Photo by Darren Lawrence on Unsplash
The year 2020 was an unfettered catastrophe for the tourism industry and families alike. Stressors are at maximum velocity and our togetherness has experienced new levels as we've been with our immediate family more than ever. Schools and businesses being shut down and mass gatherings suspended and canceled has left many Americans with canceled vacation plans a need to let loose.
The Pandemic has met an unknown life form. The United Federation of Planets did not come riding in on a white horse to save the day, but Operation Warp Speed has provided us with multiple vaccines ahead of traditional schedules. As the population lines up to receive their vaccines, in hopes of life nearing normal once again, many are planning desperately needed vacations. Here are the top 5 destinations in the United States.
1. The Beach
Many people are planning a serious vacation to the beaches this year with their families in tow. Most will not worry about school schedules this year as distance learning has taken over many jurisdictions. The thought of going to the beach for some unwinding will be based upon weather conditions after officials get a handle on the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Many people have still ventured to the beaches in 2020 in spite of the pandemic, though the experience isn't quite the same when you can't hang out with a bunch of friends without masks. Many venues and restaurants were closed - putting a damper on the experience, which was still better than none.
2. National Parks
Many Americans and their families will trek to the national parks and national forests to enjoy getting out and enjoying nature in the serenity of the wide-open spaces. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, straddling North Carolina and Tennessee, remains the number one visited national park in the United States (12.5 million visitors in 2019, more than double the Grand Canyon at number 2).
The relaxing atmosphere of the smokies makes it a great place to visit. There are lots of hiking trails and many places where you can see wildlife, including black bears and elk if you happen to be at the right place at the right time. You can also park close and walk to the top of Clingman's Dome, the highest point on the Appalachian Trail. You'll find Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge great places to serve as your base as there is plenty of tourism-related activities here. Cherokee North Carolina is just on the other side of the mountain. Here you'll find the home and reservation of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and Harrah's Cherokee Casino.
Personally, I've been to the smokies many times, as I live close by and recommend it to everyone. I've also been to the Grand Canyon and other national parks. I hope to visit Yellowstone, Glacier, and Yosemite in the next few years.
Many families and loners alike will take to camping in the campgrounds, lakes, forests, and RV parks around the country as they begin making their way into serenity. Finding your way and interacting with others can be hectic at times. Camping in an RV, camper, or tent is a good way to social distance as you like and still get away and enjoy nature and unwind.
If you have the means or resources, cabin rentals and vacation homes are a great way to get away from it all while giving yourself a few additional resources and comforts - not that campers and RVs are without their comforts... many rental cabins (at least in some parts of the country) have their own hot tubs. A hot tub or pool makes everything that much better.
There are many resources available through Good Sam Club and you're state parks, in addition to the traditional KOA and private parks.
4. Road Trip
A few people will break down and embrace the epic road trip. Packing the car with everything you could need without a tent or sleeping bags gives you the freedom to roam and stay in the car, motel, or where ever your path takes you.
America is a great big country with lots to see and do. Many people will take limited resources and embrace the road trip as a means To experience great America that we heard of our parents talking about in our youth. Personally, I remember my parents loading up and car and we'd wake up in Fort Meyers Florida one year, and another time we ended up staying along the Cumberland River in Nashville. Life is a great adventure, you can make it grand with little planning and a bit of imagination.
5. Festivals and Events
Spending your hard-earned time and money to have the best getaway you can, making an event or festival your vacation is one method you'll see die-hard fans embrace. Canceled due to COVID in 2020, I imagine many people will make the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival an event vacation in 2021. The four-day festival has camping, food, music, and plenty to see and do while you're there.
We can see the NASCAR circuit also pulling many fans out of semi-retirement from 2019. The World's Fastest Half-Mile at Bristol Motor Speedway has acres of campgrounds around the speedway complex. The fans often come and camp a few days while others make it a weeklong event to see everything the town and its surroundings have to offer.
Bristol, Tennessee also being home to the Birthplace of Country Music, has a draw known for that crowd with its Border Bash and Rhythm and Roots Reunion showcasing the history of the twin-city (Bristol TN/VA). The Birthplace of Country Music Museum sits on the Virginia side of town.
Make it your own
As you can see from the upcoming trends, many people aren't yet planning to fly overseas or take to cruises due to the uncertainties there with travel restrictions. Others are planning to do what they can within their means and available venues. We plan on festivals and venues returning to normal in the next few months as late spring arrives with a large portion of the population vaccinated and shops opening.
We can only plan and hope that we'll be able to execute these sorely needed means to get away and unwind. In the meanwhile, practice your golf game, take a walk and get some fresh air in your own space. Research what's available to you and draw up a few actionable plans. We all need a plan B, and maybe a plan C to fall back on.
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