Skip to content

TPG readers reveal their summer road trip and 'nearcation' destinations

May 31, 2020
11 min read
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

As states start to reopen and travel slowly resumes, many of us are sticking closer to home for summer vacations instead of flying somewhere exotic. For some, planning a road trip is a new adventure; others are returning to family-favorite destinations or exploring further afield.

We asked TPG Lounge readers to share their favorite spots for a "nearcation" — somewhere you can drive to from where you live. Here are some of our favorite answers. (Some responses have been lightly edited for style and clarity).

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Exploring America's national parks

Now that national parks are starting to reopen to travelers, numerous TPG readers are angling for an outdoorsy, inexpensive road trip to take in the country's beauty.

"Just bought a lifetime pass from our National Park Service. Hoping for a few road trips!" — Laura H. W.

"I'm in northern California and will be heading to a place outside Yosemite and on the Tuolumne." — Jodi M.

"I'm on Maui, I will drive up to Haleakala National Park today. It opened conditionally today, no charge, and should be really nice without tourists, just like the rest of the island. I haven't been up there in at least 10 years. Yes, we are suffering economically, but every coin has two sides. The view from up there is priceless." — Peter P.

Related: 5 national parks to visit before your kids leave the house

Haleakala, Maui. (Photo by Darren Murph/The Points Guy

"Kona or Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Today we scuba dive Miloli’i." — Grant W.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

"Planning a trip to the Smokies from Cleveland." — Kat W. B.

"Converting my SUV to a 'car camper' and invested in gear for long-term camping. We will be hitting some national parks next month!" — Iris K.

"I'm Madison, Wisconsin based and thinking of going to Door County and Bayfield, Wisconsin (Lake Superior is just gorgeous), or just renting a cabin in the middle of nowhere. Depending on how things go I might head to the Badlands later in the summer." — Katy S.

Related: Exploring national parks: Where to stay using points

Coastal vacations, lakes and beating the heat

Some TPG readers offered tips to escape the hot summer weather by heading to the beach, taking in cooler mountain climes or enjoying the Great Lakes.

"I miss living in Boston. So many amazing spots on the New England coast to go in the summer. Love Cape Cod, Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Portland, Maine!" — Gloria L.

"We live in Boston and usually take our dogs with us to Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Lake George, New York every summer. I don't know about this year though; I think it will be harder to find dog-friendly restaurants and stuff even when places start opening, and hotels don't usually like the dogs left in the room." — Kristen L.

"In Arizona, summers get hot hot hot! We are currently staycationing wherever the best pools are open. Luckily our school schedule is modified year-round so we only have a seven-week summer break which started yesterday. I'm in the Phoenix area. We have great resorts that have water parks included; some are still not open due to lack of staffing but some are open which is awesome since it's supposed to be 109 F Friday." — Mandy S.

"Maine has a mandatory 14-day quarantine for out-of-state visitors through the summer, so you can still go but you wouldn’t be able to (legally) do anything beyond relaxing at your rental — not that there’s anything wrong with that! I’m trying to figure out a destination myself." — Chris H.

Related: Going on a road trip this summer? Consider using these credit cards

Baxter State Park, Maine. (Photo by Joe Klementovich/Getty Images.)

"I'm in North Carolina. Planning to spend a week on the Virginia Blue Ridge and a week at the North Carolina beaches." — Marci H. P

"I'm in Tucson, looking for driving to either beach or mountains to escape 104 F heat. I was supposed to land in Rome today. Beach would be San Diego area; mountains would be Arizona White Mountains or maybe Colorado Rockies." — Sara V.

"From Chicago here too. Cedar Point in Ohio and Lake Erie are awesome, about a five-hour drive. I think they're opening this year, last I read they were going to open later this season." — Erica M.

"Living in Tampa, Orlando and Miami are just 1.5 and 3.5 hours away. Theme parks and beaches. — Brandon B. W.

Related: When will the Disney parks reopen?

Vacationing on the cheap

Other TPG readers are lucky to live in areas that offer plentiful outdoor activities and attractions that can make for an affordable summer staycation, or opportunities to stay with family and friends for a quick getaway.

"I don’t know if hotels are open or not but every summer I head to Scottsdale, Arizona because luxury hotels are deeply discounted and don’t have a ton of guests. It’s nice to have their pools." — Nicole S.

"Drove to San Antonio from Chicago. It was a long drive but stayed with a friend who has a pool. Very nice to get out of the city. Taking all the necessary precautions all along the way. It wasn’t bad — Dallas would have been a lot easier than San Antonio (four hours less); broke it up into two days and stayed in a nice hotel in Little Rock. It helps that I had a free place to stay." — Tim S.

"I live in Boise. This city is amazing on its own (not kidding) but within one hour in each direction, we have fantastic wine country, arid desert, beautiful reservoir/water and insanely gorgeous forested mountains with hot springs and trails. We own acreage in the forest and have been spending time up there camping without cell service and drinking Idaho wine. It's nice." — Kristen J.

"Western slope of Sierra Foothills here. I won't go anywhere crowded until this pandemic is over. I don't want to impact small resort communities. I will take my kayak uphill to paddle/pedal in some smaller lakes. Maybe take a ride over Highway 88 to see the five passes over the mountains." — Cate M.

"I live in New Braunfels — the staycation capital of Texas. I don’t have to go far." — Dave A.

"Just had to drive to Hudson Valley to finally pack up daughter’s dorm room and it was just beautiful. With access to a private house in Maine, we will stock up on food, live lakeside and self-quarantine on the water." — Cheryl D.

Related: Tips for taking a cheap vacation on a budget

Now's a good time to consider a staycation. (Photo by Peter Amend/Getty Images.)

"I'll be spending all my free time in Wisconsin. I just enjoyed a great long weekend in the Northwoods boating, golfing, eating/drinking at restaurants and bars, and feeling like normal again." — Dan H.

"We took our trailer to Door County last weekend, it was wonderful to be up there again! We’ll go back there and hopefully to Minnesota and Colorado. Canceled Paris for August." — Anna K.

"Cincinnati area — we will be going to the Lake Erie Shores and Islands region of Ohio at least once and possibly a trip to the Smokies. Cedar Point if they're open. While we are roller coaster nerds, we like just going up for the whole region. I'd like to support the region that's struggling while the park is closed!" — Dara E.

"Portland, Oregon: We are in a great spot for mountain hiking, waterfalls, beach day trips, wine country and working on our McMenamins Passport when they open up; a really fun chain of brewpubs with local art and often fun, quirky historic buildings or interesting locations (and the occasional boring strip mall)." — CK S.

"I will be visiting the Columbia Gorge Hotel in Hood River, Oregon this weekend. My favorite place." — Taran P.

Related: Nearly a third of the country is ready to travel this summer — a TPG special report

Featured image by Getty Images/Image Source

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

80,000 bonus points
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more