While borders may remain closed to unrestricted tourism for certain international destinations like Europe and Australia, domestic travel in 2021 is still a possibility. Airlines have adjusted flight schedules and added several new domestic routes to meet the changing landscape. And with airfares at extremely low levels for flights within the U.S., this may be a great time to explore the diverse countryside of the good old USA.
Depending on the state you’re traveling to, you may still be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test in order to avoid quarantine. With accessible testing centers and at-home kits provided by some airlines, testing for travel has become much easier since the start of the pandemic. From the beaches of Florida to the unending daylight of Alaska, here are eight U.S. destinations you can travel to this year without the need to carry a passport.
Approximately 30 miles from Glacier National Park, you’ll find Kalispell, Montana, a quaint town with plenty of outdoor and adventure activities. It’s home to several mountain bike trails such as the Foy’s to Blacktail Trails. If you’d rather get out on the water, you’ll find water sports like canoeing, skiing, fishing, and paddle boarding at Flathead Lake. And, of course, don’t forget to visit some of the 1 million acres of parkland at Glacier National Park. In the summer, you can drive the entire Going-to-the-Sun road through the park from west to east.
Flights to Kalispell: Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell (FCA) will see more airlines and more seasonal service in 2021. Delta, Alaska, and United flew the most passengers to Kalispell over the past year via their respective hubs in Salt Lake City, Seattle, and Denver. This summer, look for new service on the following routes.
- Los Angeles to Kalispell on Alaska Airlines (May 20)
- San Diego to Kalispell on Alaska Airlines (May 20) and Allegiant (May 28)
- Minneapolis to Kalispell on Sun Country Airlines (May 26)
- Charlotte to Kalispell on American Airlines (June 5)
- New York to Kalispell on JetBlue (July 1)
The 50th State in the middle of the Pacific Ocean will give you a far-off escape without leaving the country. It may be possible to watch lava flow into the ocean at Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island. On the island of Maui, take the Road to Hana for incredible coastal views, waterfalls, and a cruise through the tropical rainforest. The most-visited island of Oahu, home to Honolulu, offers world-class beaches, challenging hikes, and historical sites such as Pearl Harbor. Expect testing requirements to remain in place throughout 2021, which means you’ll need to provide a negative Covid-19 test taken within three days of your departure in order to avoid a strict mandatory quarantine.
Flights to Hawaii: In 2020, several airlines cut service to Hawaii as the island was closed for tourists. It reopened with extensive testing requirements in October, and going into 2021, Hawaii will see expanded service from some new cities on the mainland. Most routes will pass through a major West Coast hub, but look for new service on the following routes in 2021.
- Long Beach to Maui on Southwest (March 11)
- Orlando to Honolulu on Hawaiian Airlines (March 14)
- Ontario, CA to Honolulu on Hawaiian Airlines (March 16)
- Austin to Honolulu on Hawaiian Airlines (April 21)
- Charlotte to Honolulu on American Airlines (May 6)
- Orange County to Honolulu on United (May 6)
- Newark to Maui on United (June 3)
- Chicago to Kona on United (June 3)
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Located in the valley between Gros Ventre and the Teton mountain ranges, Jackson Hole is an ideal base to explore the great outdoors. The top attraction is Grand Teton National Park where you’ll find over 240 miles of hiking trails and the second highest peak in Wyoming, with Grand Teton reaching 13,700 feet. In the summer, you can reach the south entrance to Yellowstone National park in about one hour once U.S. Highway 191 opens after its seasonal winter closure.
Flights to Jackson Hole: Fly into the only airport within a U.S. national park. United and Delta fly the most passengers into Jackson Hole via hubs in Denver and Salt Lake City, but we’ll see a huge increase in accessibility in 2021 thanks to several new seasonal routes from the following cities.
- Denver to Jackson Hole on Frontier Airlines (April 29)
- Minneapolis to Jackson Hole on Sun Country Airlines (May 26)
- Los Angeles to Jackson Hole on Allegiant (June 2)
- Phoenix/Mesa to Jackson Hole on Allegiant (June 2)
- Las Vegas to Jackson Hole on Allegiant (June 4)
- Reno to Jackson Hole on Allegiant (June 4)
- Boston to Jackson Hole on American Airlines (June 5)
Key West, Florida
Fly as far south as possible in the continental U.S. with a visit to Key West. The city’s residents briefly claimed a “tongue-in-cheek” micronation, dubbed The Conch Republic, after U.S. Border Patrol set up a checkpoint on Highway 1 at the Monroe County / Miami-Dade County border in 1982. The name has stuck as a boost to tourism and locals affectionately still call themselves Key West Conchs. If you visit around Halloween, you can experience Fantasy Fest, which is a week-long celebration of body paint, parades, and street fairs.
Flights to Key West: If you’re already in Florida, you can avoid the traffic driving along the Florida Keys by flying directly into Key West on Silver Airways or American. Otherwise, the most common routes are on Delta via Atlanta or American via Miami. JetBlue added new service earlier this year from both Boston and New York and you can look for the following routes to be added this summer on Allegiant.
- Nashville to Key West (June 2)
- Pittsburgh to Key West (June 3)
- Orlando/Sanford to Key West (June 4)
- Cincinnati to Key West (June 9)
The Last Frontier is a great place to visit for outdoor activities in the summer. Denali National Park is home to the highest mountain peak in North America, with a summit of 20,310 feet. Inside the park, you’ll see a range of wildlife, and might even have a chance to spot some of Alaska’s “Big Five”: moose, caribou, wolf, Dall sheep, and grizzly bears. Fairbanks is a great place to try and catch the northern lights between late August and late April.
Flights to Alaska: Alaska Airlines offers the most routes to/from the mainland, but there are a few notable new routes on other carriers being added. In addition to flights from other hubs, look for these new options in 2021.
- Dallas to Fairbanks on American (May 6)
- Anchorage to Fairbanks on United (May 6)
- Detroit to Anchorage on Delta (May 28)
- Los Angeles to Anchorage on Delta (May 28)
- New York-JFK to Anchorage on Delta and Eastern Airlines (May 28)
- Minneapolis to Fairbanks on Sun Country (May 29)
- Chicago to Fairbanks on American (June 3)
- Denver to Anchorage on Alaska Airlines (June 17)
- Minneapolis to Anchorage on Alaska Airlines (June 19)
You don’t have to travel far off the coast of Massachusetts to reach an island full of historic homes, fresh seafood, and some fantastic lighthouses. In Nantucket, you’ll also be able to learn about whaling back in the day with a visit to the Whaling Museum. And if you’re looking to get out on the water, you can contact Endeavour Sailing Excursions. They even offer a Pirate Hunter Adventure with stories and games to entertain the kids.
Flights to Nantucket: Believe it or not, Nantucket is the second busiest airport in Massachusetts. Cape Air provides year-round service from Boston, New York, and a few other New England cities. Look for seasonal service out of a few other hubs. In 2021, there will be new service on the following routes.
- Chicago to Nantucket on American (June 26)
- Newark to Nantucket on JetBlue (July 1)
St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
Flying to the Caribbean doesn’t mean you have to leave U.S. territory. Enjoy the island life with a visit to the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2021. Magens Bay Beach is a popular stretch of sand and there could be fewer crowds in 2021 since cruise ships have been grounded. There’s also the opportunity to ride a cable car up to Paradise Point, where you’ll get amazing views as far as St. Croix. Snorkeling, scuba diving, and all water sports are available for those looking to be active in the turquoise waters of the Caribbean.
Flights to St. Thomas Most major airlines fly into St. Thomas from their hub cities with American Airlines carrying the most passengers by far. Delta also has a decent share of the market. Recently, Frontier Airlines started new service from both Orlando and Miami so Spirit has some new ultra-low-cost carrier competition. And JetBlue is adding a new route this summer to compete directly with United.
- Newark to St. Thomas on JetBlue (July 1)
South by Southwest may be virtual in 2021, but there is still plenty to see in the capital of Texas. Catch the sunset up on Mount Bonnel, which has views of Lake Austin. Just south of town and west of the airport, you’ll find McKinney Falls State Park where you can enjoy a swim, mountain biking, or just go for a hike to check out the wildlife. And you can’t leave Texas without tasting the BBQ. If you’re up for a potentially long wait in line, Kerlin BBQ consistently delivers quality meats and sides out of a simple food truck. It’s open Friday to Sunday, 11-4 (or until all ingredients are sold out).
Flights to Austin: Several airlines have multiple flights to Austin after many route expansions over the past few years. Southwest Airlines still carries the most passengers by far, but American Airlines is looking to gain some ground with several new routes announced for 2021. Here’s a look at those and a few other new flights on other airlines.
- Honolulu to Austin on Hawaiian (April 21)
- Boston to Austin on American (May 6)
- Las Vegas to Austin on American (May 6)
- Orlando to Austin on American (May 6)
- Nashville to Austin on American (May 6)
- New Orleans to Austin on American (May 6)
- Bozeman to Austin on Allegiant (May 27)
- Tampa to Austin on American (June 3)
- Aspen to Austin on American (June 5)
- Destin/Fort Walton Beach to Austin on American (June 5)
- Pensacola to Austin on Spirit (June 10)
- Raleigh/Durham to Austin on American (July 2)
- Fayetteville/Bentonville to Austin on Allegiant (July 2)
- Washington-IAD to Austin on American (August 17)