Like the rest of you, I’ve gone a little bit stir-crazy at home this past year. I’ve made a point of getting out for walks and runs and otherwise staying active in whatever ways feel safe. But not really leaving home for so long takes a toll!
For that reason — also like many of you, I assume — I’ve begun to daydream a little bit about where I might go once it feels reasonable to travel. I’m not talking about bucket list destinations and white-sand beaches half a world away (though if my travel follows on Twitter keep putting the Maldives in front of me I might have to start looking into it…). Rather, I’m loosely planning some trips I may actually be able to manage later this year. And as we inch our way ever closer to a safer reality, I thought I’d share some destinations I’m eyeing, as well as a personal tip or two for each one.
1. Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville will be first on my list for two reasons: First, I have family there that I haven’t been able to see for a year. And second, it’s just a great city to be out and about in, particularly for music-lovers like me who haven’t been able to attend concerts all this time! I’ll have to see who’s playing and where of course, but in Nashville there’s never a shortage of great acts. Really though I’m just looking forward to seeing family, wandering around town a bit, and hitting some of the haunts I’ve come to love over the years (Frothy Monkey coffee café, here I come!).
Hot Tip: Try cooking the hot chicken before you go. This is a famous Nashville dish, and while I know it’s a little bit cliché to recommend it, it’s one of those location-specific preparations that really lives up to the hype. I know I didn’t fully appreciate how good it was until I tried to make it myself though. My version was decent. The stuff in Nashville is insane.
2. Boston, Massachusetts
I don’t have a super-specific reason for wanting to visit Boston, save for the fact that I just love the city. It’s one of my favorite places in America to visit, and it’s one I imagine springing back to life in a festive and admirable way when the pandemic has been tamed. I suppose there is one thing I want to do specifically, which is head to Fenway Park if fans are being safely admitted to baseball games. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Red Sox fan, but any true fan of live baseball can appreciate a sunny day at an old-fashioned baseball park. Fenway is a great place to be on a late-summer day.
Hot Tip: Pack your running shoes! I know people associate Boston with running because of the marathon, but on any given day of the year — at least when it’s not freezing — Boston is a great running city. Navigation is easy, grid patterns make for long, straight paths without the crowds you get in New York, and there are places where you can run along the water as well. It might be my single favorite city to work up a sweat in.
3. Asheville, North Carolina
Speaking of great cities for activity, I’m also eyeing a getaway to the Appalachian Mountains, and a stay in Asheville. This lovable North Carolina town is nestled right in the mountains, which makes it an extremely convenient destination. It’s a legitimate city where you can find cozy accommodations, plenty of great places to eat and drink, and so on. But it’s also in close proximity to a number of great hikes. Mount Mitchell is the closest real peak to summit, though I have my eye on Grandfather Mountain a short drive northeast out of town. I climbed it years ago and I want to do it again.
Hot Tip: Study the breweries. I’m all about healthy lifestyle, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with stopping off at a great brewery after a long day of hiking (provided you hydrate first). And Asheville is so well regarded on this front that it’s legitimately worth your time to study up. Read up on the options, figure out what people like and where, and maybe keep a list of a few you’d consider visiting. I doubt you’ll be disappointed (and my personal recommendation is Highland).
4. Las Vegas, Nevada
It’s hard not to appreciate the appeal of a little excess following the pandemic, right? I actually like Vegas as an active destination, too. The assorted canyons, state parks, and even lakes in the city’s surroundings make for some good outdoor adventure. But I’m thinking it will be fun to combine a little bit of that adventure with some good old-fashioned Vegas luxury and entertainment. For me, that will mean two things: a bit of time at the card tables, and one or two of the newer spa treatments I’ve been reading about. I’m not one to splurge too much, but a post-pandemic CBD massage seems fair enough.
Hot Tip: Memorize the poker hands and their respective values — at least if you plan on doing any casino gaming. The first time I ever sat at a real poker table (not in Vegas, but still…) I thought I had a reasonable grasp of the game and then found myself forgetting if a straight outranked a flush (it does not) and so on. That’s not very much fun. On the other hand, if you memorize the basics, play at low-stakes tables, and keep it casual, it can be a great time.
5. Seattle, Washington
My other travel musing is about visiting Seattle at some point perhaps late this summer. This one is a little bit different though, because it’s the one of these destinations I’ve never been to! It’s just always been high on my list. I’m drawn to the sort of “indie” café culture vibe the city puts out; I have some friends who have lived there at times and adored their neighborhoods; I’ve even always found the sports teams alluring (and who doesn’t love that there’s a new NHL team called the Seattle Kraken?). It’s just one of those destinations that calls to me, and I’d love the chance to find a decent Airbnb in town, jet on over, and simply explore the place.
Hot Tip: Never having been, I can’t offer any in-the-know Seattle tips. But I will at least recommend that anyone else considering visiting keep in mind there’s whale watching in the area! It’s perhaps the main thing aside from general exploration that I’m excited about for if and when I visit Seattle.
I realize it’s a little bit indulgent to plot out vacations right now, but at the same time I think we all have to allow ourselves these daydreams, and hopefully the real thing in time. And if my own destinations aren’t on your list, I hope they’ve at least given you a few things to think about for your own trips back into the world!