As families are slowly dipping their toes back into travel, many are choosing to do so with shorter trips that allow them to test the waters, 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 familiar destinations nearby, weekend getaways or road trips and beach trips,” says Melissa Dohmen, a senior brand manager with Travelocity.
According to Travelocity data, the most popular destinations for these quick trips are ones that are close to larger cities, but far enough away that they allow for more seclusion and offer 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 outside together and safely social distance.”
Based on Travelocity’s own data, these are the five most popular spots for families who are planning weekend getaways right now:
Asheville, North Carolina
Set among the stunning 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 at Asheville or take a self-guided garden tour of the Biltmore Estate.
You can also enjoy the views with a scenic drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are a number of sky-high overlooks outfitted with picnic tables and grills where you can break for lunch. Before you set out, Asheville Picnic Co. or the Bodega on Broadway can help fill your basket with a selection of locally prepared eats.
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, cabin rentals are available at the Esmeralda Inn at Lake Lure and Asheville Country Cabins.
What to expect: Check out Asheville’s COVID-19 guidelines
Carlsbad, New Mexico
If you’ve been staring out your window at snow all winter, the desert sands and blue skies of Carlsbad, New Mexico, will be like a breath of fresh air – literally. Located in Southeastern New Mexico, Carlsbad is conveniently situated only about 20 miles from Carlsbad Caverns National Park and Guadalupe Mountains National Park less than 50 miles away across the Texas border.
Of course, you don’t have to leave town to experience the beauty of Carlsbad. See porcupines, wolves, wild cats, and more at the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens, soak in the splendor of Sitting Bull Falls, and swim or partake in an afternoon of fishing and boating at the Lake Carlsbad Recreation Area.
Suite hotels like the Home2 Suites by Hilton and Hyatt House Carlsbad provide kitchens and other “comforts of home” amenities, while B&Bs like the Fiddler’s Inn offer all that and a cooked-to-order breakfast.
What to expect:Check out 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 its thermal waters. After being the first city to receive a federal reservation designation under President Andrew Jackson, Hot Springs’ popularity rose so high that a row of Victorian-style bathhouses was constructed during the 1800s.
Many of the spas on historic Bathhouse Row are still in operation, but if you prefer to admire their grandeur from afar, ranger-led and self-guided tours are available. Other outdoor activities include horseback riding, hiking and biking, golfing and fishing.
All that activity tends to work up a hunger. Get a taste of real Arkansas barbecue at the nearly century-old McClard’s Bar-B-Q or sip a beer brewed with water from the city’s natural springs at Superior Bathhouse Brewery.
The Waters Hot Springs by Hilton is located only a short walk from Bathhouse Row or book a stay in the more remote Hilltop Manor Bed & Breakfast.
What to expect: See Hot Springs’ COVID-19 guidelines
There’s no shortage of spots for skiing and snowboarding in Madison, Wisconsin. Tyrol Basin, Devil’s Head Resort, and Cascade Mountain are all located 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 boasts more than 200 miles of trails for hiking and biking, one of the country’s only remaining free zoos, and, if you’re craving something spooky, historic ghost tours. A number of restaurants are currently offering cocktail kits and take-and-bake meals 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’s far enough north that 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 like 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 spent exploring, pay homage to the Roman god of wine at the Bacchus Pub, Bozeman’s first.
When it’s time to wind down, keep things cozy with a fireplace room at the Sage Lodge or enjoy the rooftop pool and bar at the Kimpton Armory Hotel.
What to expect: Learn more about Bozeman’s COVID-19 guidelines