Along with your comfortable walking shoes and attire, bring along a good dose of post-pandemic patience when you venture out on the road with family and friends this summer.
Destinations are opening up, but you could still experience some challenges as hosts work to staff up and brush up on customer service skills.
While the most popular venues may be crowded due to partial openings, the summer also brings an exciting opportunity to visit some lesser-known but intriguing locations that detour a bit from the beaten track.
Bankrate’s insurance editorial team has reviewed a wide variety of these locations, along with some of the tried and true destinations.
Creative ways to roadtrip in 2021
The range of destinations we have selected reflects America itself — they are diverse, historical, fun, eclectic and in some cases just plain bizarre.
Each location will provide something for every family member, whether you stay for a week or simply a few hours.
From the most iconic locations like Yellowstone to the truly local gems like the Kool-Aid exhibit in Nebraska, the giant beagle “dog house” in Cottonwood, Idaho, or the daily Duck March in the Memphis Peacock Hotel, we have researched some roadtrip options that can create lifelong vacation memories.
There are a wide variety of attractions to choose from. We have included several museums that reflect our country’s history, farm stay locations where you can live the life of a cowboy or farmer and natural wonders, parks and trails that provide stunning scenery.
Take in America this summer, as the country opens its doors again to your family.
Plan before you go
Planning is particularly important this year. While everyone is excited about getting back to our lives, there are bound to be “reentry growing pains” for travelers and hosts alike as we return to normalcy.
In addition to the planning that you always do before a road trip — clothes for unexpected weather, sunscreen, extra food and water — take the time to check your home and auto insurance policies and assure they cover unforeseen events on the road.
Expect provider shortages and call ahead to confirm that anything you may have rented or requested — like a rental car, wheelchair or extra cot bed — is still available.
The destinations we have reviewed here are open after making a variety of pandemic-related adjustments in 2020. While some are fully open, others may be only partially operational.
Importantly, certain restrictions may still be in place, and there might be further changes as the year progresses, so call ahead to understand any special requirements in place during your visit.
60 Distance-Friendly Road Trip Destinations
Pacific regional road trip destinations
This beautiful 300-room, chateau-style hotel is only 40 miles from Anchorage and is an ideal home base for exploring Alaska. Set at the base of the spectacular Chugach Mountain range, the resort offers a convenient way to experience Alaska’s pristine natural environment.
Housed in a beautiful modern building, this museum contains a treasure trove of historical artifacts and art depicting Alaska and its rich history. This site is an entertaining and informative way for the entire family to experience Alaska.
Peace and Plenty Farm
The only commercial organic saffron farm in North America, this beautiful setting with spectacular vistas is a four-year-old Airbnb destination. The owners have created a wonderful way to experience a unique farming lifestyle.
San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers
San Francisco, CA
This conservatory houses a greenhouse and botanical garden known worldwide for displays of rare plants. The local, state and national landmark was established in 1879 and is located in beautiful and historic Golden Gate Park.
This museum was founded in 1889 to gather and display the royal Kamehameha family heirlooms. The museum also houses a fascinating collection of photographs and artifacts from Hawaiian and other Pacific Island cultures.
Gingerhill Farm Retreat
This eco-farm resort is designed for those who want to unwind and explore the daily cycles and wonderful food of regenerative and sustainable farming. You can stay in the beautiful accommodations or simply enjoy a day’s experience in Hawaiian nature.
Dee Wright Observatory
Lane County, OR
A mile high in Oregon’s Cascade Range, this observatory provides stunning panoramic views of 65 square miles of black lava rock. Due to similarities with the moon’s surface, NASA trained astronauts here in 1964.
Wilson Ranches Retreat
This bed-and-breakfast in eastern Oregon offers an authentic ranch experience and great accommodations. Set in the picturesque Butte Creek Valley, the retreat provides a wonderful look at a working 9,000-acre hay and cattle ranch.
Museum of Pop Culture
This stunning Frank Gehry-designed museum captures the energy of rock ‘n’ roll. Interactive exhibits provide fascinating pop culture examples, including a unique collection of musical artifacts, an active sound stage and one of the largest indoor LED screens. Read more here