Want to “get away” this summer but not sure what’s open? These are the safest travel bets for now. Everything subject to change, of course.
Ready or not, the world is starting to reopen to both shoppers and travelers, after more than three months of quarantine (and amid the still very present coronavirus pandemic). Although international borders are still largely closed, most state borders are open to domestic visitors. Granted, it will take a lot more time and research to pull off a successful interstate trip these days. But for many, the added hassle, increased risks, and fewer options are still worth it.
They aren’t perfect. But until further notice, this is as good as it gets.
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If there is one getaway that has surged in recent weeks, it is vacation rentals. Although some of these were closed in highly infected areas during early quarantine, most are open to the public now. They are especially appealing as an easy and excellent way to socially distance while still getting out of the house.
INSIDER TIPThe following 10 states require 14-day self-quarantines of visitors from highly-infected states, although quarantines at vacation rentals and hotels are both allowed: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Oklahoma, and Vermont.
Looking for something with the fewest number of restrictions, at least for the majority of time? Look no further than the open road and the interior of your own car or rented RV, both of which are still popular and available options.
Note: You might not be able to make your dream trip to every 50 states a complete reality, given that many iconic landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and Alcatraz Island are still closed. But there is still a lot to see and do, but you’ll need to check what’s open and plan your stops a little more carefully than before.
The good news is all 62 National Parks are open (as of now). The bad news is many iconic areas, visitor centers, camping, and services outside of bathrooms are still closed to the public and can change on any day. What’s more, many historic landmarks and monuments, especially high traffic ones remain closed. So as with everything else on this list, you’ll need to frequently check online for what’s still available. For a full list of all National Park alerts and closures, click here.
When quarantines first went into effect, many small tourist towns actively and understandably discouraged outside visitors. Since so many these depend on tourism dollars to survive, however, most are now welcoming visitors again, albeit with requests to wear face masks at all times while in public. For example, Moab, Cheyenne, Bar Harbor, Santa Fe, and Sedona are all open to outside visitors that meet the state restrictions cited above. At the same time, some towns like Taos are still taking the “Stay home, stay safe” approach, so it’s best to check before circling a particular place.
With notable exception to Disney (which will now reopen “at a later date”), many theme parks across America are now open with mandatory capacity limits, reservations, and face masks. Many in-park food vendors remain closed, however, which is also inconvenient. That said, the reduced crowds equal fewer lines and more ride times. It’s no longer the same, but for current thrill-seekers, it is a viable option. As Universal Studios likes to spin it, “New safety guidelines, same fun.”
Want to relax at a big resort on your own terms? Many of America’s most iconic destination properties are now open with increased sanitation and cleaning schedules. For example, the highly-rated Club Med Sandpiper Bay, The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Tanque Verde Dude Ranch, and Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort are all accepting immediate reservations with more generous cancellation policies. Some properties such as Hotel Hershey are even sweetening the deal with “Kids under 18 stay, play, and eat free.”
Want to head to the mountains this summer without the crowds and limited services of National Parks? Consider one of several American mountain resorts that have already reopened to the public. For example, all of the following are highly-rated and available for $250 per night at the time of writing: Squaw Creek at Lake Tahoe, Parkway Inn at Jackson Hole, Waldorf Astoria in Park City, and Viceroy Snowmass in Aspen. Either way, the air doesn’t get any fresher than up here.
Few vacations in life are more timeless than sun, sand, and surf. Thankfully many of America’s beaches began reopening in May, although you might still encounter closed parking lots, bathrooms, restaurants, and limited activities to discourage visitors. For now, Southern beaches are more accessible than California ones. “About half of the California state parks and beaches have opened their parking lots, but there are still quite a few beaches that are closed to the public,” the state reports. If you’re worried about the large crowds that have since returned, consider visiting during the morning or evenings and always wear a mask, health officials advise.
If you want to walk through nature rather than just lounge in it, now is an excellent time to backpack for several days with some of your favorite people. And since backpacking usually takes place in the most remote wilderness areas, it doesn’t get any more socially distant than this. Top spots that are open include the John Muir Trail, The Appalachian, Teton Crest Trail, and The Wonderland Trail among others. Don’t forget your bug spray and a trusty pair of hiking boots.
I get it. You’re sick of staycation ideas and have likely already exhausted all available options in your area. But if there’s anything the COVID-19 has taught us, it’s that we all must dig deep to at least survive and hopefully thrive. When all else fails and you still need to get out of the house, think local. Schedule a day at the pool without your smartphone. Ask friends what nearby activities they’ve enjoyed. After accepting their recommendations, thank them and ask for more. Together we’ll get through this.
Bar Harbor is NOT one of the small towns you can visit--unless you are from Vermont, New Hampshire or Maine--or have quarantined for 2 weeks in the state of Maine. Maine, like Hawaii and Alaska, just isn't accepting out-of-state visitors right now.