More and more it is looking like international travel will be limited longer than domestic travel will. For U.S. residents, that presents several interesting opportunities for a summer of domestic travel.
Many states are still in lockdown, but most hope to re-open museums, parks, and restaurants by summer. Here’s a list of 10 places you may wish to consider this summer if you decide to remain in the Untied States.
10. Rapid City, South Dakota
Mount Rushmore is something you have to see at least one in your life, but there is more to Rapid City than that. The unfinished Crazy Horse memorial is a must-see. Rapid City is an eclectic mix of casinos, restaurants, and saloons that offer a nice change of pace from Las Vegas or Atlantic City. Also check out the Calvin Coolidge summer White House in the Black Hills.
Closest major airport: RAP
9. Juneau, Alaska
This is the only city on my list that I have not visited, but it looks like a cool (literally and figuratively) place to relax. You’ll escape the summer heat and have plenty of opportunity to hike and enjoy water sports or boating. Don’t miss the Mendenhall Glacier and Mount Roberts Tramway. Do expect rain.
Closest major airport: JNU
8. Cape Cod, Massachusetts
There’s nothing like a fine dinner in Hyannis or a relaxing stroll through the cobblestone streets of Nantucket. There are very few chain hotels, but you’ll enjoy some lovely bed and breakfast.
Closest major airport: BOS (HYA/ACK both have very limited service)
7. Charleston, South Carolina
I cannot think of a more charming city in the United States than Charleston. Be prepared for the summer humidity, but you’ll enjoy the architecture and the dining. Try FIG. If you’re a history buff, visit Fort Sumter, where the U.S. Civil War began.
Closest major airport: CHS
6. Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles has so much to offer, even during a lockdown. Hiking trails and beaches have re-opened, for exercise. Outdoor dining venues will soon return. Even if museums remain closed (I predict they will re-open) you can spend your days wandering through the many fascinating enclaves of this great city.
Closest major airport: LAX
5. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Jackson Hole is close to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park but there’s also a western charm to the city. Where else can you partake in a rodeo and whitewater rafting on the same day?
Closest major airport: JAC
4. Whitefish, Montana
Whitefish is a fun town to spend a few days in and Glacier National Park is not to be missed. Take Amtrak’s Empire Builder if you want a great train adventure.
Closest major airport: FCA
3. San Francisco, California
I love all the touristy things in San Francisco like Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf, and the cable cars. But there’s more. Enjoy some authentic dim sum in a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Chinatown and check out Muir Woods National Monument just outside of town.
Closest major airport: SFO
2. San Diego, California
San Diego is charming because it is an easily walkable city that offers great food and drink, ideal weather, and a great mix of modern and classic (check out the Victorian architecture in the city center). Head over to Coronado Island for Happy Hour at the Hotel del Coronado (now a Hilton Curio brand) and if you’re feeling adventurous, take the trolley down to San Ysidro and cross into Tijuana…Mexico is one county that hopes to eagerly welcome U.S. tourists this summer.
Closest major airport: SAN
1. Carmel, California
My favorite spot in the country includes breathtaking ocean views, great restaurants and cafés, and plenty of easy side trips. Head down to Big Sur on Highway 1 and get lost in the forest. Savor a cup of coffee in Pacific Grove. See the seals sunning themselves on the pier in Monterey while you enjoy a seafood dinner. If you’re into art, check out the Salvador Dalí gallery in Monterey near the wharf.
Closest major airport: MRY
I still have international trips booked for this summer. I doubt I am going to take them. While I may just stay in California, Alaska is calling my name…
Are you keeping your travel domestic this summer? Where do you want to visit in the USA?
You do know both Hyannis and Nantucket have their own airports…right?
Yes, I have flown into them on Cape Air. I put “major”.
The airport code for Nantucket is ACK, not NAN. And American and JetBlue both fly to ACK in the summer (still on the schedule for this summer). AA flies from DCA and ACK and LGA. JetBlue even flies a daily flight from HPN.
Updated. I have been to Fiji as well. Just rushing too much with my airport codes.
One would be rather surprised boarding a flight for NAN expecting to land in Nantucket.
As for airline service, meant to say that AA flies to ACK from DCA, LGA and CLT. Jetblue flies from HPN, LGA and JFK.
ACK is a cool little airport. Lots of private jets in the summer and a quaint Cape Cod style facade. It was the setting for the 90s TV show Wings.
Very good list. My family has a house on Nantucket so I go every year and I’m looking forward to getting up there next month.
Agree that Charleston is pretty and a unique city…. sadly, though, I do NOT share your enthusiasm for FIG. I went there on the advice of several locals and other friends who couldnt say enough about it… and we were just sadly underwhelmed. Maybe expectations were too high, but it was just a complete miss for us. Lots of good eating all over though, with 167 Raw being my favorite. Also, not a points hotel, but I love the Dewberry Hotel there. Excellent.
Keep up the good work.
You are so right about the Dewberry Hotel in Charleston – it is unforgettable, one of the most impressive hotels we have ever stayed at. Points aren’t everything!
I’d also say that Chicago is a great great great city, especially in the summer. While the city’s famous summer neighborhood festivals are probably most likely canceled this summer, Chicago is typically a city that offers a ton of stuff (museums, restaurants, outdoor activities, etc) that are best enjoyed in the summer.
Chicago almost made the cut. I had a great summer vacation there as a child. But if the museums are closed, there’s much less to see, it seems.
That’s the problem – with closed museums and no festivals, and potentially beaches closed, not as great. But eventually when things reopen it’ll be a strong contender.
Bear in mind that both Alaska and Montana currently have mandatory 14-day quarantines for nonresident visitors not engaging in “essential business”. That essentially bans tourism, though it’s not clear how long those restrictions will remain in place. Given that Yellowstone seems to intend to re-open in June, my guess is Montana’s restrictions end sometime around then, but who knows about Alaska.
Curious, you have several California destinations on the list, but I read that LA County at least intends to extend shelter-in-place orders until August. Is tourism from out-of-state even permissible during that time?
It’s true that continuing quarantines may make this travel list more difficult, but I tried to pick destinations that would be great without quarantine and still interesting with museums closed and restaurants takeout only.
I object to the ‘filthy’ description for hole-in-the-wall restaurants in SF Chinatown; I don’t think that negative connotation is needed with the uptick in discrimination that Chinatowns are facing due to COVID-19. And I’m sure the ‘maybe not, in this era’ was meant in jest, but I find it to be in poor taste as well
Wow, that wasn’t my point at all. I love the authenticity of those restaurants and I view the dirt and dust as a selling point. It wasn’t meant at all as an insult.
I know it wasn’t meant that way, but some readers might interpret it that way, is my concern. Thanks for responding to the feedback
I have to agree. Why couldn’t the restaurant just be a hole-in-the-wall?
Matthew, you imply that a Chinese restaurant can’t be authentic unless it’s filthy, and on the flip side, a “clean” restaurant can’t be authentic. I really enjoy and respect your blog, but that’s a very prejudiced description that only serves to spread really bad stereotypes.
Where did I say or even imply that? I only meant that some of the best Chinese food I have had in SF has been in restaurants that would not have won any “A” ratings from the health department. In any case, I will continue to watch my words.
I appreciate the response. Your reply linked dirt and dust to authenticity of a Chinese restaurant. My point is that the cleanliness of a restaurant has nothing to do with the authenticity of the food being served. Agreed that there are some restaurants that serve fantastic food that won’t get an A health rating, but I would refrain from linking the two.
My list of 10 would be: 10. Missoula, MT (A small PDX with amazing access to Lolo and beautiful rivers) 9. Big Fork, MT (access all the same as Whitefish but a chiller vibe 8. Miami (always fun) 7. Marfa, TX (Getting even better with new dining opening up) 6. Hood River, OR (Easy to mix in PDX as well) 5. Asheville, NC (Great vibe and great outdoors options) 4. Savannah, GA (Younger and hipper CHS) 3. Bend, OR (Fun town, beautiful area, great weather) 2. Stanley, ID (a long way from Covid19 and beautiful isolated spot…mix with a 5 day trip on Middle Fork Salmon) 1. Buena Vista, CO (Love this town, beautiful spot).
Surprised you like Rapid City. The town itself is blah to me, and the Black Hills, while pretty, just don’t compare to Idaho, Montana, or Colorado at all. And I never got over the disappointment when I was 6 and learned that Mount Rushmore was not a natural phenomena where the Presidents faces by miracle just appeared on the mountain.
Good list. I toyed between Savannah instead of Charleston, another city that I love (and has an Andaz!).
For me, I was most disappointed that the ranch house from North by Northwest wasn’t really behind Mt. Rushmore!
I had a number of layovers in Missoula during the years I flew for Northwest Airlines and it quickly became one of my favorite places in all of the United States.
I always used to see your crews at the Doubletree. Best Doubletree in the country, right on the Clark Fork with balconies over the river and walking distance to Charlie’s (because you don’t ever want to drive back from there).
Yes, I loved staying at that hotel. I’d leave me balcony sliding door open and lie in bed listening to the sounds of the rushing water. Fantastic.
You could always spot Northwest’s female flight attendants in layover cities by their red uniform trench coats!
I’m here in Philly and it’s a wonderful place to visit. It’s cleaned up a lot in the past couple years and the art scene is wonderful and museums top notch. Not to mention the Liberty Bell and historical significance. The city is very walkable and gives a European vibe with outdoor tables and people reading, socializing, and playing in parks (will be interesting to see how the city adapts). But like it has been stated, museums need to be open to get the best experience.
My personal goal is to get to the UP of Michigan. I’ve always wanted to explore the coasts of the rural areas up there. I’m sure they are incredible. Also want to drive along the coast of Maine. Juneau would be a dream. I Don’t care for hot weather and tropical beaches – I like forests and rocky shore lines 🙂
Worked in Philadelphia for 2 years. Wouldn’t live or visit again. Yes, there is some history but the overall place is not pleasant. Also, having I-95 and Turnpike as your welcome card is very depressing.
Fun list and great reader inputs/responses, too!
Our summer list, currently being whittled down, also included SF (loved Carmel last time we were in Napa), Austin TX, drivable from Denver (relatives live there, keeping cost and questions about accommodations to a minimum), Asheville (more relatives), Seattle, Bozeman/Big Sky, Jackson Hole, LA, Abuquerque (we loved Flagstaff last year, but not sure about August heat – and a Breaking Bad tour would be a must-do), and several spots that finished 10-15.
We see plenty of availability and opportunity for August…hoping we’ll see sane and safe dining options opening up soon.
Stay safe and safe travels, everyone!
We spent two full days in Juneau before a seven night boat trip. Three nights as we arrived at nearly midnight the first day. Two full days was just about right. We took a helicopter up to the glacier field, saw Mendenhall and the waterfall from ground level, hike at the top of the mountain after taking the tram. The is a frontier vibe to the town and a big homeless situation. The museum is excellent and the waterfront promenade has more bald eagles then one could shake a stick at. We really enjoyed our visit are glad we made the time to seeing the town prior to our excursion.
Crazy I’ve been to 6/7 continents but never South Carolina. Gotta do a good ol’ fashion road trip this year.
Hey Matthew, when can we see a picture of you naked
Some nice ideas, but we must keep in mind that, as has been mentioned here numerous times, it is not possible to practice social distancing on a plane, with or without blocked middle seats. All you need is one person with the virus and dozens of other passengers can easily get it. Personally, I will be very hesitant about flying for quite a while .
Maybe take LA off the list as they have extended their lockdown even more than the rest of liberal left winf Calif and Newsom till AUGUST!!!!!!!!
I think leaving Austin off this list is a major oversight.