No doubt about it, 2021 will be the year of the road trip. More than half of the respondents of a national survey conducted by Erie Insurance said they plan to take at least one road trip this year. That finding was confirmed by a report released this week by Motel 6 showing some 56 percent of those surveyed said they’re more likely to take a road trip in 2021 than in previous years. Meanwhile, domestic hotel and airlinebookings are going gangbusters as airlines ramp up routes and focus on point to point leisure destinations.For those who want to take to the road but want to travel beyond the beach, here are several underrated summer vacation spots to consider – from national parks to second tier cities with reasons to make the detour.
The Foundry Hotel – Asheville, NC
Description: Set among the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, The Foundry Hotel immerses guests in local culture with one-on-one neighborhood tours with an on-site historian, chauffeured brewery visits via the hotel’s Tesla Model X house car and drives on the breathtaking Blue Ridge Parkway for a daytrip to The Biltmore Estate, the largest private residence in the U.S. 5x James Beard nominee John Fleer leads the hotel’s culinary program, complete with a 100-seat Appalachian-inspired soul food restaurant and second-floor lobby bar, Workshop Lounge.
Image Credit: The Foundry Hotel, a Raines Hospitality hotel
Why it’s great for summer travel: The Foundry recently launched a partnership with Asheville Hot Air Balloons to offer an intimate, private, outdoor experience for those who are opting to avoid crowds. Additional outdoor activities are offered on-property like bocce on a large, manicured lawn, fire pits and rocking chairs. With hotel rooms being split amongst multiple, separate buildings, groups can buyout an entire building for themselves for a truly private experience.
The Bristol Hotel – Bristol, VA
Description: The Bristol Hotel is the first boutique hotel in the Appalachian Mountain city, making for an idyllic, central respite. The 65-room hotel is housed within one of the city’s striking 1925 architectural landmarks (a former executive plaza), reflecting the city’s distinctly industrial roots, musical soul and adventurous Appalachian spirit. Visitors can enjoy curated hikes along the famed Appalachian Trail courtesy of the hotel’s curated guide maps, spectacular sights and outdoor dining from the city’s only rooftop bar, Lumac, and Appalachian cuisine at the hotel’s family-style restaurant, Vivian’s Table.
Image Credit: The Bristol Hotel, a Charlestowne Hotels managed property
Why it’s great for summer travel: Offering prime access to the most visited national park in the Great Smoky Mountains, the famed Appalachian Trail and ancient Bristol Caverns, Bristol makes for an ideal summer travel destination where visitors can take part in a myriad of invigorating leisure activities including hiking, fly fishing and whitewater rafting.
Finger Lakes region – Central New York
Description: A short drive from major east coast cities and an easy flight into Rochester and Syracuse, the Finger Lakes region of central New York is an ideal summer destination with a wide range of socially-distant outdoor experiences.
Why it’s great for summer travel: After taking a refreshing dip in one of the eleven crystal blue lakes, visitors can sample their way through the region’s cideries and distilleries, breweries, or the 130+ wineries (following America’s First Wine Trail, the Canandaigua Lake Wine Trail or Seneca Lake Wine Trail) while taste testing local cheeses and homemade ice cream. In addition to the return of festivals and outdoor performances – including Rochester’s Lilac Festival in May and International Jazz Festival in July, summer travelers can explore the National Women’s Hall of Fame museum in the birthplace of Women’s Rights, the Susan B. Anthony House & Museum or the world’s oldest photography museum, and end the day by renting a houseboat along the Erie Canal for a one-of-a-kind stay. With endless hike & bike trails leading to stunning waterfalls and family-friendly attractions (Rochester’s famed Seabreeze Amusement Park will officially reopen in May!), the Finger Lakes is the place to cool off and relax this summer.
Image Credit: Deer Path Inn
Deer Path Inn – Lake Forest, IL
Description: Just 40 minutes north of Chicago, the 57-room Deer Path Inn located within the charming town of Lake Forest, IL feels worlds away from the Windy City and instantly transports travelers to the English countryside for a European-style summer vacation.
Why it’s great for summer travel: While just a short distance from Chicago and ideally situated minutes from the scenic shores of Lake Michigan, city dwellers and travelers alike can enjoy summertime delights like a stroll through the town’s historic Market Square the first planned shopping center in the United States – which has evolved in just over a century to become the icon that it is today and features a collection of local, family-owned and independent shops that showcase the heritage of the Lake Forest community such as the Lake Forest Bookstore, Sweet’s Chocolates and Valentina. A destination within itself, the Deer Path Inn offers seasonal amenities including complimentary bicycles and pre-packed picnics.
Description: Centrally located for more than 2/3 of the U.S. to access by car, Lexington, KY offers a wide range of activities for travelers of all ages seeking a socially-distant, “beyond the beach” getaway.
Why it’s great for summer travel: Visitors can check in to unique accommodations, such as Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill’s private cottages, 21c Museum Hotel Lexington’s Queens Gambit-inspired “Harmon Room,” or Origin Hotel Lexington (offering spacious suites with in-room camping amenities). Enjoy the warm weather at one of the “Horse Capital of the World’s” 400+ horse farms and a self-guided tour of Keeneland Racecourse’s historic grounds. The Kentucky River Palisades is one of the many natural wonders the area has to offer, along with extensive hiking trails, kayak/canoe rentals, and Boone Creek Outdoors’ Zipline Canopy Tours. Culture vultures can explore downtown Lexington with a walking tour to little-known U.S. history stops (like Mary Todd Lincoln’s house) or partake in VisitLex’s Mural Challenge, viewing 25+ street-art murals by international artists. Visitors can also enjoy Bluegrass-fusion flavors from over 120 locally-owned restaurants, including unexpected, international cuisine, and wash it all down with stops at 14 of the state’s largest distilleries. Summer travelers can meet local artisans at the new Greyline Station, a former bus terminal that’s been transformed into a vibrant, mixed use space featuring a farmer’s market, local restaurants/shops, and an outdoor entertainment venue.
The Roxbury at Stratton Falls – Catskills, New York
Description: Nestled in the heart of the mountains, The Roxbury at Stratton Falls offers bespoke, thematic accommodations, ranging from the pixie dust sprinkled “Faerie Forest” with floor-to-ceiling trees, rock ledges ascending up the walls and a calm, deep blue morning sky ceiling to the astronomy-focused Galileo’s Gate with its own glass-ceilinged observation deck.
Image Credit: The Roxbury at Stratton Falls
Why it’s great for summer travel: A scenic two-hour drive from Manhattan, the Catskills is a world-class destination at any time of the year, but it is the abundance of outdoor activities including hiking, camping, wildlife, fishing, golfing and more that makes summer the best time for travelers looking to explore the region. From hiking in the Catskill Mountains to kayaking down the Delaware River and camping at the North-South Lake, there are endless activities during the summer season.
AvantStay – Lake Tahoe, Palm Springs, Scottsdale, Breckenridge, Sonoma, etc.
Description: Hospitality brand, AvantStay, has gorgeous private vacation homes situated in many destinations outside the typical beach locale, including the mountains, wine country, desert and the beach.
Why it’s great for summer travel: AvantStay’s homes are perfect for a summer vacation in 2021, offering outdoorsy amenities like pools, BBQ grills, volleyball courts, mini golf, Bocce ball and more. Homes are all single-family and range from two- to ten-bedrooms, for those traveling in groups but still prefer added privacy amid the pandemic. Plus, through AvantStay’s mobile app, guests can book activities like hot air balloon rides, wine tasting and private chefs, along with schedule services like fridge stocking and on-call cleaning – all from the mobile app.
Inns of Aurora –Aurora, NY
Description: Overlooking the calming waters of Cayuga Lake is the Inns of Aurora, a luxurious lakeside resort featuring five pristinely restored historic homes (three of which are available for private rental) complete with resident innkeepers, in-room fireplaces, private balconies and stunning views of the lake.
Image Credit: Inns of Aurora
Why it’s great for summer travel: A short drive from most northeast hubs, the quaint lakeside village of Aurora provides travelers with immediate ease and ultimate seclusion that make for a relaxing summer getaway in the heart of the Finger Lakes. Days can begin with private restorative yoga, meditation sessions and Ayurvedic consultations with the Director of Serenity and lakefront activities such as kayaking, painting, and a walking tour of the historic village. Leave plenty of time to explore the resort’s 3.5-mile outdoor trail system with private hikes and archery lessons led by the resident Outdoorsman before heading to the new Spa at the Inns of Aurora, opening early summer 2021, to recharge and unwind. In the evenings, indulge in farm-to-table cuisine at 1833 Kitchen & Bar before cozying up to a lakeside firepit to enjoy a glass of local wine while watching the sunset.
JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa – Orlando, FL
Description: The newly opened JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa, perfectly situated just outside of Disney World, will please families and theme park enthusiasts alike. Guests heading to the parks can take advantage of the resort’s complimentary shuttle service, or use the resort’s other luxurious amenities, like the 10,000-square foot spa with unique treatments, the outdoor pool with chic cabanas, or the swanky onsite restaurants and bars.
Image Credit: Marriott Hotels & Resorts
Why it’s great for summer travel: The resort will be hosting a “Summer Spectacular” through its Family by JW programming from May through August, boasting activities including luxe camp-themed cabanas by the pool with delicious, make-your-own s’mores packets; “dive-in” outdoor movies; weekend family BBQs; and summer themed spa offerings.
Amway Grand Plaza, Curio Collection by Hilton – Grand Rapids, MI
Description: Travelers looking for a quaint city summer getaway can visit the historic Amway Grand Plaza, located in Grand Rapids’ downtown Hotel District. With dramatic chandeliers and the largest gold leaf ceiling in America, along with its newly opened Spanish-inspired restaurant MDRD, the hotel is sure to impress guests with soaring views of the city and Grand River, and nods to its rich history.
Image Credit: AHC Hospitality
Why it’s great for summer travel: “Beer City USA,” better known as Grand Rapids, MI, boasts midwestern charm without the crowds. Aside from having more craft beer per square mile than almost anywhere on earth, Grand Rapids will also excite culture lovers, as it is home to one of the world’s most visited art museums, the open air Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park; plus, the city will also host an outdoor summer concert series at its Circle Theatre.
Deep Creek Hot Springs Campground – Apple Valley, California
Description: Deep Creek Hot Springs Campground is a vast 160-acre glampsite in the Mohave Desert that rents private geodesic domes with bathrooms, showers and WIFI.
Why it’s great for summer travel: The park, surrounded by iconic Joshua trees and red-tailed hawks and golden eagles that soar through the desert skies, is under two miles from natural lithium hot springs for a spa-like experience amidst the sprawling canyon. Geodesic domes start at $119/night at Pitchup.com.
White Birch Campground– Whately, Massachusetts
Description: Outdoor adventurers can camp out at the family-friendly White Birch Campground, located at the foot of the scenic Berkshires, and play in its refreshing swimming pool, recreation hall and horseshoe court on-site.
Image Credit Pitchup.com
Why it’s great for summer travel: The park is moments away from picturesque hikes on the Mohawk Trail or Mount Sugarloaf State Reservation that gleam with green trees and chirping birds in the summertime. Primitive grass tent sites are instantly bookable on Pitchup.com and start at $30/night.
The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort and Golf Club – St. Petersburg, Florida
Description: The historic Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club, boasts luxury open-air amenities including outdoor pools, a championship-grade golf course, a marina and tennis courts, and is a short walk from the action of downtown St. Pete.
Image Credit: Marriott Hotels + Resorts
Why it’s great for summer travel: Nestled along Florida’s serene Gulf Coast, St. Pete boasts an underrated, yet impressive art scene for a summer vacation packed with cultural experiences and artistic inspiration. The up and coming city is home to the world-renowned Dali Museum, the Chihuly Collection’s breathtaking display of glass work and the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art, as well as cool local galleries like Florida CraftArt, which also offers guided walking and bike tours of the city’s murals. Visitors can also explore the newly renovated St. Pete Pier, which features Janet Echelman’s must-see sculpture Bending Arc, trendy bars and restaurants and breathtaking views of the Tampa Bay. Plus, since summer is technically St. Pete’s low season, visitors can avoid the spring break crowds and maybe nab a deal, too.
Description: With world-class museums, a diverse dining scene and cool new boutique hotels, Fort Worth is a one-of-a-kind destination for a cowboy-inspired and action-packed summer vacation.
Why it’s great for summer travel: Visitors can transport themselves to the Wild West while exploring the historic Stockyards District, which is currently in the midst of a $500 million redevelopment and features a twice-daily cattle drive, weekly rodeos and the brand new rustic-luxe Hotel Drover. The Autograph Collection hotel also boasts a spacious “Backyard” perfect for summer fun, with a ranch-style pool and hot tub, private cabanas decked with crystal chandeliers, cozy firepits for roasting smores, lawn games and live music.
Description: History buffs seeking to skip the beach this summer can head to Washington DC and celebrate the vibrant community and culture of the nation’s capital. Travelers can visit the destination’s iconic monuments such as the Lincoln Memorial, National Mall and Capital Building, or discover the district’s rich history at local museums.
Image Credit: Zena Art – PC: Mark Schwartz Photography
Why it’s great for summer travel: Washington DC’s sophisticated culture extends to its hospitality scene with recently opened hotels such as Hotel Zena – a bold new cultural hub and interactive venue where every architectural line, material and art installation was thoughtfully curated to send a message of female empowerment. The culturally curious can immerse themselves in more than 60 gallery-quality art installations that pay homage to the courage of some of the world’s most notable figures and their fight for inclusivity and change. Highlights include: a fierce portrait of Shirley Anita Chisholm, and a bold mural of the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg constructed entirely of over 20,000 hand painted tampons donated by CORA. Guests can also soak up the summer sun atop the hotel at the freshly opened, Hedy’s Rooftop, an intimate, elevated rooftop escape boasting vibrant cocktails, mocktails and small bites, which can be enjoyed poolside in a private cabana. Or, travelers can opt for a stay at Viceroy Washington DC featuring spacious accommodations in an elegant atmosphere with onsite amenities such as a cozy BPM Coffee & Wine café with an outdoor patio, a refined gathering venue called the Salon, and a notable gallery with original art pieces.
Description: Beverly Hills is a charming oasis and world-renowned destination located in the center of Los Angeles with beautiful weather year-round, five-star hotel accommodations, superb dining from some of the biggest culinary names in the world, and unrivalled shopping.
Why it’s great for summer travel: In the early summer months when the region’s beach cities are notoriously blanketed in a cloudy marine layer known as “June Gloom,” the sun is still shining in Beverly Hills making it the perfect summer vacation beyond the beach. Travelers can soak in sunshine at one of the city’s storied hotels, including the largest pool in the city at The Beverly Hilton or listen to music underwater at The Beverly Hills Hotel. The city boasts a bevy of new alfresco dining options including the intimate THEBlvd Privé at the Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel and Spago L’extérieur by Wolfgang Puck, as well as boutique ice cream shops, a multitude of fragrant parks and gardens, and architectural focal points all within a walkable 6-mile radius. Art enthusiasts will discover a number of public art installations sprinkled throughout the city and can time their stay in Beverly Hills to coincide with Frieze, a weeklong contemporary art fair beginning July 26. For summertime savings, book the Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills, where overnight guests will enjoy 20% discount on overnight stays in honor of the hotel’s 20th anniversary.
Description: A short flight from many major U.S. hubs, this award-winning city attracts travelers each year due to its mild temperatures, inspiring architecture, picturesque boutiques and mouthwatering culinary scene.
Image Credit: The Bar at The Spectator – Charlestowne Hotels
Why it’s great for summer travel: While Charleston’s nearby beaches allow many vacationers to enjoy an authentic beach getaway, the Holy City is a must-visit summer destination in itself. In the heart of downtown, travelers can enjoy long walks and picnics along the scenic waterfront, award-winning culinary experiences, historic garden tours, shopping on the famed King Street (or at the outdoor Charleston City Market), and panoramic sunsets aboard the Schooner Pride. Book a stay at award-winning luxury boutique properties in the heart of the Historic District, in close proximity to the city’s major attractions: The Spectator Hotel, Charleston’s high-design boutique hotel and the only in the city with personal butler service, HarbourView Inn, a waterfront sanctuary with a private rooftop terrace overlooking the church steeple-lined skyline and historic harbor, or the award-winning French Quarter Inn, boasting old world charm – all offering authentic southern hospitality with an array of amenities including artisanal breakfast, vintage bicycles, afternoon wine and cheese and handcrafted cocktails.