Maple harvest season begins in March, with the warmer days and cool nights causing the sugar maples’ sap to start flowing. Vermont is the nation’s leading producer of maple syrup, generating 42 percent of the country’s total. Be sure to check out the three-day Vermont Maple Festival, held April 22 to 24, 2016. The festival will celebrate the first harvest of the year and will feature exhibits, entertainment, maple cooking contests, pancake breakfasts and other maple syrup-related activities.
Each passing month brings new reasons to travel, so as February comes to an end, here are 10 destinations that are best visited in March.
1. Experience Chile
This March, explore the breathtaking landscapes of Chile from the Atacama Desert to Patagonia. With stunning volcanoes, rugged mountains, vast deserts, great wines and wildlife, there is something for everyone in Chile. Be sure to check out the deep-blue, heart-shaped Miscanti Lake, located at the foot of the Miñiques volcano, and the Torres del Paine national park, home to a variety of wildlife and birds. On Chile’s Easter Islands, the weather has also cooled and the crowds have thinned in March, making it the perfect time to explore.
2. Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland
St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) is the perfect time to head to Ireland, when festivities will be in full swing in Dublin. Travellers can also tour the famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral, built to honour Ireland’s patron saint in 1220, or hike to the top of Croagh Patrick, a popular pilgrimage site where the saint is said to have fasted at the mountain summit for 40 days. Also not to miss is Blarney Castle, built nearly 600 years ago, where visitors can kiss the “Blarney Stone” on the castle grounds, a stone that according to Irish Folklore is supposed to give the gift of eloquence.
3. Explore Ancient Sites in Mexico
This month, it is possible to visit quieter, more secluded ancient sites across Mexico. Be sure not to miss seeing Chichen Itza during the spring equinox (March 20 to 21), when during the morning and afternoon of that day, the sun’s light produces the illusion of a serpent-sliding up and down the building’s staircase. The beaches of Mexico can also be very pleasant this time of year, and there is no better time to escape the cold and relax on the island of Cozumel. Also worth exploring is the colorful, colonial-era city of Guanajuato, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
4. Swim with the Manatees in Crystal River, Florida
March is a great time to head to the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge to see wintering manatees, who gather in the warm springs to survive the season. The refuge was established in 1983 and dedicated specifically to the protection of the endangered West Indian manatee. It is one of the few places in the country where it is legal to enter the water with the animals to “passively” observe them while snorkeling from a safe distance. Visitors can also kayak through the springs to see the manatees or take a guided boat tour.
5. Visit Costa Rica
Head to Costa Rica this March, when the weather is dry, warm and sunny. Visitors can explore the country’s lush landscape, including stunning waterfalls, misty crater lakes, volcanic springs and jungle-fringed beaches. Be sure to not miss Arenal Volcano National Park, home to two volcanoes, and the Monteverde Cloud Forest reserve, home to more than 100 species of mammals and 400 species of birds. For a closer encounter with some cute animals, head to the Sloth Sanctuary, located in the village of Penhurst, a privately run sanctuary that raises and rehabilitates injured and orphaned sloths.
6. Wander through Seville, Spain
According to myth, the city of Seville was founded by the Greek god Hercules 3000 years ago, reports Lonely Planet. Today, this ever-evolving, Andalucian city is worthy of a spot everyone’s bucket list. Featuring cobblestone streets, Moorish-influenced gardens and beautiful architecture, this city is brimming with personality and culture. During March, the city also celebrates Semana Santa, a holy week leading up to Easter, by throwing parades, parties and concerts.
7. See the Spectacular Sandhill Crane Migration in Nebraska
One of the country’s greatest wildlife spectacles occurs in Nebraska every March when millions of migratory birds, including cranes, ducks and geese, migrate to the state’s Platte River. About 80 percent of the world’s population of sandhill cranes descend on the area each spring, covering vast expanses of sky with millions of flapping wings. The first birds stay in the region until mid-April, resting and restoring their body weight, before setting off again.
8. Celebrate Spring in India
Head to India this March, and explore all that this stunning country has to offer before the monsoon season hits in the summer. Head to Kaziranga National Park to see great one-horned rhinos, or explore some of the tropical islands in the Bay of Bengal, known for their beaches and rich marine life. The arrival of spring also means that the festival of Holi, for the victory of Krishna over the demon Hiranyakashipu, will be the celebrated across the northern part of the country. The best places to join the festivities include Delhi, Jaipur, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh and Shantiniketan.
9. Attend the Omizutori Festival in Nara, Japan
The ancient city of Nara is known for its 1,200 semi-tame deer that roam through its streets, but March brings another reason to visit: the Omizutori Festival. As one of the Japan’s oldest Buddhist Festivals, this fiery spectacle is held at the centuries-old temple complex of Tōdai-ji from March 1 to 14, 2016. During the event, monks parade through the veranda each night with large burning torches and shower embers that fall on the crowd below, reports Lonely Planet, in an act meant to purify and bring good luck to visitors.
10. Celebrate the First Maple Syrup Harvest of the Year in Vermont