Spring travel: 6 far-flung getaways without a layover

Escape Atlanta on one of these nonstop flights to destinations both domestic and international.
Atlantans can take a nonstop flight and arrive in Tokyo less than 15 hours after take-off. 
(Courtesy of Japanese National Tourist Board)

Credit: Hideaki Hamada

Credit: Hideaki Hamada

Atlantans can take a nonstop flight and arrive in Tokyo less than 15 hours after take-off. (Courtesy of Japanese National Tourist Board)

Atlantans are fortunate to have one of the world’s busiest airports in their backyard. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport provides nonstop flights to 231 destinations in 46 countries and all 50 states. While ATL is a Delta Airlines hub, more than 20 other airlines offer service, so vacation options are plentiful.

Whether you prefer a history lesson in Virginia, an art walk in Arizona or a Michelin-starred meal in Japan –– here are six destinations for a spring escape from Atlanta, no connections required.


With Delta’s nonstop flights to Tokyo, Atlantans arrive in the country’s capital less than 15 hours after take-off, and there’s no better time to visit than spring during cherry blossom season. The delicious pink blooms emerge in all of their glory as early as March in the south, while in the north part of the country, “sakuras” explode into May.

One could spend a week in Tokyo and barely make a dent. A handful of must-see attractions include Sensoji Temple, Imperial Palace (www.japan.travel/en/spot/1727) Yoyogi Park, adjacent to the shrine Meiji Jinsu (www.meijijingu.or.jp/en), and Ueno Park, where The Tokyo National Museum (www.tnm.jp/?lang=en) is located.

One of the gastronomic epicenters of the world, Tokyo boasts 263 Michelin-starred restaurants. One of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, the two-starred Narisawa (www.narisawa-yoshihiro-en.com) is the eponymous establishment of chef Yoshihiro Narisawa, who relies on foraged ingredients to create a seasonal Omakase menu.

For overnight accommodations, stay in the city’s upscale shopping district at the new Tokyo Edition Ginza (www.editionhotels.com). Providing 86 spacious guest rooms and suites, this hotel promises all the chicness and amenities expected at an Ian Schrager-imagined property.

Traveling around the country is easy on Shinkansen or bullet trains (www.jrailpass.com/shinkansen-bullet-trains). One of the country’s oldest cities, Kyoto, is a two-hour, 40-minute ride on the Hikari Shinkansen from Tokyo. Tourists flock here for the stunning scenery, well-kept gardens and traditional Japanese architecture, including castles, temples, palaces, shrines and 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Kyoto’s food offerings also are impressive. The one Michelin-starred Funaokayama Shimizu (www.guide.michelin.com) receives praise for fluffy, fragrant rice made using groundwater from a nearby well. A convenient base to see the city, the new Six Senses Kyoto (www.sixsenses.com/en/hotels/kyoto) is located downtown and accepts reservations beginning April 23.

Travel Japan, 212-757-5640, www.japan.travel/en

Alexandria is celebrating its 275th anniversary in 2024. 
(Courtesy of Visit Alexandria / Adedayo Dayo Kosoko)

Credit: Adedayo Dayo Kosoko

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Credit: Adedayo Dayo Kosoko

Alexandria, Virginia

Less than a two-hour flight away, Alexandria is a Colonial city on the Potomac River teeming with culture and history. Eight miles from D.C., its Old Town is a National Historic District, and King Street is the main drag, featuring a parade of independent shops and restaurants. One of it’s newest additions is Casa Luna (www.thecasaluna.com) featuring a speakeasy vibe. It pours craft cocktails, wine, and Champagne alongside Maryland lump crab dip and ribeye steak sliders.

“Interstellar Influencer (Make an Impact)” (www.alexandriava.gov), a temporary art installation by Jason Klimoski and Leslie Chang, will be on exhibit from March through November. The installation represents the impact of an asteroid that struck earth 35 million years ago near what is now Alexandria.

Tall Ship Providence (www.tallshipprovidence.org) — a replica of a ship in the Continental Navy constructed for the 1976 American Bicentennial — has a new home at the Senator John Warner Maritime Heritage Center in Old Town’s waterfront park. Book a tour or a seasonal sail (beginning April 3) on this stately historic vessel.

Stay in Old Town at Hotel AKA Alexandria (www.stayaka.com), which opened in 2023. Embracing sleek, minimalist design, the 180-room property is the brainchild of famed Italian architect Piero Lissoni. The interior is marked by moody colors and artisan furnishings, but its piece de resistance is a floating staircase, a signature of the architect’s style.

Visit Alexandria, 703-838-5005, www.visitalexandria.com

The beachside Four Seasons Resort Peninsula Papagayo in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, revealed a fresh face in November 2023. 
(Courtesy of Christian Horan)

Credit: Christian Horan

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Credit: Christian Horan

Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Fly four hours direct to Liberia to explore Costa Rica’s spectacular Guanacaste Province. Nicoya Peninsula (www.nicoyapeninsula.com/nicoya) promises a medley of charming small towns, tropical flora and fauna and a picturesque shoreline for beachgoers and surfers. It’s also one of the world’s five original Blue Zones: areas known for longevity and a concentration of centenarians.

Some of the Americas’ most idyllic beaches lie along this pristine stretch of Pacific coast in northwestern Costa Rica. With white sand and calm waters, Playa Conchal is ideal for snorkeling. The incredible breaks at Playa Tamarindo make it a surfing mecca.

One of the country’s natural wonders, Tenorio Volcano National Park (www.visitcostarica.com), is situated inland in Guanacaste’s volcanic mountain range. Visitors can immerse themselves in the tropical landscape — a wild forest of palms, ferns, bromeliads, and orchids — while spotting white-faced monkeys, exotic birds and other wildlife. But the park’s jewel continues to be the brilliant and beautiful Rio Celeste, a turquoise blue waterfall worth the hike.

Perched at the northern edge of Nicoya, Four Seasons Resort Peninsula Papagayo (www.fourseasons.com/costarica) unveiled a fresh look in November 2023. Billing itself as an eco-luxury resort, the beachside property boasts a beach club, a wellness spa, an upgraded kids club and a new-and-improved Arnold Palmer Signature golf course. There are nine dining options ranging from Costa Rican street food to a Latin-American rum bar to Bahia, a wood-fired open kitchen serving locally sourced fare.

Essential Costa Rica, 509-2299-5800, www.visitcostarica.com

The Scottsdale Civic Center is a 9-acre park that reopened in 2022 after a multi-million-dollar overhaul. 
(Courtesy of Experience Scottsdale / Sean O'Brien)

Credit: Sean O'Brien

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Credit: Sean O'Brien

Scottsdale, Arizona

Hop a four-hour and 20-minute flight to Phoenix in the morning and drive 25 miles east to be basking in the Sonoran Desert by early afternoon. A quintessential Southwestern escape, Scottsdale is well-known as a golf destination, but desert pursuits abound here, too. Scottsdale Adventure Tours (www.thescottsdaletours.com) hosts daytime and sunset off-road Jeep sojourns through the stunning desert landscape.

The Phoenix suburb offers more than 800 restaurant choices. Scottsdale Culinary Institute graduate and former “Chopped” champion Cory Oppold helms the recently debuted Course (www.courserestaurantaz.com). Gear up for a superb five or 10-course prix-fixe meal with an emphasis on vegetables.

Art lovers will enjoy the Scottsdale ArtWalk (www.scottsdalegalleries.com) that takes place every Thursday evening when dozens of the town’s galleries remain open late. And public art is on display all over Scottsdale. Two projects of note are, “The Desert’s Garden,” a new work using mosaic tiles by artist Tammi Lynch-Forrest, and Robert Indiana’s brilliant red “LOVE” sculpture. Find both works in the Scottsdale Civic Center (www.scottsdaleaz.gov) in Old Town, a 9-acre park that reopened in 2022 after a multi-million-dollar overhaul.

The parent company for Caesars Palace in Las Vegas opened its first non-gaming property this year. Caesars Republic Scottsdale (www.caesars.com) is an 11-story, 265-room slick glass hotel featuring two Giada De Laurentis restaurants and a rooftop pool showcasing panoramic views of Camelback Mountain.

Experience Scottsdale, 480-421-1004, www.experiencescottsdale.com

Tom McCall Waterfront Park is a top attraction in downtown Portland and the site of the Bridge to Brews race. 
(Courtesy of Tracy Kaler)

Credit: Tracy Kaler

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Credit: Tracy Kaler

Portland, Oregon

The Rose City has gone five-star: The Ritz-Carlton Portland (www.ritzcarlton.com) arrived in October 2023. The 35-story, 251-room tower in downtown Portland is convenient to can’t-miss sites such as Pioneer Square, Powell’s City of Books and Tom McCall Waterfront Park, where the Bridge to Brews (www.bridgetobrews.com) race is slated for April 21. Walk or run over four of the city’s statuesque bridges and attend the beer and cider tasting afterward.

Having reopened March 2 for its 50th season, Portland Saturday Market (www.portlandsaturdaymarket.com) remains the country’s largest continuously operating open-air arts and crafts market. Join Portlanders who gather to shop, chat and eat at this all-age outing.

A short walk from the market, Lan Su Chinese Garden www.lansugarden.org) is a manicured respite modeled after the gardens of Suzhou and a peaceful place in PDX. The International Rose Test Garden (www.portland.gov) in Washington Park boasts more than 10,000 bushes and 600 rose varieties that begin budding in May.

Portland has a lauded food and beverage scene, from street carts to fine dining to wine bars and breweries. Eater’s Best New Bar in 2023, The Houston Blacklight (www.thehoustonblacklight.com) in Southeast Portland, pours highballs and slushies and makes comforting bites like truffle grilled cheese and tomato soup. Another new favorite, Xaio Ye (www.xiaoyepdx.com) in the Hollywood District serves mini Madeleines, half fried chicken and other midnight snacks alongside beer, wine and craft cocktails.

The city is also famous for its coffee culture. Book an outing with Third Wave Coffee Tours (www.thirdwavecoffeetours.com) for a strolling tasting tour of cafes and micro-roasters.

Travel Portland, 503-427-1372, www.travelportland.com

The 65-meter Port of Montreal Tower promises mesmerizing views. 
(Courtesy of Grand Quay and Port of Montreal)

Credit: Handout

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Credit: Handout

Montreal, Quebec

Considered the Paris of North America, Montreal promises a blend of old and new, two languages (French and English are widely spoken) and a culinary arena as diverse as its population.

Rue Saint Paul in Old Montreal feels more European than Canadian due to its cavalcade of 17th-century architecture and cobblestone. Walk to downtown districts like Griffintown, Quartier des Spectacles and Golden Square Mile. Visit the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (www.mbam.qc.ca/en), where the exhibit “Georgia O’Keefe and Henry Moore: Giants of Modern Art” is on display through June 2. For magnificent city views, ascend the 65-meter Port of Montreal Tower (www.port-montreal.com), an ultra-modern glass and steel observation post that debuted in May 2023 on the reimagined Grand Quay.

Montreal’s multicultural restaurant milieu is ever-evolving, with new eateries opening weekly. Jean-Talon Market (www.marchespublics-mtl.com) in Little Italy is one of North America’s largest open-air public marketplaces, providing local foodstuffs, culinary demonstrations and workshops. Among the eateries there is Palomar (www.palomarmtl.ca), a recent addition serving dry-aged fish and aged fish charcuterie.

Dripping with sophistication, the refreshed Vogue Hotel (www.hilton.com) is now a member of the Hilton Curio Collection. A massive renovation to an 18th-century structure brings updated luxury to the already elegant Golden Square Mile.

Tourisme Montreal, 514-844-5757, www.mtl.org