Overcrowded and cramped may not be the type of vacation you had in mind this summer. Instead, discovering an off-the-beaten-path locale for your next destination is really what you’d like to find.
Look no further. Here are seven surprisingly wonderful and unique locations you should check out on your next holiday. They’re so great, they’ll leave you wondering if the locals are keeping them secret on purpose.
1. New Braunfels, Texas
Move over San Antonio, this historically German settlement in the heart of Texas has so much to offer with a wide range of activities, from water sports to adventures in the great outdoors. The nearly year-round, warm weather means adventure seekers can go water skiing, tubing, or rafting on the area’s two rivers at almost any time you decide to visit.
Enjoy one of the largest waterparks in the country at the Schlitterban, or take a walk through the amazing Natural Bridge Caverns. Wind down the day with some honky-tonk tunes, and then head back to your accommodations on the riverfront, truly a home away from home.
2. Orange Beach, Alabama
Looking for white sand beaches without the crowd? Head to Orange Beach, Alabama. With something fun for everyone, you’ll have everything the famous Gulf Shores has to offer, without it the headaches of too many tourists.
You can take a ride on the largest Ferris wheel of the southeastern states, and afterwards stroll The Wharf for shopping, shows, and good eats, making sure to savor the amazing seafood in the area. And, don’t miss enjoying a walk along the magnificent Alabama Coastal Birding Trail to see some of the migratory birds that make their seasonal home here.
3. Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
Formed thousands of years ago from deposits of the Rio Grande, the dunes are thirty square miles of magnificence for visitors to venture into and explore. You can also go sand-boarding or sledding! The dunes are the tallest in the US, and rest directly on the state line of New Mexico and Colorado. If you think you can manage a hike to the top of the dunes (7,000 feet high), you’ll find it’s worth the effort for the panoramic view of the entire area.
Apart from sand-boarding, you can also try horseback riding, or take part in their unique Experience the Night program, which allows you to explore the dunes under the star-filled night sky. You can camp directly in the National Park, or stay at the on-site lodge.
4. Spearfish, South Dakota
Located in the famous Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota, Spearfish is known as the “All Four Seasons Capital” for any type of outdoor recreation your heart desires, be it hiking, biking, snowmobiling, hunting, fishing, etc. Vacationers here really can’t go wrong. It’s also the starting point of the breathtaking Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway, a 22-mile drive filled with waterfalls and picture-perfect pit stops. You simply can’t miss out on visiting.
For lodging, check out some of the must-stay resort and log cabin options for an unforgettable and unique stay in the area. The convenient location is a stone’s throw away from Sturgis, while still keeping to the beautiful scenery of the Black Hills.
5. Tybee Island, Georgia
Only home to about 3,000 residents, Tybee Island is truly a beach-vacation getaway. You can disconnect from all the worries of day-to-day life and take full advantage of the beautiful three-mile long beach, boasting beautiful grass-covered sand dunes. Because you’ll be off the beaten path, you’ll quickly feel like a local and settle into the quiet, relaxed island life.
Sample some of the delicious cuisine on the island and pick up a unique piece of jewelry as a souvenir. Tybee is known for great artisanal crafts. If this sounds like a place you might want to visit, make your reservations at the historic Beachview Bed & Breakfast. You’ll get all that good southern hospitality with spectacular views—a bonus of Tybee Island . If you start to feel a bit isolated, the city of Savannah is a short 18-mile drive away, also full of fantastic things to see and do.
6. Ellison Bay, Wisconsin
You can find this quaint but spectacular area located at the tip of the Door County Peninsula on Lake Michigan. In fact, all along this area you’ll find idyllic towns to visit. So, you really can take your pick in this area. Enjoy hikes through the nearby Newport State Park, or sample some of the local cherry eats and famous Wisconsin beer. You’ll enjoy mild temperatures, without melting in the heat.
7. Perdido Key, Florida
Literally meaning “Lost Key,” the bay could be considered one of Florida’s best-kept secret destinations. It’s located in the extreme northwest of Florida near Alabama and has not only beaches, but also wildlife parks and preserves that make up a majority of the area. It’s truly a natural treasure and home to endangered species like the Perdido Key Beach Mouse.
Feeling inspired yet? A visit to any of these seven destinations is sure to be a treat, and you’ll be a new holder of truly superb secret vacation spots in America.