Raise your hand if you miss traveling. With the autumn colors at their peak and the holiday season right around the corner, this time of year just lends itself to travel. But as with most aspects of 2020, vacations look much different now than they have in the past. The majority of airline bans are lifted for domestic flights. In addition, a number of hotel chains are reopening with enhanced health measures. Yet, it’s still necessary to take precautions and be smart about where you visit. This makes a vacation at home, aka a staycation, the perfect option.
Vacation at home means visiting a nearby place (within your state or day-trip driving distance). Staycations satisfy the itch for travel and reinforce social distancing at the same time. Once you choose the destination, just hunker down and relish the change of scenery. Pick a location with reliable COVID-19 practices, as well as access to nature where you can spread out from others. Someplace near the mountains or a national park is always a safe bet. So, here are four U.S. cities that check all the boxes for a staycation.
Denver, Colorado is called the “Mile High City” due to its elevation of 5,280 feet in the Rocky Mountain foothills. This city has no shortage of outdoor recreation this time of year. Start with a hike on the Trading Post Loop, a scenic trail near the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater and just 25 minutes from downtown. Then if socially distant, al fresco seating is available, refuel from your hiking adventure with dinner. Or, grab a pint at one of Denver’s many craft breweries. (You could also grab take out and take it to an outdoor area or back to your lodging).
For more activities within the city limits, meander through 20 acres of biodiverse plant life at the Denver Botanic Gardens. Try perusing the eclectic Union Station entertainment district, a landmark since the pioneer days.
Asheville, North Carolina
While its original claim to fame was the Biltmore Estate, the largest mansion in the US, in recent years Asheville has emerged as a trendy spot for outdoor music, arts and cultural events. While many autumn festivals were canceled in 2020, with its close proximity to the Blue Ridge Mountains, you can still turn Asheville into a memorable getaway this fall. Enjoy seasonal colors and panoramic views from the summit of Mount Pisgah. Visit the studios and galleries of local painters, jewelry makers, glass blowers, potters, and wood or metal workers in the River Arts District. Then bask in the warm Southern hospitality of an apple orchard and pumpkin patch.
This desert oasis might not be known for red, yellow and orange leaves, but as a premier wellness destination, Sedona is just the place to rejuvenate. Based on Native American mysticism, Sedona has forces in the earth called vortexes which contain sacred energy. Explore these sites for yourself on one of four main vortex hikes: Cathedral Rock, Boynton Canyon, Airport Mesa or Bell Rock. After you’re energized from all that vortex action, check out the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village. This is a Mexican-inspired marketplace with outdoor musicians, artisan boutiques and sidewalk dining. Then finally, catch a breathtaking sunset at the Crescent Moon Picnic Area.
Bar Harbor, Maine
Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and Acadia National Park, this island town is about as quintessential New England as you will find. Rent a mountain bike and cycle the various trails that Acadia has to offer. These include the coastal Park Loop, the leisurely Eagle Lake and Jordan Pond Loops, and the uphill Around the Mountain Loop. Next, while you’re still inside the national park, be sure to visit Cadillac Mountain, the highest peak on the U.S. eastern seaboard at 1,530 feet in elevation. For dinner, round out the experience with freshly caught seafood from The Chart Room restaurant. This restaurant is a 20-year Bar Harbor institution with waterfront seating on the Freshman Bay pier.
Vacation at Home This Fall
Before planning to travel anywhere this season—even for a vacation at home—be sure to follow CDC recommendations. This will help to minimize the risk to your own health and others’. Wear a mask in public, carry hand sanitizer, and maintain a six-foot distance from those not in your group. It’s also a smart idea to verify the current record of cases in the location where you’ll be and to determine if that area has any travel restrictions to know about.
For example, Maine requires some out-of-state visitors to show proof of a negative test or to self-isolate for the trip’s duration. Of course, not all of these measures apply to the same degree for a vacation at home, but in these uncertain times, you still want to be careful and safe. Then once those precautions are taken, you’re free to relax, unwind and lose the stress of these past few months. That’s what a staycation is for!