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Our Most Loved Travel Stories in 2020

Readers’ Faves: Top 10 Travel Stories

COVID-19 has shaped almost every aspect of our lives this year. And although it brought much pain and loss, it also revealed our resilience in finding comfort and hope. As the year draws to an end, we take a look at the travel stories that resonated most with our readers. We hope these stories and others have helped readers dream about future travel or take a short scenic drive or road trip to enjoy the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

Great Drives

Because of the pandemic restrictions, we’ve learned to appreciate the little things in life and closer-to-home destinations. The following two stories featuring scenic drives to explore the Pacific Northwest and roadside attractions have been particularly popular with our readers.

5 Not-to-Miss Scenic Drives in Washington

Sometimes the road itself is the destination. If you’re ready to get out and explore, check out these short scenic drives in Washington state. Each offers unique dazzling views and the opportunity to connect with nature even if you don’t get out of your car.

Quirky Roadside Attractions

Tired of being at home? Looking for cool things to see without crowding a place or violating state orders? Check out the following 13 quirky destinations across Washington and Idaho. You may find one within a short drive from your home or be inspired to plan a future road trip.

Oxbow Park Hat n Boots credit
Hat ‘n’ Boots in Seattle. Photo courtesy of

Pacific Northwest Road Trips

This past summer will be remembered for reviving our passion for road trips. As many states were in the early stages of reopening after months of shutdowns and stay-at-home orders, many people hit the road this past summer seeking adventures that allowed for physical distancing in the great outdoors. The following two road-trip stories were the most loved by our readers.

Mountain Loop Highway, Washington 

Washington’s Mountain Loop Highway into the heart of the Cascades guarantees stunning scenery and tranquil isolation through the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and along the Stillaguamish and Sauk river valleys.

Hidden Gems in Washington Towns 

Looking to explore off the beaten path? These seven towns in Washington state offer outdoor activities, rewarding views and hidden treasures. Find out why we include Forks, Anacortes, Grand Coulee, and more.

Mount Pilchuck State Park-Washington-credit-JeffGoulden-iStock
Mount Pilchuck State Park (Photo by JeffGoulden/iStock)

Travel Inspiration

For most of this year, travel plans, even local travel plans, remained up in the air because of potential shutdowns and COVID-19 concerns. Travelers’ hope and desire to find inspiration for their next adventure were unfazed, however. We believe the following stories served as a reminder of how fortunate we are to live in such a beautiful region, full of natural wonders and cool places.

9 Underrated Washington Islands

Surrounded by the salty waters of the Salish Sea and Puget Sound, the islands of Washington state shimmer brightly with wild beauty. Accessible by ferry, personal boat or bridge, traveling to the islands of the Evergreen State is a rite of passage and a quintessential Pacific Northwest experience. 

Unconventional Lodging Places in Washington and Idaho

Although the Pacific Northwest is full of top-rated hotels and conventional accommodation options, travelers who are looking for a quirky stay that is a destination in itself won’t be disappointed. If you are planning a future trip when non-essential travel guidelines are relaxed, check out our list of unconventional accommodations — from themed cabooses to lookout towers, treehouses and more. 

Best Waterfalls in Washington and Idaho 

Showing off dramatic drops in elevation as freshwater furiously races down to the ocean, waterfalls define our region. There are dozens of falls around Washington and North Idaho, but these 11, grouped by region, show off the power, beauty and wild spirit of the Pacific Northwest and are not to be missed.

Lower Falls by Lewis River
Lower Lewis River Falls by iStock.

Seasonal Fun

Outdoor activities remained the thing to do throughout these past summer and fall. Readers gave thumbs up to the following stories that featured our recommendations for seasonal activities that highlighted the opportunity to explore across the Pacific Northwest, while keeping a safe distance.

5 Favorite Northwest Swimming Lakes 

Swimming outdoors on a hot summer day, whether splashing around with kids or actually swimming, is one of the most enjoyable summertime experiences one can have. There’s just nothing quite as nice as slipping into a cool body of water when it’s hot out and you’ve pulled in after a car drive, especially if your kiddos are along for the ride.

Best Places to See Fall Foliage in Washington

Fall is a great time of year to explore Washington’s natural beauty. Do not let the Evergreen State nickname mislead you; the state boasts many great places to view colorful fall foliage. We picked just seven great destinations where trees offer dramatic displays of vibrant crimson, orange and gold.

Washington Ghost Towns 

As the days get shorter and daylight starts to dwindle, many gain a growing interest in exploring beyond urban sites and popular destinations. Highlighted by Halloween, the autumn months become the time when scary spots like ghost towns and abandoned buildings may become more attractive, especially in a year of disrupted normal life activities.

– Compiled by AAA Washington based on most-read stories this year as of December 15, 2020.
– Banner stock image by Olezzo/Getty Images

Interested in planning your next road trip with AAA Washington? Call your travel agent directly or your nearest AAA store to get pro tips, TripTik maps, and more. Find more Pacific Northwest scenic drives and road trips.

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