The 8 best places to visit in May

Apr 15, 2022

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It’s almost summer, but not quite yet. So, if you need a little getaway before the big vacation, May may be the perfect month to go. Why? In general, during this time, many destinations have pleasantly warm weather and smaller crowds, which often means lower prices. So, it’s a win-win all around. Additionally, more countries are relaxing their COVID-19 testing and entry requirements, making it easier to travel than before.

That said, the BA.2 coronavirus variant is on the rise with no predictable pattern. Health officials are warning you to be vigilant when protecting yourself. It also means restrictions could change at any time. So, be sure to check the latest recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and review the rules of any international countries you plan on visiting.

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While several destinations are perfectly lovely to visit this time of year, a few stand out from the rest. These are the eight best places to visit in May.

Greenville, South Carolina

Downtown Greenville’s Historic West End. (Photo by DenisTangneyJr/Getty Images)

The month of May is when Greenville comes alive. The city plays host to weekly farmers markets on Main Street, movies in the park every Wednesday night at dusk, free outdoor concerts on Thursdays and more.

Plus, every Mother’s Day weekend, the city transforms into an artist haven with 135 pop-up galleries lining downtown. Gallabrae — Greenville’s Scottish Games featuring a slew of events and competitions for families — is also held in May the weekend of Memorial Day. Additionally, Unity Park — downtown’s 60-acre gathering spot that’s surrounded by the GHS Swamp Rabbit cycling trail with a pedestrian bridge over the Reedy River — is expected to be done in May.

Lately, this largely under-the-radar Southern destination is growing rapidly, offering countless new restaurants worth checking out, including forthcoming Lewis Barbecue, O-Ku Sushi and Indaco.

TPG tip: There are a number of hotels in the heart of Greenville that take points. You can stay at the AC Hotel Greenville for as little as 30,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night or the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Greenville-Downtown for 28,000 IHG Rewards points.


Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World. (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket/Getty Images)

May is the time to go to Disney if you’ve had it on the back burner for awhile. You’ll get the warm temperatures in the 70s, but it won’t be sweltering.

Plus, it’s one of the cheaper times to visit. Orlando is the fifth most affordable U.S. destination, with average round-trip airfare coming in around $250, according to new Priceline data. Also, nearby Kissimmee is the second-most affordable U.S. city, with an average nightly rate of $98.44.

Walt Disney World Resort is also celebrating its 50th anniversary through fall, so you’re bound to have some extra magical experiences.

TPG tip: Book a room at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando for 80,000 Hilton Honors points per night or at TownePlace Suites Orlando Theme Parks/Lake Buena Vista for just 20,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.


The Turkish Republic Day holiday in Istanbul. (Photo by davidf/Getty Images)

Istanbul is a city full of history, architecture and delicious food. That also means it tends to get packed with tourists during the busy season. In May, you get the benefits of nice weather and open attractions without all the people, which makes it a prime time to visit. It also happens to be the month when the second biannual Beyoglu Culture Road Festival occurs.

Throughout the European side of the city’s district, there’s the Galata Mevlevihanesi Museum, the Taksim Mosque Culture and Arts Center and the Atlas Cinema, among other venues hosting a variety of exhibitions that pay homage to the city’s vast history. Expect everything from film viewings to concerts to art gallery installations.

TPG tip: Incredibly, you can get round-trip flights to Istanbul from New York for as low as $664 with one stop or $950 nonstop. If you use United MileagePlus points, you can get one-way airfare for 30,000 points in economy or 75,000 points in business.

Edinburgh, Scotland

A preview of Van Gogh Alive in Festival Square in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

With temperatures hovering in the low 60s, Scotland in May sees daffodils and rhododendrons bursting into bloom. Van Gogh Alive will also be taking place in Edinburgh’s Festival Square throughout May.

When you’re not enjoying the beautiful flowers, visit a distillery to enjoy a pour in honor of Whisky Month. Or, attend some of the Highland Games (or related events like the Atholl Highlanders Parade & Gathering), which kick off at the end of May.

TPG tip: For 20,000 World of Hyatt points, you can basically stay in a castle. Yup, that’s how much it costs to stay at the stunning Dunstane Houses. Even the five-star Glasshouse, Autograph Collection is available for 54,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.

Richmond, Virginia

Richmond, Virginia’s Main Street Station. (Photo by Sky Noir Photography by Bill Dickinson/Getty Images)

Richmond recently debuted a robust arts and cultural programming calendar. You can celebrate the 100th anniversary of The Poe Museum, check out the $30 million renovations of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture and catch a glimpse of The Valentine museum’s temporary light installations, which were made in collaboration with Reclaiming the Monument.

Plus, you can attend Dominion Energy Riverrock, an outdoor sports and music festival that takes place every May.

TPG tip: At the time of writing this article, you can get round-trip flights from New York to Richmond for $148. Or, fly out of Dallas and pay only $191. Atlanta options are affordable, too, with flights starting at $167.


(Photo by stellalevi/Getty Images)

There is so much happening in Israel in May. In terms of attractions, you can view Israeli artist Beverly Barkat’s newly opened solo exhibit at the Gottesman Family Israel Aquarium in Jerusalem or head to Migdal to explore historical ruins and The Lower Galilee’s mountains before temperatures become uncomfortably warm.

Another highlight is the highly anticipated Hod Dead Sea Hotel, which just opened in a prime position on the shores of the Dead Sea. Don’t forget to visit all the other bucket list-worthy sites in the country, too. They’re typically less crowded this time of year, so you can take in everything without rubbing elbows with hordes of tourists.

TPG tip: Beginning May 6, American Airlines will launch a new direct route from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport (TLV), making it the third nonstop American Airlines flight from the U.S. to Tel Aviv added to its roster within the past year.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee

An American black bear cub in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee. (Photo by KenCanning/Getty Images)

There may not be a better time to visit the Great Smoky Mountains than in May. The weather is nice, with highs in the mid-60s and less humidity than in the summer months. What’s more, the wildflowers are in abundance (you’ll find about 1,400 different species in the park) and the extreme crowds haven’t arrived yet. It’s also the time for festivals like the Smoky Mountain Bigfoot Festival and the Smoky Mountain Scottish Festival & Games.

Did we mention the bear spotting? Up to 1,600 black bears live in the park, and you’re prone to see them in May since they’re no longer hibernating. With a little bit of luck, you may even spot baby bears with their moms.

TPG tip: After being named master distiller, Jeff Arnett departed Jack Daniels to build his Company Distilling brand to the Smoky Mountains. Company’s new tasting room is set to open on Memorial Day weekend (when tubing on the Little River also begins for the season), so you can unwind with a drink or two after a fun day on the water.

Louisville, Kentucky

The Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images)

Louisville will welcome spectators from around the globe for the 148th annual Kentucky Derby, America’s oldest continuously held sporting event, on May 7. A weeklong schedule of jockey and trainer panels, celebrations and culinary events featuring Kentucky’s best fare will culminate on race day.

One of Kentucky’s most time-honored traditions, Derby Week showcases the legacies of past champions and builds the suspense leading up to the world’s greatest two minutes in sports. You can experience the first of the Triple Crown’s three jewels after a busy few days of attending events like Dawn at the Downs, Champions Day, Thurby and the Kentucky Oaks.

TPG tip: While prices climb considerably during Derby Week, you can stay nearby in spots like Hyatt Place Louisville-East for just 9,500 World of Hyatt points per night.

Featured photo by Tony Barber/Getty Images.

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