The itch to travel has been building for many people for over a year and a half. But the pandemic isn’t over yet. The risks and rewards of getting away require some serious thought. For many, that means finding a travel location that’s safe. One way to do this is to find the best travel destinations with the highest vaccination rates.
Thanks to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as newsrooms like the New York Times, which updates its Covid-19 vaccination map daily, travelers can get a better sense of which travel destinations are best prepared to stop the virus’s spread. One look will tell you which places you might want to avoid. But to get a good sense of the best travel destinations with the highest vaccination rates, you have to drill down a little further. By looking at counties individually, you can see exactly what percentage of the population is fully vaccinated by age. That includes those over 12, those over age 18, and those over age 65.
Compiled here are some cities that have the highest rate of vaccination overall, but numbers can drastically differ from county to county. Below, these cities have at least a 60% vaccination rate for residents age 12 or older. Here’s where to consider going now or in the near future and what to do while you’re there.
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King County, Washington is sitting pretty when it comes to good vaccination rates. With 71% of all eligible residents vaccinated and a whopping 83% for those ages 12 and older, you can travel here secure in the knowledge that parts of the Pacific Northwest are taking the virus very seriously. This will allow you to have more fun visiting sites like Pike Place Market, glass artist Dale Chihuly’s Chihuly Garden, the Olympic Sculpture Park garden that looks out over the Puget Sound, and Woodland Park Zoo. Oh and don’t forget to get an obligatory selfie at the Space Needle.
As of Aug. 20, Vermont took the title of highest-vaxxed state in the nation with an overall rating of 67%. But that number is even higher in the super relaxed city of Burlington. The city, which sits in the county of Chittenden, has a vaccination rate of 89.6%, according to state data on HealthVermont.gov. You won’t find those numbers in many places, which makes it all the more appealing. Especially when you consider the beauty of the city in the fall and winter. A leaf-peeping paradise, Burlington also offers a vibrant cultural scene on the banks of the gorgeous Lake Champlain. Go for a brewery crawl, apple picking, or skiing at nearby slopes like Stowe or Killington.
Napa Valley, California
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If the pandemic lockdown stoked your love affair with vino, maybe it’s time for a trip to Napa. Home to 375 wineries, the county was built on oenophile tourism. And they’re keeping it going by making vaccinations a priority. At present, NYT data shows that Napa County has an overall vaccination rate of 68%. But its mitigation methods extend beyond encouraging residents to get the jab. Tasting room experiences have been moved outside, plus small groups mean less crowding.
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Always wanted to visit Portland and looking for an excuse? Only willing to travel to destinations with the highest vaccination rate? How about a county-wide vaccination rate of 71%. The hip city may be best known for its parody on the TV show Portlandia, but don’t let the fictionalization fool you. This is a progressive city worth visiting for its beautiful setting, incredible food scene, and many attractions. Take the Portland Japanese Garden. This 12-acre landscape feels like it’s out of a fantasy with exceptional foliage and water features. Find something to read at the beloved Powell’s bookstore, then grab a bite at any number of excellent eateries including Le Pigeon, Kachka, or Canard.
Boston has so much to offer when it comes to tourism. First, there’s the Freedom Trail, a path smack in the middle of the city that takes you by 16 sites significant to American history. Then there are sites like Fenway Park, the ultimate baseball stadium, and the waterfront where you can take whale-watching cruises. And the topper: you can go full tourist knowing that at present, Suffolk County is clocking in at 65% fully vaccinated.
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If visiting a picturesque New England town is on your bucket list, you can’t do much better than Camden, Maine. Located in Penobscot Bay, this historic city is made up of classic 19th-century buildings and features gorgeous harbor views complete with a lighthouse from the 1830s. The charming downtown is filled with boutiques and cute restaurants. Get an even better look at the visiting sailboats by hiking the nearby Camden Hills State Park where, they say, “the mountains meet the sea.” Oh, and did we mention it has a vaccination rate of 75%?
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In Boulder County, 70% of the eligible population is vaccinated. That might be all you need to hear to book a ticket to this stunning mountain region. In Boulder, the city itself, you can cruise Pearl Street, the heart of the community. Then grab a bike and meander Boulder Creek Path, a paved city trail. A tour of the University of Colorado should also be included along with stops at the Museum of Boulder, which explains the history of this nature-loving, health-obsessed community.
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If you want a supercharged Americana vacation that has you feeling patriotic and safe, consider Annapolis, Maryland. Home to the United States Naval Academy, this picturesque town eats, sleeps, and breathes Navy pride. Even better, 69% of the population is vaccinated. So you can go watch a parade of plebes on campus, or take a sailboat out into the harbor feeling a little more secure in your decision to go on a getaway. Grab some seafood at one of the many fish-centric restaurants before wandering the old neighborhoods appreciating the gorgeous Colonial and Second Empire architecture.
Taos, New Mexico
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Looking for a southwest adventure in New Mexico. Head to Taos, a hotbed of culture and arts. Reporting a 74% vaccination rate for all residents of Taos County, the area is primed and ready for tourists. Check out the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, an impressive span 650 feet above the river. Visit the adobe contours of San Francisco de Asissi Mission Church, an inspiration to such artists as Georgia O’Keefe and Ansel Adams. Then shop and dine in historic Taos Plaza, the heart of the town and cultural site that dates back to the community’s settlement in 1796.
Ready to go? Just remember that the CDC has outlined (and regularly updated) travel guidelines for those who are planning getaways. They currently urge travelers to delay travel until fully vaccinated. Everyone (vaccinated or not) is required to mask up on any form of public transportation (planes, buses, trains, etc.) to help avoid infection, though they can be removed to eat, take medication, or accommodate an oxygen mask. Those who are not fully vaccinated should wear a mask and maintain physical distance in public.
The CDC also advises travelers (both foreign and domestic) who are unvaccinated to get a viral test three to five days after travel and to stay home and self-quarantine for a full seven days after their trip.