Vacations to big cities, popular national parks, or famous resort towns can be a lot of fun, but sometimes it can be just as rewarding to visit a lesser-known spot.
Here is a look at some of the most underrated vacation spots around the United States, and a few abroad as well.
News/Getty Images Bboserup/iStock/Getty Images
The Grand Canyon gets most of the attention in northern Arizona, but Sedona, a couple hours south, has scenery that’s just as impressive. Beautiful red sandstone rock formations surround the city and hiking, biking, and mountain climbing opportunities are easy to find nearby.
Denali National Park, Alaska
Alaska has an abundance of untouched wilderness, and this is especially true of Denali National Park, a six million acre expanse of solitude and tranquility.
Taos, New Mexico
Adina Tovy/Lonely Planet/Getty Images
Santa Fe usually takes the spotlight in New Mexico, but further north in Taos is a city that offers a more authentic, less expensive, and far less commercial vacation. The town offers a number of historic landmarks, and is known for its nearby ski slopes during the winter.
Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville, North Carolina has long been host to a vibrant live music scene, with the city’s downtown offering a combination of Southern charm and hippie creativity. The scenic town is also a major hub of whitewater recreation, and is surrounded by numerous mountains, trails, and swimming holes.
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Robert Mayne/iStock/Getty Images
Belfast has long been avoided by tourists in Ireland due to its legacy of IRA bombings and urban slums, but the Northern Ireland capital has seen a transformation in recent years. The city has seen an economic revival thanks to the technology sector, and has regained its reputation as a center for the arts, higher education, business, and law.
Glacier National Park, Montana
Montana’s Glacier National Park is often overshadowed by some of the other national parks, but it merits attention. The park encompasses over 1 million acres, parts of two mountain ranges, over 130 named lakes, more than 1,000 different species of plants, and hundreds of species of animals. The pristine ecosystem is the centerpiece of what has been referred to as the “Crown of the Continent Ecosystem,” a region of protected land encompassing 16,000 square miles.
Mihai Andritoiu/iStock/Getty Images
Philadelphia is often overshadowed by nearby New York and Washington, D.C., but the city is home to a number of historic landmarks, including Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed, and Elfreth’s Alley Historic District, the country’s oldest residential neighborhood in continuous use.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
Danita Delimont/Gallo Images/Getty Images
Mackinac Island, Michigan is a lesser-known retreat in the state, and a peaceful one, as due to a local ordinance, motor vehicles aren’t allowed. The Grand Hotel offers amazing views of Lake Huron as well, and the island is famed for its fudge.
Robert Lang Photography/Moment/Getty Images
Adelaide is often overlooked for other cities like Sydney or Melbourne in Australia, but the city delivers a unique personality as a vacation spot. Adelaide is well known for its art scene and collection of museums, and features a culturally diverse mix of restaurants.
Spaces Images/Blend Images/Getty Images
Puebla is one of the less popular tourist destinations in Mexico, as it lacks the pristine beaches of resort towns like Cancun, but the city is one of the country’s most historic Spanish colonial cities, and is famous for its ancient Mayan ruins, as well as being the site of the famous battle that spurred the Cinco de Mayo celebrations today. Puebla is also considered by many to be the food capital of Mexico, as it offers cuisine influenced heavily by ancient Mayan recipes.
The Apostle Islands, Wisconsin
Dean Pennala/Hemera/Getty Images
The Apostle Islands on Lake Superior in Wisconsin are known for the numerous caves and rocky cliffs visitors can explore by kayak, as well as its scenic lighthouses overlooking the lake.
St. Augustine, Florida
Henryk Sadura/Tetra images/Getty Images
St. Augustine is one of the oldest continuously occupied European settlements in the United States, and features beautiful white sand beaches and a host of historic landmarks.