year to showcase works of documentary filmmakers.

750 Hamilton St., Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. 1-604-646-3200,

Hummingbird Ziplines, Orange Beach, Ala.

The Gulf Adventure Center just added a lot more zip to the Wharf on Orange Beach. Last month, the family-friendly destination opened at this entertainment district with a zip line attraction that extends about a mile and a half, with the longest stretch running 1,210 feet. Designed with eight launching towers, the course rises 90 feet above water and land and takes about 2.5 hours to complete. Before or after the aerial thrills, explore the Wharf’s restaurants, shops, Ferris wheel and entertainment options.

4830 Main St., Orange Beach, Ala. 1-877-947-8434,

RELATED | Zip line fun in the North Georgia mountains

Silver Dollar City, Branson, Mo.

Vertical plunges, loops, upside-down curves — roller coaster fans expect those sorts of thrills. So to shake things up, designers of the new Time Traveler ride at the Silver Dollar City Theme Park have added Tilt-a-Whirl-style cars that rotate 360 degrees. If those spinning cars alone give you pause, this may not be your ride, but coaster thrill-seekers surely will flock this spring to try out the latest craze. The takeoff — a 10-story vertical drop — takes riders from zero to 47 mph in seconds. Along the more than half-mile route, cars whip through dive and vertical loops, and a zero-G roll that are part of the excitement lasting 1 minute and 57 seconds. This new ride has another plus for families: The height limit is just 51 inches, lower than many other coasters of the same caliber.

399 Silver Dollar City Parkway, Branson, Mo. 417-336-7100,

Beerwerks Trail, Shenandoah Valley, Va.

Many have driven the famed Skyline Drive through Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, noted for its impressive vistas and mountaintop clouds. In 2016, it drew even more drivers who took a break from those twisty, winding roads to relax with a craft brew from one of 14 in the area. This year, the Beerwerks Trail has inaugurated a Passport Program that rewards visitors who make it a point to grab a pint at a local brewery in the Staunton, Augusta County, Waynesboro, Harrisonburg or Lexington/Rockbridge areas. After collecting six passport stamps, mail them in for a free Beerwerks Trail T-shirt, and if it’s your first passport, two three-day admission tickets to the July Red Wing Roots Music Festival in Mount Solon. Turn in a 10th and a 25th for fly-fishing classes and whitewater adventures.

Staunton Visitor Center, 35 S. New St., Staunton, Va. 540-332-3971,

Old Salem Museums & Gardens, Winston-Salem, N.C.

Founded in the late 1700s, Winston-Salem is a cache of history, and more of it is being uncovered every day. As part of the recently launched Hidden Town Project, researchers are exploring the history of the free Africans and enslaved African-Americans who lived there from the time of Salem’s earliest days through the current century. The project is uncovering specific sites where they lived and worked, and using archaeological approaches to study them. It has also connected to descendants of these early inhabitants, identified their contributions to the town’s economy and sponsored discussions and gatherings around the area’s African heritage. Already, researchers have discovered images of many African-American residents, as well as letters, diaries, maps and prints related to the project. Visitors to Old Salem will also find crafts people engaged in traditional trades of the 18th and 19th centuries (think pottery and shoe making) and offering demonstrations of quilting, cooking and gardening.

600 S. Main St., Winston-Salem, N.C. 336-721-7300,

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Travel

5 must-hike mountain trails in Georgia
5 must-hike mountain trails in Georgia

Whether you're a native, or just a passing visitor, you haven't truly experienced all the stunning beauty that Georgia has to offer unless you've hiked some of these unique natural treasures in Georgia. Among the mountains of North Georgia, you'll find five of the most exciting, invigorating and unforgettable hikes of your life. So, grab your water...
There’s something brewing at Ohio hotel, where the scene is hopping
There’s something brewing at Ohio hotel, where the scene is hopping

CANAL WINCHESTER, Ohio — There was nothing obviously out of the ordinary about the middle-aged man sitting near me in the hotel breakfast area, except for the beverages he chose to supplement his morning coffee: a flight of beers. Well, maybe it wasn’t that unusual, considering that I was breakfasting just outside of Columbus, Ohio, at...
With country roots, Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium still raises the roof
With country roots, Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium still raises the roof

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — This was the heart of Saturday night, and honky-tonk singer-songwriter Whitey Morgan had Ryman Auditorium in an uproar. Wearing a determined scowl and a long beard, Morgan prowled the stage as if looking for a fight. Now and again he’d let his band, the 78’s, carry the tune while he paused to pull on a bottle of...
Survey reveals travelers want more automation, control and privacy

Airline passengers around the world are looking to new technology to give them more control and information when traveling, while also making the entire experience more efficient. These insights were revealed as part of the 2018 Global Passenger Survey conducted by the International Air Transport Association, or IATA. The study is based on 10,408 responses...
Assessing 2 new spots in the Pacific Northwest’s little Bavaria
Assessing 2 new spots in the Pacific Northwest’s little Bavaria

Leavenworth is a trip. Nestled against the far side of the Cascade mountains just a few hours east of Seattle, this little town does an impression of a Bavarian village with all its might. The beer flows freely and the music is oompah; buildings are decorated with wooden beams, family crests and gingerbread trim (or their trompe l’oeil versions)...
More Stories