- The United States offers some spectacular tourist destinations, some more crowded than others.
- If you’re a fan of the beach but don’t want crowds, consider visiting Encinitas, California or Kauai, Hawaii.
- Music fans should head to Memphis, Tennessee.
Did you start this year with a list of things you want to do differently? Maybe you’re aiming to try something new each week, or you’ve promised yourself some time off the grid in a place that’s relatively under the radar.
Though many American destinations have become overrun after achieving social media fame, there are still some surprising, lesser-known hotspots for tourists to visit in the United States.
Here are 10 often overlooked destinations in the US.
Sequoia National Park is stunning and less crowded than its neighbouring parks.
A visit to Sequoia National Park is an enchanting experience with towering redwood trees and picturesque mountains and vistas. All this just a short drive from the beauty of Yosemite National Park in Northern California.
The lesser-visited national park sees only about 20% of the crowds of Yosemite. Sequoia National Park is open-year round, but summer and fall are most ideal for most of the popular outdoor activities like camping and hiking.
St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands is an island oasis.
St. Croix is the largest of the United States Virgin Islands, but it’s visited far less than St. Thomas and St. John are. That’s not to say that St. Croix isn’t as worthy of your vacation time – the island is home to five-star resort The Buccaneer, beaches with turquoise water, and an exploding food scene that’s worth writing home about; visitors love taste testing local fare so much that the walking, Crucian food tours are often completely booked.
When visiting St. Croix, make it a point to spend a day at Buck Island; its western beach, Turtle Beach, has been voted one of the top ten prettiest beaches in the world.
Captiva, Florida is a small town with big character.
Captiva, Florida is a picture-perfect island with white sand beaches, gorgeous homes, and aromatic flowers. Yet it often gets stuck in the shadows of it’s better-known neighbour, Sanibel Island.
The tiny town’s quirks and noticeable character contribute to its unique spirit and vibe. Most notable, perhaps, is the lack of traffic lights – there aren’t any on the island – and that people prefer to get around in golf carts. Pay homage to Jimmy Buffet by venturing to nearby Cabbage Key by boat for a cheeseburger in paradise by day, or treat yourself to indulgent cake slices at the Bubble Room at night. Tourists who have spent time in Captiva rave about both experiences.
Kansas City, Missouri has both a food and music scene.
In addition to the plethora of historic and beautifully designed fountains, Kansas City is a ball of fun for anyone who loves BBQ, jazz music, or both. Naturally, penciling in some visits to the most popular bars in town is an almost effortless way to sample the music, food, and local brews.
Round out a visit by brushing up on the city’s history or caching a Kansas City Royals game; the local team last won the World Series in 2015.
Kauai, Hawaii is less crowded but just as beautiful as the big island.
Kauai’s North Shore counts the Napali Coast – a famous film backdrop from “Jurassic Park” that’s also one of the most photographed natural sights in the world – but it’s surprisingly one of the least visited Hawaiian islands, ranking behind Oahu (5.6 million visitors each year) and Maui (2.6 million visitors each year), seeing about 1.2 million tourists annually.
Often called the garden island, Kauai is an epic trip for the traveller who appreciate pristine beaches, raw nature, and active adventures like kayaking, snorkelling, and zip lining.
La Push, Washington features incredible national parks.
La Push is a village that’s often missed by tourists who take a road trip to see natural sites along the Oregon and Washington coasts. This surprising destination is surrounded by Olympic National Park and has several main beaches that still feel wild (aptly named First Beach, Second Beach, and Third Beach) with trails that take visitors between each.
Rialto Beach is another must-see when in La Push. Visitors talk about the huge waves and tide pools. Hole-in-the-wall, a natural rock arch, is also a draw.
Minneapolis, Minnesota is home to city parks and museums.
Minneapolis may not top as many must-visit lists as other cities but visitors love it, especially in summertime. The “city of lakes” boasts 13 bodies of water for swimming, boating, and other water spots while there are almost 200 city parks to explore.
No worries if outdoor activities aren’t what usually inspire you to explore new locales. One of the twin cities (with St. Paul, Minnesota), the city also has an incredible abundance of art and culture with 55 museums. Don’t leave without snapping a picture of the Instagram worthy giant-spoon inside the nation’s first-ever sculpture garden, either.
Encinitas, California is perfect for laidback vacation seekers.
Bigger cities like Los Angeles and San Diego may be Southern California’s claim to fame, but Encinitas is a low key hotspot to get on your radar. The relaxed city of just over 60,000 is a relaxing place to post up with coffee by the beach, watch see beautiful sunsets, and taste-test some of America’s burritos.
Yogis and surfers love Encinitas too with a dozen downtown yoga studios and no less than seven surf shops within city limits; it’s easy for beginners to book lessons while seasoned pros have plenty of places to shop for new gear.
Sioux Falls, South Dakota is a walkable city.
There’s more to South Dakota than Mount Rushmore. Sioux Falls has recently drawn tourists to town for its food and drink, including cutting-edge eats, more traditional food like smoked pheasant, and popular midwestern brews. Sioux Falls is also home to one of Thrillist’s best bakeries in America, CH Patisserie.
In addition to being clean and affordable, a final selling point for Sioux Falls is its walkability; travellers can take themselves across the entire city by foot in a single afternoon, all while enjoying sights like Falls Park and the East Bank along the way.
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Memphis, Tennessee is a music fan’s mecca.
Nashville has the hearts of country fans around America, but no true music lover should overlook Memphis. It’s home to Graceland, Elvis’ former estate, and it still has a vibrant blues music scene today.
Linda Paull on Tailwind wrote of the city, “come to historic Memphis, and you’ll be amazed at how much there is to do.”
She recommends visiting Beale Street, home to music stores and venues galore, calling it “the heart of Memphis.”
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