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International travel plans on indefinite hold? Here are 8 great American alternatives.

When can we see the world again? It is the question every traveler seems to be asking, but predicting the outlook for near-term international travel is difficult at best. 

With the prospect of future travels confined to the 50 states, you might want to consider exploring these places closer to home. You’ll find that many are similar to what you might have been seeking in your excursions around the world.

GOLF | IRELAND

Instead of a golf vacation at Ballybunion Golf Club in Ireland, try Whistling Straits in Wisconsin

Are you longing for a golf trip to the British Isles? This summer, consider playing Whistling Straits at Destination Kohler in Wisconsin. Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, this walking-only, links-style course may temporarily satisfy your longing to play courses like Ballybunion in Ireland. Reminiscent of the Irish countryside, this picturesque waterside golf course even has a flock of sheep roaming the property.

Whistling Straits consists of two 18-hole, championship golf courses that challenge even the best professional and amateur golfers worldwide. Stretching over two miles along the Lake Michigan shoreline, The Straits course at Whistling Straits features some of golf’s most recognizable vistas. Ranked No. 4 in Golf Digest’s “America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses,” The late Pete Dye’s time-honored trademark of visual intimidation keeps golfers on their toes. This year, the course will host the 2020 Ryder Cup. 

Just inland of The Straits sits The Irish. Dye sculpted a little piece of Ireland in the Badger State by masterfully routing the course through giant dunes. Hole 13 is named “Blind Man’s Bluff” and features a sunken green obscured by a large dune, much like the famous “Dell Hole” at Lahinch Golf Club in County Clare, Ireland. Both memorable and traditional, The Irish proves there is no need to purchase a plane ticket to the Emerald Isle to experience golf in the Old World.

Where to Stay

Destination Kohler offers several lodging choices. Choose from the luxury AAA Five-Diamond resort the American Club, the wellness-focused Carriage House or the Inn on Woodlake, which offers boutique-style guest rooms and multibedroom suites perfect for golf-buddy trips or family getaways.

Where to Eat

Destination Kohler has several restaurant offerings, from fine dining at the four-diamond and four-star Immigrant Restaurant located in the American Club to local fare in a more relaxed setting at the Horse & Plow. Golfers and nongolfers alike can enjoy the picturesque settings of the courses while grabbing a meal at both the Blackwolf Run Restaurant and the Whistling Straits Restaurant. Need a quick bite? The Shops at Woodlake hosts Brewed Awakening, Craverie Chocolatier Café and Press + Chill.


CASTLE HOT SPRINGS

ICELANDIC SPA

Instead of traveling to Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, try Castle Hot Springs in Arizona

Rather than jet off across the globe to take in majestic thermal waters, you can opt to stay closer to home this summer by visiting Castle Hot Springs. This 34-room, 1,100-acre iconic property is located just one hour north of Phoenix. It boasts world-class hot springs, a digital-detox philosophy and impressive culinary and agricultural programs based on a “Flavor Farming” philosophy.  

Recently named one of Forbes’ Top Spa Resorts in America, Castle Hot Springs’ wellness offerings center around the eponymous thermal hot springs. Guests can soak in three stunning pools that have natural minerals providing health benefits, such as producing collagen for healthy skin, blood pressure and fatigue reduction, as well as stress prevention. Spa treatments include the Bradshaw Hot Stone Massage, which uses hot stones and rhythmic massage techniques to promote deep relaxation, alleviate soreness and restore energy levels.

Where to Stay

Lodging choices range from individual buildings to rooms at the lodge — each designed with luxury and relaxation in mind — which are scattered throughout this desert oasis. The Sky View Cabins have private outdoor tubs, while the modern Spring Bungalows have covered decks and cozy fireplaces. The Historic Cottage, with three bedrooms, is perfect for traveling with family or friends.

Where to Eat

All meals at Harvest are included in the nightly rate. Executive Chef Christopher Brugman creates his dishes from the freshest food possible. Their innovative menus change continuously, depending on the season and what can be sourced from their organic farm and greenhouse. Educational farm tours with the resort’s “Flavor Farmers” allow guests to help curate the menus. Castle Hot Springs grows more than 500 varieties of vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers year-round.


OUTDOOR ADVENTURE | AUSTRALIA

Instead of the Australian Outback, try The Resort at Paws Up in Montana

The Resort at Paws Up combines luxury with unforgettable adventure on a 37,000-acre ranch — that’s about 60 square miles — featuring untamed Montana wilderness steeped in Lewis and Clark history. Situated on 10 miles of the legendary Blackfoot River, The Resort at Paws Up boasts more than 100 miles of designated hiking, mountain biking, horse and ATV trails. In the summer months, the Resort’s roster of more than 50 outdoor activities includes fly-fishing, whitewater rafting, clay shooting, archery and authentic cattle drives.

Where to Stay

The Resort offers accommodations in the form of 28 luxury homes year-round and 36 glamping tents (with seasonal availability), each individually decorated in a Western-chic style with furnishings and artwork that’s been hand-selected by the owners. 

Families will love the 3,250-square-foot Wilderness Estates, which feature three large suites with private en suite master bathrooms. Guests can kick up their feet and relax on the private deck, soak in the outdoor hot tub or settle in for the evening in front of a magnificent Montana-sized stone fireplace. Each home is set on its own four acres of land, giving your family enough space and seclusion. 

Where to Eat

The Resort has two on-site dining venues: the fine-dining restaurant, Pomp, and the adjacent casual-dining locale, Trough. Guests can also enjoy housemade pizza delivery to their luxury accommodation while bundled up in front of their roaring fireplace or request in-home dining delivery from either of the on-site venues. 


Bald Head Island, North Carolina

ECOLOGICAL ADVENTURE | COSTA RICA

Instead of observing sea turtle hatching season in Costa Rica, try Bald Head Island, North Carolina

Each year from approximately May to September, hundreds of sea turtles emerge from the Atlantic Ocean to lay their nests on Bald Head Island, and later, thousands of baby hatchlings make their way back down the beach to the same waters. For a truly magical experience, plan a seaside getaway to Bald Head Island to observe the sea turtles’ journey. 

Visitors can participate in the Sea Turtle Protection Program by joining educators and naturalists as they patrol the beach for nesting turtles or watch over nests as they prepare to hatch. When the baby turtles are ready to be returned to their natural environment, the Bald Head Island Conservancy invites island residents and visitors to view the “turtle release,” which typically draws hundreds of onlookers.

Located in southeastern North Carolina and only accessible by boat or passenger ferry, Bald Head Island feels truly remote. With no bridge connecting it to the mainland and no cars allowed, on-island transportation consists of golf carts, bicycles or your own two feet. Aside from the turtles, Bald Head Island boasts “Old Baldy,” North Carolina’s oldest lighthouse, which guests can climb for an epic 360-degree view of the island. Other favorite island activities include kayaking or standup paddleboarding in the creeks, surfing at Atlantic-facing East Beach or hunting for shells at the quieter South Beach. 

Where to Stay

While there are two small inns on the island, the majority of visitors rent homes that are perfect for those seeking a socially isolated vacation. Options range from cozy studios for two to large, multifamily homes located along the beaches, in the forest, adjacent to the marsh and creek, and within Harbour Village.

Where to Eat

In the harbor area, Jules Salty Grub and Island Pub serve up island favorites like steam pots filled with fresh seafood. They are located right on the marina with an extensive deck for al fresco dining. Delfina Cantina, also by the harbor, serves Latin-inspired cuisine. There are two clubs on BHI — the oceanfront Shoals Club and the golf-centric BHI Club — which both have multiple dining venues. Most rental properties come with the option to purchase a temporary membership to both clubs.


Images courtesy of Visit SLO CAL

WINE TASTING

Instead of a vineyard vacation in Tuscany, try San Luis Obispo County, California

With more than 250 wineries spread among two major grape-growing regions, Paso Robles and the San Luis Obispo wine country — or SLO CAL, as it’s known — is one of California’s best-kept secrets. More than 40 wine grape varieties grow in SLO CAL, producing internationally acclaimed wines that can be sampled at more than 100 tasting rooms, each with its own character and ambience. 

Designated wine trails with clustered tasting rooms make it easy to explore SLO CAL’s wineries. This hidden gem has plenty of rolling, green-vine-covered hills with uncrowded roads similar to the Tuscan landscape. Spend a long weekend or a week traversing the region.

Where to Stay

Staying in a central location is the key to exploring the region’s acclaimed vineyards and restaurants. With its convenient downtown Paso Robles location, The Piccolo, a stylish, new luxury boutique, is the perfect place to stay. From the Piccolo, you can set out for a stroll under the towering oaks that line the town square or relax and savor the views. Be sure to grab a glass of wine at Tetto, the only rooftop bar in town.

Where to Eat

Luna Red, located in the heart of downtown San Luis Obispo, offers globally inspired cuisine that is innovative, creative and sourced from local growers and purveyors. They offer a wide selection of local and international wines from their award-winning wine list and an extensive menu of creative farm-to-glass cocktails.


ITALIAN RIVIERA 

Instead of taking a trip to the iconic Amalfi Coast of Italy, try Malibu, California

Malibu’s stunning coastline is often said to resemble the Italian Riviera, with architecture to match. This California beach town is home to the Getty Villa. Reminiscent of ancient Rome, their open-air gardens are filled with Mediterranean plants, sculptures and reflecting pools. While few places in the world rival the shopping found on Capri’s Via Camerelle, a trip to the Malibu Country Mart, with its unique and upscale boutiques, art galleries and restaurants, is a worthy substitute for the time being.

Where to Stay

Splurge on an oceanfront room at the Malibu Beach Inn, which is ideally situated right down the road from the Malibu Pier and less than 15 minutes away from renowned surf spots like Point Dume and Zuma Beach. The boutique seaside property is located directly on Carbon Beach, and all of its 47 rooms have extensive ocean views that are reminiscent of the secluded Amalfi Coast. 

Enjoy breakfast on your private balcony, overlooking the stretch of sand known as “Billionaire’s Beach,” or lie in bed with the doors open and listen to the soothing sounds of the waves as they crash on the sand. Guests also have the opportunity to wake up to yoga on the beach, offered by the CURE Daily Spa. This guided yoga practice on Malibu Beach Inn’s private stretch of sand is complimentary to registered guests every morning.

Where to Eat

For a meal with a front-row seat of the unforgettable Pacific Coast sunset, dine on the oceanfront terrace of the Carbon Beach Club. Indulge in locally sourced ingredients from Malibu’s local farms and enjoy seasonal California cuisine and cleverly crafted cocktails. 


PRIVATE CARIBBEAN ISLAND 

Instead of staying on a private island in the Caribbean, try Little Torch Key, Florida

Indulge in a romantic escape to a private island at Little Palm Island Resort & Spa. Hidden discreetly off the fabled coastline of the Florida Keys, the U.S.’s only private island resort is this bucket-list-worthy, four-acre, adults-only tropical paradise. The ultraluxe resort reopened earlier this year, unveiling a complete design makeover. It now boasts 30 British West Indies-inspired, thatched-roof bungalow suites and a world-class spa with custom treatments, massages and facial indulgences.

Make an entrance and arrive by private seaplane, or book a flight to enjoy a bird’s-eye view of local landmarks like the Seven Mile Bridge, Sombrero Key reef and lighthouse and Bahia Honda State Park. You can even reserve a day-trip and “island hop” via seaplane from Little Palm Island to Key West to explore.

Where to Stay

All of the luxuriously appointed bungalow suites at Little Palm Island are spectacular. These spacious individual dwellings offer breathtaking oceanfront views, which are best enjoyed from your private deck. Splurge on the Island Premier Suite, which offers more than 1,000 square feet, a separate living room and a dreamy four-poster bed. With no phone, no TVs and no distractions, you might never want to leave this secluded space except to stroll outside for a soak in the outdoor tub.

Where to Eat

Overseen by award-winning Executive Chef Daniel Ganem, the Dining Room offers a menu worthy of paradise with seafood, produce and spices sourced from the islands. Make sure to try the intimate, six-person Chef’s Table experience, where you’ll dine inside the resort’s kitchen. 


CITY ESCAPE | DUBLIN, IRELAND 

Instead of a City Escape to Dublin, try Baltimore

As far as Irish breweries go, Guinness is arguably the most recognized of them all. Any trip to Dublin requires a pilgrimage to the Guinness Storehouse, an Irish institution, to sample this world-famous stout and see how it is made. Now, you can go inside the St. James Gate without flying to Dublin.

The historic Irish brewer built its sister brewery, the Guinness Open Gate Brewery, in Baltimore to focus on innovation and to be a part of what is the most exciting and diverse beer market in the world right now: the United States of America. The brewery is a destination worth visiting and inarguably the best place in America to immerse yourself in Irish heritage.  

Surprisingly, Baltimore and Dublin have a lot in common. Both cities are full of hard-working, warm, welcoming people who give each city such unique character and charm.

Where to Stay

Rich in history and world-class hospitality,  The Ivy Hotel is the first and only Relais & Châteaux property in Maryland. Similar to a European countryside chateau, The Ivy Hotel’s mystique comes from a combination of history dating back to 1889 and curated treasures collected from around the world. The property is a meticulously restored 19th-century mansion with original inlaid floors, stunning stained glass and artwork.

With just nine suites, nine rooms and luxurious commons areas, the hotel is both intimate and private. The Ivy’s highly inclusive experience features complimentary libations, afternoon tea with tiers of sweet and savory treats, in-room delicacies, unique nightly turndown delights, made-to-order breakfast and a chauffeured car service.

Where to Eat

Everything naturally tastes better with a pint of Guinness, so while you’re at the brewery, be sure to dine in their 1817 Restaurant and feast on traditional Irish fare like bangers and mash or Guinness stew, a recipe that originates from St. James Gate in Dublin. For a romantic dinner, make a reservation at one of the intimate spaces in Magdalena at the Ivy. Indulge in their beautifully presented dishes, which are paired with a vintage bottle of wine from the exclusive Robert M. Parker Wine Cellar


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