or the vast majority of 2020, the US was off-limits to British visitors: not merely because of Foreign Office advice and UK quarantine obligations, but because President Trump ruled anyone arriving from Europe as non grata (with a few exceptions for close friends such as Brexit party leader Nigel Farage).
Abolishing the presidential proclamation that has been in place for almost 10 months, and getting a sensible test-and-travel procedure in place, will be far from the top of Joe Biden’s to-do list.
But the president-elect will be under pressure to revive international tourism to the US, and I predict an opening up by March at the latest.
I was lucky enough to explore California, Nevada and Florida in February 2020, and can’t wait to get back in 2021. Here’s where I’d like to go first.
Top of my list, the ninth-largest city in the small and unremarkable state of Arkansas, is Bentonville, the birthplace and galactic headquarters of Walmart. Some of the Walton family fortune has been spent on this spectacular contemporary arts venue. And while the Momentary opened in 2020, the vast majority of international visitors won’t be able to get there until this year. I can’t wait to see the Derrick Adams exhibition, Sanctuary – though probably not on the opening day, 20 February 2021. It’s about the Green Book, a travel guide to the US that highlighted businesses that did not discriminate against African American travellers.
Bentonville is the home of Walmart
Los Angeles, California
My next American destination: LA for the April opening of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. It’s a perfect time to be in southern California. It’s perhaps over-optimistic to build in as a preview to the March 2021 Tour de Foothills – claimed to be “the best [one-day cycle] ride in Southern California” – but one can dream.
While in California, I will return to the desert airport that I wrote about on 4 March 2020, saying: “If fewer planes are needed, inefficient aircraft will be grounded early. I imagine the airline boneyard in Victorville, California, is preparing for some more gas-guzzling 747s – possibly from British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.”
Grave situation: British Airways Boeing 747 jets at Victorville, California
(Simon Calder )
Well, some of them have been scrapped closer to home, at Kemble airfield in Gloucestershire, but the number of magnificently engineered aircraft that have generated so many amazing human experiences then been abandoned to the California sunshine has soared. A location for reflection.
A £100 hop will take me 1,800 miles across country from California to Nashville, Tennessee – where I hope and expect to find the National Museum of African American Music finally open after its coronavirus-thwarted 2020 plans. Nashville goes one better in the tussle between the two big cities of Tennessee; Memphis may have a better claim to be the birthplace of the blues (and remains the resting place of Elvis), but the home of country is also the new venue celebrating black music.
Head for the bright lights of Nashville
On the east coast, travel between the great cities of Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC gets faster and more comfortable when the first true high-speed trains in the US are introduced by Amtrak. Unlike the retro 1980s rolling stock that rattles along the “Northeast Corridor”, they will bring comfort (and functioning WiFi) to the route. At the southern end, I can’t wait to check out the latest attraction on the US capital’s map: Four Seasons Total Landscaping.
Dozens of countries in Europe and Asia remain off-limits for American travelers as the world continues to struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, local, state and federal officials in the U.S. are urging Americans to stay as close to home as possible, because travel increases risk.
Yet many other countries do remain open, with and without quarantine, to Americans who can meet certain conditions.
Many, such as Albania, are off the beaten path for most Americans. Others, such as Mexico, are more familiar.
Mexico requires no test and no quarantine for those traveling by air. Under a pact the two countries have been renewing monthly, U.S. travelers are forbidden from traveling by land across the border for nonessential reasons, but no such ban applies to those who fly.
The U.S.’ other neighbor, Canada, has banned most foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, from entering its territory. There are exceptions for some students and people with Canadian family, but otherwise, the ban on nonessential travel is firm.
Regarding Europe: If you aren’t familiar with the term “Schengen countries,” you should be. The term refers to 26 European Union nations that are acting collectively when it comes to allowing travelers to safely cross their borders without spreading COVID-19. Many have been tightening internal restrictions in recent days in hopes of thwarting a new surge of cases. Americans currently are not allowed in; residents of Canada, New Zealand and Japan are. The list is reviewed every two weeks.
In the Asia-Pacific region too, many doors are closed. American tourists are not allowed to visit Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines. The same goes for Australia and New Zealand.
Also, Israel is telling American tourists to stay away except for exceptional cases (which would require a 14-day quarantine).
What to consider before you go
Before you make plans to go abroad, bear in mind that travel increases your risk of infection and the chance that you might unknowingly pass infection to others, worsening a catastrophe that has already claimed more than 1.3 million lives. Since March, local, state and national health officials have all urged Americans to stay close to home — preferably within their neighborhoods — and defer any nonessential travel.
Travelers should remember that restrictions may depend not only on the destination but also on airports you pass through on the way to your destination. Temperature testing, mask requirements and social distancing are the rule globally, not the exception. Also, if you need a new or renewed passport, federal officials say the usual wait is now 10 to 12 weeks. The agency had a processing backlog of more than 923,000 passports as of Sept. 30.
Finally, remember that as infection rates and geopolitics change, entry requirements and State Department advice change. Check websites from the State Department about your destination.
Until more is known about reopening on a global scale, here are countries that might let you in — if you know the rules.
No tests or quarantines required
You don’t need a COVID-19 test to get into the country, but you may be subject to health screenings at airports and other ports of entry, according to the U.S. Embassy in Albania. Flights to the country resumed June 15. Note there are no direct flights to Albania from the U.S., meaning you’ll have to consider what country you will pass through and what restrictions apply. Face coverings are required for indoor spaces, including public transportation. Find U.S. Embassy information here.
You can fly into Brazil but land borders and ports remain closed to foreign travelers at least through Oct. 23, according to the U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Brazil. As of Sept. 24, those who arrive by plane are required to have proof of health insurance for a short stay of up to 90 days. The insurance must be valid for the time you’re in the country, with a minimum coverage of 30,000 Brazilian reals, or about $5,314. Several states and regions require face coverings. Find U.S. Embassy updates here.
Commercial flights recently returned to Bogota, Cartagena and other cities. As of Nov. 5, Americans don’t need a negative COVID-19 test to enter the country, according to the U.S. Embassy in Colombia. However travelers will have to fill out a check-in immigration form and submit to other protocols. Find U.S. Embassy updates here.
You may be subject to a COVID-19 rapid test and/or a temperature check when you arrive, according to the U.S. Embassy. COVID-19 tests are performed on “randomly selected travelers.” Also, the Dominican Republic on Sept. 28 issued a nationwide curfew that’s strictly enforced from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Go here for U.S. Embassy updates and here for Dominican Republic government information in English and Spanish.
The country is open to all travelers. Commercial flights are operating at Pristina International Airport in the capital. The country imposes curfews on businesses such as restaurants from 11:30 p.m. to 5 a.m., according to the U.S. Embassy in Kosovo. Click here for embassy updates.
American tourists who arrive by air face no COVID-19 testing or quarantine requirements. An agreement between the two countries bans most Americans from crossing into Mexico by land for nonessential reasons.
Americans are allowed to enter the Republic of North Macedonia without COVID-19 restrictions or test required, according to the U.S. Embassy. Arriving passengers are subject to a thermal screening at passport control.
Americans are allowed to enter the country without restrictions. Face coverings are required for indoor locations and recommended for outdoors. Find U.S. Embassy updates here.
Americans are allowed, with no COVID-19 test or quarantine required if they are free of symptoms.
Antigua and Barbuda
Passengers arriving by air must have proof of a negative COVID-19 test (real-time polymerase chain reaction) taken within the seven days before their flights.
Aruba sets restrictions on American visitors depending on virus rates in the state they’re coming from. As of Sept. 24, visitors from California were urged to get a COVID-19 test 12 to 72 hours ahead of the flight that will deliver them to Aruba. There is a second option, however: Take a molecular (nasal swab) PCR COVID-19 test at the airport on arrival and wait up to 24 hours for results in your hotel room.
The U.S. Embassy reports that Americans are permitted to enter Armenia by air and are required to “complete health questionnaires and self-quarantine or self-monitor for 14 days or submit to a PCR test. Individuals who choose to take a PCR [COVID-19] test and receive a negative result may be exempted from self-quarantine requirements.” Armenia’s government website has more details.
Americans are permitted, but as residents of a country currently defined as high-risk for the novel coronavirus (as of Sept. 24), they must pass a COVID-19 test within 72 hours before arrival. They then must stay in approved accommodations and submit to further testing and seven days of monitoring after arrival.
American visitors to Bermuda are permitted if they get a negative result on a PCR COVID-19 test administered no more than seven days before flying to the island. On arrival, visitors will be tested again at the airport and quarantined in their lodgings until results are back (typically 24 hours).
Americans are allowed to visit Bosnia-Herzegovina if they can show a negative COVID-19 test (PCR) not older than 48 hours from the moment of entry. The country’s Border Police agency has more details (but unless you speak Bosnian, you’ll need to use language-translation software).
Under a policy change effective Dec. 7, travelers from high-risk countries (including Americans) can enter the country via the Santiago airport and avoid quarantine if they produce evidence of health insurance, fill out an affidavit and show negative results of a COVID-19 test (PCR) taken within 72 hours of departure for Chile. Those visitors will, however, have to report their location and condition daily throughout a 14-day “period of vigilance.” (That change follows an intermediate step, effective Nov. 23, when foreign visitors can enter with negative test results, affidavit and insurance but still must quarantine in Chile for 14 days.)
Since July, Americans have been allowed to visit Croatia, as long as they can show a negative result from a PCR COVID-19 test administered less than 48 hours before arrival. If you arrive with no test result, you will be ordered to quarantine for seven days and take a PCR test. Croatia’s Ministry of the Interior has more details.
Because the U.S. is considered a high-risk country of origin, Americans are allowed in Dominica only if they answer a health questionnaire and upload and submit COVID-19 test results (PCR) that are no more than 72 hours old. Americans also must submit to a rapid COVID-19 diagnostic test upon arrival. If the result is negative, the visitor is allowed to head to a quarantine facility or government-certified private property for at least five days. After five days on the island, visitors take another COVID-19 test (PCR).
Americans are allowed in Ecuador if they can provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than 10 days before entering the country. If you want to visit the Galapagos Islands, you may need a second test taken within 96 hours of arrival.
Americans may enter Egypt with a negative COVID-19 test (specifically a PCR and/or serology test) taken no more than 96 hours before their flight (children ages 6 and younger are exempt). You must show a printed copy of the test; digital results will not be accepted. You must show proof of health insurance when you arrive. Also, health screenings are in place at airports and ports. Find U.S. Embassy updates here.
Americans may enter with a test, but strict rules are enforced. The region, which includes Tahiti, provides a list of approved and nonapproved RT-PCR tests, which must be taken within three days of your departure date. Also, you must enter the results on an electronic platform. During your stay in Tahiti, you have to test four days after your arrival. Discos and nightclubs are closed, gatherings of more than 10 people aren’t allowed, and strict rules apply to restaurants and bars. You must wear a mask or face a stiff fine. Find updates from French Polynesia’s Tourism Office here.
Anyone 5 and older must have a negative PCR test taken within seven days of travel. Visitors must have a reservation at approved lodgings and must take a PCR test on the fourth day of their visit to be allowed into the community. Also, visitors will have to test negative before they are cleared to leave. Here are the Ministry of Health’s rules.
Americans may travel to Honduras. You’ll need a PCR or rapid test to enter the country, and you can expect health screening procedures at the airport and ports. Shopping and other activities are allowed on alternating days, depending on the last digit of your U.S. passport number. Find more information at the U.S. Embassy’s website.
Americans 12 and older must take a COVID-19 test (PCR) that has been approved by specific health officials (antigen and self-test kits won’t be accepted). You must take the test less than 10 days before you travel to Jamaica and apply to enter the country (applications are accepted up to five days — but no later than two days — before your departure). Find updates at VisitJamaica.com.
Americans may enter with a negative COVID-19 test (PCR and/or serology) taken within 96 hours of arriving in the country. Also, your temperature must be under 99.5 degrees, and you have to fill out a health form. Find updates at the U.S. Embassy site here and the Kenyan Embassy in Washington, D.C.
All tourists must present a COVID-19 test (specifically a PCR or nucleic acid test) that shows you are negative for the novel coronavirus. It must be taken no later than 72 hours before your departure. (Babies under a year old are exempt.) You also must fill out and file a health declaration form (found here) within 24 hours of your departure and undergo a temperature check when you arrive. Also, travelers must have a confirmed reservation at a hotel or resort. Check the Ministry of Tourism for the Republic of Maldives for updates.
Americans may enter with a negative PCR test or a novel coronavirus antibody test that meets certain health standards. Tests must be taken no later than 72 hours before you arrive (children age 5 and younger are exempt). Here’s the catch: Within 15 days before your arrival, you can’t have stopped in or traveled through countries whose residents are banned from Montenegro. Find more information at the U.S. Embassy in Montenegro.
Panama is open to visitors from all countries as of Oct. 12. Incoming travelers must present a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test taken no more than 48 hours before arrival. There’s an online portal you will need to use to transfer the information. The tourism website explains how it works; find more information at the U.S. Embassy
You must present a negative COVID-19 test (PCR) taken no more than 120 hours (five days) before your initial flight. You should carry a printed copy of your negative test results during your stay in Rwanda, according to the U.S. Embassy. When you arrive, you will be taken to a hotel to quarantine and be tested again (at your own expense). Travelers need to stay quarantined until they receive a negative test, which should take about 24 hours. Also, you must complete a passenger locator form with details of your travel in the country, test results, etc. For details go to the U.S. Embassy’s website.
South Africa has reopened its airports serving Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban to international travelers who can show negative results to a COVID-19 test (PCR) taken less than 72 hours before departure for South Africa. President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the reopening Nov. 11.
St. Barts requires Americans 12 and older to present the results of a negative COVID-19 test (PCR) taken within 72 hours of their arrival. You also have to give a statement that you have no symptoms and that you haven’t been in touch with anyone who has in the previous 14 days. Travelers also may be required to take a second test, depending on how long they stay. Expect to be screened when you arrive; masks are required in the airport and other indoor locations. Learn more at the U.S. Embassy’s site.
St. Kitts & Nevis
Americans must fill out an entry form and submit a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before arrival. Then visitors will be confined to six approved hotels during their visit for up to seven days. After that, if you pass a second PCR test (at your own expense, $150 for international travelers), you may be permitted to book some excursions and access other areas. Visitors also must download a contact-tracing mobile app and undergo temperature check/health questionnaire when you arrive. Find more information at the government’s website.
Also, expect to undergo a health screening at the airport, which includes a temperature check and health questionnaire.
Americans must have a negative COVID-19 test (PCR) conducted no more than seven days before they arrive in Saint Lucia. Also, passengers ages 18 and older must register and provide personal information at least three days before they arrive. Expect temperature checks too. But the most limiting factor: You must book a reservation at a COVID-19-certified resort, where you must stay for your entire vacation (unless you transfer to another COVID-19 quarantine property). Learn more at the country’s website.
The Dutch side of the island shared with France requires travelers to file an application with the Electronic Health Authorization online before they arrive, which includes a negative COVID-19 test (rt-PCR) within 120 hours of arriving in the country (children ages 10 and younger are exempt). You may be required to have another test, depending on your departure destination. The U.S. Embassy breaks down the requirements here. You’ll find portals and links to St. Maarten’s requirements here.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Americans can travel to this eastern Caribbean destination, but it requires some work. First, passengers who arrive by air must have a negative COVID-19 test taken no less than five days before arrival. Then you are retested when you land and must quarantine for five days in an approved hotel (which you have already reserved and paid for). You are then tested again at intervals during your stay. You’ll also have to monitor your temperature for 14 days and report to local authorities if you have a fever. Find more at the U.S. Embassy’s website.
Turks and Caicos
Americans who want to visit this destination will need to apply for preauthorization, which requires a negative COVID-19 test (PCR) within five days of departure, proof of insurance, an online health screening questionnaire and other details. Children younger than age 10 are exempt from the test. Note that antigen and antibody tests won’t be accepted. Turks & Caicos tourism website walks you through the process.
United Arab Emirates
In the Emirates (which include Abu Dhabi and Dubai), all travelers must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result within 96 hours of their departure. (Children younger than age 12 and those with disabilities may be exempted.) After arrival, requirements may include another COVID-19 PCR test and a 14-day quarantine at a hotel or suitable private address. The U.S. Embassy also reports that travelers in Abu Dhabi must wear a GPS bracelet for 14 days.
Travelers will be screened upon arrival and subject to a 14-day quarantine in “a government-selected facility or hotel at their own expense, with no control over the amenities,” the U.S. Embassy website says. Also, you may be required to use location-tracking apps on your phones to be able to visit some businesses. Find information here.
The Grenadine Islands are a chain of small islands spread over 40 miles or so just south of St Vincent. Interestingly they have always been split with the north 2/3 administered by St Vincent and the southern 1/3 by Grenada.
Slavery was abolished in 1834 and St. Vincent and the Grenadines gained independence on 27 October 1979, and was the last of the Windward Islands to do so. In 2009, voters were asked if they wanted to replace Queen Elizabeth II with a President and 55% said no.
I first sailed through St Vincent and the Grenadines in 2018 and have returned several times with guest and by myself.
The Grenadines are a wonderful group of islands. I describe them as the “Little BVI” with a “Little Bahamas” thrown in. Just like the BVI, they are fantastic for charters, but with WAY less crowds. The Tobago Cays are as perfect as everyone says they are plus I loved the islands of Bequia (whaling history), Canouan, Mayreau, and Union.
On St Vincent hiking up 4000 feet to the rim of La Soufrière volcano and peering down into the crate with the lake in it is not to be missed.
Below you will be able to get even more helpful hints by reading my St Vincent & The Grenadines blogs and soon I will have a travel video or two for St Vincent and the Grenadines.
An enticing factor about water fountains is that their charismatic structures and art forms beguile you. You can’t stop marveling the ambiance it creates and some compel you to ponder about the fables behind its creation. While the USA is popular for an amazing collection of tourist attractions and natural sights, it also has a beautiful assortment of water fountains. Though not as magnificent as fountains in Italy, USA has an understated yet attractive group water fountains with historic significance scattered all through the destination. Let’s look at some interesting water fountains in the USA that you can visit on your USA holiday.
Bellagio Fountains – Las Vegas
Perhaps the most iconic and well-known water fountain in the USA is the Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas. Las Vegas being one of the most popular places to visit in the USA, Bellagio fountains is one spectacle not to be missed on your US trip. First of its kind in the world, Bellagio Fountains pioneer the art of synchronizing water jets, laser lighting, and music into a spectacular show. The water fountain set on a manmade lake right in front of the Bellagio hotel is one of the most mesmerizing sights to watch on Las Vegas strip. The grand fountain show became the source of inspiration for the extravagant Dubai Fountain. About 4500 lights and 1200 water nozzles create an awe-inspiring performance tuned perfectly with different genres of music. This remarkable water fountain show takes place daily in the evening, open to spectators to watch without spending a dime.
National World War II Memorial – Washington DC
A symbol of homage for the Americans who laid down their lives in World War II, National World War Memorial in Washington D.C is one of the famous tourist places in the USA. Set amid the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument, the fountain consists of 56 engraved granite pillars and small triumphal arches encircling a plaza. This arena consists the central water fountain and tiny arches of water spouting around it. The panoramic view of this water fountain looks amazing where you can find yourself gazing long into the Washington Monument or the Lincoln Memorial through the fountains from different viewpoints. This national monument is open for everyone 365 days of the year.
Scott Memorial Fountain – Detroit
This fountain was built as a commemoration of James Scott, who bequeathed his fortune to the city to build this giant water fountain that includes a statue of him. Located in Belle Isle Park in Detroit, this water fountain covers 510 feet of land and has fountain nozzles that shoot water up to 125 feet. In all, there are more than 100 water spouts that emerge out of human, animal and sea creature figurines. It is one of the most significant and popular site to visit in Detroit.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial – Washington DC
Another gorgeous water presentation in Washington DC is the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. Spread over 7.5 acres of land, this memorial pays tribute to the 32nd President of the United States. Located at the National Malls Tidal Basin – a beautiful place in the USA to witness cherry blossoms, the memorial is designed as four galleries depicting the four terms of Roosevelt as President and has several water features. Though it isn’t exactly a water fountain, the memorial’s water elements are beautifully showcased in forms of stunning cascades and pools which are spectacular sights to view.
Pulitzer Fountain – New York
Located in the Manhattan’s Grand Army Plaza, Pulitzer Fountain is another fountain that was bequeathed by its creator as a tribute to himself. Built to honour Joseph Pulitzer – an editor and publisher in New York, this fountain is a colossal 22 feet high 5-tiered ornate fountain adorned with sculptures and a large granite basin. The statue of the goddess of abundance – Pomona graces the top of the fountain. The fountain was made to look like those in Place de la Concorde in Paris, France. The fountain has borne the wear and tear of time and undergone several restorations and is still functional presently.
Buckingham Fountain – Chicago
An iconic landmark in Chicago, the Buckingham Fountain located in Grant Park is among the world’s largest water fountains. Officially known as the Clarence F. Buckingham Memorial Fountain, this fascinating fountain is styled in the form of a layered wedding cake and the main water spray shoots up to 150 feet in the air. Representing the Lake Michigan, the fountain is inspired by the Bassin de Latone and modeled after Latona Fountain at Versailles. It consists of three tired basins with 134 powerful water jets. These basins are decorated with four seahorses that symbolize the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin which border Lake Michigan. The fountain operates in the months of May to October from 8 pm till 11 pm. The fountain showcases an impressive water and light show of 20 minutes every hour in the evening during its operational months.
While these water fountains are just a few handpicked selections, there are many more water fountains dotted all around the USA for you to explore. What is more exciting about these water features is that each has a historic or subjective significance for you to discover. These are no doubt some of the enchanting places to see in the US. In case you are wondering where to go in the USA for more charming experiences, check out these selections of spa resorts in the USA.