It’s fair to say that 2020 was one of the most challenging years to travel and I’m so glad this new year may bring more hope and positive experiences. With business closures and limits on domestic travel, it’s been difficult to find accommodations and plan family vacations. We haven’t been able to interact with family, friends, and making plans to explore new places or attending live events has been sketchy. The global pandemic has affected travel in many ways including reduced commercial flights; closure of our favorite businesses, parks, public lands, and everyone is staying home.
I’m estimating that by July, 2021, things will be back to normal.
To give you something to look forward to, here’s my list of top 10 travel destinations in the USA, that are safe to visit now in 2021. I’ve left off two favorites, my hometown of Mineral Point in Wisconsin and Sanibel Island in Florida. This top 10 travel destinations list is presented geographically from East to West in the USA.
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1.) Catch a sunset at Fort Myers Beach, Florida
📸 by @dangtravelers
When you think Fort Myers & Sanibel, you probably think beach, beach and beach. Of course, there’s so much more to life in the Gulf Coast. These are a few of the most charming local must-sees and gotta-do’s —by Travelocity
When I was growing up, my mom’s parents moved from Lombard, Illinois to Englewood, Florida and we would spend our Christmas breaks there every winter. I have fond memories of going from cold Chicagoland to warm Florida and spending time riding my grandma’s adult-sized tricycle and fishing with Grandpa Smith for crab.
2.) Ride a train in Chattanooga, Tennesee
📸 by @h4rdwar3
Take a trip back in time, to a slower-paced era when railroad travel was a way of life. Relive the romance of the rails when vintage trains provided an escape from the everyday routine. The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum provides an interactive, historical experience that will add an extra dimension to your visit to Chattanooga’s popular attractions. Here you will find the only regularly scheduled, full-sized train ride in Tennessee. The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum is so much more than entertainment… it is your chance to experience the sights and sounds of yesteryear! Please feel free to spend time visiting our Grand Junction depot before purchasing your ticket. There you will find our ticket office, cafe, gift shop, and historical displays to enjoy. We do not charge an admission fee except on some of our special event weekends.
A favorite stop for free and paid family fun is at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum in Chattanooga.
3.) Swim & fish at Lake Michell, Cadillac, Michigan
📸 by @mp26325
Cadillac’s Lake Mitchell and Lake Cadillac are connected by a navigable canal, creating 3,700 acres of Northern Michigan vacation fun. These two watery attractions invite fishers, boaters and beachgoers during the summer. And in winter, the lakes draw ice fishermen and snowmobilers. –by MyNorth.com
Airbnb has some amazing inexpensive daily, weekly and longer rentals on Lake Mitchell and there’s so many fun things to do for family fun! Check out our 2019 lake house family vacation post for more info. about Lake Mitchell.
4.) Feast on pizza in Chicago, Illinois
One of my favorite family activities in Chicagoland is to eat pizza and take the train from the Western suburbs to downtown Chicago, then hop the Water Taxi. The Chicago River Water Taxi may be slightly hard to find, two blocks off the Ogilvie train station in downtown Chicago but, it’s super-affordable and can accommodate a large family or group. Ride the Chicago River Water Taxi from Chinatown in the South Loop to Goose Island and back to your original destination. The best pizza in Chicagoland can be found at Barone’s in Glen Ellyn, IL and any one of the many Aurelio’s Pizza locations.
5.) Sunbathe at Sylvan Lake at Custer State Park
If swimming, paddle boarding, canoeing, hiking and sun bathing are your idea of an ideal family vacation activity, Sylvan Lake at Custer State Park, Custer, South Dakota is a must-visit. This hidden vacationland gem is a relatively quick drive from most Midwestern hometowns. Only a thirteen hour drive from southwest Wisconsin, I love the Black Hills in South Dakota and theres so much to do.
6.) Shop local in Nederland, Colorado
📸 by @4runninbikes
A short drive from Boulder, CO is a little hippie town called Nederland. You can find local shops, a few brewpubs and good food to enjoy with your family. Stop by the Knotted Root Brewing Company or find other recreation on the Town’s directory.
7.) See wildlife at Rocky Mountain National Park
📸 by @haleysvoyage
Park Rangers are available to assist park visitors at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center, the Kawuneeche Visitor Center, and the Wilderness Office. Rocky Mountain Conservancy Nature Stores are open at Beaver Meadows Visitor Center, the Fall River Visitor Center, and Kawuneeche Visitor Center. The Kawuneeche Visitor Center is open Tuesday-Sunday 9 am to 4:30 pm. Due to COVID 19, the number of visitors will be limited inside the buildings. by National Park Service
With park entrances at Estes Park and Grand Lake, Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park is a one-of-a-kind family travel destination which has wildlife, sightseeing, camping, hiking, sledding and so much more. Don’t miss Trail Ridge Road, which is often closed due to dangerous weather conditions and allows safe drivers the change to see portions of the park which are the most beautiful. Also be sure to check out the Alluvial Fan inside the park. Don’t forget your Rocky Mountain National Park passport sticker!
8.) Enjoy family-fun in Ruidoso, New Mexico
In Ruidoso, New Mexico, Pillow’s Funtrackers is the place for family-fun! I also recommend a zipline tour at Ski Apache, swimming and hiking at Grindstone Lake, have steak dinner and a beer at the Rio Grande Grill and Tap Room or stop in for a cup of joe on the back porch of the Sacred Grounds Coffee overlooking the Rio creek.
9.) Feel the vibe in Sedona, Arizona
📸 by @wanderlust0424
There’s so much to do in Sedona, AZ. Must-visit family attractions in Sedona include offroading or hiring a 4×4 rental, Slide Rock State Park, hiking the Oak Creek at Crescent Moon Ranch National Forest and dinner and drinks at the Oak Creek Brewery and Grill. Yum!
10.) View the scenic Grand Canyon National Park
📸 by @Lea.Blackman
No matter how much you read about the Grand Canyon or how many photographs you’ve seen, nothing really prepares you for the sight of it. One of the world’s seven natural wonders, it’s so startlingly familiar and iconic you can’t take your eyes off it. The canyon’s immensity, the sheer intensity of light and shadow at sunrise or sunset, even its very age, scream for superlatives. – by LonelyPlanet.com
The Grand Canyon is massive, over a mile deep and 18 miles wide! Theres numerous locations to view the Grand Canyon. Make sure to purchase a digital park pass before heading out. Visit the National Park Service website to find more info on planning your visit to the Grand Canyon National Park.
Each and every one of these locations features beautiful scenery, history, hiking, and fun as well. If you are the kind of person who likes to tick beautiful vacation destinations off your bucket list, these 10 USA locations are a sure-fire way to start an adventure in 2021.
Stay Positive and Carry On 😊
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