The summer is gone, the fall season is here, and winter is almost at our doorstep. Unfortunately, there are a lot of popular tourist destinations that remain on hold because of the current situation.
But don’t worry! Despite the current pandemic, you can still take mini trips to smaller towns, National parks, and cities that are closer to home.
After all, the US is one of the most beautiful and diverse countries in the world, so there’s no shortage of beautiful travel spots to visit.
So start packing your bags and take an epic ‘safecation’ without risking your health (or anyone else’s) to these nine beautiful places you can visit NOW.
These travel spots are perfect for anyone who wants to unplug and explore everything this country has to offer.
Choosing a Destination
Before we begin, there are a few things you need to consider before heading out. The most obvious one is to check the travel restrictions for your targeted destination as this can change without warning.
National parks may close unexpectedly or they might have limited entry. This changes every week. They may even require booking a reservation in advance so make sure to check out official National parks websites.
Some states require travelers to stay indoors for two weeks after they arrive before engaging in any activities, so make sure to research before choosing a destination.
You should also check on the number of cases reported in the city or state you plan on visiting. If the numbers are high then it’s probably too high risk to travel and you’ll be better off if you move on to another destination.
Lastly, keep in mind that at this moment, it’s a lot safer to travel by car than by plane as you’ll reduce coming into contact with more people than usual.
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
Yosemite offers top attractions like the Yosemite Valley and the Glacier Point outlook. The Mariposa Grove is currently closed, but you should check the park’s official site as this can change in the near future. Meanwhile, there’s plenty of areas to explore. There’s spectacular rock formations, flowery meadows, and Mariposa Grove, a giant landmark that is home to over 500 giant sequoias.
You can also go camping and visit the Half Dome rock formation. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to make a reservation to go camping.
And there’s plenty of history here too. Did you know that President Lincoln signed the Yosemite Land Grant into law in 1864, which gave the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove to the state of California?
The waterfront community of Salem, Massachusetts, is considered the birthplace of the National Guard. It’s also famous for the witch trials of 1692. Today, it offers a nice mix of shops and dining options as well as world-famous museums and unique attractions like the Artemisia Botanicals, which are filled with herbs, teas, and essential oils.
There’s also the Artists’ Row which is a gallery full of handcrafted products made by local artisans. Make sure to visit the Coven’s Cottage, a family-owned witchcraft shop that allows you to experience the magic at its finest. Don’t forget to sign up for some of their tours like the Bewitched After Dark Walking Tours to learn what happened in 1692.
And if you’re hungry, Salem has lots of lovely places to eat like the Adriatic Restaurant that offers modern European dishes like fresh fish and homemade pasta.
MONUMENT VALLEY, ARIZONA
Monument Valley is a Navajo National Tribal Park that’s been featured in Western films over the years.
If you’re planning on spending the night, consider staying in the View Hotel inside the park. It’s Navajo-owned and offers rooms with a balcony and a breathtaking panoramic view of the steeply sloped Mittens buttes.
If you wake up early, you can watch the sun rise over the valley or you can do a little stargazing from the terrace. The Monument Valley also offers a red sandy desert that you have to see to believe. Unfortunately, there is a mandatory lockdown until September 30, 2020. But check their website as they plan on reopening in October.
COOPERSTOWN, NEW YORK
Cooperstown is any baseball enthusiast’s dream vacation spot. They have the Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum, the Heroes of Baseball Wax Museum, and the Cooperstown Bat Company. There’s also the Farmers’ Museum, which is an 1840’s country farm and village that offers cooking demonstrations and a view of mid-19th century life. Make sure to visit the Fly Creek Cider Mill & Orchard to learn more about how the local cider and apple wines are made.
CAPE COD, MASSACHUSETTS
Cape Cod, Massachusetts is where the Mayflower landed on November 11, 1620, and introduced the pilgrims to the New World. So every year in November, they honor this major historical event by lighting 3,000 lights on the annual lighting of the Pilgrim Monument.
Head on over to the Provincetown Museum that offers exhibits that show the region’s cultural and maritime history. Then visit the Sandwich Glass Museum which hosts the Glassblowers’ Christmas around mid-November.
LASSEN VOLCANIC NATIONAL PARK, CALIFORNIA
The Lassen Volcanic National Park has hydrothermal pools like Bumpass Hell, which has acres of mud pots that will bubble before your eyes. Long ago, women pioneers crossed the park on the Nobles Emigrant Trail.
Today, the park’s summit is home to steaming fumaroles, clear mountain views, several volcanoes, and a breathtaking fall color palette with beautiful oaks and cottonwood trees.
You’ll also find the ground littered with lava rocks near the Devastated Area. And did we mention the meadows filled with wildflowers and mountain lakes? It’s the perfect spot to hike, camp, and get some fresh air!
ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, MAINE
The Acadia National Park is full of woodland and rocky beaches. You can visit the granite peaks of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the East Coast. You will undoubtedly run into seabirds, bears, and moose among other wildlife.
Right now, the western mountain roads are only available to hikers and bikers, not cars. But that’s okay, because you can still enjoy the various other hiking trails such as The Park Loop Road and carriage roads that are mostly open.
As always, make sure to check their website regularly as this can change without warning.
ARCHES NATIONAL PARK, UTAH
Arches National Park has been dubbed a “red rock wonderland” because it’s home to the most famous arch in the park, the red-colored Delicate Arch that’s located in the east.
The park’s breathtaking sights include the thin Landscape Arch in Devils Garden. There are other spots worth mentioning such as the Balanced Rock that’s visible over the desert in the center of the park.
The Corona and Bowtie Arches are these Instagrammable arches that are definitely worth visiting.
You can hike, bike and explore most of the campground and trails but Fiery Furnace, museum exhibits, and park Film Theater are closed for now. Do check their official site as there have been some delays reported while trying to enter.
Solvang, California offers wineries and Danish-style architecture. Think of this place as a tiny slice of Denmark. Make sure to visit the Elverhøj Museum of History & Art to learn more about how the city’s Danish heritage came to be.
And if you’re a motorcycle enthusiast then make sure to stop by the Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum which has dozens of classic European, Japanese and American motorcycles.
You can also have a picnic at the Hans Christian Andersen Park, named after the famous Danish author, where you can enjoy the skate park while the kiddos have fun in the playground.
You can also spend the morning on horseback or walking along the provincial streets. Visiting Solvang is like visiting another country!