27 Underrated U.S. Vacation Spots You Should Visit Before You Die
Did your favorite hidden gem make the list?
1. Sedona, Arizona
Northern Arizona is known for the Grand Canyon, but Sedona a couple hours south offers scenery just as gorgeous. Known for the beautiful red sandstone rock formations that surround it, the city features great hiking, biking, and mountain climbing opportunities. And, there's no better place in Arizona to escape the summer heat than in Sedona.
—Lauren Kanocz, Facebook
2. Mackinac Island, Michigan
An island full of fudge and no cars! That's right: Due to a local ordinance, motor vehicles aren't allowed. Fudge, on the other hand, is allowed — and there's an abundance of it. The gigantic porch of the Grand Hotel (above, right) offers amazing views of Lake Huron.
—Emily Krizmanic, Facebook
3. Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska
If you're seeking untouched wilderness this summer, Denali is your place. According to the Park Service, "Denali is six million acres of wild land, bisected by one ribbon of road. ... Wild animals large and small roam unfenced lands, living as they have for ages. Solitude, tranquility and wilderness await." Camp in the park this summer, and return home perfectly rejuvenated.
—Katyna Singleton, Facebook
4. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan
The stratified sandstone cliffs on the shore of Lake Superior make for absolutely breathtaking views. Take them in by sea kayaking along the lakeshore, passing through rock arches, and exploring sea caves carved out by the water. Or, if water isn't your thing, backpack and take in the views from above. The icing on the cake: Summertime highs hover between 70 and 75, the perfect temps for outdoor exploring.
—Claire Westlie, Facebook
5. Glacier National Park, Montana
Straddling the U.S.–Canada border, "America's Switzerland," as the area was once known, is home to some of the most beautiful meadows, mountains, and lakes you'll ever see. Hikers will enjoy more than 700 miles of trails in Glacier, while less adventurous travelers can take in the beauty in Red Jammer buses and wooden tour boats. Whatever you do, make sure you experience the beautiful historic chalets and lodges in the park.
—Mark Hatch, Facebook
6. St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine — the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the U.S. — has beautiful architecture, weather, and culture. With gorgeous white sand beaches and a host of historic landmarks, including the Castillo de San Marcos, it's a summertime paraíso for everyone.
—Mikala Byrne, Facebook
7. The Outer Banks, North Carolina
The Outer Banks are gorgeous, uncrowded, and seriously underrated. The beaches are great, and the small towns adorable. Also, the lighthouses are pretty spectacular, and there are plenty of them to see.
8. Big Sur, California
While sightseeing from the car is the most popular way of taking in the 90 miles of California coastline, hiking and mountain climbing offer a more adventurous take on Big Sur. Or camp and explore the remote beaches — there are plenty of state parks along the way. Check out these tips before heading out West for the summer.
—Gabriel Ceballos, Facebook
9. Southern Maine
Southern Maine is the perfect vacation spot: Not only does it have beautiful, peaceful, and well-maintained beaches, it also has numerous coastal towns filled with shops and restaurants. It's also the best place to get a fresh lobster dinner! If you're looking for somewhere off the beaten path, head to Portland or Kennebunkport.
—MJ Cormier, Facebook
10. Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
If you're looking for a great beach with great temperatures and great outlet shopping, Rehoboth Beach is your place.
—Natacha Lafleur, Facebook
With New York to the north and D.C. to the south, summertime vacationers often overlook Philly. The city is home to many historic places, including Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed, and the First Bank of the U.S. While you're there, try cheesesteaks at both Pat's King of Steaks and Geno's Steaks, and get in on the cheesy Philly rivalry.
—Holly Marie, Facebook
12. Asheville, North Carolina
An awesome mix of Southern charm and hippie creativeness, Asheville has tons to offer: beautiful mountains, trails, and swimming holes, and a charming downtown with musicians, local shops, and lots of amazing food!
13. Santa Barbara, California
The beautiful beaches go on for miles, and the food is to-die-for. Plus, you're not going to have to deal with as many people as you might have to in places like L.A. or San Diego. And, if you're lucky, you might see a former Olympian like Todd Rogers playing beach volleyball.
—Robbie Crowder, Facebook
14. Falmouth, Massachusetts
It's a quaint New England town with beautiful beaches and harbors, especially at sunset. It's quiet, but there's a lot to do: surfing, kitesurfing, sailing, swimming, and paddle-boarding by the great beaches. It's also home to many historical sights, like the house of Katharine Lee Bates, who wrote "America the Beautiful," with a wonderful bike path named after her. The world's first aquarium, in Woods Hole, is also nearby. Plus, the downtown area is filled with cute stores.
15. The Apostle Islands, Wisconsin
"The 21 islands and 12 miles of mainland host a unique blend of cultural and natural resources," according to the National Park Service. "Lighthouses shine over Lake Superior and the new wilderness areas. Visitors can hike, paddle, sail, or cruise to experience these Jewels of Lake Superior."
16. Duluth, Minnesota
After experiencing a decline in population, Duluth has rebooted and established itself as a great summertime getaway. Canal Park is now home to converted warehouses which house some great hotels, restaurants, and shops.
17. Gulf Shores, Alabama
If you're looking to escape the crowded beaches of Florida, the Alabama Gulf Coast is your place. On top of the beautiful beaches, you'll find some of the best seafood you've ever eaten.
18. San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio, with its rich Mexican influence, is a perfect place to vacation. Visit the Alamo for a quick history lesson, or stroll the River Walk lined with bars, restaurants, and shops.
19. Breckenridge, Colorado
Breckenridge is awesome in the summer. A lot of people visit during ski season, but it's an incredible summertime destination too. The town is adorable with lots of little shops and cafés. During the offseason, there are still activities on the mountain like biking and an alpine slide. If you're feeling adventurous, try hiking one of the many "14ers" close by for some incredible views.
20. The Northeast Kingdom, Vermont
It's breathtakingly beautiful in the summer! Get out of the city and go hiking, fishing, or cycling in the great outdoors. It's not terribly hot or humid, and it's the perfect family vacation spot.
21. La Push, Washington
La Push is one of the most gorgeous and secluded vacation spots you'll find. Despite being on the very corner of the Pacific Northwest, during the summer months it's warm, and you can rent an affordable cabin right off the beautiful beach. Build a fire on the beach, knock back a few, and enjoy the sound of waves crashing less than 100 feet away. La Push is a great place to escape and relax without blowing the budget.
22. Assateague Island, Virginia & Maryland
The island is a barrier island off the coast of Virginia and Maryland. Part of the Assateague Island National Seashore, the beach is as untouched as they come: There's no boardwalk, no tourist shops, and nearly no buildings on the beach. Just beach. Stay on Chincoteague Island when you visit.
23. Door County, Wisconsin
Take your photo game to the next level: The gorgeous coastline is punctuated by 10 picturesque lighthouses. While you're there, chow down on a fish boil (a crab boil but with fish from Lake Michigan) and tour the area's wineries and microbreweries.
24. San Diego
Skip L.A. and San Francisco, and head down south. First of all, the weather is almost always perfect. You can relax and go to the beach, of course, but there are plenty of other activities you can do too, like visiting the San Diego Zoo. And it's close enough to Disneyland for a day trip.
25. The Ozarks, Arkansas
Stretching across southwestern Missouri and northern Arkansas, there are tons of outdoorsy things to do, from camping to kayaking to hiking. There's Table Rock Lake, with its award-winning bass fishing; Branson, with its down-home charm and entertainment; and the Buffalo River for some fun in the sun! Make sure to check out Eureka Springs, Arkansas, too! It's a beautiful, old-fashioned town that makes you feel like you stepped back in time.
No, seriously! Often overlooked by NYC and L.A., Chicago is actually a great place to explore during the summer. With all the amenities of a large city, it's also home to beaches on Lake Michigan. Whatever you do, check out some of the world-class museums that call Chicago home: The Art Institute and Field Museum are fantastic.
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