Last updated: 08:37 PM ET, Mon May 18 2015

7 Underrated U.S. Summer Vacation Destinations

Features & Advice | Patrick Clarke | May 18, 2015

7 Underrated U.S. Summer Vacation Destinations

PHOTO: Lake Havasu Falls, just one of the summer vacation destinations you should put on your radar this year.

Sometimes the hardest part of planning a summer vacation is figuring out where to go.

Whether you're looking to hit the beach, unplug and get closer to nature or simply get out of town, consider these underrated U.S. summer vacation destinations. 

You'll be glad you did. 

Orange Beach, Alabama

When you think of Alabama, you don't automatically think of beaches. But if you're looking for a thrilling break from reality this summer, consider the Gulf Coast's Orange Beach.

Relax in the sun and sand and watch the whales and dolphins swim by, or take in a higher view of the landscape from the 112-foot-tall Wharf Ferris Wheel. Make sure to bring your fishing rods and hiking boats as well. 

Orange Beach is also a great spot to catch a summer concert.

Must-See Attractions: Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail, Adventure Island, The Wharf

Sandusky, Ohio

Nestled along the shores of Lake Erie between Toledo and Cleveland, Sandusky is home to the renowned Cedar Point Amusement Park as well as a handful of other summer-time attractions, including multiple waterparks.

If getting wet isn't your thing, though, head over to Sandusky Speedway, Ghostly Manor Thrill Center or the Sandusky Maritime Museum. 

Must-See Attractions: Cedar Point Amusement Park, Kalahari Waterparks, Merry-Go-Round Museum

Lake Havasu, Arizona

Formed by the construction of the Parker Dam in the 1930s, Lake Havasu's No. 1 attraction is the actual London Bridge that American entrepreneur Robert McCulloch purchased decades ago.

However it's Lake Havasu, which separates Arizona from California, that stands out as the destination's top draw. The lake offers plenty of opportunities for fishing, boating, swimming, and water sports, making it an ideal summer spot. 

Must-See Attractions: London Bridge, Lake Havasu State Park

Kiawah Island, South Carolina

If you like to golf on vacation, Kiawah Island is a no-brainer as it's home to the splendid Ocean Course, which hosted the PGA Championship as recently as 2012.

But Kiawah Island boasts more than just world-class golfing. There's 10 miles of white sandy beaches for travelers to bury their toes in as well as more than 120 acres of parks. Hikers and bikers will also fall in love with Kiawah Island's lengthy trails.

Must-See Attractions: The Ocean Course, Freshfields Village

Northern Pennsylvania 

There's much more to Northern Pennsylvania than wilderness. 

While Pine Creek Gorge, often referred to as the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, boasts Leonard Harrison State Park and some of the best views in the country, visitors to Northern Pennsylvania are within driving distance of Niagara Falls, Williamsport (home of the Little League World Series every August) and Knoebles Amusement Park, America's largest free admission theme park. 

And oh yeah, if you're a fan of the outdoors, you can engage in hunting, fishing, kayaking, hiking, mountain biking, camping and countless other activities. 

Must-See Attractions: Knoebels Amusement Resort, Pine Creek Gorge

Burlington, Vermont

Home of the World's Tallest Filing Cabinet, Burlington is known for being different, but different can be fun if you've grown tired of the same old summer vacation.

Situated along the eastern shore of Lake Champlain not far from the Adirondack Mountains, Burlington has a reputation of being a college town thanks to the nearby University of Vermont. But there are a plethora of unique attractions beside the 38-foot-tall filing cabinet. 

And since Burlington is just a few miles away from the U.S.-Canada border, you're less likely to melt in the summer and just a short drive away from Montreal (bring your passport). 

Must-See Attractions: Burlington Bike Park, Church Street MarketPlace, Waterfront Park

Ocean City, Maryland

With 10 miles of free beach and a boardwalk voted one of the 10 best in the U.S. by the Travel Channel, Ocean City is the ideal summer vacation spot for those in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Whether you're looking to take a trip with the family or eyeing a weekend getaway with some friends, you're guaranteed to find what you're looking for.

Trimper's and Jolly Roger's combine to offer countless thrill rides for travelers young and old. Plus, there's a different themed mini golf course every few blocks and plenty of waterfront restaurant and nightlife options. 

Must-See Attractions: Boardwalk, Life-Saving Station Museum, Seacrets

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