I Vacationed 53 Miles From My House and It Was Awesome

A vacation doesn’t have to take you too far away.

With a few tweaks, this could be Lake Como. Champagne, France. I’m sipping rosé at noon, overlooking a lake, on the patio of a stone hotel. Surprise! I’m in Wisconsin, 53 miles from my Milwaukee home. After several months at home, the travel-bug became an itch I had to scratch, only I wasn’t ready to board a plane or leave my state. Instead, I was off to tiny and cute Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, with a population hovering around 1,000. If you’re thinking of a staycation close to home, but wish to make it an adventure, here are 10 tips to consider.

Where Can You Travel? What’s Open? What’s Closed? Here’s the Current Status for All 50 States

The states are starting to reopen. But is it wise to venture out?

[Editor’s note: This is an updated version of an article that originally ran on May 19.] Disclaimer: This is meant to be a general overview of how each state is reopening. It is not intended to provide every last detail regarding guidelines and restrictions; please refer to the government website of each state for specifics. In addition, please remember that even if a state has been given the green light for a category of businesses to reopen, individual businesses may choose to remain closed. As such, please be sure to contact each business or site before visiting to ensure that it is open. As the United States begins to relax its shelter-in-place orders and some emerge from their homes, many are counting the days when we can get back out there and travel, even if it’s by car to a neighboring community or state. But as we know, a very different landscape awaits out there than the one we left earlier this winter at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. There are things travelers must consider that we never did before, including social distancing and personal sanitization. The big question is: Is it safe to travel in the United States? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is pretty clear in its stance. It’s recommended that you stay home as much as possible, especially if your trip is not essential. Social distancing still needs to be practiced, especially if you are in a higher risk category or an older adult. You shouldn’t travel if you feel sick, or travel with someone who is sick. And you need to protect yourself and others by knowing how to prevent the virus from spreading.  Perhaps the most hopeful advice comes from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. According to him, summer travel “can be in the cards.” He urges caution, since we risk COVID-19 spreading rapidly if proper precautions are not taken. “When infections start to rear their heads again,” he says, “we have to put in place a very aggressive and effective way to identify, isolate, contact trace, and make sure we don’t have those spikes we have now.” As long as we’re aware that “getting back to normal is not like a light switch that you turn on and off,” he says, we should be able to get back to some sort of normalcy. So the answer is: We’re not quite there yet. The best thing to do is pay attention to the several-phase reopening plans that each state has developed, outlining when hotels, restaurants, retail businesses, outdoor areas, etc., should be open for business and what precautions they must take. Some states are freer than others—and that’s something to consider. Do you really want to be on a beach where social distancing guidelines aren’t being maintained? It’s a whole new world that we’ll be navigating, literally. The guidelines are fast-changing and it’s hard to keep up, but here’s where they stand today, state by state.  

10 Eerie Places That Are Said to Be the Actual Gate to Hell

Get out of this hell and head through the gate to another!

At this point, I’ll take any vacation, including one straight to Hell. Of course, I’m kidding, but am I? Who’s to say. Various mythologies and urban legends around the world have long purported that Hell isn’t just a part of the afterlife, but a place that can be accessed from this mortal plane. That is if you find your way to the right volcano, abandoned city, or perpetually burning fire. So allow us to play Virgil to your Dante, hop in the nearest handbasket, and get ready to go to Hell.

9 Places in Australia That Will Terrify You

Forget about stunning beaches and finding Nemo.

Australia is known for its beautiful beaches, colorful marine parks, unique wildlife, and burning hot sun…and you’ll find plenty of all that when you visit. Another common vision of Australia is its dangerous animals and insects. But if you think the scariest things found in Oz are great white sharks, venomous snakes, and massive spiders, think again. There are countless souls trapped in historic buildings, parklands, and underground caverns waiting for their chance to scare the living daylights out of visitors. If you’re up for the thrill, check out these haunted places around Australia (and take a spare pair of undies with you).

10 Farm Stays That Are Ideal for COVID Getaways

Is your ideal vacation waking up to the sound of roosters crowing and plucking meals out of the garden?

Many resorts have planted a garden, and some maybe even flourished it into a farm. But what’s even better is when a full-on working farm—growing fruits and vegetables—lets you stay overnight. From a peach farm in Arizona to a mushroom farm in Wisconsin, here’s where to book your next vacay. Consider this your warning, however: You may be asked to help with farm chores. Although your edible reward is whatever you can fit into your palms, paired with fresh air, lots of social-distancing space, and a mental break from the metropolis.