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Navigating the Latest Travel Restrictions Across the U.S.

Democratic Governor

It’s complicated.

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This is a developing story. We will continue to update as the world changes. For the latest information on traveling during the coronavirus outbreak, visit the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization

The United States is in the midst of what many predicted to be a new COVID spike this fall and winter. One million coronavirus cases were reported in the past week alone, reports AFAR’s Michelle Baran, and some state and local governments are imposing increasingly strict travel restrictions and recommendations ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The CDC has also asked Americans to stay home for Thanksgiving.

You could get whiplash with all the rule changes. We’re actively reaching out to local and state tourism boards and following the latest recommendations of the CDC to give you the most up-to-date information about traveling—safely, responsibly—across the United States right now. Here’s what we know:

What questions should you ask before taking a trip?

Per the CDC, you should do this quiz before leaving your community:

  • Is COVID-19 spreading where you’re going? (You can get infected while traveling.)
  • Is COVID-19 spreading in your community? (Even if you don’t have symptoms, you could spread the virus to others while traveling.)
  • Will you or those you’re traveling with be within six feet of others during your trip? (That is, are you going to socially distance from others? It’s a good idea.)
  • Are you or those you’re traveling with more likely to get very ill from COVID-19? 
  • Do you live with someone who’s more likely to get very sick?
  • Does the state or local government where you live—or at your destination—require you to stay home for 14 days after traveling? (More on that below.)
  • Are you sick? (STAY HOME.)

These are the states with declining cases of COVID-19, as of November 20.

You’ll notice there aren’t many. Johns Hopkins University has been tracking COVID-19 publicly since January 22, and its world map, U.S. map, and critical trends graph have become our go-to sources for new coronavirus cases. In the infographic below, the greener the background, the bigger the downward trend of new cases in this state. As you can see, most states are seeing an upswing in cases. The U.S. on the whole confirmed its 11 millionth infection on November 15, and is getting very close to 12 million, as of November 20. Also notabale: The CDC reported a 55 percent rise in COVID cases for young adults ages 18–22 from August 2 to September 5 (including many students back in college). 

Puerto Rico and Hawaii are the only bright spots right now. Hawaii has a rigorous testing process in place for any visitors, while Puerto Rico—to remain safe—has scaled back capacity at restaurants, closed beaches, and imposed a new curfew through at least December 11. 

This snapshot is from November 20 but it’s updated regularly on coronavirus.jhu.edu.

Courtesy Johns Hopkins University

These states have seen recent spikes in COVID-19 cases:

The redder the background, the bigger the upward trend of new cases in this state. “Daily case reports are rising in 48 states, and with little action from the Trump administration, governors and mayors across the country are taking new steps to try to halt the spread. On Monday, a sweeping stay-at-home advisory went into effect in Chicago and Philadelphia announced strict new rules starting Friday, banning indoor gatherings and closing indoor dining at restaurants,” reports the New York Times.

Travel restrictions by state: Who’s still in lockdown?

Several cities and states are rolling back their reopenings in some form, according to this regularly updated map by the New York Times. Among the most recent:

The governors of California, Oregon, and Washington on Friday “issued a joint statement urging residents to stay close to home and are advising against nonessential out-of-state travel,” reports Baran. “The governors are also asking—not requiring—residents and visitors entering from out-of-state, including international travelers, to self-quarantine for 14 days.” Check this L.A. Times graph to find the latest on the county you plan to visit, and read AFAR’s full story on California’s reopening.

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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot called on residents in the nation’s third-largest city to restrict social gatherings to 10 people starting Monday, November 16. In instructions that were advisory, not mandatory, she urged residents to stay home except for essential activities, like going to work or grocery shopping. This stay-at-home advisory will last 30 days, or until the city deems it safe to end.

Louisiana is now in phase 3 of reopening with a statewide mask mandate. As of November 11, New Orleans is in phase 3.3, the last step before a final phase 4 reopening. The city started allowing bars to sell to-go alcohol again and restaurants, cafés, and bars with food permits could open to 75 percent capacity indoors. Read the latest at neworleans.com.

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s stay-at-home order went into effect Monday, November 16. Only essential businesses, including grocery stores and pharmacies, will be open.

New York has closed public schools and set a curfew for restaurants and bars of 10 p.m.

New Jersey has limited indoor gatherings to 10 people or less.

Nevada requires that people wear masks when they leave the house, be it in indoor public spaces or outdoor spaces where you can’t stand six feet from others. Las Vegas bars reopened at limited capacity in September.

Philadelphia banned all indoor dining at restaurants and indoor gatherings of any size, public or private, of people from different households, starting November 20.

Washington’s Democratic Governor Jay Inslee ordered gyms, bowling alleys, movie theaters, museums, and zoos to shut down indoor operations. Stores must limit capacity to 25 percent.

Can I travel across state lines during coronavirus?

Short answer: Yes, but you might have to quarantine.

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If you plan to visit Alaska . . . you need to do one of three things: complete a traveler declaration form and arrive with proof of a negative COVID-19 test; get a test when you arrive in Alaska and self-quarantine until you have the results; or self-quarantine for 14 days or the duration of your trip, whichever is shorter. Read more in our story Can We Travel to Alaska This Summer? and at covid19.alaska.gov/travelers.

If you plan to visit Chicago . . . and you’re from a red (hot spot) state, you’ll have to quarantine for 14 days (as of November 17—the list is updated weekly). If you’re coming from an orange state, you will have to show a negative PCR test within 72 hours of arrival or quarantine for 14 days. The state of Illinois does not have the same quarantine rules. Visit chicago.gov for the most recent list.

If you plan to visit Hawaii . . . you have to self-quarantine for 14 days. But starting October 15, visitors to Hawaii who provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arriving can avoid the otherwise mandatory 14-day quarantine that has been in place since March 26, AFAR’s Michelle Baran reports. Visitors must also fill out a mandatory online health applicationRead the full story.

If you plan to visit Maine . . . you’ll be asked to quarantine for 14 days on arrival, or sign a Certificate of Compliance that says you received a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of arriving in Maine. You’re exempt from both testing and quarantine if you’re coming from New Hampshire or Vermont. Check “Keep Maine Healthy FAQs” and the mandates for entering Maine for the latest information. 

If you plan to visit Massachusetts . . . and you’re coming from a low-risk state(just Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, as of Nov. 11) you are exempt from quarantine. Otherwise, you must self-quarantine for 14 days on arrival or produce a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of arriving, according to the Massachusetts Travel Order. Check the latest quarantine list at mass.gov.

If you plan to visit New Hampshire . . . and you’re visiting or returning from out of state (excluding the New England states of Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, or Rhode Island) you must self-quarantine for 14 days. If you’re asymptomatic and show a negative PCR test on or after day 7 of quarantining, you can end quaranttine. Visit covidguidance.nh.gov for the latest.

If you plan to visit New Jersey or Connecticut . . . and you’re coming from a current viral hot spot—aka nearly the entire country, by last count—you will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days and face fines ($2,000–$10,000) and mandatory quarantine if you break isolation. The quarantine will apply to any state where 10 of every 100,000 people test positive on a rolling seven-day basis, or where the positivity rate in the total population is 10 percent, also on a seven-day rolling basis.

If you plan to visit New York . . . “After months of requiring a 14-day quarantine for travelers coming from an ever-shrinking and expanding list of U.S. states, New York has moved to a more uniform test-based system,” reports Baran. “Starting November 4, travelers from out of state—and returning New Yorkers who left for more than 24 hours—will need to show two separate negative COVID tests and quarantine for at least three days on arrival.” Read on for the full process.

If you plan to visit Vermont . . . you must quarantine for 14 days once you arrive. The exemptions have been suspended, as of November 10. Visit vermont.gov for the latest.

For all states, it’s worth checking the latest COVID-19 information on their sites before booking anything. Note that Florida, which formerly had a quarantine for Northeasterners, no longer has travel restrictions in place.

How are you going to travel?

“Travel increases your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19,” reports the CDC. “We don’t know if one type of travel is safer than others; however, airports, bus stations, train stations, and rest stops are all places travelers can be exposed to the virus in the air and on surfaces. These are also places where it can be hard to social distance.” 

“You’re going to see a resurgence of [road trips],” Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, which represents the domestic travel and tourism industry, told AFAR. Recreational vehicles (RVs) have seen a boom in rentals and sales this year, and a number of our staffers are planning on going that route for their first trips post-COVID. (Just check out Maggie Fuller’s primer on RV travel during a pandemic.)

One last thought

As avid and responsible travelers, we’re all worried about the same things above all—the safety and health of the global village that has become inextricably linked by this international public health crisis. As we wait and watch to see how different governments respond to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s also important for travelers to be real and honest with themselves regarding what they are comfortable with and the ways in which they can and would travel that will minimize their impact when moving through the world.

Michelle Baran and the Associated Press contributed reporting to this article. It was last updated on November 20, 2020.


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List of the Most Beautiful Castles in the US


The United States of America cannot lay claim to ancient castles from the Middle Ages or from the medieval times, since the country was colonized by European civilizations only in in the 1600s. However, a number of castles were built by the English, French and the Scot immigrants after the country was colonized. The USA is, surprisingly, home to several lovely old palaces, castles and chateaus. We’ve curated 10 of the USA’s most enchanting castles for you. Check them out soon!

Lyndhurst Mansion, New York

Lyndhurst Mansion, New York

The Lyndhurst Mansion is one of the one of the finest Gothic Revival mansions in the US built by the acclaimed architect Alexander Jackson Davis in 1838. The castle is located on the edge of the Hudson River in Tarrytown, New York. Several notables have stayed here since it was built, such as New York City mayor William Paulding and railroad tycoon Jay Gould.

Castello di Amorosa, Calistoga, California

Castello di Amorosa, Calistoga, California

This 13th-century Tuscan castle took 14 years to build. There’s a very authentic drawbridge, moat and dungeon with, believe it or not, a still functioning Renaissance-era iron maiden. The bricks are from the Hapsburg-era, the nails are hand-forged, and the chandeliers and 500-year-old fireplace are all Europe imports. There are hand-painted frescoes in the Knights’ Chamber and the Great Hall, which have been constructed out of 8,000 tons of hand-chiseled Napa Valley stone. The Castello di Amorosa is one of the top USA attractions, one of the top castles to visit.

Fonthill Castle, Doylestown, Pennsylvania

Fonthill Castle, Doylestown, Pennsylvania

Fonthill Castle was built in 1912 by Henry Chapman Mercer who was an archaeologist, anthropologist, scholar, antiquarian and ceramist. The castle features 32 stairwells, 21 chimneys, 18 fireplaces, 44 rooms, all made of hand-mixed reinforced concrete in Gothic, Byzantine and medieval styles. Even during his lifetime, the castle was the personal museum for thousands of handcrafted Spanish, Chinese, Dutch ceramic tiles (including Mercer’s own Moravian-style tiles). There’s a Mercer Museum next door which displays a number of artifacts from the original castle, including a whale boat and a Conestoga wagon. This castle is one of the top places to visit in the USA.

Bannerman Castle, Pollepel Island, New York

Bannerman Castle, Pollepel Island, New York

Bannerman Castle sits on Pollepel, a rocky island on the Hudson River. It was built by a Scottish immigrant called Frank Bannerman in 1901. At age 14, Bannerman started prospering by selling surplus military goods. The family decided to build a castle to use as an arsenal on the island. By 1918, when Bannerman died, construction halted. The castle was partly destroyed when 200 pounds of shells and powder exploded after two years. In 1989, a fire left the castle in ruins. You can visit this castle when the river is boat-friendly.

Hammond Castle, Gloucester, Massachusetts

Hammond Castle, Gloucester, Massachusetts

John Hays Hammond, Jr., American inventor, had a large collection of art – Roman, medieval and Renaissance.  He built this castle on the shores of the Atlantic in 1929 to serve as his residence plus art museum. The castle combines the structural sensibilities of castles styles from the 15th to the 18th-century.  The great hall is surrounded by elaborate rose windows; there are plenty of secret passageways, plus an indoor courtyard, a pipe organ, and huge library.

Hearst Castle, California

Hearst Castle, California

The Hearst Castle Estate was constructed between 1919 and 1947 by William Randolph Hearst. Casually nicknamed as ‘La Cuesta Encantada’ or the Enchanted Hill by Hearst, the castle comprises of four buildings. These buildings comprise of 127 acres of beautiful terraced gardens plus 165 rooms. The Gothic Study in the main building has a vaulted Spanish ceiling that dates back to the early 1400s. There’s also a gorgeous guesthouse named Casa del Mar that boasts of panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean.

Biltmore Estate, North Carolina

Biltmore Estate, North Carolina

The Biltmore Estate is nestled cozily in the panoramic Blue Ridge Mountains outside Asheville, North Carolina. George Vanderbilt became enchanted by the area’s beauty and got architect Richard Morris Hunt to design the French Renaissance chateau with a 70-foot ceiling banquet hall, bowling alley and 250 rooms. It took six long years to build the Biltmore Estate. Famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted designed the beautiful grounds including the splendid 15-acre Azalea Garden. The estate produces award-winning wines today; tours are available.

The Breakers, Rhode Island

The Breakers, Rhode Island

The Breakers has been designed by George Vanderbilt and executed by architect Richard Morris Hunt. It is one of the area’s most adorable late 19th century summer homes. The Italian Renaissance-inspired 70-room mansion includes a grand dining room with gilded cornice and several freestanding columns. Beautiful relief sculptures designed by Parisian interior design firm Jules Allard and Sons add beauty to the walls.

Bishop’s Palace, Texas

Bishop’s Palace, Texas

The Bishop’s Palace was built in the late 19th century as the residence of entrepreneur Colonel Walter Gresham. It is one of America’s most significant structures. It was designed by well-known architect Nicholas Clayton who built the spectacular sturdy mansion using steel and stone. The interior is opulent with stained glass windows, dramatic mahogany stairwell, and wood carvings. The mansion even endured the Great Storm of 1900 that destroyed a great portion of Galveston.

Iolani Palace, Hawaii

Iolani Palace, Hawaii

Iolani Palace is the official residence of Hawaii’s royal family in downtown Hawaii. It was built in 1882 by King Kalakaua as a way to increase Hawaii’s prestige as a modern nation overseas. In 1893, the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown and it was then that Iolani Palace served as the nation’s capitol building. The palace takes design inspiration from European palaces and is America’s sole example of a mixture of Italian renaissance and native Hawaiian architectural styles, termed ‘American Florentine’. This palace, the only royal castle in America, has been a museum since 1978; it is so beautiful, it’s well worth your US visitor visa!


As you can see, the USA has its share of fabulous castles constructed in various styles. Many of them have been built by entrepreneurs and brilliant architects, emulating the styles of medieval, byzantine, Italian renaissance and French chateau ordinances. Most of these castles are either museums or taken over as official national buildings. You can enjoy exploring the ones that are open for view, except on US holidays; check their viewing schedules online before planning to the trip. Here’s an idea – why not plan a castle-viewing trip to the US to enjoy seeing these amazing castles?

The post List of the Most Beautiful Castles in the US appeared first on USA Travel Blog.

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