Travel is often filled with museums, crowds, and breakneck itineraries. But, the off-the-beaten path travel is far more memorable and relaxing. Typically smaller towns in more out-of-the-way locations offer a chance to slow down, explore, and take in the spectacular scenery all away from the crowds.
Here are some of the best secret hideaways worth checking out inside United States.
The Oregon Coast is a magnificent, 350-mile stretch of undeveloped beaches, park, hills and forest with rugged coves and craggy cliffs. The hauntingly beautiful coastline is best appreciated from the string of state parks that forms to preserve the oceanside running the length of the state and are best traveled via car or bicycle.
The main route of Highway 101 closely follows the contours of the seaboard offering many turnoffs for postcard-worthy water views, and some quiet country roads allow for peaceful pedaling. The Oregon coast is typically broken into two parts: the North Coast, from Astoria through Lincoln City, and the South Coast, running from Lincoln City through Brookings. The south is considerably less developed and more rugged than the northern sections with far fewer visitors. The rocky beachside scenery and small working-class towns lends the place a tangible authenticity, one not likely to be forgotten by anyone interested in having experiences off the beaten path.
North Rim, Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world, which means it's insanely crowded throughout the entire year. If you're looking to experience the majesty of the park without the crush of the crowds, opt for the quieter North Rim with its cooler temperatures, thick wildflower meadows and lush forest with ponderosa pines. While there are few opportunities for scenic overlooks, there is plenty of hiking for all fitness levels, plus the classic Grand Canyon Mule Ride which takes you either around or below the Rim.
As expected of a secret hideaway, there are fewer amenities in this more remote section of the Grand Canyon, but there are campgrounds, small motels, and The Grand Canyon Lodge, an impressive wood-and-stone hotel that sits on the canyon rim commanding extraordinary canyon views. As the North Rim is located in Northern Arizona near Southern Utah, with a 1,000 feet higher elevation than the more popular South Rim, facilities are closed from mid-October to mid-May, although you can drive into the park and camp until the first snow closes the roads.
US 500, between Silverton and Ouray, is often known as the Million Dollar Hwy. Not only for the million-dollar views around every corner, but it is rumored that the road-bed fill contains valuable ore. The road takes you past mining an old mining town of the old Wild West, larger-than-life alpine scenery, and spectacular Rocky Mountain peaks that are so close they seem ready to grab you.
The Ouray hot springs are the perfect place for a healing soak and the cascading waterfalls, Ouray Ice Park, and magnificent mountains are just some of the activities to keep you occupied. Awesome doesn't do the place justice. What makes this place even more special are the accommodations. Many of the lodges are destination within themselves, fitting for all budget types. Ouray might just be that little bit of paradise.
Lake Champlain, Vermont
The open islands along skinny Lake Champlain are a perfect retreat from the everyday hustle and bustle. With close proximity to major cities like Boston, Providence, Hartford and New York this tiny parcel of paradise makes a wonderful leisurely road trip. The pristine islands are small, but idyllic. With few tourist amenities, there is a sense of stark beauty in the 30-mile road connecting the low, open island parks that push up to the Canadian border.
Each of the islands offers plenty of opportunities for swimming, camping or hiking, and picnic tables and cooking grills are peppered throughout the area. North Hero State Park is often considered the crown jewel of the Lake Champlain Island Parks, with 399 acres and offering a variety of services and facilities including 99 spacious, wooded and private campsites. To fulfill the workout quota, some islands rent kayaks or canoes, perfect to appease an adventurous spirit or provide a leisurely paddle around the lake. Or, if it's true adventure you crave search for the elusive Lake Champlain monster, Champ.