Lonely Planet Writer
Rather than going with the flow and flocking to the same familiar destinations, take the road a little less traveled. Here are eight less expected, more remote, but just as exciting road trips to take in the US.
Editor’s note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip and always follow government advice.
From Philadelphia to Bucks County, Pennsylvania
About 45 miles north of Center City, the Greater-Philadelphia county steeped in Revolutionary-era history offers plenty of socially-distant (but still fun) adventures. Take a self-guided driving tour of the region’s 12 historic covered bridges. Pick your own peaches, then grab picnic provisions from the market on site at Solebury Orchards or Shady Brook Farm.
From there, claim a spot on the lush grounds of Fonthill Castle, or at one of the area’s many sprawling parks and nature preserves, such as Washington Crossing Historic Park – the 500-acre state park where the George Washington and the Continental Army crossed the Delaware River 1776.
BYO bike (or rent one) and pedal down the tranquil Delaware Canal Towpath. For a one-of-a-kind hiking experience, hit Ringing Rocks park, and bring a hammer – the rocks ring like bells when struck. The Bucks County Ale Trail includes several spots with outdoor seating, including the riverfront Great Barn Brewery taproom in New Hope.
Right across the Delaware in Lambertville, pick up a perfectly-charred Neapolitan pizza at Liberty Hall, along with fresh salad and cannoli, to the Raritan Canal Path just steps away. Finish the day with a sundae atop a crispy, sugar-coated Liege waffle at Nina’s Waffles, and turn in at one of the many small B&Bs in the area, like the 4-room Galvanized America Inn & Art Gallery, a 1750s farmhouse on 6-acres with a firepit and pool.
From Washington, DC to Irvington, Virginia
The capital city isn’t far from the Chesapeake Bay coast – minus the city’s notorious traffic, driving due east gets you there in less than an hour, where you’ll find… everyone else from DC.
Instead, go a little farther south to Irvington in Lancaster County, on Virginia’s Northern Neck peninsula. The region is bound by the Bay, plus the Rappahannock and Potomac Rivers, and is known for, among other coastal delights, the Virginia Oyster Trail.
Make The Tides Inn your base – the charming property overlooking Carter’s Creek dates back to 1947, and today offers a mix of nostalgic and contemporary activities, including electric boats for cruising the water, complimentary bikes, fishing and crabbing, lawn games, and roasting s’mores over a fire pit.
Don’t miss the baked oysters at the Chesapeake, the resort’s onsite restaurant (where you can dine on the open-air terrace), and to check out the source, visit Merroir – the Rappahannock Oyster Company’s tasting room, overlooking the river where the oysters are grown and harvested.
From Atlanta to Greensboro, Georgia
A little over an hour from Atlanta, Greensboro, Georgia, is home to 19,000-acre freshwater Lake Oconee and a slightly more easygoing pace of life. Also find several world-class golf courses, Oconee Brewing Company, with brewed-on-site beer and lawn games, and lakefront campgrounds like Old Salem or Parks Ferry.
Alternatively, for a more indulgent getaway, check into a cottage or lake house at the Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee. The placid property now offers enhanced social distancing concierge amenities like private chefs and grocery shopping services. Take advantage of myriad lake activities like kayaking and water-skiing during the day, and in the evening, roast s’mores or dine by a personal chiminea bonfire.
From Boston to White Mountains, New Hampshire
While most Boston-based road trippers are heading toward the coast, turn inland instead, to the rugged (and remote) White Mountains. Less than a three-hour drive from Boston, the northern part of the Appalachian Mountains has trails ranging in length and difficulty for all levels of hikers. Cool off with a swim in nearby Squam Lake, and save time to sample the local beverages.
In the nearby town of Tamworth, Tamworth Distilling just launched socially distant cocktail classes. The private, hour-long classes take place in the distillery’s riverfront backyard, and include how-tos using the distillery’s small-bath-made spirits and cordials.
A five-minute drive from Tamworth leads to the Farmstand, a quaint, four-room inn serving locally sourced breakfast with farm fresh eggs, freshly baked scones and housemade sausage. A few more minutes down the road, French glamping company Huttopia’s got cabins and plush tents right on a lake, with activities like canoeing and stand-up paddleboarding, badminton, and tennis.
From Las Vegas to Grand Canyon, Arizona
If the Grand Canyon has always been on your bucket list, now feels like the right time to visit. About four hours from Las Vegas and six hours from Albuquerque, the epic natural wonder has trails for novice and expert hikers alike, all with unparalleled views. There are plenty of campgrounds in the area, but for something a little more special, book a safari-inspired tent with Under Canvas.
Located about 25 minutes south of the South Rim in Valle, Arizona, the campground sits on 160 acres of piñon and juniper forest. Each stylishly designed tent is outfitted with a king-sized mattress, a wood-burning stove, and, blissfully after a long day of traversing the canyon, a private bathroom with running water.
From San Francisco to Lake Tahoe and Hope Valley, California
Visit the quieter north shore of Lake Tahoe, about 200 miles from San Francisco, to explore the beaches, hiking and mountain biking trails, but make your base in Hope Valley, located in Alpine County – the least populated county in California. Book a room (or cabin, campsite, or restored Vintage Spartan 1951 trailer) at the newly-opened Wylder Hope Valley.
About 20 miles south of the lake, the 165-acre resort has plenty of social-distance-friendly activities like fly fishing, kayaking, or peaceful wildflower walks. Or take relaxation to the next level with a dip in the natural hot springs, lounge in a hammock, or book the private, wood-fired sauna.
From Los Angeles to St George, Southern Utah
While most visitors make for its national parks – including Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Arches – Utah’s State Parks are an incredible draw in their own right.
About 385 miles from Los Angeles, or a scenic two-hour drive from Las Vegas, St George is an easy jumping-off point to explore the 20,000-acre Sand Hollow State Park, with a warm-water reservoir for swimming, and Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, with the roughly 10,000-year-old dunes perfect for exploring via ATV or a hike, and, as with most locales in the Utah, the stargazing is unparalleled.
The state is home to more than 300 public campgrounds, or for a more unique lodging, book a yurt, teepee, airstream, or Conestoga wagon.
From New York City to Rhode Island
Forgo the Hamptons and head for the low-key Rhode Island seaside. In Narragansett, find miles of sandy state and public beaches, plus scenic hiking at the Black Point Trailhead, which winds along the rocky coastline. Visit Narragansett Surf & Skate to buy a new board or arrange a private surf lesson, and refuel with a lobster roll at Monahan’s Clam Shack, steamed lobster clam bake at Champlin’s Seafood, or Italian grinder and frozen lemonade at the 133-year-old St Clair Annex.
Inns, hotels, and cottage rentals for every budget abound along the coast. Classic favorites include the retro boutique Break Hotel, about a mile from the Judith Point Lighthouse in Narragansett, and the Weekapaug Inn, a charmingly cedar-shingled hotel overlooking Quonochontaug Pond with private beach access and complimentary use of sailboats, kayaks, and peddle boats.