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Our Favorite U.S. Summer Escapes: Where the Indagare Team Loves to Vacation, From Nantucket to Jackson Hole

As lockdown policies are lifting across the United States, and national parks, hotels, restaurants and more are gradually reopening with a new set of health safety and social-distancing procedures, members of the Indagare team are heading to their favorite summer escapes (or dreaming up plans to get back on the road soon). From Nantucket to Jackson Hole, these are the places that our team is exploring in July and August—with their insider tips for where to find the best lobster rolls and cocktails in New England, recommendations for the most beautiful hiking routes off the beaten path in the West, and thoughts on how to approach traveling in the new COVID-19 landscape. 

Should you choose to travel this summer, the Indagare team is monitoring the reopening phases across the U.S. and is in close contact with all of our partners to confirm that they are implementing enhanced disinfecting protocols and respecting social-distancing guidelines to create experiences that are as safe as possible for our travelers. Contact us for more information on how you can plan a safe and seamless getaway to one of these destinations, or beyond.

Castine and Kennebunkport, Maine

Says Director of Content Strategy Jen Barr: “The promise of returning to a place that I love again is one way I travel. Castine, Maine, the small town I go back to every summer, is such a spot—an out-of-the-way historic village, down a long peninsula off Route 1. A one-of-a-kind village, it lies midway between Camden and Bar Harbor as the crow flies and is close to Acadia National Park. It’s the kind of place where you can walk on a rocky beach in search of starfish, sea urchins or sand dollars; stroll to town for freshly baked blueberry muffins and coffee or sandwiches from MarKel’s; or watch the boats go by with a lobster roll in hand by the town dock at the Captain’s Catch, and look out to the islands, Blue Hill or the Camden Hills. Like a lot of small Maine towns, you might not find much to do: but that is precisely the point. Check out Josh and Susan Adam’s Gallery, grab an ice cream cone at the Castine Variety or head to the Wilson Museum to learn about the town’s revolutionary past; rent a kayak or take a bike ride (with help from Castine Kayak); hike in the Witherle Woods; or head to Mount Desert Island for a full-day of hiking or a drive up Cadillac Mountain. Right now, I am looking forward to the day when self-quarantining or COVID-free test results for non-residents within the preceding 72 hours will no longer be required. Whether you make it all the way to Acadia or only as far as Kennebunkport, a slower-paced summer trip on the Maine coast, perhaps featuring a stay at one of our favorite properties like Cliff House or Hidden Pond (which are open with new disinfecting and social-distancing protocols), feels like just the right speed for a COVID-Summer retreat.”

Related: Summer Road Trip Ideas: The Best U.S. Hotels You Can Drive To

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Says Trip Designer Caroline Hansen: “In the summer, Jackson Hole has so much life and is such a fun, cowboy-style town. I always love spending the day hiking around Grand Teton National Park—and if I am feeling more ambitious, driving all the way to Yellowstone for the day. Evenings there are crisp and, with the stars out, absolutely breathtaking. I often will head to Amangani for a cocktail at sunset, as they have the best views around, and then go to my favorite restaurant in town —the Snake River Grill—for a fabulous meal.”

Related: The Top 10: America’s National Parks

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

Says Trip Designer Charlotte Clayson: “Located just 45 minutes by ferry from the Cape, Martha’s Vineyard is an easy getaway for those looking for beautiful beaches, activities for all ages, and of course, the famous New England lobster roll (I recommend Larsen’s Fish Market for the latter—it’s super low-key but has amazing seafood. I love escaping to the island, if only for a long weekend. With the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown having just reopened—and taking all necessary precautions to protect guests against COVID-19—now is the time to visit…and kick off your summer in style with a Spritz at Bettini!”

Related: Our Favorite U.S. Destinations for Extended Summer Stays

Lake Tahoe, California

Says Trip Designer Kelly Brennan: “My favorite summer spot is the north shore of Lake Tahoe. The mountain-and-lake-combo is magical all year round—but especially in the summer, where long days are spent outdoors, hiking, beaching, and boating. And an Insider’s Tip—For the ultimate North Lake Tahoe day, start with a scenic hike up Tunnel Creek, which offers lake views almost the entire way. Stop for sandwiches at the Mountain High Sandwich Co. in Incline Village, and climb down to Hidden Beach for a picnic on the water. For dinner, head to Wolfdale’s (currently open for socially-distanced patio dining) to enjoy lakefront California cuisine and killer Tahoe sunsets.”

Related: Ask Indagare: Coronavirus Travel Safety & What is Being Done as the World Reopens

Nantucket, Massachusetts

Says Indagare Trip Designer Missy Weil, a longtime summer resident of Nantucket: “Whether it’s one’s first or fiftieth time on island, all visitors are made to feel like Nantucket is their own personal escape. Just 30 miles off the coast of Massachusetts, the island feels a world away from all life’s stresses.” Since colonial times, a trip to the sea has been the doctor’s orders for good health and restoration—and it may be just the right remedy if you’ve been feeling cooped up at home. For an escape that is as contact-less as possible, properties that offer private residence accommodations, like The White Elephant Village, are the way to go. In addition to the privacy of the White Elephant residences’ one-, two -, and three-bedroom apartments (set in five different structures), the hotel will also be offering the option to elect low-contact housekeeping service, and there will be overnight fogging with electro-static guns to disinfect all public spaces.

Related: Nantucket Travel Tips: Where to Stay, Eat and More

The Hamptons, New York

Says Associate Membership Manager Sarah Levine: “Whenever I plan a summer trip, I always think of the senses that I want to experience. Where can I wake up with the birds chirping outside of my window? Where will I have my picnic of freshly shucked oysters and rosé? What spot can I stake out to watch the pink and orange stripes of sunset float across the sky and feel a cool summer breeze? This season, since I am setting my sights a bit closer to home, the Hamptons are at the top of my list for a beachy getaway—especially with a stay at the Shou Sugi Ban House in Water Mill, which combines the principles of a Japanese ryokan and Danish hygge to create an earthy and serene retreat (that is now open, with special wellness-focused experiences and careful social-distancing policies). Plus, the hotel’s proximity to Southampton and Bridgehampton means that afternoon excursions to restaurants with open-air dining options, like Nick & Toni’s, and the Wölffer Estate Vineyard, which is now taking reservations, are options for a little adventure out.”

Related: The Best New Hotels and Restaurants in the Hamptons

Bozeman, Montana

Says Operations Manager Rose Allen: “Bozeman, Montana is one of my favorite places to be in the summertime. Its location in the Rocky Mountains means that the outdoor activities are endless, but my favorite is checking out different hikes in the area and, on especially hot days, river rafting down the Gallatin River. After an active day in the fresh air, Blackbird, a restaurant on Main Street, in atmospheric downtown Bozeman, is a must for pasta, wood-fired pizza and a stellar wine list. After spending time in town, the perfect way to conclude a summer Montana escape is to retreat into the surrounding wilds for a stay at a top-notch dude ranch like the Ranch at Rock Creek or Paws Up, which offer freestanding, cabin-style accommodations for those who wish to keep themselves isolated and the chance to hike and bike in nearby Glacier National Park.”

Related: Best Places to Hike: The Top 10 Around the World

Asbury Park, New Jersey

Says Associate Editor Elizabeth Harvey: “Under normal circumstances, the Indagare Team spends a significant portion of the year on the road to scout up-and-coming destinations—like Senegal and Ischia—as well as the season’s best new hotels, restaurants, museums and more for our members and subscribers. Under lockdown, we all greatly missed this part of our jobs, though we are continuing to monitor global developments, virtually—and now locally. While I have been quarantining at my parents’ home in New Jersey, I have been turning my eye to destinations within driving distance, where there are several exciting spots to know—including the Shore’s Asbury Park. While I will always be partial to the classic charm of Sea Girt and Spring Lake, this summer, I am planning a safe scouting trip to their ‘Edgy Older Sibling’—a town that has always had a cool, artistic vibe and robust music and food scenes, but now finally has an upscale hotel product to match. The Asbury Ocean Club (which opened last summer) is the top option in the area, with its modern, colorful design scheme and stellar beachfront dining spaces (alas, it has yet to reopen)—but its funkier, more casual sister property, The Asbury, is now open for an easy beach weekend (and a welcome change of pace, with fun amenities like an open-air rooftop movie theater!).

Related: Indagare Travel Sentiment Survey Results: Post-COVID Travel Trends

Olympic National Park, Washington

Says Digital Content Manager Peter Schlesinger: “I could have spent weeks exploring Olympic National Park, which offers 1,400 square-miles of rugged beauty. A few hours west of Seattle, it has rocky coastlines dotted with entire-trees-turned-driftwood, a moss-covered rainforest, beautiful meadows and glacier-topped peaks, which are home to an endemic species of marmot that hibernates for eight months out of the year! They are adorable and only come out in the summertime, when they spend the days eating enough to store up for their long sleep. The park is a must-visit for wildlife and nature lovers—but be prepared, and get excited, for the long driving times. Few roads and long distances make getting around the park a slow, but beautiful—and totally worth-it—process.”

Related: Indagare Matchmaker: The Best Lodges in the American West

The Adirondacks, New York

Says Indagare COO Eliza Harris: “When I was young, I adored the Adirondack wilderness for its most obvious and accessible experiences. I particularly loved the expansive feeling in my chest when I stood on a bald mountain summit and surveyed the distance. When I was in my twenties and trying to make my way through the 46 highest peaks, half of which are trail-less, I disdained the easy and sought adventure. One of the most fun hikes of my life was climbing Allen Mountain on a cold and rainy day with a group of friends, which involved 20 miles of bushwhacking through stubby spruce trees that tore at our bare legs, a swamp, nettles, slippery rock faces to scramble up. Now, in recent years, I have seen my three kids exiting phase one (beauty seeking) and entering phase two (adventure seeking), as I move to phase three (peace seeking). My favorite thing is to be camping with my family on the most isolated lake, completely disconnected from civilization and yet fully in the world. There we constantly watch the sky: to see if the lake will be ruffled for sunrise or still and misty, to predict when the rain will hit so we can time our boat excursion just right, to decide when to call the kids back to the dock from swamping the canoe before the thunder rumbles. We scan the shallows for loons and the bushes for bears. And we forget everything except the eternal.”

Related: Adirondacks Summer Camp: Lake Kora

Should you choose to travel this summer, the Indagare team is monitoring the reopening phases across the U.S. and is in close contact with all of our partners to confirm that they are implementing enhanced disinfecting protocols and respecting social-distancing guidelines to create experiences that are as safe as possible for our travelers. Contact us for more information on how you can plan a safe and seamless getaway to one of these destinations, or beyond.

– Elizabeth Harvey on June 23, 2020

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