If you’re looking for somewhere to go that’ll give you a change of scenery but want to stay safe with social distancing and not too many tourists, you’re in the right place. While many travelers flock to big cities in the US like New York or LA for a summer trip, these destinations are perfect for a socially-distanced vacation. With outdoor adventures—and outdoor dining—why not plan a summer trip to one of these 7 destinations?
Redwood National and State Parks
The Redwood National and State Parks are actually a collection of forests, beaches and other wilderness areas stretching across much of the coast in the very northern tip of California. There’s dozens of small beach towns scattered throughout the region and loads of hiking trails. You’ll have plenty of open spaces to roam through while keeping your distance from anyone else.
Best socially-distanced activity: Spend some time soaking up the absolutely enormous redwood trees! Whether you go for a hike, stop off at some scenic lookouts or even visit the drive-thru trees (yes, you can drive right through the giant cracks in their massive trunks), there’s lots of ways to explore this scenic region.
Best outdoor dining: Trinidad Bay Eatery and Gallery.
Boulder manages to capture a small-town feel in a growing town not too far from Denver. Thankfully, the abundance of nearby nature (and the not-too-cold winters) make Boulder a great place to stay busy outside. There’s also plenty of adventures to choose from!
Best socially-distanced activity: Go hiking (or skiing) in the Flatirons. These iconic peaks define Boulder, so whenever you’re visiting, make sure to pay them a visit.
Best outdoor dining: Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant (make reservations! Their rooftop patio is one of the hottest spots in town, so it fills up quick.) Also, Blackbelly Market.
If you really want to get off-the-grid and social distance—like, really distance—Alaska is a great destination to do so. Cities like Juneau and Fairbanks are great home bases from which to explore some of Alaska’s best outdoor adventures. From the super-remote Denali National Park to outdoor activities closer to the cities (dog-sledding, anyone?), Alaska is perfect for a winter wonderland getaway. Of course, visiting during the summer brings plenty of socially-distanced adventure options too!
Best socially-distanced activity: Visit the Mendenhall Glacier or go dog-sledding for an experience you can’t have pretty much anywhere else in the US!
Best outdoor dining: Tracey King’s Crab Shack (Juneau), Alaska Fish & Chips Co. (Juneau)
U.S. Virgin Islands
If you’re looking for a Caribbean escape that doesn’t require a passport, the US Virgin Islands are a great choice. Because they’re a US territory, you won’t be technically leaving the US (even though you’ll feel a world away). This means there’s no passport required, and you won’t be required to get a negative Covid test before returning home (although you should still get one after you return).
Best socially-distanced activity: Snorkeling! BYOS (bring your own snorkel) and hop in the ocean pretty much anywhere for some otherworldly views. Just be sure to stay socially-distanced from any corals and fish you see—corals can be sharp and sea creatures appreciate the distance too.
Best outdoor dining: Outdoor dining is plentiful with island life! The Longboard (St. John), Island Time Pub (St. Thomas), Iggie’s Beach Bar & Grill (St. John)
Acadia National Park
This National Park on the coast of Maine sees lots of visitors most summers. However, you’ll find plenty of trails and campgrounds to spread out and get lost in nature. If you’re really looking to avoid crowds, simply visit in late spring or early fall (May or September are good months) to avoid peak season.
Best socially-distanced activity: There’s plenty of (non-crowded) hikes in Acadia that all offer spectacular views. Dorr Mountain, Cadillac Mountain and the Beehive Trail are some of our favorites.
Best outdoor dining: The Travelin’ Lobster in Bar Harbor (only open May-October), Sweet Pea’s Cafe
This small desert town is known for its nearby hiking and rock climbing (with stunning views!), sunny weather, and vibrant artsy community. Summers can be quite hot. However, in the winter, the daytime temps rarely dip below 55°F. This makes Sedona a great destination for a winter getaway that still allows you to spend plenty of time outside.
Best socially-distanced activity: Go rock-climbing or hiking in the nearby Red Rock State Park or other nearby sandstone canyons.
Best outdoor dining: Cress on Oak Creek, Javelina Cantina
Great Lakes Region
The Great Lakes region is one of the best socially-distanced places to explore. The massive lakes are home to a number of islands, national parks, outdoor adventures and other wide-open spaces that make distancing easy. Lake Superior borders several National Forests with plenty of hiking, kayaking and camping opportunities for an outdoor adventure. Lake Michigan has some more adventurous options, from windsurfing, parasailing, flyboarding, kiteboarding and more.
Best socially-distanced activity: Any water sports or activities you’re into, you can probably find them here on the Great Lakes. For some real distancing, head to Isle Royale National Park—an isolated island in Lake Superior perfect for camping, backpacking and kayaking.
Best outdoor dining: Tavern on the Hill (Deluth), Beatnik on the River (Chicago), The Wicked Hop (Milwaukee)
Ready to plan your next trip? We’ve got cheap tickets for you if you need them.