Even for those who’re totally vaccinated, you may not need your subsequent journey — and maybe your first journey in over a 12 months — to be in a packed, urban metropolis. Enter the “second metropolis” journey.

Second metropolis is a considerably ambiguous time period, however it’s usually used to discuss with the second-most populous metropolis in a area, state or nation. Some interpret it to increase out to the third, fourth and even tenth most populous cities in an space. Briefly: Skip the sprawling, extremely populated metropolis for a smaller, much less people-dense location.

Causes to go to a second metropolis this 12 months

Many vacationers are skipping the large cities and choosing their smaller counterparts. A complete of 69% of respondents within the March 2021 American Specific

International Journey Developments report stated they’re interested by visiting lesser-known locations for his or her upcoming holidays — and right here’s why it is best to take into account them, too:

You’ll keep away from crowds

The obvious purpose to skip the large cities in 2021 is just to keep away from being round troves of individuals because the COVID-19 pandemic continues. The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention says that attending occasions and gatherings will increase your threat of getting and spreading COVID-19.

You’ll assist scale back overcrowding

As individuals make up for the misplaced holidays, household reunions and weddings they missed in 2020 and early 2021, the tourism trade is making ready for one of many busiest journey seasons but. TSA information present a number of days in Might 2021 which have set new checkpoint data for highest passenger throughput because the starting of the pandemic — and people data have then been damaged.

Stories recommend that the journey trade is stretched to its restrict in some areas. Corporations that laid off staff final 12 months now have extra buyer demand, offering a predicament as they attempt to rehire former staff or rapidly rent and practice new ones. And whereas U.S. unemployment stays excessive, many companies say they will’t discover sufficient staff, with tourism-adjacent industries, like eating places, particularly affected.

Additionally see: American Airlines joins Southwest in extending suspension of alcohol sales

After greater than a 12 months of restrictions and lockdowns, the a whole bunch of eating places on the Las Vegas Strip could be overwhelmed with the surge in vacationers. However whereas flashy Vegas eateries get overrun, a sleepier, less-touristy close by city that has been catering to locals all through the previous 12 months probably received’t really feel as overburdened by your go to.

You may not need to fly

Whereas the CDC has declared home air journey to be comparatively protected for totally vaccinated vacationers, and we all know most airplanes have excellent ventilation, you should still be feeling hesitant.

Certain, you’ll need to fly for that journey to Mexico, however you might additionally take into account a road trip to a second metropolis nearer to house.

See: 12 best American road trips

When you dwell in Los Angeles, you would possibly go glamping in Santa Barbara. When you dwell close to Houston or in most Louisiana cities, it’s probably not way more than a 3 to 4 hour drive to the epicenter of Cajun delicacies in Lafayette, Louisiana.

You would possibly have the ability to lengthen your journey — and take a ‘workcation’

Some vacationers would possibly really decide to go to each the key metropolis and the second metropolis. When you sat double-masked for six hours on the aircraft to fly throughout the nation to San Francisco, you would possibly as properly maximize your journey by staying in Northern California for a minimum of just a few weeks — or perhaps a month. Take your time; sip on Chardonnay in Sonoma or loosen up within the cabin after snowboarding in Lake Tahoe.

That is a part of the pattern of workcations, the place you guide lodging for longer than typical, however nonetheless work eight hours in your (virtual) office. As a result of you may work remotely, you would possibly have the ability to journey extra days than typical whereas concurrently working.

Associated: Want to travel the world as a digital nomad? Here are 7 valuable tips

The most effective second cities to think about for 2021

Listed below are the largest cities within the U.S. — and a second metropolis counterpart price visiting:

  • New York Metropolis: Cape Might, New Jersey — With the ocean on one aspect and grand Victorian houses on the opposite, sprawl out on the seashore with views on all sides.

  • Los Angeles: Joshua Tree, California — Go tenting (or glamping) amid the rugged rock formations.

  • Chicago: Porter, Indiana — Search for wildlife at Indiana Dunes Nationwide Park, which spans 15 miles of the Lake Michigan shoreline.

  • Houston: Conroe, Texas — Whether or not you favor fishing boats or get together boats, Conroe is understood for its lake-filled actions.

  • Phoenix: Flagstaff, Arizona — You would possibly make a cease when driving Route 66. Relying on the time of 12 months, you’ll additionally discover snow.

Flagstaff, Arizona


Different cities across the U.S. which are closely traveled by different vacationers might additionally present a possibility for a second metropolis journey:

  • Orlando: As an alternative of theme parks, head to Clearwater, Florida for seashores.

  • Atlanta: Head off the Georgia coast to St. Simons Island for whale watching or kayaking on the water. Landlubbers can go horseback driving or wander alongside the picturesque streets lined with moss-draped oak timber.

  • Dallas: Wine may not be your first thought whenever you hear “Texas,” however head to Fredericksburg, a part of Texas Hill Nation and residential to over 100 wineries.

  • Las Vegas: Whether or not you’re making an attempt to skip the strip fully, otherwise you’re in search of an escape for a day or two, expertise as an alternative Nevada’s wild landscapes. Purple Rock Canyon is simply a few 20-minute drive from the Las Vegas Strip, but it feels prefer it’s one other world away.

The Purple Rock Canyon Nationwide Conservation Space, close to Las Vegas.


These are only a few examples of how one can take a conventional large metropolis journey and spin it right into a second metropolis one, nonetheless stuffed with enjoyable experiences.

The underside line

The journey trade is gearing as much as serve second metropolis vacationers. New airways (and new routes on legacy carriers) have emerged with routes to smaller cities, and hotels are opening to deal with these vacationers.

This spring, Southwest

introduced plans for brand spanking new routes to cities together with:

  • Santa Barbara, California.

  • Myrtle Seashore, South Carolina.

  • Bozeman, Montana.

Equally, Hyatt

opened a boutique lodge in Tennessee’s second metropolis of Memphis this spring, and one other in Merced, California — only a quick drive from Yosemite Nationwide Park.

Your worldwide journeys could be off the desk for now, and relying on the town you’re visiting, you continue to may not have the ability to dine at an indoor desk. Journey is totally different this 12 months, however that’s not a nasty factor. Get artistic with the locations you go to, and don’t overlook the advantages of visiting the second cities.

Extra From NerdWallet

Sally French writes for NerdWallet. E mail: sfrench@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @SAFmedia.

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