Travel, like most things, has been thrown into considerable flux by events in 2020. This has forced us all to reconsider our plans. Rather than multiday long-distance vacationing, the alternative is to reinvigorate the concept of a staycation. Despite there being innumerable ways to staycation, here we’re profiling 10 cities we think fit the bill as excellent staycation destinations. These are places where the combination of open spaces, restaurants, attractions, and scenery give you great bang for your buck. If you’re wondering whether it’s possible to salvage your 2020 travel plans, take a look at the list here for some helpful inspiration. These are 10 great places to staycation in 2020.
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Staycation Charleston, SC
Staycation Salt Lake City, UT
Staycation Virginia Beach, VA
Staycation Las Vegas, NV
What Sin City lacks in sandy beaches, it more than makes up for with natural landscapes, monumental engineering, and the world’s swankiest casinos. Are you ready to let it all ride? South Las Vegas Boulevard, known simply as “The Strip,” is a roughly 7 km thoroughfare and where you’ll find all the choice casinos and entertainment in Las Vegas. Everyone is going to spend at least some here. Don’t confine yourself just to the Strip, however. There’s plenty to see beyond Las Vegas Boulevard. Make time for the Freemont Street Experience, Red Rock Canyon, and the National Atomic Testing Museum. Tours are available at varying prices to the Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, and Death Valley. Enjoy premium shopping outlets set in the casinos along the Strip where you don’t have to pay for the sightseeing. Vegas is eager to welcome back visitors with enticing offers to help make your staycation here one to remember.
Staycation Orlando, FL
Disneyworld probably comes to mind when one hears mention of Orlando. While the famous park is certainly a draw, it’s far from the only reason this city is great for a staycation. Orlando’s location allow you to easily access beaches on the state’s Atlantic or Gulf Coasts. The budding young scientist or explorer in your family will relish a chance to tour NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Everywhere you look there are lakes. Diverse restaurants and local eateries showcase proud cultural traditions. Naturally, you can enjoy the region’s many entertainment and amusement parks, especially when the tourist season winds down and the lines thin. Though popular basically year-round, Orlando is best in early spring or late fall when temperatures remain reasonable and you’re more or less outside hurricane season.
Staycation Portland, OR
We’re off to the Pacific Northwest with a stop in crunchy Portland. This is a fantastic city with loads of great things to do. Whether it’s hiking in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area or just enjoying Portland’s recreational bike trails, the Northwest is a place for nature-lovers. Add to it Portland’s many pubs, restaurants, and coffee houses and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a staycation city. Be sure to snap some pictures at Multnomah Falls and find a few hours to enjoy Washington Park. Devote some time to exploring the scene in Central Portland where you’ll find an eclectic array of dining and entertainment. Residents here are known for their high levels of community engagement so you’re sure to happen upon a farmer’s market or local craft sale. Keeping yourself grounded in the local culture will help you save a buck without cheapening the experience.
Staycation Charleston, SC
Founded in 1670, this port city has a long and storied history. Though its roots go back to the Colonial Era, Charleston enjoys a reputation as one of America’s most friendly destinations. Start your staycation tour on Washington Square and wander the French Quarter. Visit the local churches and the Old Slave Mart Museum. The museum is a powerful testament to painful legacy of slavery in America. Charleston’s historic connections run deep. Tour Fort Sumter where the American Civil War began in 1860. Across Charleston Harbor you can explore harbor front restaurants, play a round of golf at Patriot Point Links, and visit the USS Yorktown museum. The past is never far behind, even when you’re looking to the future. As Charleston continues to evolve, its character is firmly rooted in history and tradition. This is a great spot to staycation.
Staycation Tampa, FL
Don’t let Florida’s image as a destination for retirees fool you into thinking it’s a sleepy state without much to offer younger folk. Tampa on the Gulf Coast leverages its location to create an attractive atmosphere. Cuban cigar factories, comedy clubs, bars, and restaurants proliferate in the Ybor City neighborhood. A strong Latin influence is seen in the city’s music, arts, and food culture. The Tampa Museum of Art is highly regarded. Be sure to check out the modern and contemporary art collections there. Of course you can always enjoy a visit to Busch Gardens for a ride on the roller coasters. With great cultural institutions and convenient access to the beach, Tampa is a mid-sized city with all the ingredients needed for a fun time.
Staycation Atlanta, GA
Atlanta hardly needs an introduction. Georgia’s capital is the state’s main economic engine. Emory University anchors a world-class higher education and tech entrepreneurial scene. Dozens of cultural institutions cater to the city’s diverse population, as do its many historic parks and monuments. Enjoy lounging in Centennial Olympic Park or head to the Little Five Points neighborhood. This trendy district is popular with younger people and features a great many cafes, galleries, and music venues. At night the bars and restaurants are lively and filled with the soulful sounds that have long originated in Atlanta. Intimately bound to the past while always looking towards the future, Atlanta is a city on the go and one where the combination of local recreation, culture, and open spaces make for an ideal staycation destination.
Staycation Austin, TX
Texas conjures up images of cowboys roping cattle at a rodeo. Austin has a vibrancy that’s more in step with trendy towns on the coasts. Head towards the Texas State Capital. The building’s historic architecture is impressive and the surrounding parks and lawns are a great place for a stroll. Further south along Congress Ave, you’ll come upon the Mexic-Arte Museum. The collection here features new and upcoming Latino artists. Look for a good café before venturing down by the Colorado River. Riverside green space developments have made this an exceedingly good place for a picnic or just some simple relaxation. If you enjoy outdoor activities and natural landscapes, make a point to venture west of town to the Hamilton Pool Preserve. This natural swimming hole is a great place for pictures and a stunning natural backdrop. Keeping yourself active and outdoors is one way to ensure a successful staycation.
Staycation Salt Lake City, UT
With plenty of vegan eateries, alternative shopping, and trendy microbreweries, Salt Lake City is a staycation oasis. As with most mid-sized cities in the American West, access to amazing scenic landscapes is a massive draw. Mountain climbing and challenging hiking trails are right outside the city limits. Visit the Natural History Museum of Utah on your way out to the Mount Wire Trail Head. In winter, the powder on the slopes draws skiers from around the world. In summer, head for the Great Salt Lake or enjoy a good barbeque in the city’s various neighborhoods. Though it might seem a bit spread out, Salt Lake City is easy to navigate and always offers something new to explore. Downtown is a great place to wander around and snap photos. As a favored budget destination, Salt Lake City is an excellent choice for a staycation.
Staycation Virginia Beach, VA
Virginia Beach is known for its unspoiled beaches and long shoreline. Staycationers can frolic in the waves or barbeque on the sands. Stroll along Virginia Beach Boardwalk, which runs nearly five kilometers and features a host of great restaurants, shops, and entertainment. If you head north and you will find First Landing State Park, a wilderness area with hiking trails and places to canoe. Explore Cape Henry Lighthouse (actually two lighthouses) and First Landing Cross. For museums, pay a visit to the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center to learn about local marine wildlife and habitats. Audubon lovers will dig the Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum. Finally, art enthusiasts should head for the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art. Virginia’s largest city is a great place for fun and recreation, which is why we think it’s one of the best places for a staycation.
Staycation Tucson, AZ
Southeast of Phoenix along Interstate 10 is Tucson. This trendy community boasts copious sunshine and a beautiful desert climate. Flanked on both sides by national parks, Tucson provides convenient access to unbeatable natural landscapes. Head out from downtown to explore top-notch hiking trails and stunning scenery. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a fun visit. Alternatively you can forego the museum’s entrance fee and just explore the trails in Tucson Mountain Park. Back in town, make a stop at the Tucson Museum of Art or the Museum of Contemporary Art. There’s also a glass museum, a Jewish history museum, and a great children’s museum. The University of Arizona’s main campus is located here so you can piggyback on the events calendar normally filled with lectures, sporting events, and concerts. The Southwest United States is awful pretty and Tucson is one place you can really enjoy a staycation.
Adjusting to our new normal will require a bit of rethinking what’s possible. Perhaps vacationing won’t be exactly the same; but there’s fun and adventure to be had none-the-less. Making the most of travel possibilities means first and foremost finding suitable destinations. The 10 cities we’ve profiled here fit the bill in many ways. Look for one that’s closer to you and think of 2020 as the year your finally take that staycation you’ve always longed for.