The Top Ten Best Places In America To Travel Right Now And Avoid The Pandemic

From: Forbes - Peter Lane Taylor

Six months ago I wrote about the top ten best places in America to travel at the time and avoid the risk of exposure to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To compile this list, I overlaid more than half a dozen maps and criteria like the CDC COVID Data Tracker, the Harvard-Brown COVID Risk Level Map, and TripAdvisor reviews, including current case counts, population density, average weather, public health guidance, proximity to outdoor activities, and drive times from at least two major American metropolises.

I also looked at new cases per 100,000 people, 7-day rolling averages, total cases, and total deaths to assess the current coronavirus infection risk relative to historical trends dating back to the beginning of the pandemic.

Almost half a year later a lot has changed. An effective COVID-19 vaccine is no longer a Warp Speed pipe dream. More than 1.8 million doses are being administered to Americans every day, increasing herd immunity. The “winter surge” experts predicted has blown through without the potentially catastrophic hospital overloads and fatalities they feared. On a national scale, case counts and new infections are down across the board even as more states and cities slowly ease their grip on residents and businesses and open up.

Some things also remain the same. In many places, limitations still exist on dining, shopping, entertainment, indoor gatherings, and schools. More than 100,000 small businesses including bars, restaurants, hotels, and tourist attractions still are temporarily closed or shuttered altogether. Physically, we all remain anxious whether we admit it or not about being around anyone who’s not in our “pod”.

Yet with winter unwinding, there’s finally some hope that warm weather will return, businesses will start gradually re-opening, parks will re-fill, and people will become less afraid of one another. And with that comes the unthinkable proposition that having fun finally might become normal again soon.

So I decided to cut through the data again and rank the top ten places to travel right now and avoid the pandemic. There’s no better time than right now to start reawakening that last shred of spontaneity you have left before it’s too late for summer.

The small businesses in these towns also will thank you for showing up, spending money, and supporting the local economy. The pandemic is still far from over and everyone needs all the help they can get to pull through.

(NOTE: All of the COVID-19 data noted below are based on the most currently available data as of February 20, 2021 from the CDC COVID Data Tracker and the Harvard-Brown COVID Risk Level Map. All travelers need to assess their own comfort level as well as adhere to local and state public health guidelines.)

5.) Natchez

The upside: 300-years of American history meets a vibrant food, arts, and nightlife scene with a deep side Southern hospitality. Natchez’s historic downtown is an Instagrammers heaven lined with dozens of meticulously kept Antebellum mansions and churches and walking tours with breathtaking views of the Mississippi river. The Magnolia Bluffs Casino offers adults some after-hours time to unwind and dine watching the sun set over Louisana. The hand-crafted Southern home-cooking with a modern twist would win awards if anyone knew about it.


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