Dive Into Spring With These Unexpected March Travel Ideas

Time to rethink spring break.

Nick Fox/Shutterstock
Nick Fox/Shutterstock
Nick Fox/Shutterstock

We’ve been trained by high-school lit teachers to beware its cryptic Ides, but March is is traditionally a rager: Spring break, St. Patrick’s Day, um, National  Peanut Butter Day… they’re all sandwiched between February and April. Alas, this is the second year in a row that we’re asked to beware the everything of March. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still carpe the diem. 

Spring break is still happening, it’s just that this year it might be spent getting cozy in an Airbnb or getting trippy in the desert. St. Patrick’s Day? Can’t stop won’t stop with virtual events. And with apologies to Julius Caesar, the Ides on March 15 really just means it’s the first full moon kicking off the Roman calendar. Here are your safest bets to keep March fun. 


Spin right round in some circular architecture

As nerds and dessert lovers will remind you, March 14 is Pi Day. You could celebrate with Darren Aronofsky’s Pi while eating local speciality pie. Or you could be less predictable and discover some circular architecture.

The most famous spiral of them all, New York’s Guggenheim Museum, has Jackson Pollock’s Mural on display in the city for the first time in over 20 years. Virtually tour the Marina City “corn cob” buildings in Chicago made famous by the cover of Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album, or grab a photo op outside LA’s Capitol Records building at Hollywood and Vine. Nearby in Joshua Tree you can now book a private sound bath virtually or in-person at Integratron: The otherworldly cupola was designed by ufologist George Van Tassel, who claimed the building was capable of time travel. You know why? Because it’s a circle.

Gaze at some stars in Arizona

Stargazing is especially ethereal in desert, and there’s perhaps no better place for it this month than Arizona. Sedona‘s monolithic red rocks and mysterious vortexes demand a visit for a little spring energy cleanse, but they’re extra alluring at night in this Dark Sky city. Speaking of, Flagstaff was the first International Dark Sky city, and gets extra mystical when the area turns snowy. Saguaro National Park lets you gaze skyward while remaining extremely close to the comforts of Tucson, and for something trippier-cannabis is legal here now-head to Vermillion Cliffs and pretend you’re in a Dr. Seuss book. 

You can get close to a different type of star in Scottsdale. Back in the day, OG Hollywood royalty flocked to hotels like the Hotel Valley Ho-the location of Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner’s private wedding reception-and the Arizona Biltmore, with a swank pool that was a favorite of Marilyn Monroe’s. Currently star-spotting includes locals like Michael Phelps, Alice Cooper, and Frankie Muniz, who up until very recently would have sold you some olive oil.

Book an Airbnb getaway 

One of the safest ways to travel right now is to cozy up in a secluded Airbnb. Near New York City you can hole up in cozy cabins and lakeside cottages, or opt for a cool glass house to sleep under the stars without actually sleeping under the stars. If you’re in LA, you have access to desert hideaways, farmhouse cabins, and secluded log cabins big enough for all six members of your pod. Seattle puts you right in the thick of it all with a treehouse, a yurt nature retreat and a ski-in, ski-out holiday chalet. Stay in a converted WWII train car near Atlanta, a historical trolley car near Denver, or a condo houseboat near DC. We’ve got you covered with fantastic home stays in those cities, plus San Francisco, Chicago, and Philadelphia

Have winter wonderlands to yourself

It sometimes may not feel like it when you’re pummeled for weeks on end, but snow can be fun, and we’ve got some underrated wintery wonderlands to explore before it’s time to move on to complaining about humidity. Northwest Wisconsin is a treasure trove of high adventure and hygge comfort with tons of trails and ice caves to explore, though you’d be forgiven for posting up in a rustic cabin with a wood-burning stove and some cheese. Over in Montana, Big Sky goes for accuracy with its name, with magical winter mountains for skiing plus a golf course designed by legend Arnold Palmer. Or just find a ski town that hasn’t been Aspened yet: You can have the slopes to yourself, or just live the apres ski life-bonus points if said town has a sauna.

Immerse yourself in St. Pete’s sunshine 

But hey, you might be over the cold. And here’s where sleepy St. Pete comes in. The Florida city has been quietly sprucing itself up: Last summer it unveiled a $92 million pier with new restaurants, art sculptures, waterfront activities-including manatee-spotting!-and tons of space for maximum outdoor play. Meanwhile, the nearby Dalí museum celebrates 10 years with the celebrated Van Gogh Alive immersive exhibit, and the iconically pink, castle-looking beachside hotel the DonCesar has a new look: The definitely haunted 1928 icon recently completed a beachy resort restoration, hopefully to the approval of its resident lovelorn ghost.

Courtesy of Greater Palm Springs
Courtesy of Greater Palm Springs
Courtesy of Greater Palm Springs

Wander immersive outdoor art parks

Staying within our own four walls has been severely cutting into seeing cool art. But there’s a way to get around that: see some art outside. There are plenty of options to get your visual inspiration with a side of fresh air, from Storm King Art Center in New York to the outdoor installations and murals of Palm Springs, where the Desert X festival transforms the Coachella Valley beginning March 12. Wander the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden in New Orleans, bask in the glow of the Neon Museum in Las Vegas, and stroll the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery of Art in DC. And soon New York will have another sculpture extravaganza: the postponed Yayoi Kusama exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden doesn’t open until April, but tickets go on sale in mid-March.

Go nuts

National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day is March 1st, not to be confused with National Peanut Butter Day in January or straight-up National Peanut Day in September. All three, however, can be celebrated with a private visit to the George Washington Carver Interpretive Museum in Dothan, Alabama. Named for the influential scientist and inventor of many peanut products (though not, as popularly thought, peanut butter), exhibits focus on the historical contributions of African-Americans. You can also engage in a virtual event at the George Washington Carver Museum in Austin, Texas or visit George Washington Carver National Monument in Diamond, Missouri. 

Cap your history and legume extravaganza at the Charles M. Schultz museum in Santa Rosa, California, dedicated to the creator of the Peanuts comic strip. If you’re up in the Iron Range, Schultz is also, randomly, honored at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Eveleth, Minnesota for outstanding service to the sport.

Say an Irish hello

This St. Patrick’s Day, beam in the motherland with a virtual festival (reaching “Dublin, Ireland, The World”) with seven days of celebrations including a focus on Celtic music, Irish folk tales, comedy, food talks, and more. And the thing about Ireland is, for such a small country its diaspora is incredibly far flung, so if you’re in vicinity, swing through the next best place: Boston. It’s bumping these days, with hot dispensaries, really hot ramen, and cool nearby skiing

For some extra credit, take a virtual tour of Connecticut’s Great Hunger Museum, with art about and influenced by Ireland’s potato famine. Or visit the Irish-American Heritage Museum in Albany, New York, now operating at 25% capacity: Sign up for their virtual Sweat-er run to complete a 5 or 10k on your own to benefit the museum. And don’t forget to wear green.

Give it up for the ladies 

Women have gotten a lot done without the right to vote or do much of anything for a large portion of American history. This Women’s History Month, celebrate the accomplishments of the nation’s most significant spies at the Harriet Tubman Museum And Educational Center in Cambridge, Maryland; visit the outdoor memorial at the Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Park in Richmond, California; or the head to the Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, New York, where 300 women gathered to produce a declaration of rights for American women in 1848. Take a socially-distanced tour of Amelia Earhart’s Childhood Home in Atchison, Kansas (and see the Lucky Strike ad in person that lost her a few endorsements), learn about women in bartending, and, most importantly, don’t forget to call your mom.Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, get Next Flight Out for more travel coverage, and subscribe here for our YouTube channel to get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.


Ditch your Phone for ‘Dome Life’ in this Pastoral Paradise Outside Port Macquarie 

A responsible, sustainable travel choice for escaping big city life for a few days.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

The urge to get as far away as possible from the incessant noise and pressures of ‘big city life’ has witnessed increasingly more of us turn to off-grid adventures for our holidays: polled travellers at the start of 2023 and 55% of us wanted to spend our holidays ‘off-grid’.  Achieving total disconnection from the unyielding demands of our digitised lives via some kind of off-grid nature time—soft or adventurous—is positioned not only as a holiday but, indeed, a necessity for our mental health. 

Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, an accommodation collection of geodesic domes dotted across a lush rural property in Greater Port Macquarie (a few hours’ drive from Sydney, NSW), offers a travel experience that is truly ‘off-grid’. In the figurative ‘wellness travel’ sense of the word, and literally, they run on their own independent power supply—bolstered by solar—and rely not on the town grid. 

Ten minutes before you arrive at the gates for a stay at Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, your phone goes into ‘SOS ONLY’. Apple Maps gives up, and you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, driving down unsealed roads in the dark, dodging dozens of dozing cows. Then, you must ditch your car altogether and hoist yourself into an open-air, all-terrain 4WD with gargantuan wheels. It’s great fun being driven through muddy gullies in this buggy; you feel like Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.  As your buggy pulls in front of your personal Nature Dome, it’s not far off that “Welcome…to Jurassic Park” jaw-dropping moment—your futuristic-looking home is completely engulfed by thriving native bushland; beyond the outdoor campfire lie expansive hills and valleys of green farmland, dotted with sheep and trees. You’re almost waiting to see a roaming brachiosaurus glide past, munching on a towering gum tree…instead, a few inquisitive llamas trot past your Dome to check out their new visitor. 

To fully capture the awe of inhabiting a geodesic dome for a few days, a little history of these futuristic-looking spherical structures helps. Consisting of interlocking triangular skeletal struts supported by (often transparent) light walls, geodesic domes were developed in the 20th century by American engineer and architect R. Buckminster Fuller, and were used for arenas. Smaller incarnations have evolved into a ‘future-proof’ form of modern housing: domes are able to withstand harsh elements due to the stability provided by the durable materials of their construction and their large surface area to volume ratio (which helps minimize wind impact and prevents the structure from collapsing). As housing, they’re also hugely energy efficient – their curved shape helps to conserve heat and reduce energy costs, making them less susceptible to temperature changes outside. The ample light let in by their panels further reduces the need for artificial power. 

Due to their low environmental impact, they’re an ideal sustainable travel choice. Of course, Tom’s Creek Nature Domes’ owner-operators, Cardia and Lee Forsyth, know all this, which is why they have set up their one-of-a-kind Nature Domes experience for the modern traveller. It’s also no surprise to learn that owner Lee is an electrical engineer—experienced in renewable energy—and that he designed the whole set-up. As well as the off-grid power supply, rainwater tanks are used, and the outdoor hot tub is heated by a wood fire—your campfire heats up your tub water via a large metal coil. Like most places in regional Australia, the nights get cold – but rather than blast a heater, the Domes provide you with hot water bottles, warm blankets, lush robes and heavy curtains to ward off the chill.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

You’ll need to be self-sufficient during your stay at the Domes, bringing your own food. Support local businesses and stock up in the town of Wauchope on your drive-in (and grab some pastries and coffee at Baked Culture while you’re at it). There’s a stovetop, fridge (stocked as per a mini bar), BBQs, lanterns and mozzie coils, and you can even order DIY S’More packs for fireside fun. The interiors of the Domes have a cosy, stylish fit-out, with a modern bathroom (and a proper flushing toilet—none of that drop bush toilet stuff). As there’s no mobile reception, pack a good book or make the most of treasures that lie waiting to be discovered at every turn: a bed chest full of board games, a cupboard crammed with retro DVDs, a stargazing telescope (the skies are ablaze come night time). Many of these activities are ideal for couples, but there’s plenty on offer for solo travellers, such as yoga mats, locally-made face masks and bath bombs for hot tub soaks. 

It’s these thoughtful human touches that reinforce the benefit of making a responsible travel choice by booking local and giving your money to a tourism operator in the Greater Port Macquarie Region, such as Tom’s Creek Nature Domes. The owners are still working on the property following the setbacks of COVID-19, and flooding in the region —a new series of Domes designed with families and groups in mind is under construction, along with an open-air, barn-style dining hall and garden stage. Once ready, the venue will be ideal for wedding celebrations, with wedding parties able to book out the property. They’ve already got one couple—who honeymooned at the Domes—ready and waiting. Just need to train up the llamas for ring-bearer duties! 

An abundance of favourite moments come to mind from my two-night stay at Tom’s Creek: sipping champagne and gourmet picnicking at the top of a hill on a giant swing under a tree, with a bird’s eye view of the entire property (the ‘Mountain Top picnic’ is a must-do activity add on during your stay), lying on a deckchair at night wrapped in a blanket gazing up at starry constellations and eating hot melted marshmallows, to revelling in the joys of travellers before me, scrawled on notes in a jar of wishes left by the telescope (you’re encouraged to write your own to add to the jar). But I’ll leave you with a gratitude journal entry I made while staying there. I will preface this by saying that I don’t actually keep a gratitude journal, but Tom’s Creek Nature Domes is just the kind of place that makes you want to start one. And so, waking up on my second morning at Tom’s —lacking any 4G bars to facilitate my bad habit of a morning Instagram scroll—I finally opened up a notebook and made my first journal entry:

‘I am grateful to wake up after a deep sleep and breathe in the biggest breaths of this clean air, purified by nature and scented with eucalyptus and rain. I am grateful for this steaming hot coffee brewed on a fire. I feel accomplished at having made myself. I am grateful for the skittish sheep that made me laugh as I enjoyed a long nature walk at dawn and the animated billy goats and friendly llamas overlooking my shoulder as I write this: agreeable company for any solo traveller. I’m grateful for total peace, absolute stillness.” 

Off-grid holiday status: unlocked.

Where: Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, Port Macquarie, 2001 Toms Creek Rd
Price: $450 per night, book at the Natura Domes website.

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