For the 50+ Traveler

In April, we eagerly shed our winter gear, welcome the warm weather, and breathe in the sweet spring air. Dogwood festivals around the country are a way for us to join together with family and friends and celebrate the arrival of spring. From grand events to small-town gatherings, you will find a Dogwood festival to suit your adventurous spirit.

1. Atlanta, Georgia

Head over to Piedmont Park for the Atlanta Dogwood Festival. One of the largest in the country, it is known for its art exhibits and juried art show. Over 260 artists participate in the Fine Artist Market showcasing traditional paintings and photography along with goods made from wood and leather, plus pottery, jewelry, glass, and more. Another highlight of the event is the two performance stages that provide continuous live music. The Atlanta Dogwood Festival is traditionally held in mid-April; however, for 2021 the event has a temporary schedule for the fall.

Where To Stay: Gracious Southern hospitality, beautiful furnishings, and a short walk to Piedmont Park make Stonehurst Place the most perfect spot to rest and rejuvenate after a day at the Dogwood Festival.

Where To Eat: Get the real flavor of Atlanta with a food tour. Enjoy a full-course meal including Low Country shrimp and grits with beverage pairings on this Atlanta Food and Cocktail Tour.

Tip: Use public transportation. MARTA is the most convenient way to get to and from the festival. Parking near Piedmont Park will be very difficult.

The Dogwood Queen of 2018.

2. Charlottesville, Virginia

The Dogwood Festival in Charlottesville is based in McIntire Park with events spanning the entire month of April. The Charlottesville Dogwood Parade is held the last night of the festival and culminates with the crowning and coronation of the Dogwood Queen.

If you visit mid-April, you can celebrate America’s Largest Open House during Historic Garden Week. Enjoy spectacular tours at over 250 of Virginia’s beautiful homes, gardens, and historic landmarks, including Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello.

Where To Stay: The Glass House Winery is a perfect combination of wine tasting and bed and breakfast! Eclectic decor and views of the winery await your arrival. Wine and chocolate tastings round out the experience.

Where To Eat: Lunch at the historic Michie Tavern, which has been in operation for over 200 years. Try traditional Southern classics like fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits for a homestyle lunch.

Tip: There are over 30 wineries in the Charlottesville and Albemarle County region. Take a tour to discover great local wines, craft beers, ciders, and some local history. The Visit Charlottesville web page lists many options.

The Knoxville Dogwood Arts Festival.

3. Knoxville, Tennessee

Join in the flower fun at the Knoxville Dogwood Arts Festival that takes place mid-April. Situated in the heart of downtown Knoxville, the festival is a celebration of fine art, live music, and fun for the young and young-at-heart.

Just in time for the spring blooms, Knoxville’s dogwood trails invite you to enjoy more than 85 miles of scenic walking and biking paths.

Where To Stay: The Tennessean Hotel offers luxurious Southern hospitality with the convenience of a downtown address close to great restaurants, pubs, and shopping.

Where To Eat: The Central Filling Station rotates over three dozen food trucks, ensuring the selection changes daily and offers a variety of unique culinary creations for the foodie fanatic.

Tip: World’s Fair Park, home of the 1982 World’s Fair Exhibition, in downtown Knoxville is anchored by the Sunsphere. The Sunsphere is 26 stories tall and the fourth-floor Observation Deck shows off the city and surrounding Smoky Mountains with a 360-degree view.

The Fayetteville Dogwood Festival.

4. Fayetteville, North Carolina

The Fayetteville Dogwood Festival starts Friday night with a concert series that runs the entire weekend featuring local bands. Saturday and Sunday, there is a midway with carnival rides, arts and crafts, a car show, and lots of food. If you are looking for an old-fashioned festival, this is it.

Where To Stay: If you love nature but need one step above camping, try glamping. About 20 miles outside of Fayetteville in Goodwin, North Carolina, you can rent this sweet little rustic cabin on a pond. There are trails to hike, wildlife to view, and relaxation to be had.

Where To Eat: For a traditional Southern dinner, try Fayettville’s Texas Roadhouse. You will leave with your tummy and wallet satisfied.

Tip: If you are looking for a fun experience, try the Cork and Fork. Held the day before the Dogwood Festival, you will have a front-row seat -- watching the festival setup while you sample food and wine from local chefs.

The Vinton Dogwood Festival in Virgina.

5. Vinton, Virginia

Located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains is the Vinton Dogwood Festival. The festival is over 65 years old and offers quintessential hometown events including the crowning of the Vinton Dogwood Festival Queen, the Dogwood Festival Parade, a carnival midway, and a car show.

Where To Stay: Vinton is located just outside of Roanoke, where you can find lots of great name-brand hotels that offer great stays for an exceptional value. The Hampton Inn and Suites Downtown Roanoke is centrally located for easy access to all your Blue Ridge Mountain entertainment.

Where To Eat: With a focus on prime Virginia sourced products, Alexander’s offers fine dining in an elegant, relaxed restaurant.

Tip: Read Mountain is 253 acres of preserved natural forest that includes several hiking trails. The two-mile trail to the summit, Buzzards Rock, affords a spectacular view of the Roanoke Valley.

The carnival at the Farmville Dogwood Festival.

6. Farmville, North Carolina

The Farmville Dogwood Festival is held on the town commons, where you can enjoy the beautiful dogwoods and azaleas in bloom. The festival showcases eastern North Carolina artisans, music at the town’s gazebo, and a carnival.

Where To Stay: This charming two-bedroom Farmville Cottage by Airbnb Superhost Chris is just steps away from all the happenings around town. Enjoy a relaxed, cozy stay while visiting the Farmville area.

Where To Eat: The best place to eat in Farmville is the Plank Road Steakhouse. This is a meat lover’s paradise, offering a grilled 14-ounce rib-eye steak.

Tip: To sample a variety of the local barbecue and craft brews, take the Pitt County Brew and ’Cue Trail. Collect your “Passpork” at one of the establishments on the trail and begin your Southern pork and craft brew adventure.

7. Camdenton, Missouri

The Lake of The Ozarks Dogwood Festival has been around for over 75 years. Come for the pageant and parade and stay for the fish fry!

Where To Stay: A unique Vbro stay overlooking the Big Niangua arm on the Lake of the Ozarks while enjoying the view from your two-bedroom house in the Sugarloaf Vineyards is the perfect stay in Camdenton.

Where To Eat: The Trophy Room at Old Kinderhook is the perfect place to enjoy an evening meal with friends. With everything from wings and burgers to perfectly cooked steaks and seafood, you will be delighted by the delicious options.

Tip: Get outside at Ha Ha Tonka State Park, where you can enjoy a hike and explore castle ruins, caves, and sinkholes. It’s always a good day to get out and breathe some fresh air.

Whether you are looking for a large, city-sponsored festival or a small, hometown gathering, one thing is certain: The blooming dogwood trees mean it’s time for celebrating spring and all the promise she brings.

Want to see cherry blossoms, too? Read up on Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C.: 10 things to know.