It’s important to understand what’s real, what’s misinformation, and what’s plain hysteria.
[Editor’s note: This is an updated version of an earlier article that originally ran on March 9.]
In late December 2019, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) seemed like a horrific but distant problem affecting mainland China. But, in this global age of travel, it quickly expanded to other Asian countries. Then it hit Europe. And then, in January, the United States. The number of coronavirus cases—and deaths—in the U.S. continues to surge. On March 26, the United States took on the undesirable mantle of having the most coronavirus cases in the world, with at least 82,100 reported cases. As of May 6, that number has surged to 1.2 million-plus, and it continues to climb. The U.S. death toll has soared to more than 71,077, a number that is frequently increasing by more than 2,000 a day.
The WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 12. President Trump addressed the nation on March 13 to declare a national emergency. While he takes “no responsibility” for coronavirus failures, the move allows the freer flow of federal aid to state and local governments and makes it easier to rush medical resources to places that need them the most. To date, providing medical workers with the supplies they need remains a challenge.
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Nevertheless, after weeks under lockdown, more than half the states have loosened or lifted their stay-at-home orders. There are glimmers of hope that overall things are starting to improve, though health officials are concerned about moving too fast.
So what about our travel plans? Will summer vacation be salvaged? When can we travel again?
It’s important to understand what’s real, what’s misinformation, and what’s plain hysteria. Here’s everything you need to know specifically about travel in the United States.
COVID-19 was first reported in the United States on January 21, 2020, about three weeks after the first cases were confirmed in China, and around the same time that the first cases came to light in Europe. The severity of U.S. cases, however, did not escalate until the end of February, when two deaths occurred in Washington State. Several pockets of the country were particularly affected, starting in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland, then central California, then New York City and New Rochelle, then Massachusetts.
Since then, the virus has expanded beyond the isolated clusters, with cases in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., plus the U.S. territories of U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Northern Mariana Islands, according to The New York Times. Massachusetts and Illinois remain hot spots, while new cases are increasing in many other states, including Maryland, Indiana, Virginia, Colorado, and Tennessee.
COVID-19 started off striking major cities, including New York City, New Orleans, and Detroit, which have seen improvements over the last few weeks. But other urban centers, including Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Chicago, are starting to see a growth in the number of cases, as are rural areas, with two-thirds of the less populated areas reporting cases. Meat-packing plants especially are taking a serious blow, with at least 167 plants experiencing coronavirus outbreaks, sickening at least 9,400 and killing at least 45 workers. President Trump signed in April an executive order to ensure that meat-packing plants stay open (though eight have closed since and more are expected to follow, threatening the nation’s meat supply chain). Prisons, too, are suffering, with at least 30,800 inmates and staff testing positive to date and 296 deaths, with the number of new cases expecting to get much worse; some states are releasing nonviolent inmates.
We’re clearly not out of trouble yet, and public health officials continue to remind us that we will not return to any kind of normalcy without adequate testing, which is needed to determine who has the virus, as well as to figure out how far it has spread. They warn that opening economies too soon could lead to a new wave of more cases and deaths, and the need to shut down again.
Nevertheless, with many stay-at-home orders having expired May 1, governors in about half of all states are in the process of opening their economies with several-phase plans. Some are consciously based on the interpretation of data, including California. Other states, including Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Tennessee, Minnesota, and Texas, have reopened some businesses this week, even though cases continue to rise, according to The New York Times.
Some Republican lead states, including Georgia, South Carolina, Ohio, and Texas, are taking on more ambitious plans against public health official recommendations, by opening a variety of businesses even earlier than recommended, including nail salons, movie theaters, and retail stores. The consequences of these moves won’t be known for weeks.
Inklings of good news on the scientific front are trickling in, including the fact that the development of treatments and vaccines is starting to yield results. The drug remdesivir, for example, which has been proven in a trial to help patients recover faster, was subsequently cleared by the FDA to allow hospitals to begin using it. And while a vaccine may still be a long way off, several initiatives in the U.S., the U.K., and elsewhere are gaining momentum. Furthermore, it’s likely that those who have contracted the virus are immune to future attacks.
The CDC issued guidelines to wear “cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.” This is not a surgical mask or an N95 respirator, which must be reserved for frontline medical workers, but simple cloth coverings. Some states are requiring it, including New York, Illinois, Connecticut, Maryland, and Rhode Island.
President Trump regularly convenes a coronavirus task force briefing, at which Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has become a reassuring voice in turbulent times with his guidance and advice.
On March 16 the president issued his “15 Days to Slow the Spread,” which he extended on March 29 through April 30, advising Americans to avoid nonessential travel, bars and restaurants, gathering in groups of 10 or more, and staying away from work. Since then, he has not extended the advisory, and is supporting states to reopen. The White House released on April 16 an 18-page “Opening Up America Again” document that outlines three distinct phases of reopening the economy. In a town hall at the Lincoln Memorial on May 3, Trump praised the work his administration has done in fighting the virus, and supported protestors against lockdowns, stating it’s safe for some states to get back to work.
Trump has gone back on his original projection of 60,000 deaths to more than 100,000. “That’s a horrible thing,” he said. “We shouldn’t lose one person out of this.” White House estimates have projected up to 240,000 deaths.
Meantime, Vice President Mike Pence, who is in charge of the coronavirus task force, has declared that the task force will likely wind down by Memorial Day.
President Trump signed into law on March 27 a historic $2 trillion emergency stimulus package, the CARES act, to bolster the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Key elements include providing cash payments of up to $1,200 to most adults and children; expansion of unemployment insurance for both self-employed workers and regular employees; $360 billion for small business assistance; a $500 billion bailout to corporations; plus hundreds of billions of dollars for states and hospitals. Travel is, of course, among the hardest hit industries, and the package will help many travel-related businesses stay afloat, especially airlines and hotels. Many cruise ship companies were excluded, however, since they are registered in foreign countries.
Two other emergency bills already have been passed. On March 18, Congress passed a coronavirus relief bill approving $8.3 billion in emergency aid to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. According to NPR, this will help to support vaccine development, assure affordable vaccines in the commercial market, and boost local and state health budgets.
The third economic relief bill, signed by President Trump on March 18, includes paid sick days for some employees, three months paid emergency leave throughout the coronavirus crisis, free food for children whose schools are closed, and free coronavirus testing.
A fourth coronavirus relief package has been approved, providing nearly a half-trillion dollars to small businesses, hospitals, and for testing.
The Senate is driving a fifth coronavirus relief bill, with the aim to provide more financial assistance to state and local governments, unemployment insurance, direct payments to individuals, and a third installment of aid to small businesses. GOP leaders are voicing concern about more spending.
The CDC posts updates on the situation in the United States at noon Mondays through Fridays. Here you can find info including a situation summary, cases in the U.S., risk assessment, and what the CDC is doing to abate the situation. There is also a section focusing on travel.
Here’s what’s going on in the United States’ COVID-19 hot spots. Note that while the number of cases in many places have surged, more testing has been implemented, allowing more cases to be identified.
Accounting for about a third of all deaths nationwide, New York State remains the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, though the number of new cases have slowed since its mid-April peak. “I believe the worst is over if we continue to be smart,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Governor Cuomo announced a fact-based, data-driven, 12-step plan to open the state, which operates on a regional basis, some of which will start to reopen May 15 if guidelines set by the CDC are met. Its key points include establishing regional isolation facilities to monitor the outbreak and hiring a pool of contact tracers to track spread of the virus. To date, none of the regions have the necessary contact-tracing capacity yet.
The first confirmed case in New York was reported on March 1. The patient had contracted the virus in Iran, according to CNN. As of May 6, New York confirmed at least 326,659 cases of coronavirus, with more than half of the cases, or more than 182,318, in New York City, according to the The New York Times. More than 25,028 New Yorkers have died, with at least 18,719 confirmed deaths recorded in New York City alone as of May 6 (at least 5,300 additional deaths are being reported for people who were not tested but suspected to have the disease).
“New York State on PAUSE,” as they’re calling it, went into effect on March 22 and is set to expire May 15. Some low-risk businesses will probably reopen in mid-May, though that may exclude hard-hit New York City and its surrounding suburbs. New York schools are closed through the end of the school year.
While hard-hit New Jersey is experiencing declining numbers overall, Gov. Phil Murphy cautioned there’s still a ways to go before the state can reopen safely. “This is the fight of our lives,” he said. “It’s not two dimensional.” New Jersey ranks second in the nation for coronavirus cases after New York. As of May 6, the state has at least 130,593 confirmed cases and 8,244 deaths, according to The New York Times. More than half of the deaths have occurred in long-term care facilities. The first positive test in the state was reported on February 26.
On March 21, Gov. Phil Murphy issued a shelter-in-place order, canceling all non-approved social gatherings and shuttering nonessential retail businesses until further notice. He also closed all recreational and entertainment businesses to the public. Bars and restaurants also have been closed, with takeout and delivery services available. Schools are closed for the rest of the academic year. That said, some state parks and golf courses have been allowed to reopen.
While Massachusetts is still very much in the middle of the corona fight, the latest trends in data have made Gov. Charlie Baker cautiously optimistic about the state’s progress in fighting the virus.
“We’re still very much in the fight against the virus,” he said. At the same time, “we are starting to see the positive downward trends in a number of those key indices that are so critical to our ability to actually pursue a phased reopening strategy here in Massachusetts.”
Massachusetts reported its first case on February 1, and the number of cases began surging on March 5. More than 70,271 confirmed cases of the coronavirus were reported on May 6, according to The New York Times, and there have been 4,212 deaths. Many of the early cases were connected to a biotech conference held at the Marriott Long Wharf hotel in Boston.
The governor declared a voluntary “stay at home advisory” for Massachusetts residents that went into effect March 24, while Boston issued stringent social distancing guidelines that started on April 7, including a recommended 9 p.m. curfew. Walk-in stores have been closed and all public gatherings involving more than 10 people have been prohibited. The stay-at-home mandate is set to expire May 18.
As of May 5, everyone is required to wear a face covering in public where social distancing is not possible. Schools statewide are closed for the rest of the academic year.
Major Boston tourist attractions, including the Museum of Science and the New England Aquarium in Boston, are closed temporarily amid coronavirus concerns. Other cultural institutions that have closed include the Institute of Contemporary Art, the Isabella Steward Gardener Museum, the Harvard Art Museums, and the Museum of Fine Arts.
Illinois has seen a recent spike in coronavirus cases, with the original stay-at-home order of March 21 modified on May 1 and extended to May 30. Under these new orders, anyone over the age of two must wear a face mask when in public spaces, and some essential services are reopening, including greenhouses, garden centers, plant nurseries, animal grooming services, and perhaps some state parks. It also declared that “freedom of religion” is an essential activity, as long as gatherings are confined to 10 people or less and social distancing guidelines are followed. People may golf with strict safety guidelines.
The first cases in Illinois were reported on March 24. That number has risen to more than 64,889 cases and 2,843 deaths on May 6, according to The New York Times. More than a third of the state’s deaths (more than 1,000) have been reported in Chicago.
Having nearly flattened its curve of hospitalization and intensive care admission rates, the Golden State moved this week to Stage 2 of the state’s four-phase reopening plan. Some businesses are being allowed to reopen with curbside pickup, including clothing stores, florists, and bookstores. Shopping malls, offices, and dine-in restaurants remain closed.
“This is an optimistic day,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said. “We see a little bit of sunshine on the horizon.”
That said, some counties are choosing to extend their stay-at-home orders through May 31, including the Bay Area, which includes lifting some restrictions, such as construction and some outdoor activities (like landscaping). Outdoor activities that do not involve shared equipment are also reopening, including golf and skating in skate parks.
While the first corona deaths were at first thought to have occurred in Washington State, it’s now believed that the first actually were in Santa Clara County, California, weeks before two people died in the Seattle area. As of May 6, more than 58,853 people in California have been tested positive for COVID-19, and there have been 2,386 deaths, according to The New York Times. Los Angeles County is suffering the most, with 27,815 cases and 1,313 deaths as of May 6. On March 19, California was the first state to declare a stay-at-home order, as Governor Newsom directed 40 million residents to stay inside their homes and away from others for at least eight weeks.
Disneyland closed its magical gates on March 12. Universal Studios Hollywood, San Diego Zoo, and San Diego Zoo Safari Park are closed for the time being. Large events like Coachella and Stagecoach have been postponed.
Gov. Tom Wolf has announced that Pennsylvania is following a three-phase plan to determine when counties and regions are ready to start lessening restrictions. According to this, 24 counties on May 8 will begin easing some restrictions on work and social interaction, while schools, gyms and other indoor recreation centers, and hair and nail salons remain closed. Counties that remain under the stay-at-home order will be considered for reopening in the next several weeks. Restrictions on golf courses, marinas, guided fishing trips, and privately owned campgrounds have already been eased.
Pennsylvania’s first case was reported on February 26, and soon after the number of cases surged. As of May 6, the state had 53,967 reported cases, and 3,206 deaths, according to The New York Times. A stay-at-home order was declared on April 1.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has extended the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order until at least May 28. While the order, originally issued on March 24, closes all nonessential businesses, ends the school year early, and asks people to stay home except for essential activities, it also lifts some restrictions on outdoor activities including golfing and boating and reopens some retail stores with curbside pickup. Industries such as construction and real estate will reopen soon.
“We remain in a state of emergency. That is a fact,” she said during a virtual town hall on April 30. “For anyone to declare mission accomplished means they’re turning a blind eye to the fact that over 600 people have died in the last 72 hours.”
Beginning in March, Michigan surged to become one of the hardest hit states, with more than 44,333 reported cases and 4,179 deaths as of May 6, according to The New York Times. It has the third highest corona-related death rate in the country after New York and New Jersey. While the original epicenter was Detroit, positive cases there have started to decline, with Kent County (including Grand Rapids) now seeing an increase in cases at a higher rate than much of the state.
Gov. Ron DeSantis launched his first phase for reopening Florida this week, except the harder-hit counties of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach. The first phase includes the reopening of restaurants and retail stores using social distancing guidelines and operating at 25% capacity, and beaches in some areas. Museums and libraries can open if local governments permit it. Large venues such as movie theaters, barbershops, and hair salons remain closed.
The first COVID-19 deaths in the state occurred on March 6, two patients in their 70s who had both returned from international trips. They are believed to be the first deaths on the East Coast. On May 6 the state confirmed 37,431 cases of COVID-19, according to The New York Times. At least 1,468 additional people have died.
Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a fairly late executive stay-at-home executive order on April 2. Visitors coming into the state from corona hot spots, including the greater New York City area, are obliged to undergo a two-week quarantine.
Walt Disney World theme parks have been shuttered through the end of the month. Resort hotels closed on March 20. Disney Springs closed beginning March 17. Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando have also closed temporarily.
The good news is, after several tenuous weeks, Louisiana has begun to flatten the curve. Gov. John Bel Edwards is hoping to enter Phase 1 of reopening the state economy on May 15. This beginning phase would include reopening churches and some retailers, including hair and nail salons and some restaurant dine-in services. Some restrictions had already been eased, including restaurants with outdoor seating and some churches with outdoor services.
The state’s first case was reported on March 1, but the numbers skyrocketed in the following weeks. As of May 6, at least 29,996 cases were confirmed in Louisiana, with 2,042 deaths, according to The New York Times. A stay-at-home order went into effect on March 23.
Washington State has instigated Phase 1 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s four-tiered plan to reopen the state, which includes the partial reopening of some outdoor recreation, including some state parks, hunting, and fishing. Also reopening are golf courses, landscaping services, automobile sales, retail stores with curbside pickup, car washes, pet walking, and existing construction with certain criteria. Nevertheless, his stay-at-home order issued on March 25 has been extended through the end of May.
“The quickest way to reopen our economy is to make sure that we get this job done,” Governor Inslee said. “We do not want to go through this pain again.”
He will allow some local regions to petition the state for limited openings. Phase 2 may begin June 1, which would open restaurants with less than 50% capacity, tables no more than five people, and no bar seating area.
At least 16,081 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Washington State, and 863 deaths have occurred as of May 6, according to The New York Times.
The nation’s attention was first drawn to the COVID-19’s presence in the U.S. with the virus’s rampage through King County, a suburb of Seattle. The first death in the country was believed to have occurred here, though recent investigations have indicated that an earlier death or deaths took place in California. Nonetheless, Americans watched TV in horror as the virus raced through the Life Care Center nursing home in Kirkland, in King County, which resulted in at least 35 deaths (though not all were tested for coronavirus).
Washington, D.C. Region
Eyes are watching the Washington, D.C., area to see if it’s becoming another hot spot. The first coronavirus case in the District of Columbia was reported on March 7. As of May 6, the District has 5,322 confirmed cases and 264 deaths, according to The New York Times.
All nonessential businesses have been closed, and on March 30 Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a “Stay Home D.C.” executive order through May 15. She warns that to date, it is too soon for District residents to begin letting down their guard.
On March 30, the neighboring states of Maryland and Virginia also ordered state-at-home orders, in effect shutting down the nation’s capital region. Maryland is quickly becoming a new hot spot, with 27,217 cases and 1,390 deaths reported as of May 6, according to The New York Times. The state’s stay-at-home order is currently indefinite, though Gov. Larry Hogan hopes to begin lifting restrictions this month if certain benchmarks are attained. Virginia, too, has seen a surge, with 20,256 cases and 713 deaths as of May 6; the state’s stay-at-home order was issued through at least June 10, though Gov. Ralph Northam expects to ease some restrictions on nonessential businesses by mid-May.
The U.S. Capitol remains closed to visitors until April, including all tours, as are the Smithsonian museums, the National Zoo, and the National Gallery of Art. Additional temporary closures include the Washington Monument, Ford’s Theatre, and Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument. See the full list here.
The Rest of the U.S.
So, Should You Travel or Cancel?
We are learning more about this virus, bit by bit, and the clearest thing is that it is most effectively fought off through social distancing. Even as states start to relax their stay-at-home orders, it’s still important to be conservative with our actions. It’s still not time to hit the road, even locally, as much as we are tearing at the walls to escape home. Keep our general coronavirus advice in mind.
If You Do Have to Fly
Travelers really should think twice—and then again—about taking advantage of cheap airfares. Crowded places such as airports may increase your exposure. Here are the things to consider before you travel:
- Is COVID-19 spreading where you’re going?
- Will you be in close contact with others during your trip?
- Are you at higher risk of severe illness due to age or underlying health issues?
- Do you have a plan for taking time off work or school should be exposed to, or get sick from, COVID-19?
- Do you live with someone who is older or has a severe chronic health condition?
- Is COVID-19 spreading where you live? You don’t want to bring it elsewhere with you.
If you have to fly, rest assured that airports are implementing serious cleaning on surfaces where the virus can linger, including handrails, elevator buttons, countertops, and food court areas, and most airlines are implementing enhanced cleaning of the aircraft interior. Hand sanitizer is available everywhere, including on ticket counters, customer service desks, lounges—use it (and be sure to bring your own). TSA has relaxed the liquid rule to allow passengers to bring hand sanitizer containers up to 12 ounces in carry-on bags until further notice.
JetBlue became the first airline to require passengers to wear face masks, with American, Delta, Frontier (need to bring your own), Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, and United soon following.
Here are some additional tips:
- Try to check in over the phone, so you don’t have to touch the self check-in kiosks. If that’s not possible, know that the kiosks will be cleaned many times a day, but it’s still wise to carry your own hand sanitizer.
- Security may request to see your phone and your ID, rather than handing it over.
- TSA has made no changes to the screening protocol. You should place your keys, phone, and wallet in your carry-on rather than directly on the bins. If you are patted down, request that the TSA agent change gloves beforehand.
- If you use Clear, opt for the iris scanner rather than a fingerprint scanner.
- The CDC announced on March 8 that travelers, especially those at the highest risk, avoid long plane trips.
The State Department and CDC have recommended that U.S. citizens, especially older adults and those with underlying health conditions, not travel by cruise ship. “This is a fluid situation,” the State Department said in a March 8 notice.
Can You Get a Refund? Or Reschedule?
All airlines have different refund policies, some of which are being relaxed during this COVID-19 situation. You may be able to cancel or reschedule without a change fee. The best advice is to contact your airline directly. With 800 numbers becoming overwhelmed, you may have better luck consulting their websites or apps. American has an option to leave your number for a callback within two hours. And, of course, if you have a travel agent, contact them as soon as possible since they might have more direct connections with the airlines.
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- United Airlines
Cruise ships have started to liberalize their cancellation policies and/or are offering the chance to reschedule.
What About Amtrak?
Amtrak has taken measures to combat the coronavirus situation based on guidance from public health experts. All change fees on existing or new reservations made before April 30, 2020, are being waived. Some services have been suspended due to reduced demand.
What are Hotels Doing?
Different hotels have different policies regarding bookings in a very fluid situation. For the most part, are being accommodating, offering different options for changing or canceling reservations.
That said, cancellation policies typically apply only to direct bookings. Any reservations made through third-party booking sites could be out of luck.
Here are the policies of some of the major hotel chains as they stand today, including health and safety practices.
- Choice Hotels (Comfort Inn & Suites, Quality Inn, Clarion Hotels, MainStay Suites, and EconoLodge)
- Four Seasons
- Hilton Hotels & Resorts (including Embassy Suites, Homewood Suites, DoubleTree, and Waldorf Astoria)
- InterContinental Hotels Group (including InterContinental, Kimpton, and Holiday Inn)
- Loews Hotels
- Marriott International (including Westin, Sheraton, Residence Inn, Courtyard by Marriott, and Ritz-Carlton)
- Radisson Hotels & Resorts (including Radisson Blu, Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Radisson Collection, and Park Inn by Radisson)
- Wyndam Hotels and Resorts (including La Quinta, Ramada, and Days Inn)
What if I Booked an AirBnB?
Airbnb expanded its “extenuating circumstances” policy that allows most travelers to cancel their reservations with no charge or penalty.
The vacation rental site VRBO’s “Book with Confidence Guarantee” does not cover cancellation fees due to events outside of their control, including disease.
What About Travel Insurance?
Standard travel insurance policies will not cover canceling for fear of contracting COVID-19, especially if you have already purchased your ticket. If you are looking for new insurance coverage, be sure to buy the “Cancel for Any Reason” upgrade policy. And even then, be sure to read the small print. It needs to be bought within a couple of weeks from when you booked the trip, and it probably will cover about 75% of your costs (New York State does not allow CFAR policies).
Don’t Forget Your Credit Cards
Your credit card may provide trip insurance that will protect you against last-minute trip changes or cancellations. Contact your credit card company to find out what’s covered under your travel insurance plan.
Is Summer Vacation a Lost Cause?
Honestly, we’re not sure where we stand regarding summer vacation. But with international borders shut, airlines slashing flights, and health officials warning us to stay home to “flatten the curve,” right now we need to be focusing on what we can do to help get out of this predicament. The nature of our situation is that, at this point, we just don’t know. And even when we do start to come out of it, which will happen at some point, things will not automatically return to normal. It will be a process. The West Coast, Midwest, and Northeast governors’ announcements to join forces in reopening their economies as soon as practical is an important—and hopeful—first step.
Is There Any Kind of Travel I Can Still Do While Maintaining a Social Distance?
While it’s not being recommended to jump on a plane these days unless absolutely necessary, you don’t have to give up your love of travel. Here are some ideas to keep yourself in the travel space.
Visit a Virtual Museum
Even from far away, you can check out marvelous works of art at the Louvre, Vatican Museum, and Smithsonian Institution—among many others. One amazing resource is Google Arts and Culture.
Virtually Visit a Destination
Since we can’t go to them, many destinations are bringing them to us. Virtual NYC, for example, is offering everything from streaming Broadway shows to an hour-long tour revealing hidden elements of Grand Central Terminal to a virtual tour of Central Park. You can visit Washington, D.C., in 360º. Miami has webcams set up on some of its beaches, which you could sit and stare at all day. Mount Rushmore National Memorial has an online digital portal and virtual tours, while you can commiserate with Teddy, Abe, Thomas, and George as they practice social distancing in a series of fun videos. And Puerto Rico is offering virtual weekend getaways, including island tours, live cocktail-making and salsa classes, and more—the program changes every week.
If you’re missing your favorite destination, visit their tourism website. Chances are, they’re offering something virtually as well.
Visit a Virtual National Park
The National Park Service has fabulous virtual content offering a dose of natural beauty and other national park experiences. Be sure to check out: Channel Islands Live Ocean Webcam; USS Constitution Virtual Tours; and StoryMap, highlighting important places associated with the ratification of the 19th Amendment. See more here.
Plan Your Dream Trip
We’re banking on the fact that there will be a time when travel will return to a sense of normalcy. So while you’re stuck inside, plan your dream trip! Be inspired at dreamy sites like Abercrombie & Kent and Butterfield & Robinson. Roadtrippers is another great site for finding quirky roadside destinations for your Great American Road Trip. Or, of course, check out the wide variety of inspirational ideas on Fodor’s Travel.