10 scenic getaways across the US that are within a 1- to 4-hour drive from major cities — and the best hotel to book for each

10 scenic getaways across the US that are within a 1- to 4-hour drive from major cities — and the best hotel to book for each

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Travel during COVID-19: Cool summer getaways in the South where you can practice social distancing

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Allison Tibaldi; Hawks Cay; Alyssa Powell/Business Insider

Once we can safely travel again, avoiding the airport and choosing road trips close to home may be the optimal first choice for many planning post-COVID 19 vacations. To come up with ideas, we compiled 10 destinations, and top hotels for each, located within a one-to-four-hour drive from major US cities. These locations feature wide-open spaces, fresh air, gorgeous scenery, and an abundance of personal space in support of social distancing. All hotels are highly rated, with desirable amenities, and starting prices ranging from $127 to $459 per night.Read all Business Insider hotel reviews here.A note from your Insider Reviews travel editor: Coronavirus has interrupted travel on a global scale forcing travelers to cancel and reassess plans in the coming weeks and months. We understand that right now is a challenging time to plan travel. But when this time passes and things return to normal, we know you’ll be eager to explore the world again.Whenever that happens for you, and we know it will, we hope our travel content helps you make informed, useful, and inspiring choices on the best places and hotels to book. So whether you use our reviews now, bookmark them for the future, or simply need an escape from the news, we’ll continue to share the world with you. In the meantime, we encourage all travelers to stay safe, follow guidelines from the CDC website, and take precautions.Exotic vacations to far-flung destinations may be on your bucket list but chances are, once we are able to travel again, a safari to Namibia or a scuba diving expedition in the Maldives may be placed on the back burner for some time.  But that doesn’t mean we’re not still craving a change of scenery. Once it’s safe to travel, most Americans will likely be interested in road trips over crowded airplane cabins. Fortunately, many hassle-free getaways are close to home and located within easy drives of major US cities. And fear not, if you don’t have a car, we spoke to several experts to determine if rental cars are safe to drive (hint: they largely are).As such, we rounded up 10 intriguing and driveable getaway destinations, with top hotels for each, all located within a one-to-four-hour drive from cities across the country such as New York, LA, Denver, Houston, and more.Our selections trade densely populated city centers for wide-open spaces, fresh air, and gorgeous scenery to offer an abundance of personal space that will make it easy to maintain social distancing. All hotels are highly rated, with desirable outdoor amenities and starting prices ranging from $127 to $459 per night, plus one luxe, all-inclusive option.From a coastal escape in Big Sur to Aspen’s rugged mountains, and exploring Virginia’s lush wine country, these places and hotels come with perks such as hiking and biking trails, swimming pools, and private balconies.We advise booking at least a few weeks or months out and consulting cancelation policies, as we continue to monitor changing situations around the novel coronavirus, and to ensure properties reopen as scheduled. And, as always, follow guidance from the CDC and WHO and use your best judgment when it comes to effective social distancing to truly ensure your safety.These are the best getaways close to big cities, sorted by price from low to high.

Best Getaway near Denver: Aspen, three hours by car

Allison Tibaldi

Book Aspen Meadows starting at $127 per nightDenver offers urban gratification, but no visit to Colorado is complete without experiencing the natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains. Aspen is a posh ski resort town located a three-hour drive from Denver. Lovers of the great outdoors won’t want to miss hiking Maroon Bells, the most photographed mountains in North America. The town has enough galleries to keep art enthusiasts satisfied, plus the Aspen Art Museum presents thought-provoking international exhibits on a rotating basis.Aspen Meadows, a Dolce Resort, is both a hotel and home to the Aspen Institute, a prestigious think-tank that attracts global leaders and the world’s brightest minds. Hotel guests and institute participants randomly mix and mingle, imparting a cerebral vibe and an opportunity for casual intellectual exchange.  There are 98 spacious rooms and suites with furnishings that are understated yet stylish. Floor-to-ceiling windows exploit the vistas, immersing you in greenery. There are plenty of recreational offerings, including a state-of-the-art health club. Guests play tennis, cycle, and hike while immersed in a haven of sagebrush and Aspen trees. You’re likely to not see another soul as you hike the little-utilized trails that are accessed on-site. In winter, borrow complimentary snowshoes and tour the hotel’s eye-catching collection of outdoor sculptures. The swimming pool and hot tub are heated for year-round use and have stellar views. Trip Advisor Ranking: 8 out of 34 hotels in AspenBooking.com Rating: 8.9 out of 10Pros: Situated in a gorgeous mountain setting and home to a prestigious think-tank, a stay nurtures both the mind and body. Cons: The hotel is situated outside of downtown Aspen, so you’ll need to drive or ride the shuttle into town. 

Best getaway near Chicago: Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, one hour and forty minutes by car

Trip Advisor

Book Geneva Inn starting at $159 per nightChicago sits on the shores of Lake Michigan, but when residents seek a nostalgic lake resort, they cross the state border into neighboring Wisconsin, only 100 minutes away. It’s home to spring-fed Lake Geneva, where replicas of old-fashioned paddle-wheel steamers cruise the lake. A 20-plus-mile public footpath encircles the crystal-clear water, offering pedestrian’s impressive views of the lake and the grand mansions surrounding it. The yesteryear spirit is as all-American as a slice of cherry pie. The Geneva Inn enjoys a privileged lakefront position, is family-owned and operated, and offers personalized service, and friendly staff. Guest rooms and suites have classic cozy furnishings like four-poster beds, plus oversized soaking tubs and private balconies. The hotel offers on-site dining, though it’s an easy one-mile stroll to downtown, where you’ll find a wide variety of dining and shopping options.  Trip Advisor Ranking: 6 out of 16 hotels in Lake GenevaBooking.com Rating: 9.0 out of 10Pros: This family-run hotel’s relaxed charms are a throwback to a gentler era. Cons: The on-site restaurant’s menu is nothing special. 

Best getaway near Los Angeles: Joshua Tree, two hours and 30 minutes by car

Trip Advisor

Book Pioneertown Motel starting at $195 per nightJoshua Tree National Park lies 140 miles east of sprawling Los Angeles. It’s a desert oasis with captivating light, intriguing giant boulders, wildflowers, and hardy plants, including the wild-armed namesake Joshua Tree. When Angelenos need a retreat from the traffic-clogged freeways, Joshua Tree’s otherworldly geology, world-class rock climbing, and the starry night sky are only two and one-half hours from downtown’s smog, or about 45 minutes from Palm Springs. Situated in the village of Pioneertown, Pioneertown Motel embraces simplicity and is located very close to the park entrance. Originally built as a hotel for film crews shooting Westerns in the high desert, the 19 guest rooms and cottages are named after movie stars, a nod to its Hollywood legacy. Each is decorated with locally-designed furniture, wood-fired stoves, and cactus plants. The pure desert air and Zen atmosphere exude a sense of wellness, while the small number of guests assures privacy.There’s a picnic area with outdoor furniture, and the former movie sets of Pioneertown are now home to art studios and one-off shops, including a vintage saddle maker. Trip Advisor Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (no ranking currently)Booking.com Rating: 9.2 out of 10Pros: The untamed desert vibe is authentic, complete with surreal sunsets and respected live music venue Pappy and Harriet’s is only minutes away.Cons: No televisions on-site, though Wi-Fi works well. 

Best getaway near San Francisco: Big Sur, two hours and thirty minutes by car

Allison Tibaldi

Book Big Sur Lodge starting at $269 per nightBig Sur’s 70 miles of coastline along narrow Highway 1 is one of America’s most unforgettable drives, complete with rugged cliffs, towering rocks, and redwoods. Over the years, the dramatic scenery has aroused the affection of respected writers and artists, from Henry Miller to Ansel Adams. All this beauty is a two hour and thirty-minute car ride from the Bay Area. Big Sur Lodge is located inside Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, putting miles of hiking trails at your doorstep. It’s a harmonious retreat designed to subtly blend in with the redwood forest and Pacific coastline. The 62 cottage-style guestrooms are rustic and roomy with amenities including private decks, wood-burning fireplaces, and kitchenettes. The on-site restaurant overlooks a creek and serves simple, tasty fare at a reasonable price. The outdoor swimming pool, circled by towering redwoods, is open seasonally. Trip Advisor Ranking: 1 out of 8 specialty lodging in Big SurBooking.com Rating: 8.1 out of 10 Pros: Spacious rooms and an unbeatable position within the boundaries of a state park make Big Sur Lodge very popular with families. Cons: Wi-Fi is often unavailable.  

Best getaway near Washington, DC: Virginia’s Hunt and Wine Country, one-hour by car

Goodstone Inn

Book Goodstone Inn starting at $285 per nightVirginia’s Hunt and Wine Country is an easy escape from Washington DC, reachable in just an hour by car.As the name suggests, this region is home to over 300 wineries and many equestrian opportunities. Quaint towns, gentleman farms, and rolling hills dot the landscape for sleepy scenery that feels light years away from the chaotic Beltway. Numerous small inns are clustered along the country roads but none are finer than Goodstone Inn in Middleburg. This 265-acre estate looks like a fairy tale with colorful gardens set to the soothing sound of fountains and just 18 luxurious guest suites and secluded cottages.The country-style decor and fine artwork suit the inn’s old-world ambiance, while excellent Wi-Fi keeps things up-to-date. All accommodations are individually appointed, private, and romantic, and the limited number of guests and spacious grounds make adhering to social distancing guidelines easy. Recreational options include swimming in the heated outdoor pool, hiking and biking on private trails, and canoeing along Goose Creek. The inn’s farm grows a variety of heirloom produce, which is woven into the restaurant’s menu. A full breakfast is included for overnight guests.Trip Advisor Ranking: 1 out of 5 B&Bs/Inns in MiddleburgBooking.com Rating: 9.1 out of 10Pros: The leafy grounds and wealth of outdoor opportunities offer a tranquil immersion in nature. Cons: You’ll pay DC prices to dine at the expensive on-site restaurant. 

Best getaway near Boston: Boothbay Harbor, Maine, three hours by car

Spruce Point Inn

Book Spruce Point Inn Resort & Spa starting at $285 per nightWhen Bostonians need a break, they flock to the Maine coastline. The state’s Mid Coast region is defined by stunning seascapes, picturesque lighthouses, and quiet coves. Coastal Boothbay Harbor is an easy three-hour drive from Boston with a slower way of life that moves at a pace set by wind, weather, and tides, just as it has for centuries. Spruce Point Inn Resort & Spa is right on the water, the type of place where guests gather around the fire for a nightly snack of s’mores after a round of croquet or a dip one of the two swimming pools. Walks in the pine-scented woods, kayaking, and shuffleboard are favored activities, and there’s plenty of space to spend solitary time in nature. The resort is set on 56-acres, with a mix of seaside cottages, historic inn rooms, townhouses, and modern lodge rooms. All guest accommodations are spacious with modern amenities such as flat-screen televisions, iPod docking stations, and Internet that works like a charm. Dining options are varied, but this is Maine, so lobster shines.Trip Advisor Ranking: 3 out of 12 hotels in Boothbay HarborBooking.com Rating: 9.0 out of 10Pros: Staying here means an authentic seaside Maine vacation, right down to roasting marshmallows and playing pickleball. Cons: There are typically many families with kids, so it’s not the best spot for a romantic holiday.  

Best getaway near Houston: Hill Country, four hours by car

Trip Advisor

Book Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa starting at $314 per nightWhen Houston residents need to press pause, they drive four hours to Texas Hill Country. It’s home to limestone hills, hidden caverns, a sun-kissed valley, and riverside trails. In springtime, a carpet of bluebonnets paints the landscape purple. Dozens of wineries have made the area popular with oenophiles.  Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa is a wilderness escape along the banks of the Colorado River in Cedar Creek. It’s a sprawling 405-acre resort with 491 rooms and suites. The entry-level room is 440-square-feet, so there’s plenty of room to spread out. Many rooms have private patios or balconies. Touches of limestone and wood bring natural elements indoors and furnishings have a subtle Western undertone. Guests share the grounds with an abundance of songbirds, hiking and biking trails, a pool with a lazy river, an 18-hole golf course, and horseback riding. The spa has 18 treatment rooms and features homegrown music throughout, in a nod to the state’s rich music history.  Trip Advisor Ranking: 4.5 out of 5 (not ranked currently)Booking.com Rating: 8.7 out of 10Pros: The inn’s rambling outdoor spaces and many recreational options are an upscale Texas experience. Cons: The lazy river attracts boisterous children and the resort’s size may feel impersonal, and large in an era of social distancing.

Best getaway near New York City: The Berkshires, under three hours by car

Dani Fine Photography

Book Blantyre Country House Hotel starting at $435 per nightThe Berkshires in Western Massachusetts scratches the itch of New Yorkers who crave nature but don’t want to skimp on culture. The landscape is a patchwork of quaint villages, gentle mountains, and rural roads, less than three hours from midtown Manhattan.The scenery and peaceful rhythms have long been a magnet for artists, musicians, and writers. Music lovers make seasonal pilgrimages to Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, though, this year those plans might be altered. Towns like Lenox and Stockbridge are loaded with galleries, respected art museums, Gilded Age mansions neatly tucked away on side streets, and fine dining establishments. Set on rolling lawns just outside of Lenox, Blantyre is a bucolic country hotel with a castle-like Main House built in 1902, where a crackling fire and a glass of bubbly await. There are eight guest rooms in the Main House, eleven in the Carriage House, and four roomy cottages. A recent refurbishing embraces modernity while maintaining history blending heirloom furniture, detailed damask upholstery, and elaborate candelabra, plus fresh floral arrangements dropped in for good measure. It’s everything you would expect from a Relais & Châteaux Forbes Five Star resort. Blantyre’s intimate number of guests coupled with its copious dimensions makes it a fine choice for those who prioritize social distancing while on vacation. There’s a gorgeous outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, and rambling trails to hike or snowshoe in winter. Most evenings, guests may enjoy a concert in the elegant parlor featuring a talented in-house pianist.Trip Advisor Ranking: 7 out of 17 hotels in LenoxPros: You’ll feel like a Gilded-Age millionaire as you dabble in old-world grandeur and enjoy discrete service.Cons: A bountiful breakfast is included in the room rate, though you’ll pay dearly for dinner at the on-site restaurant.

Best Getaway near Miami: Duck Key, two hours and fifteen minutes by car

Hawks Cay

Book Hawks Cay Resort starting at $459 per nightWhen Miami residents crave a laidback island escape, the Florida Keys are an easy getaway. This chain of islands just south of Miami are a paradise of blue waters, seemingly endless sky, and tall palm trees. The Keys are divided into five regions: Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine and the Lower Keys, and Key West. Duck Key is a secluded and exceptionally beautiful part of Marathon Key, home to Hawks Cay Resort. Hawks Cay’s main hotel has 177 newly updated guestrooms, decorated with a soft color palette and natural accents. There are eight room categories, offering a variety of configurations, and many rooms have balconies with water views. For added space, reserve a two- or three-bedroom villa with oversized decks, water views, and full kitchens. The full-service marina makes it easy to fish, stand-up paddleboard, kayak, or take a sunset sail. There are five swimming pools and a saltwater lagoon for protected swimming.Trip Advisor Ranking: 1 out of 2 hotels in Duck KeyBooking.com Rating: 8.2 out of 10Pros: Hawks Cay feels like the Caribbean but you won’t need your passport.Cons: The hotel can be crowded in high season, especially during holidays. 

Best Getaway near Philadelphia: The Pocono Mountains, less than two hours by car

The Lodge at Woodloch

Book The Lodge at Woodloch starting at $768 per night, per couple, with all meals and activities includedWhen Philadelphia residents crave nature, they head to the Poconos in the Northeast corner of Pennsylvania. Less than two hours from Center City, winter activities include skiing, snow-shoeing, and ice-skating on frozen ponds. In warmer months, hiking to waterfalls, biking, and swimming in fresh-water lakes and ponds are all popular pastimes. The Lodge at Woodloch is set on over 500 private acres of woodlands near the village of Hawley. Guests share fern-carpeted forest trails with a variety of wildlife and 58 guest rooms and suites all have views of the lake or rock garden waterfall from private verandas. Understated interiors strive to connect guests with nature’s restorative qualities. Terrariums, Himalayan salt lamps, Cherrywood bed frames, and a menu of pillow options offer in-room calm and comfort. The hotel places a premium on providing a healthy environment for its guests, including keeping all spaces scrupulously clean and three health-conscious gourmet meals are included in the nightly room rate. Yoga classes, swimming in the pool and lake, archery, and cycling are a few of the many complimentary activities. The hotel’s spa is a sanctuary of therapeutic soaking pools and eucalyptus-scented steam rooms with body treatments incorporating indigenous elements and therapies from around the world.Trip Advisor Ranking: 1 out of 7 hotels in HawleyBooking.com Rating: 9.2 out of 10Pros: The first-class spa and serene setting are perfect for low-key pampering. Most activities and three daily meals are included, so there are no surprise extras when it comes time to pay the bill. Cons: Cellphones must be placed on silent mode in public areas, which could also be a pro for some guests. 

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