By Anastasia Mills Healy
With coronavirus cases on the rise in many states and travel restrictions constantly changing, it’s challenging to navigate options for safe summer travel. If this observation from a travel advisor applies to you: “We have clients who have been to Luang Prabang but not the Grand Canyon or even Washington, DC,” check out these summer travel ideas from Delaware’s Chateau Country to beaches in Cape Cod and Virginia that are known mostly to locals.
It’s important to keep up to date on the rules of your destination and its current trend of virus cases; for example, cross Maine off your summer travel list as the state has a mandatory 14-day quarantine for out-of-state visitors. Wear a face mask in public, stay six feet from people not in your party, and carry lots of hand sanitizer and/or wipes.
Delaware’s Scenic Byways
Delaware is small and often overlooked. With people focusing on travel close to home, the state’s Brandywine Valley National Scenic Byway should be on your radar, especially if you like grand estates and impressive gardens. Winterthur Museum, Nemours Estate, and Longwood Gardens make you understand why this is called Chateau Country, and the Brandywine Museum of Art showcases the works of three generations of Wyeths.
Birders and those who want to stay off the beaten path will want to explore the Bayshore Scenic Byway, which winds through coastal marshland, historic towns, and coastal beach resorts.
Under-the-Radar East Coast Beaches
No one wants to end up on a crowded beach this summer. According to Homes.com, 11 Secret Beaches Perfect for Social Distancing on the East Coast include a Cape Cod beach only accessible via a dirt road and a Virginia beach on the Potomac River.
Newport mansions have reopened (no audio guides available now; download the tours on your device and use your own ear buds), restaurants are serving, and there are two brand new hotels to consider. Both are downtown on America’s Cup Avenue, face the waterfront, and have on-site parking.
The Brenton Hotel, a new luxury boutique property, is notable for its spacious accommodations: rooms are 450 square feet and suites are 1,100. Head to the roof garden for cocktails and light bites or reserve the hotel’s private 36’ Hinckley Picnic Boat for a private cruise. The Brenton is a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts Lifestyle Collection.
Centrally located on Commercial Wharf, Hammetts Hotel has 84 rooms to Brenton’s 57 and incorporates an art gallery as central to its identity. The opening exhibition features works about Newport by the children of the local Boys & Girls Club; sales proceeds benefit the club. Main Street Hospitality, the company behind the Berkshires’ Red Lion Inn and The Porches, debuted Hammetts on June 26.A Tiny House Resort, Catskills
With 11 tiny houses on wooded property that includes a creek, waterfall, pool, and farm animals, the Catskills’ A Tiny House Resort is a perfect, close spot to get a complete change of scenery in a socially distanced way. Each tiny house has its own kitchen, bathroom, and outdoor space; plus dogs are welcome and there’s even a dog run.
Tiny Homes, Cabins, and RV Parks in Glacier National Park
For a tiny house with a view of spectacular mountain scenery, head to Glacier National Park in Montana. At the east side of the park entrance near the stunning Going-to-the-Sun Road, the ten homes at the Tiny Home Village at St. Mary Village sleep up to four. On the west side of the park, West Glacier Cabins are close to the Flathead River and Lake McDonald; there’s also a year-old RV Park in West Glacier Village.
Grand Canyon Rafting
Instead of – or in addition to – joining the Grand Canyon crowds, how about snagging a spot on a rafting adventure with Western River Expeditions? Due to pandemic cancellations, there is some last-minute availability for trips that range from three to seven nights and include an overnight ranch stay, helicopter ride, and horseback riding. Founded in 1961, this is a well-respected company that has put strict pandemic practices in place.
Renting an RV or Campervan
For extra added adventure and social distancing, many people are renting RVs and campervans this summer. In fact, some RV rental companies have reported upwards of a 1,000 percent increase in bookings according to Business Insider. If you’re thinking about renting an RV for the first time, here’s a good place to start: 14 Tips for Your First RV Renting Experience, courtesy of RVRD, an organization for RV rental companies.
Escape Campervan stands out among the campervan options for those who are hesitant about driving a large RV or want to keep gas costs down. They have depots in 11 cities and all models come with a sink, fridge, and stove; not all have a bathroom. Even if you don’t book with them, check out the itineraries on their blog if you’re looking for ideas for road trip routes.