Go “abroad” without a passport to these U.S. destinations
No international trip in the works right now? No problem.
The land of the free is phenomenally diverse. We have snowy mountains and arid deserts, vast plains and tiny islands, hulking glaciers and looming volcanoes… Modern cities meet historic settlements and fishing villages meet cowboy towns. We’re a melting pot of incredible cultures and cuisines, and while nothing will replace international travel, that’s not to say you can’t adventure like you would in Europe, Asia and Africa—right here—no passport needed.
Our Travel Experience Team open up their personal travel journals to provide you the perfect domestic travel prescription for whatever ailments your passport is feeling.
Hungry for historic charm?
From its days as an English settlement in the late 17th century, Charleston’s preserved plenty of colonial English charm. Visit colorful country gardens and historic museums, walk past Georgian townhouses and through expansive parks. While in London you can browse the chic boutiques of Chelsea’s King’s Road, in Charleston you’ll find the stylish stores of King Street—plus tea rooms and British-style pubs for scone-scoffing and good old-fashioned fish and chips.
Seeking sunsets and sailboats?
Swap: Greek Islands
For: San Juan Islands, Washington
If you’re mad about missing the Mediterranean, the fact that the San Juan archipelago is scattered along the ‘banana belt’ is a big bonus. Think warm days, blissful sunsets and balmy nights. Spend your stay hiking scenic hills, sea kayaking with whales and meeting all kinds of artisans—potters, wine makers, sculptors—and soak up the same off-the-grid feel you’d get on an island in the Cyclades.
Wishing for wildlife wonderlands?
It’s not the sizzling savannah—Alaska is an altogether different landscape—but you still get up-close encounters with some of the most majestic mammals on earth. Instead of wild cat safaris, you can spot whales. Watch colossal humpbacks, playful grays, sleek orcas and friendly belugas. There isn’t a more adorable substitute to baby lions than fuzzy black bear cubs. Add grazing moose, prowling wolverines, and swooping seabirds into the mix, and you’ll see that when it comes to wildlife, Alaska is second to none.
Aching for alpine adventure?
Rather than rafting down Switzerland‘s Lütschine, ride the rapids on Wyoming’s Snake River, past thick forests and rugged rocks. And while Grindelwald has the ancient alpine allure, Jackson Hole’s cowboy character captures many hearts and the teetering peaks of the Grand Tetons are a terrific stand in for the Jungfrau massif.
Dreaming of desert days?
For: New Mexico
Both destinations bubble with history. Instead of meeting Berber tribes in Morocco, in New Mexico you can meet the Taos Indians, who’ve lived here for a thousand years. And rather than the ancient riads and souks of the Marrakech medina, you have the adobe buildings of the Ancient Taos Pueblo (both UNESCO World Heritage Sites). They share the foodie factor, too, each offering their own take on coffee, bread and (our favorite) breakfast pancakes. While Moroccans make tagines, New Mexicans concoct carne adovada.
Thirsty for vineyards and wine tours?
For: Napa and Sonoma, California
Wine improves with age but waiting for travel doesn’t. So while a Bordeaux chateaux tour should be on everyone’s bucket list, until that can happen, a California wine trip will prove that new world wines are just as worthy. Get your fill of local cheeses, wines and olives at intimate tastings and scenic picnics. And since you save in the international airfare, maybe some of that savings goes toward a case or two of your favorite vintages traveling back with you at the end of the week.
Need National Park nirvana?
Swap: New Zealand
If it can’t be the Land of the Long White Cloud, it has to be Big Sky Country. There’s no Hobbiton in Montana, but the multitude of things the state does have in common with New Zealand makes up for it: rustic mining towns, national parks with snow-capped peaks and glassy alpine lakes, and lush rolling meadows dotted with sheep. While New Zealand has its rich Maori heritage, Montana has the Blackfoot tribe. And when it comes to dessert, the Huckleberry swirl gives New Zealand’s pavlova a delicious run for its money.
Pining pastoral pampering?
If there was ever a time to breathe the soothing scent of lavender fields, feast on colorful cuisine, and end each day with botanical baths, surely this is it. Provence might be the poster child for such a scene but Washington makes a magnificent plan 1A. Summertime sees rolling fields painted purple with lavender, local artisans and fresh pastries.
Want wild, wonderful nature?
Believe it or not, the Big Island’s Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa peaks do see snowfall, but we’re not comparing Hawaii to Iceland because of its climate. We’re comparing them because of volcanoes. Both the Big Island and Iceland have spectacular landscapes, formed and constantly changing as a result of volcanic activity. You can hike lava trails to waterfalls and craters, walk black-sand beaches, climb dramatic cliffs, and venture into magma chambers. While Viking folklore explains Iceland’s landscape with tales of trolls and dragons, on the Big Island you’ll learn how Hawaiian heroes, demigods and deities formed the fascinating sights around you.
Craving cinematic scenery?
We’d happily cross the Atlantic to witness Jordan’s Wadi Rum rock formations, but closer to home in Utah, Bryce Canyon’s hulking hoodoos glow the same vivid orange under the same blazing sun—and in the nearby Grand Canyon and Zion national parks there offer more magnificent rock fins and spires to gawp at.
Feverish for fjords and glaciers?
For: Kenai Fjords, Alaska
Norway’s coastlines are cinematic, but until we can be nose to nose with the terminal face of a Norwegian glacier or sail up one of its fjords, Alaska provides an awesome alternative. The ice-gouged coastline of the Kenai Peninsula features dramatic fjords, dozens of glaciers, outlying islands and tall mountains, while colorful coastal settlements offer a warm welcome.
Missing a seasonal spectacle?
If March lockdown orders made you miss travels to spectacular spring blossoms, make up for it with a fall foliage tour. Spring scenes don’t get more spectacular than Japan in the middle of cherry blossom season, and later in the year you’ll find no fall landscape more fiery than Vermont’s. While Japan has its wisteria tunnels and sake distillery tours, Vermont offers covered bridges and brewery visits. In September and October, the state’s aflame with leaves painted golden-yellow, rust-red and every color in between.