I've heard a few comments about domestic travel lately. Mainly, that a lot of people see domestic travel and vacations in their future :) So, if you're looking for ideas to get away from home while staying at home, you've come to the right place. Here's my top destinations for domestic travel this summer and fall.
Outer Banks, NC
Blackbeard, The Wright Brothers and Nicholas Sparks. They all have something in common: their names are associated with the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Hang glide on Jockey's Ridge, "fly" a replica of the Wright Brother's plane at the Wright Brother's National Memorial, climb the Lighthouse at Cape Hatteras, explore the history, or just relax on the beach (reading a Nicholas Spark's book, of course!). OBX is good for the soul!
State and National Parks
I love the parks! History, recreation, relaxation, water sports, fishing..it's all here! And, they're perfect for day trips (think of your closest state park) or a week long vacation. If you're like me and LOVE road trips but not so much the drive, hop on a train at your closest station and enjoy the scenery as it goes by. There are 3 more Free Entrance Days for the national parks service sites (which include Cumberland Island National Seashore and Castillo de San Marcos National Monument) this year: Aug. 25, Sept. 26, and Nov. 11.
Blue Ridge Mountains
Stretching from Pennsylvania to Georgia, the Blue Ridge Mountains stretch for 615 miles. You can cover a lot of ground and travel preferences in this mountain range :) My favorite spot is the Smoky Mountain National Park, more specifically, the entrance from Gatlinburg. There's something peaceful about the mountains, even in a bustling little town like Gatlinburg. The last time we were in Gatliburg, our cabin was on Ski Mountain. It was in a neighborhood full of other cabins, but we felt just as secluded and isolated as if we had been in the middle of a field. This is another spot that's got a little something for everyone. Shoppers will love it in the downtown area, and adrenaline seeking country music lovers will want to head to Dollywood. Cyclist can ride the Scenic Loop at Cade's Cove. And if you're into wine, there is an amazing wine trail that takes you to Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, and Gatlinburg. On the Georgia side, there's the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway and Mercier Orchards, and an aerial obstacle course attraction!
Feel like an exciting, exhilarating vacation? Are you one of those people that likes to feel like you need a vacation from their vacation when you get home? Then a theme park may be right for you! :) Of course, we think of Orlando and the "big three": Walt Disney World, Sea World, and Universal Studios, which really needs no introduction or explanation. For my local followers, it's a weekend or short vacation (we did Epcot in a Saturday once). But, if you want to take an extended vacation, Hershey Park in Pennsylvania is a favorite. Founded in 1906 by Milton Hershey, it was originally a park for employees of Hershey's company. Now, it's a theme park with 14 roller coasters and 16 water rides! Another option is Six Flags. You're probably familiar with the one in Atlanta, but did you know there's also parks in California, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New York and Texas?
Ahhh. Music, food, and Mardi Gras. It's what's New Orleans is known for. Obviously, you'll want to check out the French Quarter and the architecture. But you may want to also take in the D-Day Museum, swamp tours, a world class zoo, plantation homes, the garden district and a lot more. If you don't plan to go during Mardi Gras mania, it's actually one of the less expensive tourist cities to visit. One thing is for sure, no matter how many days you have to spend in New Orleans, you'll wish you had more!
The Florida Keys
One of my favorite places in the world. But even I didn't know there was so much to do in the Keys! It's divided into 5 regions, each with their own distinct personality.
Key Largo: for divers and home of the Christ of the Abyss Statue
Islamorada: for all you fishermen and women...it's where backcountry sport fishing and salt water fly fishing were pioneered
Marathon: for the families with Aquarium Encounters, the Dolphin Research Center, and the Turtle Hospital
Big Pine & the Lower Keys: all things ecotourism. Kayak, hike, snorkel, bird watch, and find one of the best beaches in the US at Bahia Honda State Park.
Key West: a little of everything with an "anything goes" atmosphere. It's also full of art and culture.
Whew! Talk about something for everyone! Hawai'i's claim to fame is being the U.S.'s own little piece of paradise. It reminds me of the Keys, in that there's 6 major tourist islands that have their own style. You'll find beaches, waterfalls, rain forests, and volcanoes here. In fact, Hawai'i has 11 of the Earth's 13 climate zones represented. Rich, cultural history and the arts abound, along with top notch water sports and relaxation. Fancy a waterfall hike? Kayaking? Movie tours? Or maybe royal palaces, luaus, and air tours are more your style. You can do all of that and more in the Aloha state.
BONUS: Take a River Cruise
I've talked to several cruisers who are still a little worried about climbing aboard a big ship any time soon. A good alternative for those that just really need to feel the water underneath is an American river cruise. With itineraries anywhere from the Golden Isles to the Mississippi, to the Columbia & Snake Rivers, and even into Alaska you're sure to find something to pique your interest. River cruise boats are smaller, more intimate, and a little more all-inclusive than their ocean cousins. So if you're a cruise addict looking for a domestic vacation on a modern boat that's not the size of a small city, this is your ticket!
So there you have it. My top domestic trips for the remainder of 2020 (and into 2021!) What do you think? Did I leave anywhere out? Let me know in the comments!
And make sure you're following me on social media this month (Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest). I'll touch on all these places and a few more all during May.
Tales of a travel agent. Reviews, lists, and anything in between. *Opinions are my own and do not reflect the views of any travel companies mentioned. There may be affiliate links in these posts. If you use these links to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission.