One of the best ways to tour the U.S. is to plan a trip to the country’s national parks and visit popular states, such as Florida or California, or Hawaii. The tropical appeal of the 3 states makes visiting them both exciting and fun.
For example, a trip to Florida or California is not complete without visiting Walt Disney attractions. Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida and Disneyland in California are great places to include on your U.S. travel bucket list.
Another place that spells excitement and entertainment is Las Vegas. Known for its casinos, top-line entertainment, and fine dining, the city also hosts tours to places, such as the Grand Canyon or to the Hoover Dam. Therefore, you can take part in both memorable indoor and outdoor activities while visiting this popular tourist destination.
Keeping Travelers Safe
To ensure your safety, hotels and tourist sites and attractions encourage the use of face masks and social distancing. Hotels have taken added precautions, deep-cleaning rooms for clients so they comply with the guidelines set aside by the Centers for Disease Control or CDC.
If you have any COVID-19 type symptoms or you believe you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, refrain from traveling until you feel better or stay at home at least 14 days before beginning a holiday. If you feel sick during your trip, postpone further activities until you feel better.
Visiting Disney World – What to Anticipate?
Because of the Pandemic, some changes have taken place at the Disney World amusement park. The primary restrictions, currently in place include the following:
- You must wear a mask when visiting the park.
- Make a reservation to visit Disney World using the Disney Park Pass Reservation System on the Disney World website.
- The park has suspended Extra Magic Hours and Fast Passes currently (as of April 2021).
- Firework displays and parades have been suspended (as of April 2021).
- Some of the restaurants in the amusement park are temporarily closed.
- You must have your temperature checked before entering the park.
Now that you know the current rules, you will know what to expect if you visit the park this summer. You will follow the same types of rules if you visit Disneyland in California.
Riding the Rides at Disney World – Wheelchair or ECV Visitors
If you have a mobility disability, you can refer to the Disney site to check which rides you can access if you use a wheelchair or ECV (electric convenience vehicle scooter). You can hire a wheelchair or ECV in any Disney park on a first-come, first-served basis.
Make Magic Kingdom Your First Choice
When it comes to touring the U.S., you should plan to spend several days at either Disney World or Disneyland. If you plan to see Disney World in Florida, make Magic Kingdom your park of choice if you have limited time. Not only does the park feature a fairytale castle, it is home to the famous Disney characters, Minnie and Mickey Mouse.
Do You Have Small Children? Plan a Visit to Fantasyland
If you have small children, visit Fantasyland, as they have the most rides for visitors in this age group. Be prepared to wait a while in line for popular rides, such as Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan.
The Space Mountain Roller Coaster Ride
One of the most thrilling rides in the Magic Kingdom is Disney World’s Space Mountain – a high-speed roller coaster that operates in a dark environment with various twists and turns. However, you don’t have to worry about large drops or inversions – you simply will be flying through the “galaxy.”
If you want to wake up fast in the morning, this is the way to do it – no caffeine needed at all. The ride, which is featured inside, allows people in the queue to engage in interactive games while waiting to take the ride. Space Mountain is one of the best rides to ride if you plan to travel visit Disney World and travel through the Sunshine State.
Traveling Down Route 66
One of the iconic roads in the U.S., Route 66 offers quirky sites, retro neon signs, and world-famous museums. It also leads the traveler to spectacular national parks and unique and iconic landmarks. You simply cannot tour the U.S. in the summer without including Route 66 on your list itinerary.
The historic highway runs east-west across the central part of New Mexico, beside a path occupied by U.S. Interstate 40. Until 1937, the road covered a longer route by way of Los Lunas, Santa Fe, and Albuquerque in New Mexico. These areas now make up New Mexico State Road 6, Interstate 25 and U.S. 84.
Route 66 Attractions
Some of the places to see along Route 66 include the following attractions.
Cadillac Ranch – Amarillo, Texas
Just a quick 15-minute drive from Amarillo, Texas, Cadillac Ranch is one of the more unusual sites along Route 66. Planted in the red Texan dessert, 10 half-buried graffiti-painted Cadillacs sit nose-first into the ground. Visitors can create their own artwork by spray painting one of the cars.
The Painted Desert – Indian Wells, California
Another “painted” site along Route 66, the Painted Desert is known for its kaleidoscopic colors. This part of northern Arizona features rocks in various hues – from varying pinks and oranges to deep lavenders and shades of gray. Take time, at sunset, during your Route 66 adventure, to view the fiery colors over the Painted Desert.
Visiting the Mile Bottle Grocery in Oklahoma City
On top of the Milk Bottle Grocery in Oklahoma City sits a giant milk bottle – a strong clue that you have reached another classic landmark along Route 66. While the building served as a milk store and grocery store in the old day, it is now a Vietnamese cafe. If you don’t have time to eat banh mi or drink iced coffee, you can always take a picture of the unique landmark.
The Route 66 Hall of Fame Museum in Pontiac, Illinois
100 miles from the beginning point of Route 66 sits the Route 66 Hall of Fame Museum – home to thousands of memorabilia and artefacts – all depicting the glory days and history of the Mother Road. Learn more about the route, when it was considered one of the most important roads of the day. Don’t travel down the length of the highway without visiting the museum first.
Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles, California
An endpoint for Route 66, Santa Monica Pier serves as the place where the “End of the Trail” sign appears for the roadway. The pier features a large wheel set against a sandy and sweeping beach and a backdrop of the Pacific Ocean. The pier, which is also home to an amusement park and carousel, features free walking tours that allow you to explore the area’s history.
Seeing the U.S. National Parks
Part of your American touring experience should include a visit to one or more of the country’s national parks. By purchasing an America the Beautiful Pass, you can do just that. You can find out more about a pass purchase by following this link. Doing so will make it easier to plan visits to specific national parks.
Visiting the Grand Canyon
One of the great attractions you don’t want to miss when touring America is the Grand Canyon. Located north of Flagstaff, Arizona, the Grand Canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world and the fourth most visited park in the U.S. National Park System (NPS).
You can enter the park at the South Rim or travel to the South Rim by train. To take a train ride, you need to begin in Williams, Arizona at the depot. The heritage railroad, the Grand Canyon Railway, transports passengers to the Canyon’s South Rim and Grand Canyon Village. The ride covers 64 miles. Completed in September 1901, the track was built by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway.
Grand Canyon Park is now 102 years old (as of 2021). It celebrated its birthday in February 2019. The length of the canyon runs 277 miles or 446 kilometers long and spans 18 miles or 29 kilometers wide. The depth of the ravine falls to 7,000 feet or 1,857 meters.
Staying Cool in the Summertime
If you visit the South Rim of the Canyon in the summer, it can get blazing hot. Therefore, you need to make sure you drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and take the air-conditioned shuttles running through Grand Canyon Village to visit the sites and attractions.
Hiking in the Park during the Summer
If you plan to hike, you need to be in good physical shape, and again, keep plenty of water handy. The Angel Trail, a popular hiking trail in the park, does not offer much shade, so you need to keep this in mind if you do any hiking at all.
Grand Canyon Park Lodging
You can see some historical and unique attractions when you visit Grand Canyon Village as well as stay in some comfortable lodgings. Bright Angel Lodge, El Tovar Hotel, and Yavapai Lodge all get high marks when it comes to staying in the park.
Grand Canyon Village highlights some of the best scenic overlooks in Grand Canyon National Park, one of the best being Yavapai Point. To begin your adventure in the village, start at the visitor center where you can pick up a self-guided walking tour brochure.
Village Sites and Attractions
You can refer to the brochure for more information about the canyon, its history, and the village’s historic sites. Some of these attractions include Hopi House, Lookout Studio, and Kolb House. Learn how the village sprang up around the railway in 1901. You can access the village or travel away from the South Rim by train via the Grand Canyon Railway Depot.
California National Parks
Besides the Grand Canyon, you may want to plan a trip to one of the national parks, this summer, in California. In fact, if you want to see national parks, California is the go-to place for the activity. The state is home to 28 national parks, more than any other state in the U.S.
Yosemite National Park
The most popular national park in California and the U.S. is Yosemite National Park, known for its geothermal springs and activity. Located in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, the park is famed for its ancient and giant sequoia trees and the granite rock formations of Half Dome and El Capitan.
Visit the Ansel Adams Gallery to view the photographer’s black-and-white images of the area’s landscape and check out the restaurants, lodging, and shopping in the park’s Yosemite Village.
Acadia National Park
If your summer travels take you to the East Coast of the U.S., you might want to include a visit to Acadia National Park. Do you want to avoid the crowds and enjoy pleasant weather? If so, book travel to the park just past the summer season, or 2 weeks past Labor Day. You might consider this part of your summer tour as your last “summer” excursion for the year.
The park, which covers 47,000 acres next to the Atlantic, sits primarily on Mount Desert Island in Maine. The landscape is defined by woodlands, granite peaks, such as Cadillac Mountain, and rocky shores. Cadillac Mountain represents the highest point in the U.S. on the East Coast. Wildlife in the park include bears, moose, seabirds, and marine animals, such as whales. A gateway to the park is the town of Bar Harbor, a bayside town that features popular shops and eateries.
Planning a Trip to Chicago
The Windy City, or Chicago, is always a welcome big U.S. city to visit in the summer, given its lake breezes and high-rise views. Located along Lake Michigan, the city, which is home to 2.7 million people, stands out as the place to go to enjoy art, shopping, and outdoor activities, such as biking, walking, and boating.
The third-largest city in the U.S., Chicago has been described in myriad ways during its history. During the World’s Columbian Exposition, or the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, Chicago was known as a City of Industry. Later, during prohibition, mobsters, like Al Capone, turned Chicagoland into a nefarious playground with bootlegging being one of the main activities.
Enjoying the City Sights
While enjoying the city sights, you might consider taking a Chicago Architecture River Cruise or pass the hours looking at the scenery at Chicago’s Millennium Park. To see a bird’s-eye view of the city, head toward Skydeck Chicago at Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower).
You can also see some great city views at the John Hancock Center’s 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck. The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago also offers engaging and fun-family activities. Naturally, you cannot visit Chi-Town without eating a deep-dish pizza as well.
A Quintessential Family Vacation – North Carolina’s Outer Banks
If you are seeking the quintessential family vacation, you should set your sights on visiting the Outer Banks of North Carolina. These barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina separate the Atlantic Ocean from the U.S. Mainland. The open-sea beaches, shipwreck diving, and state parks, make the Outer Banks a truly fun place to go when traveling.
Hatteras Island and Cape Hatteras National Seashore in eastern North Carolina make up the Outer Banks area. The history of the locale is replete with pirate lore and stories of shipwrecks. Roanoke Island lies close to the Outer Banks in Albemarle Sound, between the Outer Banks and the U.S. Mainland. The island is the place where Sir Walter Raleigh established the first English Colony in the New World.
One of greatest mysteries of U.S. history, the colony on Roanoke Island was found abandoned in 1590, 5 years after it was first settled in August 1585.
While COVID-19 precautions should be rigorously followed, you do have plenty of choices for traveling the U.S. this summer. When you decide on a destination or route, check with the sites you plan to visit about any travel restrictions currently in place.
Narrowing Down Your Summer Travel Choices
You can narrow down your choices and the travel days by what you have set aside for a travel budget. When making summer plans to travel the U.S., you will need to answer the following questions:
- Which accommodations should I choose if I plan to travel with my dog?
- If traveling by RV, which campsites should I include on my travel itinerary?
- Should I rent a car or use my own vehicle if I am traveling close to home?
- When can I get the best deals on airline travel during the week?
- What hotels are offering discounts or travel incentives?
- Can I use my airline miles to reduce costs for traveling to specific locales?
- Who should I contact about getting trip insurance if I plan to zip line or take part in extreme sports activities?
- What gear should I carry when backpacking or visiting the backcountry of U.S. National Parks?
- What are the luggage requirements for traveling by bus, train, or airplane?
- What will I need to pack for the trip?
Always ask questions to make sure you have covered all your bases when it comes to trip planning and touring in the U.S. That way, you can enjoy a more carefree travel experience and travel almost worry-free.