Sometimes you really need to get away. This means away from the typical crowds that descend upon many of our country’s most popular getaways. Thankfully, along with the many destinations that attract a seemingly endless stream of visitors throughout the year, the United States also has hundreds of quiet vacation locations where you can stretch out, relax and unwind, and be somewhat alone. Here are seven such vacation destinations.
The Smoky Mountains, Tennessee
Next to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, one of our greatest treasures is Great Smoky Mountains National Park, offering unique diversity and high levels of peace and tranquility. Along with stunning natural beauty, the park boasts some excellent hiking, fishing, and swimming, and multiple scenic drives for those of lesser mobility. Area cabins make the Smoky Mountains a great place to take a timeout from the world. Pigeon Forge rental cabins come with full kitchens, multiple entertainments in the cabin, and usually a hot tub on the deck, from which to gaze at the mountain vistas and let your muscles relax and your mind unwind. Relax by the fireplace with a glass of wine and your favorite novel, or your favorite person, and take in the stars and the mountain sounds from a swing on the porch. Smoky Mountain cabins offer the perfect blend of privacy, rustic charm, and modern convenience, with lots of attractions outside, and the perfect sanctuary inside.
The Outer Banks, North Carolina
North Carolina’s Outer Banks boasts over 100 miles of beautiful beaches, the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and four Coastal Lighthouses. Lodging options on the Outer Banks consist mostly of single-family homes or small condominiums for rent. With almost two-hundred restaurants (many seafood) along the strip, finding a tasty meal is never an issue. If you prefer to catch your own dinner, many charter fishing boats are berthed in marinas along the outer banks. Along with typical water sports, other popular activities on the Outer Banks include hiking, biking, and golf. The area also has several world-class spas and wellness centers.
Newport, Rhode Island
Thanks to only a handful of hotels, compared with a multitude of bed and breakfast homes, you will rarely have to wait for a table in the historic town of Newport, Rhode Island. Newport has a wide variety of attractions, each with equal popularity, but none with long lines. Newport’s most visited historical sites include St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, where John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier were married, as well as Fort McAdams and America’s oldest synagogue and national historic site, Touro Synagogue. The famous Cliff Walk offers exceptional ocean views, and passes by many mansions from the late 19th century built during America’s iconic Gilded Age, offering a glimpse into the lives of their residents.
About halfway between Panama City Beach and Destin along Florida’s northern Emerald Coast, the quiet little town of Seaside slows down time and offers a relaxed and old-fashioned charm. The beach has been named “Best Beach on Earth” by Travel & Leisure magazine thanks to its emerald-green Gulf waters and white sugar sand. Emeril Lagasse featured Seaside on his hit cooking show” Emeril’s Florida.” You might also recognize Seaside as the filming location for Jim Carrey’s 1998 hit movie “The Truman Show”. Even with this fame, Seaside never gets overly crowded. Unlike most popular beach destinations, Seaside is designed to have no large hotels up and down the beach, just charming rental homes and cottages throughout the town, so every visitor becomes a local. With shops and eateries aplenty, Seaside offers a strolling adventure at every corner. The beach, the boardwalk, the cottages, and downtown are all within easy walking distance of each other in Seaside.
The Hudson River Valley, NY
The Hudson River Valley stretches from Westchester to Albany. It boasts some of the most beautiful panoramas in the eastern United States. Quiet hiking and biking trails abound in the Hudson River Valley, including the thirteen-mile long Dutchess Rail Trail – a former railway line now open to the public. Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park offers a cantilever bridge that ascends as high as 212 feet and offers stunning views of the river as well as the surrounding area. Nearby Bear Mountain State Park has plenty of secluded picnic areas, hiking and biking trails, and several fascinating trailside museums. The Hudson River Valley also boasts several renowned restaurants, including Blue Hill at Stone Barns and the Culinary Institute of America.
Excluding the annual Halloween festivities that begin in early October and run for about five or six weeks, Salem sees few crowds throughout the rest of the year. Attractions like the Salem Witch Museum, the House of the Seven Gables, and the Salem Witch House make Salem fun for every type of vacationer. Catch one of the many haunted tours offered daily or grab a map at the visitor’s center and go it alone. Along with a picturesque harbor, Salem also has lots of themed bars and restaurants, as well as many interesting shops and galleries. When it comes to lodgings, Salem has a nice mix of Victorian inns and historic Bed and Breakfasts (that may or may not be haunted).
Great Basin National Park, Nevada
Situated in the middle of the Nevada Desert, Great Basin National Park sees fewer than 170,000 visitors a year. Its location, along a stretch of highway known as “The Loneliest Road in America,” kind of says it all. An oasis in the desert, Great Basin National Park features alpine lakes, a mountain range, and lots of Bristlecone Pines – some of the world’s oldest living trees. Located just outside of the park, the quiet little town of Baker, Nevada, has a handful of places to eat and stay. But if beating the crowds is of the utmost priority, the park has five campgrounds that should do the trick.