Can’t-Lose Travel Ideas to Clear Your Head This November

Find your zen. You’re gonna need it.

Not a bad home office setup | Michael Barón/Unsplash
Not a bad home office setup | Michael Barón/Unsplash

November 2020 is already poised to be one of the most relaxing, stress-free months we’ve seen in a generation. But even in these decidedly easygoing days where civil conversation is the norm and imminent disaster isn’t poised to strike like a cobra any second of the day, you might be looking to get out, explore, and take your mind off things. We’re here to help. 

With a mind on social distance and finding some calm, we’ve scoured the travelsphere to offer up ways to fully enjoy the waning days of fall. Whether you’re looking to stretch out on the sand or hunker down in a log cabin, here you’ll find a modicum of peace. Serenity now.

Arches National Park at night
Arches National Park has fantastic night lights | Mike Ver Sprill/Shutterstock

Go cold-weather camping under the stars

Meteor showers, a lunar eclipse, dancing planets—November's night skies are going to be incredible. Time for a stargazing road trip! The country’s most vivid Dark Sky parks—many of which are in southwestern states like Utah and Arizona—are ideal places to pitch a tent in relative isolation and gaze upward. It's also a clutch time to visit many national parks—especially the more underrated ones, where crowds are extra minimal and the stars are at their very brightest. Just make sure they're open before you go

Get cozy in Upstate New York

Even for people who don’t know Manhattan from Newark, there’s a certain allure to Upstate New York. And right now—with leaf-peepers dwindling and a refreshing chill in the air—is the ideal time to hunker down for a weekend. Maybe that means a waterfront compound amid the stunning Finger Lakes, where wineries number in the hundreds, waterfalls are everywhere, and The Office jokes are never outdated. Or perhaps it’s the Adirondacks, the rugged northern oasis of horse tracks, crystal lakes, and Olympic dreams. Upstate is overflowing with beautiful sights and welcoming small towns. Grab a cabin on Airbnb. And pack extra sweaters. 

Move to the Caribbean for awhile

It’s nice to be wanted, especially when the thing that wants you happens to be an Earthly paradise with white-sand beaches. In an effort to goose tourism, countries like Aruba, Jamaica, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Dominican Republic are offering up extended tourist visas for remote workers and killer deals at hotels and resorts, pairing stiff rum drinks with WiFi hotspots. Will everybody else hate you when you take your morning Zoom call from Champagne Reef or Seven Mile Beach? Probably. Does it matter? Nah.  

Slow your roll in an artsy small town

Now’s the ideal time to explore some of the funkier, artier small towns out there. For a warm-weather blast of singularity, look no further than Marfa, the wholly unique cornerstone of a West Texas road trip. Over in southern California, Los Alamos is an old-west wine town with its own special brand of quirks, while Joshua Tree—the town andthe park—remains a magnet for eccentrics and enlightenment. Prefer your creative spark with snow and rusticity? Rowdy Livingston, Montana’s snowfall gives it an extra ethereal quality in the winter. Looking for a public-art crawl? Hamilton, New Jersey’s basically one big art gallery. Get out and find your inspiration. 

Monkey Island is one of Florida's best roadside attractions (because of the monkeys) | DISCOVER CRYSTAL RIVER FLORIDA

Get weird in Florida

Florida is a state whose motto might as well be YOLO, and as such it fully embraces its weird side. Exploring the state from panhandle to Keys offers up ample surprises. This is a state where roadside attractions include everything from gator farms to cursed dolls, and where you’ll find a national park that’s almost completely underwater. You’ll even find places of unexpected beauty, whether that’s the (probably haunted) 500ish-year-old Spanish settlement of St. Augustine or the (most definitely haunted) eccentric-as-hell Florida Keys. Time for road trip season to extend beyond the summer. 

Maybe hang out with some aliens

For some reason we can’t stop thinking about aliens. Maybe it’s because of the resurgence of stargazing, or the X-Files box set we found when cleaning the garage. Either way, we’re seriously considering a trip to Crestone, Colorado, the “Bermuda Triangle of the West” and home to the UFO Watchtower, multiple spiritualist retreats, and clothing-optional hot springs. Your pursuit to discover whether the truth is truly out there could also take you to the Washington wilderness to hunt UFOS on an alien ranch, or you could find yourself swapping tales of close encounters at the ultra-friendly bar right outside Area 51, where the regulars include saucer aficionados and people who actually work at the classified site. 

Hit a mountain town before the ski bums do

If the idea of kicking it in a snug, scenic mountain cabin powered by a wood-fired stove with a strong likelihood of bearskin rugs is appealing to you, well, look fast. Because before you can say “apres ski,” sky-high mountain towns (and mountain lake towns) are going to be overflowing with ski bums. Now’s the time to experience places like ultra-serene Tahoe, the myriad stratospheric destinations of Colorado, or Washington’s surrealistically Bavarian Leavenworth before these quiet mountain retreats get rowdy.

Explore the quieter side of Hawaii

As of October 15, Hawaii re-opened to tourists without quarantine restrictions (provided you meet a ton of pre-testing criteria). But don’t start planning a luau binge just yet: Respect the space of residents and consider exploring the archipelago’s less-traveled locales. Maybe consider a Big Island road trip, where you can take in some of the greatest hits—including secluded beaches and Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park—at a relative distance. Plan your itinerary around the more underrated beaches, less-traveled hikes, and secret places. Or maybe just wait it out and kick it on a virtual beach until you can kick it without endangering anyone else. The beach will still be there when things level out, after all. 

Flee your city

Look, we know that it's tough to plan an elaborate getaway right now. But a not-so-elaborate getaway is definitely within reach. Whether that's a jaunt to a small town or a mythical journey into the wilderness, we've rounded up the essential trips within driving distance of New York, LA, San Francisco, Chicago, Vegas, Boston, Atlanta, Philly, San Diego, Denver, Nashville, Houston, and Seattle

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Andy Kryza is Thrillist’s senior travel editor. His travel plans this month definitely involve dinosaurs.  Follow him @apkryza.