As families are slowly dipping their toes back into traveling, many choose to do so with shorter trips that allow them to test the water, so to speak. “We may be dreaming of that big bucket list trip, but what travelers are actually planning so far this year are visits to well-known nearby destinations, weekend getaways or road trips and beach trips,” said Melissa Dohmen, senior brand manager at Travelocity.
According to Travelocity data, the most popular destinations for these quick trips are those close to larger cities, but far enough away to allow for greater seclusion and plenty of outdoor activities. According to Dohmen, “Many are close to national parks, mountains, caves, hot springs, or lakes where families can hike, spend time together outdoors, and maintain safe social distancing.”
Based on Travelocity’s own data, these are the top five most popular places for families planning a weekend getaway right now:
Asheville, North Carolina
Nestled among the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville, North Carolina is home to hundreds of trails and dozens of waterfalls eagerly awaiting the opportunity to help you break in your new hiking boots. If you prefer a less strenuous walk, visit the Botanical Gardens in Asheville or take a self-guided garden tour of the Biltmore Estate.
You can also enjoy the view with a scenic drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are a number of towering lookouts equipped with picnic tables and grills where you can pause for lunch. Before you hit the road, Asheville Picnic Co. or the Bodega on Broadway help you fill your basket with a selection of locally prepared dishes.
Stay close to Asheville’s restaurants and museums at the Foundry Hotel Asheville or Kimpton Hotel Arras, or retreat to the secluded Omni Grove Park Inn. For even more privacy, cottages are available for rent at the Esmeralda Inn at Lake Lure and Asheville Country Cabins.
What to expect: View Asheville’s COVID-19 Guidelines
Carlsbad, New Mexico
If you’ve been staring out your window at the snow all winter, the desert sands and blue skies of Carlsbad, New Mexico, will literally be a breath of fresh air. Located in southeastern New Mexico, Carlsbad is conveniently located only about 20 miles from Carlsbad Caverns National Park and Guadalupe Mountains National Park, less than 80 miles across the Texas border.
Of course, you don’t have to leave the city to experience the beauty of Carlsbad. See porcupines, wolves, feral cats and more at the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens, take in the splendor of Sitting Bull Falls, and swim or take part in an afternoon of fishing and boating in the Lake Carlsbad Recreation Area.
Suite hotels like the Home2 Suites by Hilton and Hyatt House Carlsbad offer kitchens and other “home comforts” amenities, while B&Bs like the Fiddler’s Inn offer all that and cooked-to-order breakfasts.
What to expect:View Carlsbad’s COVID-19 Guidelines
Hot Springs, Arkansas
Named for its several natural hot springs, people have long flocked to Hot Springs, Arkansas, in search of healing from the thermal waters. After becoming the first city to receive a federal reservation designation under President Andrew Jackson, Hot Springs’ popularity soared that a row of Victorian-style bathhouses were built in the 1800s.
Many of the spas on historic Bathhouse Row are still in operation, but if you prefer to admire their grandeur from a distance, ranger-led and self-guided tours are available. Other outdoor activities include horse riding, hiking and biking, golfing and fishing.
All that activity tends to induce hunger. Sample genuine Arkansas barbecue at the nearly 100-year-old McClard’s Bar-BQ or sip a beer brewed with water from the city’s natural springs at Superior Bathhouse Brewery.
The Waters Hot Springs by Hilton is just a short walk from Bathhouse Row or book a stay at the more secluded Hilltop Manor Bed & Breakfast.
What to expect: See Hot Springs’ COVID-19 Guidelines
There is no shortage of places to ski and snowboard in Madison, Wisconsin. Tyrol Basin, Devil’s Head Resort and Cascade Mountain are all close enough to town for a day trip. If the slopes are already closed for the season, there are plenty of other ways to experience Madison.
Madison has over 200 miles of hiking and biking trails, one of the country’s only remaining free zoos, and, if you’re in the mood for something spooky, historic ghost tours. A number of restaurants currently offer cocktail kits and takeaway or you can dine in the privacy of your own heated dome.
Stay on the waterfront at the historic Edgewater Hotel or the eclectic Graduate Madison.
What to expect: Read Madison’s COVID-19 Guidelines
Bozeman, Montana, is surrounded by the snow-capped Rocky Mountains. It is far enough north that the ski season can last well into April. Pick up a day pass to Bridger Bowl or “ski and stay” at Big Sky Resort. Local trails such as the Palisade Falls Trail and Bozeman Creek Trail offer spectacular views of the Montana wilderness, and the Montana Grizzly Encounter provides a safe environment for observing rescued grizzly bears.
Break your fast at Jam on Main or Nova Cafe. After a day of exploring, pay tribute to the Roman god of wine at the Bacchus Pub, Bozeman’s first.
When it’s time to unwind, keep cozy with a fireplace room at Sage Lodge or enjoy the Kimpton Armory Hotel’s rooftop pool and bar.
What to expect: Learn more about Bozeman’s COVID-19 guidelines