Can you keep a secret? If so, we’ll tell you about some of the most underrated places to visit in the U.S. These amazing travel destinations around the country fly under the radar. And that’s just one of the many reasons we love them.
Some have a substantial number of visitors. But these communities tend to get less limelight and fewer crowds than other more famous ones. They deserve more attention than they’re getting. We’ll explore some from Hawaii to the Northeast.
Let’s check them out!
What Makes Some Locations Vacation Hot Spots?
Different places become popular vacation spots for a variety of reasons. Often they have something that no other place has. We all know that Hawaii is a tropical paradise, right? And you can argue that no other city beats Las Vegas for glitz, glamor, and around-the-clock entertainment.
For many travelers, the spectacular natural beauty makes a particular destination a go-to vacation spot. Tradition and nostalgia play big roles, too. We know many people who return to their favorite destinations yearly. Many of them say they started visiting there as kids on family trips.
Finally, marketing can be persuasive. How often have you checked out a place after seeing a TV show, magazine article, or online article? Many locations receive a sudden boost in popularity due to such exposure.
As a result, some places see a sudden boost in popularity. Other terrific getaways remain somewhat a secret. That brings us to our list of the most underrated places to visit in the U.S.
Pro Tip: Some states are small but mighty. Like how The Smallest State in USA Is Still Larger Than Some Countries.
The Most Underrated Places to Visit in the U.S. We Shouldn’t Be Telling You About
Despite a trend toward over-tourism, the country still has many amazing getaways that aren’t too crowded. We sincerely hope this promotion doesn’t push them over the edge. Sorry, but we just can’t keep such good things to ourselves.
1. Kanab, Utah
Location is everything, right? This relatively unspoiled community in southern Utah is near many better-known national parks and monuments. It has a few things of its own worth experiencing, too, starting with the stunning sandstone formation called The Wave. Peek-a-Boo Canyon is another must-see natural feature. And The Little Hollywood Museum shines a light on the area’s contribution to the film world.
2. Santa Fe, New Mexico
This enchanting high-desert city north of Albuquerque has an old world-feel and an ancient history. Walk the streets of the historic downtown plaza and try the unbeatable Southwestern breakfast flavors.
Then take in the historic La Fonda Hotel and the nearby Inn at the Loretto and its architectural wonders. You can ski here in the winter and enjoy hot springs year-round. The arts, culture, and history of this enchanting town make it an underrated place to visit in the U.S.
3. San Juan Islands, Washington
Explore the Pacific Northwest like you’ve never seen it before on these idyllic islands. The San Juan Islands have over 172 islands.
But you can enjoy the three main ones in the Puget Sound between Washington State and Vancouver Island. Catch a ferry or a seaplane for a front seat for world-class whale watching. Do some hiking and kayaking and enjoy leisurely meals of fresh seafood in the quaint seaside town of Friday Harbor.
4. Fredericksburg, Texas
Austin and San Antonio are seriously overcrowded. But Fredericksburg offers a delightful respite from both. It’s a short, delightful drive away into the scenic Texas Hill Country.
You can get to know Central Texas’ German heritage and enjoy a handful of welcoming restaurants and watering holes. History buffs shouldn’t pass up the chance to tour former President Lyndon Johnson’s nearby home and ranch.
Pro Tip: Want to go off the beaten path, but not spend an arm and a leg? Avoid these 5 Most Expensive Places to Travel With Your RV.
5. Solvang, California
People from Denmark were among the immigrants who settled California’s Central Coast region. They left their indelible mark on the small city of Solvang, which translates to “sunny field.”
Take in the distinctive Danish architecture as you stroll along Mission Drive. Duck into restaurants and bakeries for authentic European flavors and accompanying California wines. Finally, be sure to visit the Wildling Museum of Art and Nature.
6. Block Island, Rhode Island
If you want a beach off the beaten path, here it is. Besides its iconic lighthouses, this 10-square-mile island has a handful of restaurants and bars specializing in oceanfront hospitality.
Load onto the ferry for a short trip from Port Judith to the mainland near Narragansett. Many visitors rent a bicycle for an easy-rolling tour of this friendly and scenic place. Once you’ve seen the sights, grab your own secluded spot along 17 miles of public beach. Quaint beach towns in the Northeast are often underrated places to visit in the U.S.
7. Finger Lakes, New York
This area of central New York is known for winter recreation, but we love it in the summer. Beat the heat by swimming or boating, hike the scenic hills, and tour a string of charming small towns.
The area has 11 lakes, so you have many communities to explore. The many worthy stops range from high-end resorts to down-home diners. Plus, you’ll find numerous museums and historic mansions to tour, as well.
8. Jekyll Island, Georgia
St. Simons Island to the north seems to be a lot more famous. Thus we prefer Jekyll Island. It’s just not as packed and certainly less overrun compared to Florida’s beaches to the south.
Besides the peacefulness, we love the verdant marshland scenery and abundant wildlife on Georgia’s barrier islands. Visit Glory Beach, which shows up in the film “Glory,” and take a day trip to Cumberland Island National Seashore.
9. Lake Granby, Colorado
We all know Denver, Boulder, and Aspen, but have you heard of Lake Granby? This gorgeous waterway is the third-largest lake in Colorado, and it’s regularly replenished with several species of salmon and trout.
Lake Granby lies in north-central Colorado in the Arapaho National Recreation Area 100 miles west of Boulder. Set up camp at Sunset Point and enjoy a view of the snow-capped Rockies in the distance. Nothing says classic U.S. camping than this underrated place to visit.
10. St. Augustine, Florida
Like Santa Fe, this city in northeast Florida has a history that goes back much farther than you might think. The Spanish settled here in 1565.
You can tour historic remnants like the Castillo de San Marcos and enjoy the sandy shores of the Atlantic. Even though it’s a small town, we’d recommend two or three days to see what St. Augustine offers.
11. Valley of Fire, Nevada
Next up on our list of underrated places to visit in the U.S., we have Valley of Fire, Nev. Timing is important here because the vibrant red hues especially come alive around sundown. This 40,000-acre state park shuts down for day visitors around that time as well.
This is a popular day trip from Las Vegas because the sandstone formations seem otherworldly. We recommend arriving early in the day to set up camp. That gives you plenty of time to enjoy scenic hikes before getting in place for a stunning sunset.
12. Dewey Beach, Delaware
While Block Island and Jekyll Island land on the primitive side, this seaside getaway is much livelier. Visitors to Dewey Beach, Del., love lounging or paddle boarding by day before venturing out to enjoy the nightlife.
Fresh seafood and nightly live music at several popular spots draw many visitors. The vibe is more youthful here than in the busier Rehoboth Beach up the road. It’s still a great place to chill right on Highway 1.
13. Apostle Islands, Wisconsin
Wait, Wisconsin has islands? Yep, and these 22 lie in Lake Superior off of an area called Bayfield Peninsula. The federally protected Apostle Islands National Seashore also has 12 miles of coastline on the mainland.
Hiking and kayaking are popular pastimes here. You can also book a tour on an excursion boat for a guided tour of this magnificent area. Shuttle boats take you from the mainland, or you can use your own vessel.
14. Molokai, Hawaii
This is the fifth-largest island in the Hawaiian chain — and the least developed. At least for now, it’s like visiting the Hawaii of the past.
Most visitors fly to the island and rent a car once they get there. Expect a quieter, more rural experience in a place not built on tourism. Visit the Molokai Museum & Cultural Center and Kalaupapa National Historical Park.
Pro Tip: Want to rent an RV to travel around Hawaii? Find out what we learned from our experience!
Find Underrated Vacation Destinations in Your Own State
Sometimes the best trip is to somewhere not so well known. You can find worthy places to visit in your own backyard. We often wonder how many magical spots we’ve passed within a few miles while chasing something across the country.
At the risk of spoiling things for everyone, this is a heads-up on wonderful places not ruined by overcrowding. But you can find many others. We urge you to look around closer to home, maybe in your own state, for your own undiscovered treasures.
Have you ever visited any of these underrated places in the U.S.? Tell us about your adventure in the comments!
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