Summer is winding up fast, and before we know it kids across the country will be heading back to school. Whether families are looking to fly halfway across the country or head out on a road trip across town, there is still time to squeeze in a quick trip before everyone is in back-to-school mode. Enjoy the last few weeks of the season by reconnecting and making summer memories, seeing new and exciting sights, or resting and relaxing the days away.
A challenge most families face when planning last-minute summer vacations is that precisely every other family is planning them, too! With constant annoyances like long lines at museums, amusement parks, and other attractions, high prices at hotels, and booked restaurants, you can mitigate these obstacles and plan your trip smarter with little-known travel destinations!
The U.S. is overflowing with hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path treasures that your whole family will love. So with that in mind, let’s talk about some of our favorite and not-yet-overcrowded travel destinations for families!
Nestled in Santa Ynez Valley, this southern Californian village is touched by all things Danish, including wooden shoes. Stop by for a day trip surrounded by bakeries, traditional European restaurants, charming wooden cabins and tons of adorable shops.
This desert gem offers tons of breathtaking sites for the whole family. You can go on picturesque trails amidst the gorgeous red rock landscapes, check out the vibrant arts scene in uptown Sedona, or get wet & wild in the waterfalls at Slide Rock state park.
Silver Falls, Oregon
Go with the flow! Known for its abundance of picturesque waterfalls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon, is located an hour away from Portland. For the full falls experience, follow the Trail of Ten Falls. The stunning scenery and gorgeous water features are a must-see for anybody who loves nature. And the site makes for excellent overnight camping, too. Just bring a tent and supplies and get ready for adventure!
Mackinac Island, Michigan
This hidden gem of an island getaway is located on Lake Huron and features plenty of lakeside fun for the whole family. You can rent kayaks, hop on a guided sailboat tour or even try your hand at fishing in the lake. With no cars allowed on the island, visitors arrive by ferry, which helps keep its exclusive and elusive quality.
Jekyll Island, Georgia
If you find yourself in the South and are itching to hit the beach, look no further than Jekyll Island, Georgia. You’ve got miles of white sand beaches, bike trails, a sea turtle rescue center, dolphin tours, plus horseback riding tours. If that weren’t enough, there’s also nonstop fun at Summer Waves Water Park.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
With the warm weather, nothing beats a summer in Shenandoah. Bursting with waterfalls and lush fields for hiking, Shenandoah National Park has endless fun for the family. Located just two hours from Washington D.C., this park is a dream for families looking to get in touch with nature. For those looking for some camping, the Big Meadows campground offers majestic views as you sleep under the stars.
Tucked between the mountains of Southeast Tennessee, Chattanooga is one of the most underrated spots in the South. Affordable, colorful, and a foodie's dream, the family can stroll alongside the river as you visit gourmet bakeries, cafes, high-end restaurants, and craft breweries. Enjoy activities such as famed military parks, The Creative Discovery Museum designed for kids, Ruby Falls, the Aquarium, and much more.
Bald Head Island, North Carolina
Small and somewhat remote on the east coastline, Bald Head Island is rich in history and boasts 10,000 untouched acres of beach, marsh, and maritime forest preserves. Stop by for endless charm, nature preserves, local artisanal shops, quaint neighborhood flavor, and pristine beaches. There’s even a lighthouse built in 1817 that’s still standing named “Old Baldy!”
Pine Island, Florida
Quiet, laid back, and off the Gulf Coast of Florida, Pine Island is a dream destination that any family would love. You can go on hikes, paddle the Calusa Blueway, eat fresh fish tacos, and even stay in a lodge on the water!
Hudson Valley, New York
This stunning spot located two hours away from New York City is a great east coast gem for any family vacay. You can experience national parks, deep and beautiful woods, fresh fruit orchards, and dozens of antique stores in town for some old-timey shopping.
We hope our list of hard-to-find U.S. travel destinations serves as an inspiration for your upcoming summer vacation. Don’t forget to pack your Doona Car Seat & Stroller, which transforms at the click of a button, fits on an airplane overhead compartment, and can be taken on any mode of transportation for simple parenting and endless exploring. Enjoy quality time with your family and make memories that will last a lifetime!