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If you’ve followed me for a bit, you know that I like to focus on quiet travel for the anxious or adaptive traveler. I tend to search for underrated travel destinations outside of major cities. Unfortunately, the time constraints of my business isn’t always conducive to remote travel. Cities are crowded, can be bogged down by hair-pulling waits, and are often pricey. I love traveling in shoulder season and the winter precisely to get away from the tourists. It turns out, I’m not alone.
Although anxious travelers may particularly struggle with top tier attractions and the crowds that follow, most people value their time more than wanting to stand in long lines to enter a castle or a historic site. After consulting with some fellow bloggers, I’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite underrated travel destinations in the U.S.A.
One of my favorite hidden gems is Kohler, Wisconsin. It is near Sheboygan, but far enough away to be considered quaint. While there are PGA quality golf courses and a 5 Diamond hotel and spa, it is also completely walkable and very cozy. I’d say it embodies hygge.
Leigh from Campfires and Concierges recommends West Texas. With great expanses between towns and attractions, it’s more scarcely visited than other areas of the state. West Texas and Big Bend National park, although somewhat difficult to get to, are definitely underrated places in the U.S.A. She says,
“Big Bend National Park is unique, rugged and simply gorgeous. All around the area are interesting little towns, like Marfa, Alpine, Ft. Davis and Terlingua. If you love hiking and nature, I highly recommend visiting if you ever get the chance! I’ve been to 49 states and this area is unlike any other place I’ve been.”
Karen from Wanderlusting K suggests Buffalo, New York. I’ve visited once during the winter and loved the historic downtown and the close proximity to ski hills with tons of lake effect snow. Karen shares,
“One of my favorite underrated travel destinations is Buffalo, New York. So many people visit Niagara Falls, yet skip Buffalo entirely. The Queen City has a lot of charm, first class art museums, vibrant neighborhoods (Elmwood Village / Allentown), beautiful art deco buildings, and some incredible food. If you go to Buffalo, try the famous Buffalo Wings (I prefer Duff’s), a sandwich from Dibella’s, and a red velvet donut from Paula’s! It might be cold in Buffalo, but the people are incredibly warm!”
Custer State Park, South Dakota
I’ve been jonesing for a trip to South Dakota for some time now. After a stop at the booth at the Chicago Travel and Adventure Show, the state jetapulted to the top of my list. Since I have not read too much about it, nor have I heard anything about it from my friends, I wasn’t too sure what it had to offer. Boy, was I wrong. This gem is an underrated travel destination for sure. Lauren from TheDownLo certainly thinks so, she says,
“The area’s wooded wilderness offers a host of recreational opportunities and plenty of ways to explore. The Cathedral Spirals are one of the more famous trails, while Little Devil’s Tower Trail is a bit shorter with equally amazing views. Black Elk Peak (formerly called Harney Peak) is the highest summit in South Dakota, and on a good day, you can see all the way to the neighboring states.”
I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Michigan, with recent trips to the Upper Peninsula, Ludington, and even Petoskey. It’s been a while since I was in Detroit. In 2010, I was in a long distance relationship with someone from Birmingham, Michigan, and we didn’t spend too much time in Detroit. It was a dark time for the city, with unemployment high and many of the buildings in disrepair. At that point, it wouldn’t really qualify for an underrated travel destination. Fortunately, fate has dealt the city a better hand and Tendelle from Travel and Tendelle has many great things to say about Detroit.
Detroit, Motor City, is often overlooked as an American city that is past its prime – impoverished and dilapidated as the auto industry crumbled. Discovering this piece of American history, like exploring the abandoned Michigan Central Station and the Packard Plant, is just one part of what makes Detroit so interesting.
Idaho only recently snuck its way onto my wanderlust list, and it was for the Coeur D’Alene area. As I’ve discovered since then, there is so much to do in Sandpoint Idaho, without the CDA crowds. I saw one instagram photo and thought, “Sold!” Seriously, my husband and I decided to spend our honeymoon on an Idaho road trip based on some fun facts about Idaho that we learned. Kim from 33 and Free says that one of the best places to visit in Idaho is the Ketchum, Idaho area. Based on her photos and her posts, I think she’s convinced me. She says,
Ketchum, ID usually goes by the more popular name for the area Sun Valley. Most come for the snow in the winter, but the summer holds its own. With beautiful hiking, awesome mountain biking, trout fishing and secluded boondocking it’s the perfect getaway. The quaint downtown has delicious food, a great brewery and the people are friendly. If you need a moment of seclusion, Pioneer Cabin Trail is the best hike in the area. Find yourself at an old ski hut, read a book while taking in the views of the mountains.
Wisconsin earns another spot on the list! I often say that when I leave Chicago, I’d like to move to a home on a lake in Wisconsin. It’s just so beautiful and the people are so friendly. Hannah from Getting Stamped agrees, saying,
Wisconsin often gets overlooked by tourists but they are really missing out! Milwaukee is only 90 minutes from Chicago, just jump on the train to avoid traffic. There are a ton of things to do in Milwaukee but most of my favorites are downtown. The lakefront always has something going on during the summer from beach parties at Bradford beach to Summerfest the world’s largest music festival. It would be a sin not to try eat deep fried cheese curds and drink a beer in Milwaukee, we suggest the Milwaukee Ale House located on the riverfront.
Time to visit Underrated Travel Destinations
With all of these suggestions, I have so many places to add to my bucket list. Spanning all corners of the country, there is so far to travel and so little time. Do you have any towns or cities that you recommend as an underrated travel destination to visit in the United States? Share any recommendations in the comments!