5 Underrated US Summer Vacation Attractions
Vacations typically incite feelings of relaxation and fun, and part of that fun is experiencing something new. And when the experience is new to the entire family, that's a special bonus. In the spirit of brand-new fun, here's five under-the-radar attractions ahead of summer.
Where: Orlando, Florida
While Disney World and Universal Studios are must-see destinations for anyone vacationing in central Florida for the first time, Discovery Cove is an often overlooked attraction unlikely to disappoint.
The theme park, which is operated by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, allows guests to interact with a variety of wildlife, none more popular than bottlenose dolphins. The all-inclusive Discovery Cove also offers a variety of signature experiences, including the Grand Reef and Freshwater Oasis.
With the scope of experiences and unique level of access granted to guests, it's no wonder Discovery Cove was named the No. 1 amusement park in the world by TripAdvisor for the past two years.
Where: Page, Arizona
A trip to Horseshoe Bend in Arizona this summer is a surefire way to guarantee stellar vacation photos. Check out this example, via adventurer JJ Yosh on Twitter:
Horseshoe bend in arizona. Some places are definitely better to experience in person. This is one! pic.twitter.com/4qdR42Uof8— JJ YOSH • Adventurer (@jjyosh) June 2, 2015
Despite being overshadowed by nearby Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, situated along the Colorado River in Northern Arizona, features some of the most spectacular views in the Southwest, and you don't even have to hike a mile to get there.
Once you park, it's not a long walk to reach the Lookout Point, which sits a hair-raising 1,000 feet above the winding river.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Where: Gatlinburg, Tennessee
While a trip to Nashville or Memphis is unlikely to disappoint (especially if your a country music fan or BBQ enthusiast), eastern Tennessee offers up one of the country's premier, but often overlooked national parks.
Along the Tennessee-North Carolina border sits the most visited national park in America, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which even beats out the Grand Canyon in terms of annual visitors. However, it's rare that you'll find the Great Smoky Mountains on a "top destination" list.
Nonetheless, if you plan on being one of the park's millions of visitors in 2015, you'll want to circle Cades Cove on your itinerary. The valley is home to a handful of historic buildings and is an excellent complement to the surrounding mountains and forests.
The National WWII Museum
Where: New Orleans, Louisiana
It's easy to forget about history when you visit the party-centric Big Easy, but the National WWII Museum is a can't-miss attraction for travelers young and old.
Opened in 2000, the museum spans multiple buildings and features a plethora of exhibits that are certain to captivate, educate, and entertain visitors. Whatever you do, don't leave without stopping by the Solomon Victory Theater, which shows a 4D film presentation throughout the day.
And if all that history starts to make you hungry, stop by the American Sector for a bite to eat and a beverage.
Isle Royale National Park
Where: Houghton, Michigan
If peace and quiet is what you seek on summer vacation, Lake Superior's largest island is just the place.
Isle Royale National Park, located along the U.S.-Canada border, is loaded with opportunities for adventure, whether it's hiking, boating or diving. Hikers will want to check out Greenstone Ridge Trail, while Rock Harbor is a can't-miss checkpoint regardless.
Just how underrated is Isle Royale National Park?
National Geogrpahic points out that "in an entire year Isle Royale gets fewer people than Yellowstone sees in a day."
More by Patrick Clarke
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