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Travel News The best places to travel in May: 9 sunny destinations

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The best places to travel in May: 9 sunny destinations

Times are tough for travelers. But with the world preparing to reopen in 2021, we're here to keep you dreaming and planning for your next adventure – whether that's a staycation or flying off to parts unknown. Until then, we’ve got the latest COVID-19 travel advice and updates to keep you up to date and ready to go.

As each day passes, the world moves closer to putting the coronavirus pandemic behind us. Adventure is on the mind of every wanderer out there. If you’re longing for a trip filled with sunshine and warming temperatures, start planning your getaway now. This is your guide to the best places to travel in May.

Since travel restrictions are beginning to ease domestically, we’ve included plenty of tourism hotspots from across the beautiful landscape of America. Despite international travel still having some setbacks, the locations selected here encompass a few of the easier destinations to visit worldwide, with manageable restrictions and accessible travel from the United States.

Disclaimer: Travel restrictions within the United States are a patchwork of county, state and federal guidelines. While some states have begun relaxing restrictions, potential quarantine periods and travel regulations may still exist at your destination. We recommend contacting your destination’s Secretary of State office and reviewing CDC guidelines before booking travel. Likewise, check the latest requirements for any international destination you may want to travel to.

These are the best places to travel in May:

  1. Assateague Island, Maryland
  2. New Orleans, Louisiana
  3. Jacksonville, Florida
  4. Gulf Shores, Alabama
  5. Saint George, Utah
  6. U.S. Virgin Islands
  7. Costa Rica
  8. Morocco
  9. Mexico

Best domestic destinations

1. Assateague Island, Maryland

With 48,000 acres of pristine landscape to explore, Assateague Island is an early summer paradise. The protection of a National Seashore designation has preserved the Assateague coastline since the 1960s. Tales of off-shore treasure abound, but one of the islands’ real riches has been around even longer.

Wild horses, descended from a domesticated stock, have been on the island for a century-plus, drawing crowds of tourists yearly. Summer at the nearby beach destination of Ocean City, Maryland, brings plenty of visitors (and mosquitoes), meaning the month of May is an opportune time to visit without the crowds and bugs. Best of all, Assateague is just a short day trip from either Washington D.C., Baltimore or Richmond.

2. New Orleans, Louisiana

There are few places as magical as New Orleans in the late spring. The summer season, which can experience tropical downpours on a dime, has yet to deliver its signature stifling humidity. Even better, the rains from March and April have pushed hibiscus, magnolias, and other beautiful southern buds to bloom. Walls of small, white flowers float the scent of jasmine through the air, where it mingles with the spicy smell of crawfish boils and the sound of laughter and brass instruments. May is normally the month of Nola’s famed Jazz and Heritage Festival, but while the celebrations have been pushed off to fall due to COVID, the unique weather, food and life of the Crescent City continues to beat year round.

Read more: Travel facts that will blow your mind!

3. Jacksonville, Florida

Late spring is considered a shoulder season for Jacksonville, making it one of the best places to visit in May. Spring rain begins to lighten as the sun gets stronger, but the beach bum crowd has yet to descend on the numerous shores of Northeastern Florida. Hotels are often at their least expensive in May.

Miami might have a bigger reputation, but Jacksonville is Florida’s largest city. As such, JAX offers loads of outdoor activities like the Cummer Museum of Gardens, wildlife sanctuaries and miles of Atlantic Ocean beaches for your tanning pleasure. Additionally, Jacksonville’s Jessie Ball duPont Park is part of the largest urban park system in the country. The 250+ year-old Treaty Oak tree is a crowning jewel for any visitor in need of some shade.

Read more: Guide to all-inclusive resorts in Florida

4. Gulf Shores, Alabama

Gulf Shores and its sister location, Orange Beach, are the gem of Alabama’s Gulf Coast and two highly underrated places to visit in May. With the nearby destinations of Destin and Pensacola getting more attention as beaches to frequent, the white sands of Gulf Shores often go under the radar, offering travelers big value for a trip down South.

Gulf Shores offers holiday makers a place to relax in peace and relative quiet. Lighter development in the area has left more room for things like beachside golf courses. The month of May sees Gulf Shore skies fill with an array of colors and patterns for the Hot Air Balloon Festival (May 6-9). Visitors can explore the nearly 200-year-old Fort Morgan, or a much newer amusement park called Waterville USA. After a day spent gathering shells, don’t miss out on the chance to drink in two states at once in the world-famous Flora-Bama bar, serving seafood from all along the Gulf Coast.

5. Saint George, Utah

St. George is known as a gateway to Zion National Park, but locals will often say that the city far exceeds that reputation alone. As is the case in most of Utah, May is one of the best times to visit thanks to the desert’s careful balance between the spring and summer climates, which vary drastically.

Start with St. George’s Red Hill Desert Garden for a COVID-safe introduction to the geography and geology of the region, and follow it up with a visit to the magnificent Whiterocks Amphitheater. Continuing along with an outdoor focus is easy here: St. George is a hub for rock climbing, canyoneering and golfing. Also, boating, fishing and jet-skiing are popular activities along the Sand Hallow Reservoir. Zion National Park is only a 40-mile drive away. St. George stays dry in May, making it one of the best places to visit for moderate temperatures and sunny days.

Read more: The ultimate guide to the best places to travel alone

6. U.S. Virgin Islands

Like other destinations on this list, the U.S. Virgin Islands may not be at peak season in May, but it is a peak time to visit. There is little rain in USVI between April-June, and the temperatures hovers in the 70 to 80 degree range. The islands can be a little breezy this time of year, resulting in a big windfall of cheaper accommodations and less crowds for those who choose it as a place to visit during their May travels.

There are very few Caribbean locations that Americans can visit without needing a passport, so if you’re looking for a quick island getaway, then the USVIs are the place for you. Snorkeling opportunities are as plentiful as the white sand that covers the beach. Deep-sea charter boats roam the coast, waiting to bring you aboard. During non-COVID years, late-April and May are Carnival season around the islands. Take a tour through history at the Estate Whim Plantation Museum, an old sugarcane plantation, or visit Virgin Islands National Park.

Best international destinations

Although there are current burdens to traveling worldwide, these international destinations are available to American citizens. And, they’re also some of the best places we can imagine traveling to in May regardless.

7. Costa Rica

May is just on the cusp of the “green season” (rainy period) for Costa Rica, but experienced travelers will tell you that this is the perfect time to visit. Costa Rica’s typical tourism season is just winding down in May as cooler weather moves in, meaning hotels, transportation and travel expenses all become less of a burden. With a few extra dollars in your pocket, you’ll have more to spend on jungle adventures or visiting the famous Sloth Sanctuary in Limón.

A woven bridge passing through a green jungle. Costa Rica is among the best places to travel in May

Read more: When can I travel to Europe again?

8. Morocco

Despite pandemic restrictions to travelers from certain parts of Europe, Asia and South America, Morocco has been welcoming American visitors since the beginning of 2021. While there is still a nightly curfew in place, the idea that ancient cities like Marrakesh, Fez and Casablanca have fewer people in the streets during the day makes Morocco an enticing place to visit in May. The spring temperature is moderate, and the rainy season is wrapping up. Enjoy a bowl of Moroccan chicken and couscous after admiring architecture and strolling the rich and historied artisan markets.

A bowl of Moroccan food

Read more: Hotels vs. motels…and what’s an inn?

9. Mexico

Much could be said about why visiting Mexico in May is a smashing idea. But, is there ever really a bad time to visit Mexico? Whether you’re staying in the Yucatán at Insta-famous Tulum or grabbing a deep-sea fishing charter out of Pacific Puerto Vallarta, Mexico is a warm country with plenty of tacos and tequila for all. May visitors do run the risk of having a rainier vacation (it’s the start of the wet season). However, the payoff of dealing with fewer guests makes booking a trip worth it for the savvy traveler.

Woman with a hat in her hands staring at the sea at Playa del Carmen beach. Mexico is one of the best places to visit in May.

We know that not everyone is ready to travel again, but we’ll continue to inspire you with amazing destinations for when that time comes. Planning a year in advance is always an option, too! When you are ready to book, Skyscanner is here to help with flexible travel options for flights, hotels and car rentals.

This page was last updated on March 29, 2021. To our knowledge, the information on this page was correct at the time of publication. For further, up-to-date information, please visit the CDC or WHO.

Discover where you can go now

Making plans to get back out there? Find out where borders are open with our interactive global map, and sign up to receive email updates when your top destinations reopen.

A white and orange map of places to travel in May

FAQs on the best places to travel in May

Why is May a good time for travel?

May is often considered a “shoulder season,” meaning that typical tourist destinations are in-between peak travel periods. This can be good for the traveler who is flexible with their plans and in search of cheaper accommodations and fewer crowds.

Can I travel in May?

That depends on your destination. Some places in the U.S. and across the globe have begun loosening travel restrictions, making May the perfect time to get back out there. As always, we recommend checking the CDC and WHO guidelines, as well as our own interactive global map, for up-to-date info on where you can go.

What makes a good place to visit in May?

To find the best places to travel to in May, start your search with locales that are in a change of season. Typically that means the weather is a bit more moderate, the crowds are lighter and accommodations and travel expenses are more affordable. Check this article for some of our favorite destinations.

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