Even as some regions of the country begin the reopening process, the US is seeing a surge in new cases of COVID-19, with states that have started lifting restrictions getting hit particularly hard. But that hasn’t kept antsy Americans from dreaming of a getaway. 

For many, flying is still out of the question, and with the government continuing to advise against international travel, they’re looking for destinations closer to home. Reps for the vacation-rental platform Vrbo say searches are skyrocketing compared to last year – and these are the US destinations getting the most attention this summer. 

Aerial/Drone Photo of a beautiful sunset over Gulf Shores Alabama
Gulf Shores is famous for its white-sand beaches and great weather © nick1803/Getty Images/iStockphoto

1. Gulf Shores, Alabama

Ten years on from the Deep Horizon oil spill that devastated its beaches, Southern Alabama’s Gulf Shores is once again known for its family-friendly atmosphere and its sparkling white sand. Nearby Gulf State Park has also seen a host of improvements, adding miles of biking and hiking trails, pine-tree-lined paths, and elevated boardwalks through marshes teeming with wildlife.  

Miramar Beach © Visit Florida.jpg
Miramar and Rosemary are two of the 16 beaches comprising South Walton © Visit Florida

2. Miramar and Rosemary Beaches, Florida

Located on northwest Florida’s Gulf Coast, Miramar and Rosemary beaches are two of 16 oceanfront neighborhoods that make up the larger South Walton community. Miramar has a diverse population and resort-oriented activities, while Rosemary is more charming, with good dining and plenty of natural beauty on display. (The pristine beaches go without saying.) 

Myrtle Beach dunes © Vrbo.jpg
Myrtle Beach hosts 19 million visitors each year © Vrbo

3. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Between the mini-golf, the bars, the arcades, and the water sports, it’s tough to be bored in Myrtle Beach. The 60-mile stretch of Atlantic-facing sand receives 19 million visitors annually, but given its reputation as a party town, it’s a surprisingly kid-friendly spot.

Panama City Beach, Florida, view of Front Beach Road at night
Panama City Beach is not the place for a chill getaway © RobHainer/Getty Images

4. Panama City Beach, Florida

A spring-break destination with high-rises galore, Panama City Beach is not the place for a restful vacation. Still, its reefs lure in a plethora of marine life, its beaches are wheelchair-accessible, and its roster of activities can appease even the biggest adrenaline junkies

Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains © Sean Pavone/Getty Images

5. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

The gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg’s quirky downtown caters to the crowds, with restaurants and distilleries in abundance, while Pigeon Forge is best known as the home of Dollywood. 

From windsurfing to hiking, there's plenty to do on Maui © EpicStockMedia/Shutterstock

6. Maui, Hawaii

Maui’s natural beauty needs no introduction: From Keawakapu Beach to Haleakalā National Park to Wailua Falls, the island’s lush greenery, golden sands, and rugged craters speak for themselves. Whether it’s hiking or surfing, dining or drinking, there’s no shortage of entertainment to be had. 

Hilton Head Island is a reliable go-to for East Coast families © Larry Knupp/Shutterstock

7. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

The state’s largest barrier island and the country’s first eco-planned community, Hilton Head is a go-to summer vacation spot for families up and down the East Coast. Hop on a boat to go dolphin-watching, paddle through the surrounding creeks and marshes by kayak, or rent a bike and peddle to your heart’s content.

Destin, FL sunrise
Florida's Gulf Coast boasts emerald-green waters and white-sand beaches © kimberford/Getty Images

8. Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Another Gulf Coast town, Fort Walton Beach boasts emerald-green waters and the ubiquitous white-sand beaches, but it also has public and private golf courses and stellar big-game fishing offshore. 

500px Photo ID: 78042047 - This is Wellfleet, Ma in Cape Cod. A 3 shot handheld HDR
Cape Cod's Wellfleet draws a college crowd © Christopher Cove/500px

9. Cape Cod, Massachusetts

With nearly 560 miles of coastline playing host to 15 towns, each with a distinct personality, Cape Cod provides a postcard-perfect experience for travelers of all stripes. Provincetown is the epicenter of LGBTQ summer life, and families flock to Old Silver Beach, while Falmouth, Wellfleet, and Craigville Beach pull a college crowd. 

Driving Across Carova Beach in North Carolina
The Outer Banks's Carova Beach © CatLane/Getty Images

10. Outer Banks, North Carolina

An array of barrier islands and coastal communities make up the OBX, as the Outer Banks are affectionately known, and whether you’re looking for a down-home experience or something more well-heeled, you’re sure to find it here, from the protected national seashore of Hatteras Island to the nightlife of Nags Head. 

You may also like: 

These are the US states which still require travelers to quarantine
Airbnb: top ten trending destinations in the USA
An expert's safety checklist if you need to travel now

Explore related stories

Waikiki Beach and buildings, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii, USA


Honolulu is the latest Hawaiian county to implement a new tourist tax

Dec 17, 2021 • 2 min read