So, it looks like COVID-19 has officially put the kibosh on your international travel plans this summer. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. As you probably know by now, the European Union currently has mandated a ban on all U.S. travelers (with no expiration date on the radar). Additionally, the Department of State has issued a Global Level 4 Health Advisory, strongly advising all U.S. citizens to avoid any international U.S. travel destinations due to the global impact of the novel coronavirus. And there’s a long list of other regions around the world that are still enforcing their own restrictions, even if they haven’t announced any official travel ban policies.
Long story short, it’s going to take some time before overseas travel returns to “normal.” Thankfully, there’s a silver lining. Domestic travel is still an option, and AAA forecasts that Americans will take a whopping 700 million road trips this summer. To help inspire your next getaway, we’ve compiled a list of various domestic travel destinations that feel worlds away—despite being right here on American soil.
From architectural details and natural wonders to local culture and unique attractions, all the destinations included below feature distinct international flair. So even though you might not be able to wine-taste your way through Tuscany or museum-hop around Japan this summer, these U.S. travel destinations offer some pretty solid stand-ins. Plus, think of all the time and money you’ll be saving by skipping the international flights.
Just remember that the COVID-19 situation is changing on a day-by-day basis, so do your research before venturing to any U.S. travel destinations and continue checking the CDC website for updates and resources along the way.
8 U.S. Travel Destinations That Look and Feel Like International Hot Spots
Dreaming of Bavaria? Visit Helen, Georgia
The German state of Bavaria is one of Europe’s most frequented tourism destinations. Well-heeled travelers make the trip each year to experience its epic scenery, iconic festivals, and treasured cultural traditions. But since U.S. travelers are not currently allowed to visit countries within the European Union—including Germany—Georgia may be your best bet. The alpine city of Helen boasts the charm of Bavaria in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Think cobblestone walkways, half-timbered architecture, and biergartens galore. But aside from spaetzle and lederhosen, Helen also offers endless outdoor adventure options. Go ziplining with Nacoochee Adventures; tubing with Cool River Tubing; or hiking to witness Anna Ruby Falls, tucked away in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest.
Get up-to-date COVID-19 information on George, here.
Dreaming of Japan? Visit Delray Beach, Florida
People from all over the globe had their sights set on Japan, as the country geared up to host the 2020 Summer Olympics. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Olympic Committee recently broke the news that the Summer Games have been postponed until July 2021. But there’s still hope for travelers looking to experience a bit of Japanese culture in the months ahead—and it comes from an unlikely place. Delray Beach in sunny South Florida is home to the majestic Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. For more than 40 years, the attraction has offered visitors an authentic window to Japan through its 16 acres of sprawling gardens, world-class bonsai display, koi ponds, and more. Guests can spend the day experiencing a traditional tea ceremony or admiring the museum’s permanent collection, which touts more than 7,000 pieces of arts and artifacts. After all, everybody could use a little more zen in their lives after these past few months.
Get up-to-date COVID-19 information on Florida, here.
Dreaming of the Netherlands? Visit Pella, Iowa
The Netherlands lure globe-trotters all year long with their friendly locals, expansive cycling routes, and picturesque landscapes. And while Americans cannot currently enter the Western European country, there’s a surprising substitute hiding in the Midwest. James Ferrara, co-founder and president of InteleTravel recommends planning a trip to Pella, Iowa. Located just 40 miles from Des Moines, the area was settled by 800 Dutch immigrants back in 1847, and the city still holds ties to its roots today. Much like the Netherlands, Pella offers rainbow-hued tulip fields, epic bike trails, Dutch architectural influences, and tons of Midwestern hospitality. It’s even home to the tallest working grain windmill in the United States. For added effect, epicures can also enjoy Pella’s famous pastries, meats, and cheeses created from old-world recipes.
Get up-to-date COVID-19 information on Iowa, here.
Dreaming of South Africa? Visit Zion National Park, Utah
The Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve is one of South Africa’s most revered sites, attracting outdoor adventure enthusiasts from every corner of the earth. The massive park covers more than 66,000 acres, making it the world’s third-largest canyon. But instead of hopping a flight to Africa’s southernmost tip, consider heading to Zion National Park in Utah. According to Two Trailbirds co-founder Brady Fraser, Zion’s towering sandstone cliffs and verdant valleys are unmistakably similar to those of the Blyde River Canyon. Both destinations are also teeming with wildlife. Antelope, zebra, small primates, and rare birds can be found within the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, while Zion houses mountain lions, mule deer, bighorn sheep, and the threatened Mexican spotted owl.
Get up-to-date COVID-19 information on Utah, here.
Dreaming of the Swiss Alps? Visit Colorado’s Slopes
It’s no secret that the Swiss Alps offer some of the best skiing on Earth. But since it might be some time before American can hit Switzerland’s legendary slopes, the next best thing can be found in the snow-covered mountains of Colorado. The Centennial State is known for its iconic ski destinations and boasts the highest mean elevation of any state, with more than 1,000 mountain peaks measuring over 10,000 feet tall (and 54 towering above 14,000 feet). Aspen is often compared to Switzerland and Vail was even modeled after the Swiss ski town of Zermatt. But for an unmatched level of luxury, look to the Cimarron Mountain Club, tucked away between Crested Butte and Telluride. Colorado’s first private ski resort, the ultra-exclusive wilderness club is located on 1,765 acres in the San Juan Mountains. Its seven remaining membership slots are available for a cool $2.825 million, complete with a 35-acre land parcel and out-of-this-world amenities.
Get up-to-date COVID-19 information on Colorado, here.
Dreaming of Bondi Beach, Australia? Visit Rockaway Beach, New York
The sweeping, crescent-shaped shores of Bondi Beach have become one of Australia’s most celebrated waterfront destinations. Located just outside the bustling city of Sydney in New South Wales, Bondi Beach attracts surfers and sunbathers year-round. But instead of venturing Down Under, a quick and easy stand-in can be found in Queens. New York’s Rockaway Beach offers a beloved respite, popular with city-dwellers in need of some Vitamin D. Its wide stretch of beach, world-class surf, and laid-back attitude will feel reminiscent of Bondi Beach’s signature vibe. To fully replicate the Aussie state of mind, book a room at The Rockaway Hotel. With views of the beach, bay, and New York City, this soon-to-debut urban getaway will also provide surfing lessons for guests in search of a thrilling aquatic adventure.
Get up-to-date COVID-19 information on New York, here.
Dreaming of Tuscany, Italy? Visit Temecula Valley, California
What’s not to love about Tuscany? The famed region in central Italy is known for being the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance and is a top-tier tourist destination for those who appreciate art, history, and of course, wine. But since that long-awaited vacation to sip your way through Tuscany’s time-honored vineyards is out of the question, consider venturing to the West Coast. Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country offers an idyllic escape, thanks to its rolling hills, dreamy climate, and diverse collection of wineries. Welcoming nearly 3 million oenophiles each year, Temecula Valley is extremely accessible—located just 60 minutes from San Diego, Palm Springs, and Orange County, and 90 minutes from Los Angeles. With more than 40 wineries to choose from, visitors can savor classic Italian varietals while soaking in its scenic views. Round out the trip with activities like horseback riding, hot air ballooning, golfing, hiking, and more.
Get up-to-date COVID-19 information on California, here.
Dreaming of the English Countryside? Visit Lake Forest, Illinois
Few places are as downright charming as the English countryside, marked by rustic landscapes, historic sites, and lively pubs. But until you can journey across the pond to experience the real deal, make sure to add Lake Forest to your list. Perched along the sparkling shores of Lake Michigan, this enchanting destination is located in one of the America’s wealthiest zip codes. It’s also home to the Deer Path Inn, one of the country’s finest hotels. Established in 1929, the landmark property instantly evokes the grandeur of a 15th-century Tudor manor nestled in the English countryside. Curl up next to the roaring stone fireplace; indulge in traditional fare like shepherd’s pie and a pint at the White Hart Pub; or enjoy their Afternoon Tea service, developed in partnership with a Master of Tea from England. Throw in a gracious staff and superlative service for a truly unforgettable English-inspired getaway—all less than an hour from Chicago.
Get up-to-date COVID-19 information on Illinois, here.