20 Worst Tourist Destinations in America Right Now

Between COVID and crowds, you'll want to avoid these places.

With international travel posing additional COVID risk and sowing uncertainty, more Americans are opting for road trips and other domestic getaways in 2021. But even staying close to home comes with warnings, depending on where home is. Some states are lagging in vaccination rates as the Delta variant marches onward, and other are overrun with crowds or wildfires. Read on to find out which areas in the country you need to avoid now to stay safe.


A shot of downtown Juneau, Alaska with flowers in the foreground

Alaska's infection rates have doubled in the last month, largely due to COVID cases among unvaccinated residents. Despite the new numbers of the virus, the vaccination rate has stalled, with only slightly more than half the residents inoculated against COVID. "Alaska's latest and still growing COVID-19 wave involves a jarring new trend: younger hospital patients, at times sicker than the older people who needed medical care last year," reports the Anchorage Daily News.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

a tour group explores yellowstone in a yellow bus

This iconic and beloved national park set a new record for monthly visitors in June: nearly 1 million people. That's a 64% increase from 2020. It is expected that July and August 2021 will also set their own historic attendance records. If you're not up for massive crowds, skip this park in 2021.

Las Vegas, Nevada

The Strip of Las Vegas, Nevada at night

Las Vegas casinos saw huge financial returns in June, just before July's revival of the mask mandate. Now Sin City is seeing spikes in new cases and hospitalization rates. Moreover, death rates are up 129 percent. "The more contagious and severe delta variant of the coronavirus has boosted infection numbers throughout the nation, and amid persistently sluggish vaccination rates. Data tracked by the state shows 57 percent of Nevada's 12-and-older population have received at least one shot and 47.4 percent are fully vaccinated," according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "That lags the U.S. average, where 67 percent of the 12-and-older population have had at least one shot and 58 percent are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."


Sunny Isles Beach Florida

At the time of writing, Florida is home to one in five of the country's new COVID cases. Florida's COVID-related death rates remain higher than the rest of the country's. The rise in the Sunshine State could be explained in part by summer's high temperatures and humidity, which cause more folks to stay indoors. "A day after it recorded the most new daily cases since the start of the pandemic, Florida on Sunday broke a previous record for current hospitalizations set more than a year ago before vaccines were available," reports the AP. "The Sunshine State had 10,207 people hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to data reported to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services."

East of Panama City, Florida, Specifically

panama city beach florida

Florida's Gulf County—east of Panama City—is one of a handful of the state's most impacted areas. In the city of Port St. Joe and the surrounding areas, one in six residents is infected. The area is considered to be high risk for anyone unvaccinated.

The county surrounding Mount Mitchell, North Carolina

North Carolina's Yancey County, home to Mount Mitchell—the highest peak east of the Mississippi—is seeing a surge in new COVID cases. Infection rates are currently up more than 1,900%.

U.S. Virgin Islands

An aerial photo of boats in Cruz Bay, St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands at sunset.

Faring worse than neighboring Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands is struggling after confirmation that the Delta variant has arrived on island, spreading faster than vaccines are reaching the arms of residents.


fountain and park in Kansas City, Missouri

Missouri's vaccination rates aren't low enough to be in the bottom 10 worst states; however, public opinion is strongly against the injections, so much so that locals are wearing disguises when queuing up for the shot. 

Branson, Missouri, Specifically

skyline view of Branson Missouri

This Ozark Mountains town in Taney County is setting COVID records right now for new COVID cases. "The latest increase in cases has set records in some parts of the United States. Many of the places seeing more new cases than at any other point during the pandemic also have some of the country's lowest vaccination rates," reports the New York Times. "The Branson, Mo., and Harrison, Ark., areas have both set records this month. Less than 30 percent of all residents in either place are fully vaccinated."

Zion National Park, Utah

luxury glamping tent at under canvas zion
Under Canvas Zion

This red-rock scenic wonderland is beloved by hikers, rock climbers and other outdoor enthusiasts—with the pull being especially strong this summer. Unfortunately, that had meant wait times of up to 4 hours to access certain trails thanks to overwhelming crowds of visitors.


cityscape photo of Little Rock, Arkansas
Davel5957 / iStock

One of the hardest hit states, Arkansas is seeing infection rates of 60 per 100,000 people. Hospitalization rates are the highest in the state since January. Vaccination rates remain low, with current counts citing that 80,000 unused doses in the state will expire come August 1.

Eastern Oregon

The Bootleg Fire of Oregon's Fremont National Forest, roughly a three-hour drive east of Eugene, is beginning to show a slowdown in spreading. That said, 413,4000 acres still burn. Lightning is believed to be the source of the disaster.


The skyline of Jackson, Mississippi at dusk

COVID rates in Mississippi keep rising, which is perhaps no surprise given that this southern state is dead last when it comes to vaccination rates. Cases have nearly tripled in the last two weeks. Of the state, Stone County just north of Biloxi and Gulf Port, is seeing the greatest impact.

Northern California

In the heart of the Sierra Nevada, the Dixie Fire rages. Located midway between Redding, California, and Reno, Nevada, the fire in Plumas County is sending residents fleeing. Currently, more than 241,000 acres are affected. Faulty equipment from Pacific Gas and Electric Company is believed to be the culprit.


Montgomery, Alabama

COVID cases in Alabama are on the rise since June in this state that sits in the bottom five in the country for vaccination progress. A little more than a third of the state is fully vaccinated.

Mobile, Alabama, Specifically

The skyline of Mobile, Alabama at dusk

The biggest COVID hotspot in the entire state is also its biggest city: Mobile. This Gulf Coast hub is responsible for the biggest numbers of the state's increase, where new cases of COVID have more than doubled in the last two weeks.


cityscape photos of bars and restaurants on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana at twilight
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

The Pelican State is seeing a lot of press right now, and it's not good. The state has a spike in new COVID cases 10 times higher than June's numbers. The lower half of the state, home to New Orleans, is seeing the greatest threat.

North Cascades Mountains

Mt. Shuksan reflected in Picture lake at North Cascades National Park

Expect closed roads if venturing through the Cascade Mountain Range, snaking from Oregon to Canada. Notably, the North Cascades Highway experienced a shutdown due to wildfires, blocking travel to Ross Lake national recreation area near Rockport, Washington.

The Sierra Nevada

Near Yosemite, a newer fire has sparked in the Sierra Nevada, already claiming 14 square miles. Only 10% of the blaze has been contained, making this an area to monitor.

Brooks County, Georgia

Although much of Georgia poses little risk compared to the rest of the South, Brooks County just west of Valdosta, a city near the Georgia-Florida-border, is in the middle of a COVID spike. Infection rates have climbed more than 3,200% in the last two weeks.

B.E. Morton
B.E. Morton has written for magazines and websites for more than two decades. Read more
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