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With vaccines becoming more available throughout the U.S., people are beginning to plan for travel with more confidence. While vaccines provide a huge boost in safety, travelers shouldn’t abandon safety protocols, and many people may want to visit locations that have kept COVID-19 rates low.
Since many states and cities will be reopening throughout the summer, some fully, another consideration for staying safe is to stay in standalone units, such as cabins or cottages, versus hotels, Lynda Paquette, a manager of the Alaskan resort Angels Rest on Resurrection Bay, told USA Today.
Along with considering safety protocols, keep in mind that prices for travel will likely be steeper this summer, both as demand increases and businesses try to recoup losses. Hotels, flights and rental cars are expected to increase exponentially. Be sure to book your trips as early as possible, and make sure you know the cancellation policies so you don’t lose money. Investigate ahead of time the cost of entrance to attractions, such as museums, national parks and amusement parks. These prices can range from as little as $5 to over $100.
Last updated: May 21, 2021
Carson City, Nevada
If you like a city with a rich history and a lot of natural beauty, Carson City, Nevada, ranked No. 1 on a February list by Forbes of the safest cities to travel to during the pandemic, with only 726 cases at that time. And that was before the vaccines were widely available. This historical site of California’s silver boom of the late 1800s is driving distance from gorgeous Lake Tahoe, the casinos of Reno and Virginia City, where you can hike, bike and camp. Be sure to make reservations early, as demand is sure to increase this summer.
The Southern town of Chattanooga has been keeping its COVID-19 numbers under control, with fewer than 10 cases per 100,000 people. Chattanooga is smaller and less dense than nearby Nashville, and features such attractions as Lookout Mountain and Ruby Falls, the Chattanooga Zoo, countless hiking trails and the Tennessee Riverpark.
If you’ve been dreaming of tropical beaches, warm island air and beautiful oceans, this is the summer to visit Hawaii, according to TravelPulse. Not only does the Aloha State have the lowest COVID-19 positivity rate of the states as of March, it requires visitors to obtain a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of travel. Many establishments still require masks and distancing, as well. Keep in mind that flights to Hawaii may be more expensive than usual, as well as rental cars.
Lake Havasu City, Arizona
This southwestern city is often called “Arizona’s Playground,” according to TravelPulse, and it’s an excellent place to visit where there’s plenty of space to spread out and enjoy the year-round good weather. COVID-19 protocols have been observed, and cases remain low as vaccines roll out. Visitors can take advantage of water activities such as boating and beach-going as well as exploring, hiking or golfing. It’s even home to the famed “London Bridge,” which was relocated in the 1960s.
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Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Colorado has been among the states with the lowest rates of positive COVID-19 tests, according to TravelPulse. For nature lovers, the Rocky Mountain National Park also lends itself to excellent social distancing, with 415 square miles of park for hiking and exploring. The park also offers some trails that can be traveled by vehicle, such as the Trail Ridge Road, a beloved route that crests at over 12,000 feet.
Cool and temperate, San Francisco, like many California cities, has managed to keep its COVID-19 numbers down, and back in February, it had the lowest death rate of any U.S. city. Safety protocols such as mask requirements inside businesses and restaurants and limits on capacity remain in effect for now, making this a great place to take the family. Hit up famous Pier 39 for games and fresh fish, take a stroll through lush Golden Gate Park or across the Golden Gate Bridge. Ride a ferry to Alcatraz or just take in the city night life.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
If you’re nervous about COVID-19 rates, outdoors locations are the place to go, and Shenandoah National Park in Virginia has more than 200,000 acres of natural beauty at your disposal. The park insists all visitors comply with CDC protocols for safety. Not only can you hike and walk many trails, there’s a 105-mile-long Skyline Drive you can view by car with nearly 70 overlooks to stop and take pictures.
For river-loving folks, this low-COVID-19 destination, according to Forbes, sits right along the Columbia River and is in driving distance from Portland, Oregon. Vancouver has become a new hotspot for winemakers and wine lovers, with more than 40 wineries and tasting rooms nearby. Other attractions include hiking and camping at Mount St. Helens and Mount Adams, about an hour away, and the tons of natural beauty and wildlife that the Pacific Northwest has to offer.
The nation’s capital has kept COVID-19 cases down with strict requirements when things were at their worst, including requiring people who were traveling in from a city with more than 10 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 to get a negative test within 72 hours of travel, according to Travel Pulse. It has since eased those requirements, but the positive effects are lingering as the city slowly moves toward safe reopening. Museums and other attractions are currently operating at 50% capacity, with some indoor entertainment venues at 25% capacity. Things may open up more fully into the summer.
The quaint and scenic Montana resort town of Whitefish has fewer than 125 active COVID-19 cases as of May 19, and vaccines will likely continue to keep those numbers low. The town is another place for outdoor lovers to take advantage of gorgeous scenery, hiking, mountain biking and more.
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