We’re finally here! Today we’re concluding our five-part series on the best vacations in the U.S. We’ll take a look at ten of the most underrated spots for travelers in the States, and some must-see destinations and landmarks along the way. Everyone knows the splendor of the Grand Canyon and the raw beauty of Yellowstone, but how about Sedona, AZ or the northern shore of Lake Superior? While we certainly suggest seeing everything this great country has to offer, taking the road less travelled is a great way to broaden your horizon and enhance your vacation experience.
Keeping in mind that most of our readers will be road tripping via car or RV, we’re going to limit our list to the contiguous 48 states. We’ll try to cover each part of the country so you can plan accordingly. The overlooked places below are interesting, beautiful and definitely not over-done. They’re great for avoiding crowds, seeing unique sights and making memories. Plus, your friends probably haven’t been there. Without further delay, here are our top ten underrated vacation destinations in the U.S.A.:
10. Lutsen, Minnesota
Right on the shore of Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, Lutsen is full of activities for outdoor enthusiasts. Check out the Lutsen Mountains for incredible hiking and biking, or enjoy some fresh-caught walleye at the Dockside Fish Market in Grand Marais. The 10 highest peaks in Minnesota are in the area, and a fantastic round of golf awaits you at the 27-hole Superior National.
9. Sedona, Arizona
Two hours south of the Grand Canyon, Sedona is itself a geological wonderland. Surrounded by 1.8 million acres of national forest land, there are plenty of trails to hike and bike. With a population of 10,000, this small town is a glorious sight to behold. Sedona has a vibrant arts community and has a mild climate in the summer compared to much of Arizona.
8. Missoula, Montana
The setting for the classic film A River Runs Through It, Missoula is a gorgeous college town full of natural wonders. You can relax in a natural hot spring, catch a local theater performance or try your hand at fishing at the confluence of Clark Fork. State parks are in close proximity, and there are plenty of river activities like rafting available as well.
7. Big Sur, California
Waterfalls, hiking, beaches and parks. Big Sur has it all. The stunning scenery makes other top ten road trip lists often. So you’re aware, this is probably going to be the busiest place on our list. Try getting off the beaten path by driving Palo Colorado Road through the Redwoods, or try the treacherous Nacimiento Road. You could also check out the Henry Miller Memorial Library, a tribute to the bohemian author and Big Sur native. This is one of the most gorgeous areas in America, nestled on the rugged California coastline between San Simeon and Carmel. Try to plan out your day beforehand to avoid crowds (this is California after all).
6. Camden, Maine
This coastal playground is an incredible adventure full of New England charm. Soak in the East Coast ambience by taking out a sailboat, seeing dozens of lighthouses or saltwater pier fishing on Rockland Breakwater. Hiking, biking, golf, ferry rides, kayaking and even horseback riding are all available around Camden. This is a haven for outdoor activities.
5. The Mississippi Gulf Coast
When you’re thinking of a vacation, Mississippi probably isn’t the first destination that comes to mind. However, this is one of the most underrated vacation spots in the U.S. It’s a seafood lover’s dream, and there is plenty of art, live music and bars to keep everyone entertained. You can take a cruise up the swampy Pascagoula River, or ride a yacht onto the Gulf of Mexico and enjoy dolphin watching and spectacular sunsets. Casinos, fishing and golf abound around the area. You won’t be disappointed.
4. Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Coeur d’Alene is a water town. Kayaking, sailing, parasailing, swimming and even scenic flights await at the gorgeous Idaho mountain city. There are also celebratory events held throughout the summer. There is fantastic shopping and a farmer’s market, as well as museums and trails for biking and hiking. If you’re into outdoor activities the entire family can enjoy, Coeur d’Alene is your town.
3. The Ozarks, Arkansas
Covering a significant portion of Southern Missouri, The Ozarks refer to Ozark Mountain Country and the Ozark Plateau. This often overlooked vacation spot has an awesome arts, culture and heritage scene as well as outdoor activities for the whole family. This area also has plenty of watersports, and is one of the best birdwatching areas in the country. This is a non-stop fun adventure that won’t disappoint.
2. Taos, New Mexico
Believed to be the fabled City of Gold by Conquistador Hernando de Alvaros, Taos is an arts town. Aldous Huxley and Georgia O’Keefe created their best works there, and the Kit Carson museum is a sight to behold. Visit the Taos Pueblo, where people have been living and thriving for over 1,000 years, and the Taos Plaza, built over 300 years ago. There is wonderful shopping and dining, and it’s truly a different town than any you’ll have ever experienced.
1. 1. Asheville, North Carolina
Located in western North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is known for a vibrant arts scene and historic architecture. Downtown Asheville is a walkable neighborhood with a unique mountain vibe. You’ll find street performances, shopping and independent bookstores all over the town. You can also check out George W. Vanderbilt’s winter chateaux, Biltmore, where there’s a winery for the adults to enjoy. Asheville’s surrounding area is replete with outdoor activities including biking, hiking and climbing. Some of the best fly-fishing in the country is around the Asheville area as well.
Obviously we couldn’t fit everything we wanted to in this list. The U.S. is chock full of wondrous sights. Please let us know what we left out in the comments below. Hopefully you get a chance to check out a few of these underrated areas. With a Midwest Outdoor Resorts’ Membership, you’ll get to discover awesome spots all over the country. You will be able to find a great vacation deal near many of our Nation’s Top Vacation Destinations and Hidden Treasures. Feel free to contact us toll-free at (800) 231-0425 and we’d be happy to help get you started!