It’s a nightmare scenario: you spend months planning the perfect family road trip only to hit every vacay pitfall in the book. Heavy traffic, long lines, impossible parking scenarios … not how you want to spend your precious time off. Fortunately, there are plenty of incredible off-the-beaten track options for the savvy summer traveler. Let’s take a look at 6 of the best underrated locations for your next vacation.
1. Outer Banks, North Carolina
If you thought you had to go all the way to New England to see quaint lighthouses, think again. This spot in North Carolina offers seashore views that rival those in the Northeast. Filled with small towns and seaside cottages, the Outer Banks is an idyllic coastal vacation in an unexpected location. For a little dose of excitement, you can enjoy just about any aquatic sport — including scuba diving. And if you prefer to stay dry, you could play a round of golf.
2. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
While many road trippers are on their way to Mount Rushmore this summer, you can get your American history fix in Philadelphia. This is the home of the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall — the very place where the Declaration of Independence was signed. You can even retrace the steps of our founding fathers on an outdoor Segway tour.
3. Breckenridge, Colorado
It’s a big ski destination in the winter, but you won’t be disappointed with an “off-season” vacation in the summer. In fact, it’s a veritable wonderland for outdoor explorers. During the summer, you can go zip-lining, mountain biking, geocaching, and even dog sledding (yes, in the summer — it’s a thing!).
4. Chicago, Illinois
If you’re looking for a thrilling urban experience, but don’t want to get stuck in NYC’s many tourist traps, then Chicago is the place for you. You can wine and dine on rooftop bars, view the skyline from a relaxing boat tour along the river, and then get your outdoor theater fix. And don’t forget food — in fact, there are plenty of food tours to choose from. (Heads up: their pizza is serious business.)
5. Santa Cruz, California
While San Francisco is generally foggy in the summer, sunny Santa Cruz is just 90 minutes south. This laid-back city is full of gorgeous beaches, garden tours, and the iconic boardwalk. Plus, Monterey Bay and its famous aquarium are close by too.
6. Forgotten Coast, Florida
Key West and Miami are great, but if you’re trying to avoid the crowds and get some much-needed rest and relaxation, then Florida’s Forgotten Coast is the place for you. Loaded with beautiful, secluded beaches, quaint boutique shops, and super-fun festivals, this spot along the Florida panhandle just might be the perfect vacation destination. And you can bring your dog or go horseback riding.
No matter where the road takes you this summer, make sure you have the right car insurance so your vacation goes smoothly.