The Best Staycation Spot in Each State

Jackson, Mississippi cityscape at dusk (Photo via SeanPavonePhoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Scott Hartbeck
by Scott Hartbeck
Last updated: 7:00 AM ET, Sun June 14, 2020

Staycation Destinations

For a myriad of reasons, the summer of 2020 is shaping up to be the "season of the staycation". As the gears of travel begin to shake off the rust, it makes for the perfect excuse to explore a bit more of your own hometown (or region) while also supporting your local community. The following are 50 fine examples of Great American staycations.

Alabama: Birmingham

Located in the middle of Alabama, the state's largest city can be easily reached from everywhere in the region and is full of sights to see. The city is loaded with green spaces for exploring, with Railroad Park offering serenity while also honoring the city's artistic and industrial heritage. Vulcan Park (and its famous statue) are also worth seeing, while other attractions include the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

Alaska: Anchorage

A huge percentage of Alaskans live in the south-central section of the state, so Anchorage is the perfect place to tie-up for a day or few. Explore the expanse of Chugach State Park (Flattop Mountain is always an excellent hike) or head deeper into the wilderness via a short hop on a floatplane before taking in the city's urban delights.

Arizona: Sedona

To the Arizonans who have always wanted to get to know the geological marvels of Sedona a little better: now is your time. There are over 400 miles of trails here-each offering a different angle of this special red rock landscape-while the area is also a mecca of wellness, dining and the arts.

Arkansas: Little Rock

Easily reachable from every corner of the state, the Arkansas capital is a springboard to outdoor sights like Pinnacle Mountain State Park and Rattlesnake Ridge Natural Area. In town, a patchwork of interesting neighborhoods and historical sights like Little Rock Central High School and The Clinton Presidential Center beckon. The Arkansas Civil Rights History Audio Tour is also especially poignant and can be done independently.

California: San Luis Obispo County

Roughly halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, this county boasts a coastline lined with breathtaking beaches and cute coastal towns and an interior filled with undulating hills of vineyards. Base yourself by the water or in the town of San Luis Obispo, regardless, you'll quickly be smitten with the "SLO Cal" life.

Colorado: Boulder

Boulder might be only a half-hour from Denver, but this "college town that's so much more than a college town" drums to its own distinct beat. Walk from downtown to the rocky ridges of the Flatirons to enjoy sensational views before taking in the cultural and craft brewing scene that has become synonymous with the city.

Connecticut: Hartford

The state capital is centrally located and full of surprises like the full-of-life Bushnell Park and the ravishing rose garden at Elizabeth Park-the third largest of its kind in the country. After taking in the outdoor spaces and cultural attractions, hop in the car for the hour drive to Kent Falls State Park to see the state's most wondrous waterfall.

Delaware: Wilmington

Wilmington is Delaware's cultural hub and just outside of the city proper lies the beautiful Brandywine Valley, home to scenic drives and magnificent gardens. The city is also home to the Jack A. Markell environmental trail and is the perfect jumping-off point for independent exploration of the Harriet Tubman Byway of the Underground Railroad.

Florida: Orlando

Floridians might not ever get the chance to experience an Orlando staycation with so few crowds, so now is the time to take advantage. Aside from the theme parks, the city is full of attractions like Bok Tower Gardens (an oasis of gardens, trails and mangroves) and Gatorland, while both coasts of Florida are within easy reach for ocean-based day trips.

Georgia: Augusta

This riverside city is an easy to reach Peach State location. Explore the twisting trails of the Phinizy Swamp Nature Park before enjoying a stroll past the eclectic diversions of the Riverwalk and snapping a selfie at the statue of James Brown, the Godfather of Soul.

Hawaii: Kauai

A getaway to the "Garden Isle" will provide a deep breath of fresh air, regardless of where in Hawaii you call home. Explore the rainforest-clad heart of the island-which is home to the wondrous Waimea Canyon-before heading for the coast to see the stunning Napali Cliffs. Hanapepe is a perfect base as this small town has Hollywood good looks and a quirky, yet unmistakably Hawaiian charm.

Idaho: Boise

This outdoor lovers paradise is both the capital of Idaho and its biggest city. Explore downtown and its constantly-evolving food & drink scene or take to the hills and rivers around Boise for splendid isolation and recreation.

Illinois: Springfield

Yes, there are scores of Springfields out there, but the Illinois state capital is truly special. The shadow of former resident Abraham Lincoln looms large here, with sights connected to him like the Lincoln Home National Historic Site and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. Residents of Illinois will also love learning about their state at the Illinois State Museum while outdoor recreation can be enjoyed on the water of Lake Springfield, the largest municipally-owned lake in the state.

Indiana: Indianapolis

All roads in the Hoosier State lead to Indy and the city provides plenty of staycation surprises for residents or folks from other parts of the state. Explore White River State Park for a mix of relaxation and attractions before touring the relaxing sunken gardens and conservatory of Garfield Park or taking a peaceful walk along an urban canal. Solemn contemplation is the order of the day at one of the city's many memorials and monuments (it is home to more than any other city besides Washington DC) while a host of attractions from historic markets to the Madame Walker Theatre-which tells the story of America's first self-made female millionaire-also vie for your attention.

Iowa: Des Moines

Des Moines is the obvious choice for a stay-close-to-home Hawkeye State holiday as it is the cultural and social hub of the state and also is within easy striking distance to outdoor pursuits. Peruse the outdoor art at the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park before taking in the graceful plants at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. Then, grab your bike and head just outside of town to glide down the High Trestle Trail to its iconic and Instagram-famous bridge.

Kansas: Wichita

Wichita has been sliding up the rankings of cool cities in recent years and if you live in the region and haven't taken notice, now is the time to find out why. The city punches well above its weight when it comes to murals and public art installations (perfect for independent viewing or social distancing) while it is also home to 5,000 acres of parks and greenways.

Kentucky: Lexington

The state's second-biggest city is the perfect place for a close-to-home escape in the Bluegrass State. Learn more about man's special kinship with the horse at Kentucky Horse Park before seeing how some of the city's most famous residents lived by admiring a quartet of historic homes that were once the address of names such as Henry Clay and Mary Todd Lincoln. If indoor activities are on the cards, look no further than the host of nearby bourbon distilleries for a day you'll never forget.

Louisiana: Baton Rouge

They don't call the state "Sportsman's Paradise" for nothing, so expect a staycation in the state capital to offer a range of outdoor pursuits. Take to one of the local lakes on a kayak or canoe, walk over wetlands on the boardwalks of the Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center or just meander past the Big Muddy on the splendid Mississippi River Levee Path. Can't miss cultural sights include the River Road African American Museum-which tells the story of black Americans who lived along the Mississippi-and both the old and new state capitol buildings.

Maine: Portland

Vacationland also knows how to be the land of staycations, too. Even if you think you've seen the best and the brightest of Maine's lighthouses, set off to knock a few more off your list and you won't have to go far as the state is home to over 60 of them. Portland is within striking distance of many beacons and the city also is home to a wealth of attractions like the Maine Maritime Museum, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, and a huge range of shops, breweries and eateries that boast an eclectic set of international influences.

Maryland: Baltimore

Whether you already call Charm City home or reside in another part of Maryland, now is the perfect time to explore Baltimore for a few days. Start your experience by taking in views of the city from Federal Hill Park and the Inner Harbor Promenade or admiring the natural scenery of the Jones Falls Trail. Then, take the pulse of the city's past at the myriad of history-heavy attractions (everything from Revolutionary War to Edgar Allan Poe and the Great Blacks in Wax Museum) before seeing the sights connected to boundary-pushing local John Waters and feasting on mouthwatering modern cuisine.

Massachusetts: Plymouth

Outside the biggest city of Boston, Plymouth arguably offers the most important collection of historical sights to explore, but the past is only part of the fun of visiting here. Sure, the 1749 Courthouse, Plymouth Rock and Plimoth Plantation are as enthralling as ever (especially in 2020, the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrim's arrival), but the nearby beaches, gardens and parks are also a delight.

Michigan: Traverse City

The "Cherry Capital" owns a central location in the state, putting it within easy striking distance of most of its residents. Nearby Sleeping Dunes National Park is a great way to get introduced to Traverse City, with its Pierce Stocking scenic drive being a great way to get a lay of this lovely stretch of land. Once you've dug your toes into the dunes, then head off to explore the other outdoor recreation opportunities waiting for you like hiking, fishing and golf. Oh, and while the world-famous Cherry Festival has been postponed, there's plenty of tasty cherry pies to be sample this summer.

Minnesota: Duluth

The second you spot Duluth's iconic aerial life bridge, you know you've arrived somewhere truly special. Start your experience by strolling along the shore of Lake Superior on the 7-mile long Lakewalk before stopping to smell the flowers at the Rose Garden at Leif Erikson Park. Then, park yourself at the Canal Park Shipping Canal to hopefully catch a peek at one of the 900-plus giant ships that pass underneath the city's aforementioned lift bridge each year. Be sure to also visit the Glensheen Mansion and the Clayton-Jackson McGhie Memorial to get an insight into two starkly different chapters of the city's past.

Mississippi: Jackson

The state capital is the hub of culture, history and gastronomy in Mississippi, and even if you already call the region home, there's always more to explore. Stretch your legs in the lush grounds of Fleur's Bluff State Park before digging deeper into the city's pivotal role in the struggle for civil rights at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum (set to reopen on July 7th). Here, you will learn new details about the stories you already know and be astounded at the heroes you haven't heard of yet.

Missouri: Springfield

Plenty of Missourians have passed through Springfield without ever stopping, but now is the perfect time to circle back and see what you are missing. Springfield is a regional hub that manages to keep its small-town charm, while also serving as the jumping-off point for endless outdoor adventures in the Ozarks. Highlights include a stretch of Route 66, Civil War sights and scores of outdoor sculptures and murals.

Montana: Billings

A staycation in Billings will prove to be an eye-opener to all Montanans who haven't stopped to smell the roses of their biggest city before. The city has nearly 50 miles of trails, including an idyllic stretch located beside the Yellowstone River and a section on the Rimrocks, which provides sweeping views. The Western Heritage Center is easily the star cultural attraction in the city as it presents a fascinating look at what makes Western culture so unique.

Nebraska: Lincoln

There's a certain magic that comes from combining a state capital and a cool college town and Lincoln has plenty of it. Both the Sunken Gardens and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Botanical Garden and Arboretum are fine places to grab some fresh air and admire an inspiring collection of flowers and plants while the Pioneers Park Nature Center offers trails and woodlands for exploring. In town, the capitol building itself is gorgeous from the outside and fascinating on the inside and the historic Haymarket district offers a glance back to the past.

Nevada: Reno

From former silver mining boom towns to otherworldly landscapes, the northern part of Nevada is full of open space and surprises-even for people who live in the area-and Reno is the finest place to experience the best of the area. Visit its scenic riverwalk before taking to the water of the Truckee River, where you can surf a real "wave" and experience urban kayaking. The beaches of North Lake Tahoe are within easy reach, where you can enjoy splendid isolation and sunbathe on the fringes of alpine splendor.

New Hampshire: Portsmouth

Stay in your home state but still feel like your getting far away by heading for the pearl of the Seacoast: Portsmouth. The town provides a mix of water-based recreation and historic re-creation that makes it unique in the state. Tour the is a fascinating outdoor history museum Strawberry Banke (set to open July 1) before admiring the town's famous fleet of tugboats that dutifully escort boats to this day. The next day, spend some quality time on the sand at one of the stunning area beaches or take a cruise to the nearby Isles of Shoals.

New Jersey: Clinton

Clinton might not have beaches or an endless roster of A-list attractions, but that won't bother you at all as you're sure to be bowled over by its charming small-town atmosphere. Among the highlights are its famed grist mills, a lovely waterfall and the fact that it's a wonderful base for exploring the splendor of the Skylands region.

New Mexico: Albuquerque

New Mexico's biggest city possesses a captivating mix of cultures and a seemingly neverending list of ways to experience them. Start your deep dive into this high desert gem with a hike to the top of Sandia Peak or a stroll along the trails of Petroglyph National Monument, where you can admire works of ancient art sketched onto rocks. Then, sit down for a meal of authentic, chile-centric New Mexican cuisine.

New York: Finger Lakes

Whether it's been a few years or just a few months since you last experienced the Finger Lakes, it's time to enjoy the rolling hills and serene lakes once more. The solitude and serenity of the lakes make them the perfect locale in these times. For a bit of excitement in the middle of your relaxing getaway, mix in a trip to Letchworth State Park to see its gorgeous gorge.

North Carolina: Brevard

Too many people pass by Brevard on their way to Asheville, but now is the perfect time to right this wrong. Brevard sits in the Blue Ridge foothills and is the perfect base for a whole spectrum of outdoor activities, including tracking down a seemingly endless array of waterfalls.

North Dakota: Fargo

The cultural capital of the region, Fargois is full of places to discover for the first time or re-discover as part of a return trip. Start your time getting to know the city better by taking in a sunset (or sunrise) from one of the local parking garages, a quirky activity popular in this flat region. Then, stroll through town-admiring the range of street art-before checking out the fascinating Rollo the Viking statue and the Rourke Art Gallery (set to reopen June 19th).

Ohio: Columbus

The state capital sits at the heart of Ohio, making it easily reachable from every corner of the Buckeye State. Start your experience here with a walk through the Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, where you will find the world's largest collection of Dale Chihuly artwork in a botanical garden and a fantastical array of flora. Admiring the quaint brick facades of the German Village is also a must-do, as is a stroll among the diverse sights of the Short North Arts District.

Oklahoma: Tulsa

It can be tough sitting in the shadow of OKC, but that just means that Tulsa has more to explore for the adventurous souls who staycation here. To get your bearings on the town, first walk through downtown and gaze upon the Art Deco grandeur of the city's architecture before making for the Tulsa Botanic Garden, where you can have your own space and enjoy the gorgeous scenery. Then, confront the past and the tragic events of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre at the enthralling Greenwood Cultural Center (set to reopen on July 1st).

Oregon: Bend

Bend has been bubbling up for a while now (and we're not just talking about the craft beer), so it's time for regional residents to get here and find out what all the fuss is about. There are endless hiking, biking and river-based ways to enjoy the wide-open spaces of the surrounding region, while the High Desert Museum (scheduled to reopen June 17th) will teach you more about the wildlife, art and history of the area.

Pennsylvania: The Poconos

If there was ever a year to dig deeper into the summer splendor of this breathtaking region, this is the one. Beautiful waterfalls, hiking trails and quiet cabin retreats await in the Poconos, a place where you can truly get away from it all.

Rhode Island: Newport

Now is the time to head to Newport and get to know this iconic coastal city a little better. Take your time while driving Ocean Drive, one of the most scenic roads on the East Coast, making sure to take in all the sweeping views and grand homes. Then, take to the legendary Cliff Walk, where you can get up-close-and-personal with the city's gorgeous Gilded Age homes.

South Carolina: Greenville

If you haven't experienced the mountain majesty of this up-and-coming destination yet, now is the time to get going to Greenville. Start out your Palmetto State staycation by strolling along the Swamp Rabbit Trail, a 20-mile former rail line turned recreation hotspot, before returning to the town and admiring the Reedy River cascades at Falls Park. Cultural and gastronomic delights abound, like the unique shops and cafes of the village of West Greenville and the 13 African-American cultural sites noted by the South Carolina African-American Heritage Commission.

South Dakota: The Black Hills

It's finally time for locals to stake their claim in the beloved Black Hills. Drive the meandering mountain roads so popular with motorcyclists, admiring the seemingly endless vistas and enchanting pine-covered peaks while admiring Mount Rushmore, the Badlands and the saluting the bravery of Crazy Horse.

Tennessee: Chattanooga

Nestled in an especially scenic position on the Tennessee River, Chattanooga has been chugging up the city rankings lately, and now is the time to take a deep dive for yourself. The city is surrounded by mountains, so it is home to a wealth of hiking and biking trails (including renowned river rafting runs) and in the town itself, you will find a mix of sights, from cultural centers to both old fashioned and hip cafes and restaurants.

Texas: Waco

There's a reason why Waco's nickname is the "Heart of Texas", and it's not just about the prime location in the center of the state. Here, you can experience all that makes the Lone Star State special alongside attractions unique to the city. Start with a breezy stroll along the Brazos River on the Waco Riverwalk before admiring the city's signature suspension bridge and cattle drive statues. No trip to the city is complete without a stop at the Dr. Pepper museum or the Magnolia Market-the home base for fans of home decor rockstars Chip & Joanna Gaines.

Utah: St. George

Now is the time to get to know this gorgeous resort town in the far southwest of the state. After exploring the stunning scenery at Snow Canyon State Park-the perfect place to get physical while practicing physical distancing-and making a run to nearby Zion National Park, you'll know why so many people have been making a permanent move to St. George.

Vermont: Burlington

Begin your staycation in Burlington with a bicycle ride on the waterfront, which (in the summer) connects to the gorgeous Lake Champlain islands via a truly unique bike ferry in the summer. Once you have your bearings, walk through downtown to admire the fountains and interesting architecture of Church Street Marketplace.

Virginia: Richmond

Richmond's unique allure starts on the water of the James River, as this is the only place in the country where you can experience raft class 3 & 4 in an urban environment. Continue the outdoor theme at Maymont, a graceful park and estate home to gorgeous sweeping gardens before delving into the city's rich array of African-American heritage sights and culinary/craft beer delights.

Washington: Spokane

Slip away from it all in the far west of the state in Spokane. The town is the perfect base for a range of outdoor pursuits (everything from mountain paths to lakes and rivers are waiting for you) in addition to being home to a wonderful set of waterfalls in the heart of downtown. The best place to view them is the A Place of Truth viewing point, which pays homage to Spokane's indigenous heritage.

West Virginia: Harper's Ferry

Not only is Harper's Ferry a wonderful jumping-off point to the wilds of the surrounding West Virginia countryside (don't miss the chance to climb to The Point and see parts of West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia) it played a pivotal role in the history of the country. Here, you can learn all about the abolitionist John Brown and how his raid here helped spark the Civil War.

Wisconsin: Madison

You'll find more than 15,000 acres of lakes within Madison, which means that being by the water (or having fun on it) is going to be a major part of your close-to-home holiday here. You'll also have plenty of space to yourself at the Olbrich Botanical gardens or as you whiz through the city's over 200 miles of cycle paths.

Wyoming: Laramie

Outdoor adventure, Western heritage and college town buzz come together in lovely Laramie, a town that is sure to surprise even the most seasoned traveler. Explore the expanses of the Wyoming wilderness before digging deep into the city's world-leading role in the women's suffrage movement.

Staying close to home doesn't mean you have to miss out on an adventure.

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Scott Hartbeck

Scott Hartbeck

Born in the USA but now based in England, Scott has been writing about travel for over 10 years. He specializes in Europe, rail...

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