Were you planning on traveling to the sunbelt but are reconsidering now that many of those states have rolled back their reopening in light of new surges? There are still ways to enjoy Arizona, Texas, California, and Florida without being sandwiched next to a stranger at an amusement park or bar—by focusing on outdoor adventures.
Some destinations are capitalizing on their wide-open spaces, low density, personal conveyances, or meandering bayous to offer a level of safety not found in crowded venues. Promoting great outdoor opportunities is a smart way to bring visitors to an area while helping them maintain social distancing.
Road trips will be the first travel transportation to rebound this summer, according to MMGY Global’s Travel Intention Pulse Survey with the U.S. Travel Association, which indicates 68 percent of respondents feel safe in their cars and 40 percent feel safe outdoors in parks.
If you go, keep these tips in mind: travel with only those you're already quarantined with, wear a mask whenever anyone else is near you (don't expect trails to be empty and leave your mask back in your tent or hotel), don't share anything that touches our face (utensils, washcloths, etc), and limit visits that are indoors (including at gas stations and fast food joints). Do not go to bars right now and non-socially distanced venues. If it's too crowded when you arrive, skip it or come back later.
Here are a few of the destinations capitalizing on their local environment for those ready to escape the sanctity of their homes.
The Reno-Tahoe Territory is promoting the region’s abundance of “self-powered activities.” Whether you prefer hiking, biking, paddling, or sailing, the region’s lakes and local rivers provides a plethora of outdoor opportunities. Bask in the healing power of nature, alone or with your quarantine family.
Lake Tahoe is North America’s highest alpine lake and a great place to get out on the water in the summer. Kayak a portion of the Lake Tahoe Water Trail, a 72-mile water route along the shoreline with routes to match a variety of abilities and interests. Meanwhile, Topaz Lake Park in Carson Valley off Scenic U.S. Route 395 is famous for its fishing, but is also a secret haven of birdwatchers.
The Flume Trail in Incline Village offers spectacular lake views and the new East Shore Trail connects Incline Village to Sand Harbor and provides access to beaches, coves, and other trails along the Nevada side of the lake.
Tapping into travelers’ desires to get outside and travel in the safety and comfort of their own vehicles, Travel Texas is promoting road trips to (and through) the diverse landscapes of the Lone Star State.
Some highlights include
West Texas’s Big Bend Ranch State Park, where the dark nighttime skies provide some of the best stargazing in the nation. Gulf Coast
On the Texas Coast, where you can attend a hatchling release and marvel at hundreds of sea turtle hatchlings scurry into the surf at Padre Island National Seashore.
Or visit the marshy wetlands of South Texas, where you could catch sight of North America’s tallest bird, the endangered migratory whooping crane at Aransas Pass National Wildlife Refuge.
In East Texas, set up camp at Caddo Lake State Park and kayak, canoe, or fish with a bayou backdrop of Cypress trees draped with Spanish moss over meandering waterways.
“Welcome back, bring your mask,” that’s the message from the Florida Keys, officials are requiring facial coverings to be worn by everyone in business establishments and other public settings where there is a roof overhead, which is even more reason to plan outdoor activities to go along with your visit to Duval street (the heart of the LGBTQ entertainment district—where four permanent rainbow crosswalks have been applied after necessary re-paving).
The four-room boutique-style Deer Run on the Atlantic is one of only six hotels in Florida awarded a prestigious Florida Green Lodging Program 4-Palm designation. Located oceanfront on Big Pine Key, it’s in the heart of the National Key Deer Refuge, and utilizes organically sourced bedding, supplies, and food.
Mote Marine Laboratory created a science-based coral restoration partnership working with citizen-divers to help plant coral fragments onto the reef in Islamorada. The Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research and Restoration, offers a “Reef Revival” program that allows new and expert divers to experience hands-on reef restoration. Complimentary weekly public tours are scheduled to resume in July.
Or maybe you want to experience a fish pedicure? At Crane Point Hammock Museum & Nature Trail in Marathon, you can. Visitors to the attraction can dip their toes in the Crane Tidal Pool where minnows nibble on your feet. Social distancing is relatively easy at the 64-acre park.
Even greater distance is available if you visit the Keys virtually.
Visit Phoenix recently hosted a video conservation, “Starry Nights and Wide Open Spaces: The Outdoors is the New In Story,” about the increasing role of the outdoor travel in the next year or two. Phoenix, set in the Sonoran Desert, with mountains trains, iconic saguaro cactus, blue skies, and plenty of “room to explore.”
The Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau is promoting the desert region’s gorgeous landscapes and wide-open spaces. In marketing that encourages visitors to “find your oasis,” or send their hometown messages like, “I just need some space. Wide open space.” With mountain peaks and desert landscapes (including Joshua Tree National Park) to explore, the LGBTQ destination has plenty to do while out outside.
“After spending a few months in self-quarantine, we think many people may welcome a break from their own homes to see new spaces," said Jeff Miraglia, chief creative officer of GPSCVB in a recent press release. “Additionally, we know that when travel resumes, travelers are seeking places where they can enjoy nature and outdoor recreation, which our desert valley has in abundance.”
The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians reservation is home to the stunning landscapes of Tahquitz Canyon and Indian Canyons, which include several waterfalls and the largest California fan palm oasis. Taking a hike on these sacred lands offers a taste of the lives of the original inhabitants of the desert.