17 Epic US Travel Destinations You've Probably Never Heard Of

Sun Valley, Idaho. (photo via christiannafzger/iStock/Getty Images Plus)
Holly Johnson
by Holly Johnson
Last updated: 7:00 AM ET, Fri July 3, 2020

Keep It Close to Home

Tourists choosing to travel closer to home this year can choose from a vast array of destinations across the United States, whether they want to enjoy the mountain scenery, big city attractions or the calming sound of the ocean. If you want to try something new this year, consider these off-the-beaten-path destinations U.S. travelers seem to love.

Sevierville, Tennessee

While not a household name like Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge, Sevierville is close to all the local attractions like Dollywood and mini golf-just without all the crowds. You can rent a mountain cabin here, get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life and still enjoy local activities like golfing and fishing as well as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Gulf Shores, Alabama

Gulf Shores, Alabama is a sleepy southern town known for its amazing seafood restaurants and dazzling white-sand beaches. You can rent a vacation condo here or stay in an oceanfront hotel, spend the day enjoying the sea and sun and spend some quality time with your family-all at a more affordable price point than many comparable destinations in nearby Florida.

Camden, Maine

Camden, Maine is located along the striking eastern coast, and it's popular among lovers of the ocean, seafood aficionados and those who love outdoor adventure and watersports. Camden Harbor and Penobscot Bay attract sailors from around the world, and nearby Camden Hills State Park boasts over 30 miles of hiking and walking trails.

Lake Lure, North Carolina

It is often said that Lake Lure is the crown jewel of North Carolina, and it's easy to see why. This gorgeous lake destination offers a gorgeous waterfront hideaway with the Blue Ridge Mountains as a backdrop. You can rent vacation cabins and even boats for your trip, and an array of local parks offer hiking, biking and camping opportunities.

Apostle Islands, Wisconsin

You may not envision Wisconsin as a destination for islands, but the Apostle Islands are a sight to behold. This area features a chain of 21 islands with six lighthouses and stunning rock formations galore. People come here for peace and quiet along with camping, hiking opportunities and kayaking.

St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine, Florida may not be as popular as other Florida resort destinations, but this town offers a lot more history and plenty of natural beauty. Founded in 1585, St. Augustine still has remnants of its old city wall and a Colonial Quarter, which features a recreated 17th-century village for tourists to explore.

Sun Valley, Idaho

Sun Valley, Idaho is a resort town that attracts outdoor adventurers all year long. You can ski the slopes in winter, hike and explore nature during summer and check out gorgeous fall foliage during autumn. Rental cabin and resort options abound, including the opportunity to stay in the area's fabled Sun Valley Lodge.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Any trip out west should include a stop in Jackson Hole, Wyoming-a gorgeous mountain town with panoramic views of the Rockies. Stop here for a stay in a luxury resort or a camping adventure. But no matter what you do, get out to explore the city's shopping, eclectic dining options and museums, as well as nearby Grand Teton National Park.

Oregon Coast, Oregon

Oregon's rugged coast is brimming with natural beauty, and you can even pick from several cities and villages for your stay-Astoria, Rockaway Beach and Reedsport, to name a few. Camping is popular all along the coast, but so are outdoor activities like paddle sports, hiking, fishing and whale watching. The coast of Oregon is also home to a surprising number of wineries that let you try fresh gourmet foods and the finest wines of the area.

Missoula, Montana

Missoula, Montana boasts something for everyone, including gourmet restaurants, a funky downtown area and proximity to unmatched natural beauty and mountain scenery. Many people head to Missoula in order to camp and go bird watching, go biking or enjoy hiking while being close to all the hustle and bustle of the city including its art galleries, museums and breweries.

Mammoth Lakes, California

Mammoth Lakes, California offers natural beauty and plenty to do for tourists in every season, whether that includes snowshoeing in winter or hiking in summer and fall. Boating, kayaking and paddleboarding are other popular options for visitors, and you'll find plenty of places to stay. You can camp in Mammoth Lakes for sure, but you can also stay in a luxury resort or a rental cabin or chalet.

Black Hills and Badlands, South Dakota

South Dakota may be sparsely populated, but the state's Black Hills and Badlands make a visit to this secluded state well worth the journey. The Black Hills are home to historic Mount Rushmore, but you'll also find glorious natural beauty at Custer State Park and Wind Cave as well as herds of wild buffalo that freely roam the land like nowhere else on Earth.

Grand Marais, Minnesota

Grand Marais, Minnesota is home to a funky downtown area and a bustling local arts scene. With a location in between the Sawtooth Mountains and Lake Superior, you'll find an endless number of hiking and biking trails as well as camping opportunities perfect for families or couples. With a reputation for being "Minnesota Nice," the friendliness of the locals will only make your trip more special.

Brown County, Indiana

Brown County, Indiana is a sleepy tourist destination with plenty of opportunities for relaxation and outdoor adventure. Quirky eateries and wineries abound in the area, and you can easily book a rental cabin tucked away in the trees or along a scenic lake. Plenty of cute lodges and bed-n-breakfasts are also open to guests, many of which are within walking distance of all Brown County has to offer.

Lake Charles, Louisiana

Lake Charles, Louisiana isn't as popular as New Orleans, yet it has just as much charm. This destination is home to casino resorts, beaches and festivals galore. The arts and culture scene is also alive and well with museums, galleries and theatre and ballet companies calling the area home. Alligators and over 400 species of birds also live along Lake Charles, making it perfect for wildlife lovers.

Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park may be well off the beaten path, but it's worth the trip to this northern wonderland. You can stay in a resort nearby or find a camping spot, then enjoy forests, alpine meadows and unbelievable lake and mountain views. Outdoor recreation opportunities are endless, and local wildlife includes 276 species of birds and 72 different mammals including bats, bears, lynx and mountain goats.

The Outer Banks, North Carolina

North Carolina's Outer Banks feature white sand beaches and seclusion you can't find in a beach destination elsewhere in the United States. This 200-mile-long string of barrier islands creates the perfect opportunities for tourists who want to enjoy biking, kayaking and fishing in an area with a slower pace of life than many other resort destinations nearby.

Get out and discover the overlooked beauty of the U.S.

Topics From This Media to Explore

Get To Know Us Better

Agent At Home

Helping leisure selling travel agents successfully manage their at-home business.

Subscribe For Free

Agent Specialization: Group Travel

Laurence Pinckney

Laurence Pinckney

CEO of Zenbiz Travel, LLC

About Me
Agent At Home

Helping leisure selling travel agents successfully manage their at-home business.

Subscribe For Free

Agent Specialization: Group Travel

Laurence Pinckney

Laurence Pinckney

CEO of Zenbiz Travel, LLC

About Me