Destinations / United States

9 Best Travel Destinations to Avoid Crowds in the U.S.

Nothing ruins the fun of a relaxing getaway more than tourist crowds, long lines and packed beaches. For a stress-free retreat, consider one of these alternative under-the-radar destinations to avoid crowds in the U.S. From the white sandy shoreline of Florida’s Panhandle to a lesser-known wine region in California, these blissful getaways give you more space to breathe.

 woman riding bicycle near lake, destination to avoid crowds
Photo|Woman riding a bicycle near lake|GETTYIMAGES – MICHAEL DEYOUNG

With over 400 million annual visitors to HotelsCombined, we’ve hand-picked the best cities and destinations to avoid crowds in the U.S, offering the perfect combination of charming attraction and outdoor activities. This comprehensive guide highlights the top things to do and see in each destination and the best places to stay.

Why You Should Visit Mackinac Island, Michigan

Mackinac Island Town View, destination to avoid crowds
Photo|Mackinac Island Town|GETTYIMAGES – WILTSER

An underrated U.S. destination for nature lovers, Mackinac Island is one of the most ideal destinations to avoid crowds in the U.S. With no cars allowed on the island, travellers flock to this timeless destination for its horse-drawn carriage tours, world-famous fudge and scenic bike trails in addition to golf courses, historic sites and quaint shops.

Best Experiences in Mackinac Island

Where to Stay in Mackinac Island

Grand Hotel

Grand Hotel, best hotel to avoid crowds
Photo|Grand Hotel|Provided by ICE PORTAL

The Grand Hotel boasts one of the world’s largest front porches, overlooking the picturesque Straits of Mackinac. Its elegant rooms are individually decorated and feature island views. Families can choose from one and two-bedroom suites and a four-bedroom cottage with a kitchen, living room and hot tub.

You’re spoilt for choice with on-site facilities, from a golf course, tennis courts and swimming pool to a luxe spa. There are multiple dining options available on-site, from elegant fine dining venues to a kid-friendly ice cream parlour. Don’t miss Mackinac’s Island’s first and only sushi restaurant, The Gate House or the live music and cocktails at the Terrace Room.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 491 – USD 1,139
Guest Rating: 9.1
Address: 86 Grand Avenue, Mackinac Island, MI 49757, United States

Why You Should Visit the Panhandle, Florida

Empty beach chairs on deserted beach with sailboat, destination to avoid crowd
Photo|Empty beach chairs on a deserted beach with sailboat|SHUTTERSTOCK – CHERYL CASEY

While Florida is full of beautiful white-sand beach destinations, the Panhandle dazzles with its pristine shorelines and fewer crowds. Affectionately known as the “Forgotten Coast”, the Panhandle is dotted with quiet barrier islands, small fishing towns and quaint beachside cities. For a dose of history and culture, visit the National Naval Aviation Museum and the 19th-century landmark Fort Pickens in Pensacola, while animal lovers won’t want to miss the chance to spot manatees in winter at Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park.

Best Experiences in the Panhandle

  • Swim and snorkel in the crystal-clear waters of Andrews State Park, which boasts an undeveloped 11-kilometre stretch of beach.
  • Road trip to charming beach towns such as Grayton Beach, Santa Rosa Beach and Fort Walton Beach.
  • Take a dip in the warm Gulf waters or try surf fishing at Perdido Key State Park.

Where to Stay in the Panhandle

Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa

Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, hotel to avoid crowds
Photo|Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa|Provided by ICE PORTAL

Set along a beautiful stretch of beach along the Gulf, Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa boasts a luxury spa, multiple pools and a collection of trendy eateries and bars. The hotel offers everything you need for a perfect beach getaway, such as beach chairs and umbrellas, kayaks and beach bonfires.

All rooms boast contemporary decor and a private balcony, as well as a mini-fridge, wet bar and seating area. Upgrade to a Deluxe Junior Suite for a beachfront balcony or Family Parlor Suite for bunk beds and 71 square metres of living space.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 263 – USD 1,241
Guest Rating: 8.9
Address: 4000 Sandestin Boulevard South, Destin, FL 32550-4214, United States

Why You Should Visit Paso Robles, California

Chapel On The Hill, destination to avoid crowds
Photo|Chapel On The Hill, Paso robles| GETTYIMAGES – MIMI DITCHIE PHOTOGRAPHY

A must-visit region in the U.S. for wine tasting, Paso Robles is set on California’s picturesque Central Coast. With easy access to Los Angeles and San Francisco, this underrated wine region is an ideal destination to avoid crowds in the U.S., offering quaint farm-to-table restaurants, cosy vineyard inns and tasting rooms.

Best Experiences in Paso Robles

  • Enjoy an alfresco culinary and wine pairing at the renowned DAOU Family Estates.
  • Unwind at River Oaks Hot Springs Spa with its spa services and private tubs overlooking the vineyards.
  • Sample award-winning local specialties at Kiler Ridge, a family-owned farm that produces small-batch extra virgin olive oil.

Where to Stay in Paso Robles

Allegretto Vineyard Resort Paso Robles

Allegretto Vineyard Resort Paso Robles, hotel to avoid crowds
Photo|Allegretto Vineyard Resort Paso Robles|Provided by ICE PORTAL

Framed by the picturesque vineyards of Paso Robles, Allegretto Vineyard Resort Paso Robles is a beautiful European-style retreat. It’s chic rooms and suites boast modern furnishings and luxe bedding, with some featuring a fireplace, living room and terrace with vineyard views.

Relax with a book poolside or book a pampering spa treatment, then refuel with delicious Italian cuisine at Cello Ristorante & Bar, which offers alfresco dining and fire bowls. You can also sip local wines in the cosy Wine Tasting Room. If you’re up for an adventure, the hotel organizes packages that combine wine tasting and horseback riding and hot air ballooning.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 259 – USD 396
Guest Rating: 9.2
Address: 2700 Buena Vista Drive, Paso Robles, CA 93446, United States

Why You Should Visit Camden, Maine

Fall scene at Camden, Maine, destination to avoid crowd
Photo|Fall scene at Camden, Maine|GETTYIMAGES – JOHN WANG

Camden, Maine is a quaint town on the coast of New England, known as the “place where mountains meet the sea”. This self-described jewel is arguably one of the most charming New England towns and a great destinations to avoid crowds in the U.S. Spend your vacation shopping, sailing and sampling some of the best seafood on the East Coast.

Best Experiences in Camden

  • Drive to the summit of Mount Battie at Camden Hills State Park for panoramic city views.
  • Cool off at Barrett’s Cove, a freshwater beach on the picturesque Megunticook Lake.
  • Drive five minutes to Rockport for delicious lobster rolls at Graffam Bros Seafood.

Where to Stay in Camden

16 Bay View

16 Bay View, hotel to avoid crowds
Photo|16 Bay View|Provided by BOOKING.COM

16 Bay View is the transformation of a 100-year-old industrial brick building into a luxury boutique hotel. Located on Bay View Street near the city’s shopping district, its popular The View rooftop bar and terrace overlooks the harbour. Breakfast is served to your room, while the Vintage Room serves hand-crafted cocktails.

Chic rooms and suites feature private balconies, gas fireplaces, deep soaking tubs and pillow-top mattresses. Upgraded rooms add separate living rooms with pull-out sleeper sofas, while the posh Camden Harbor Loft boasts top-floor views of the harbour. In-room massages are also available.

Star Rating: 3*
Price: USD 278 – USD 548
Guest Rating: 9.5
Address: 16 Bay View Street, Camden, ME 04843, United States

Why You Should Visit Door County, Wisconsin

Scenic Cana Island Lighthouse, Door County, Wisconsin, aerial flyby
Photo|Cana Island Lighthouse, Door County|GETTYIMAGES – JAMESBREY

Door County, Wisconsin is dotted with lighthouses, harbours and historic villages, featuring almost 500 kilometres of shoreline and a collection of laid-back waterfront towns. You’ll have your pick of adventures in this peaceful area, which offers wineries, orchards, boutique shops, art galleries and scenic hiking trails.

Best Experiences in Door County

  • Relax at one of the 53 beaches in the area, then watch kiteboarders at Anclam Park or pack a picnic for Waterfront Park.
  • Learn about the region’s rich maritime history at Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay.
  • Hike the trails at Ahnapee Trail or see cliffs jutting out over sea caves at Cave Point.

Where to Stay in Door County

Landmark Resort Egg Harbor

Experience the best of Door County with a stay at Landmark Resort Egg Harbor, which is set on 16 wooded hectares. Along with heated pools, whirlpools and steam rooms, this all-suite hotel boasts a game room, fire pit and fitness centre. It’s signature restaurant Carrington Pub & Grill combines tasty food with panoramic views of the bay.

There are 16 different bedroom types to choose from, including one, two and three-bedroom suites. Some accommodations feature striking water views from private patios or balconies, while others have tranquil woodland vistas. All rooms have free Wi-Fi, cable TV and air conditioning.

Star Rating: 3*
Price: USD 212 – USD 443
Guest Rating: 8.1
Address: 7643 Hillside Road, Egg Harbor, Wisconsin, United States

Why You Should Visit the Texas Hill Country, Texas

Early Morning at Enchanted Rock State Park, TX
Photo|Enchanted Rock State Park, Texas Hill|GETTYIMAGES – DEAN FIKAR

The Texas Hill Country is home to small-town charms packed with a rich history and family-friendly attractions, offering a long list of outdoor adventures where you can avoid crowds in the U.S. Escape from the big-city bustle and explore unexpected gems in Texas, from rustic German towns and lavender fields to outdoor attractions like natural swimming holes and the famed Enchanted Rock in Fredericksburg.

Best Experiences in the Texas Hill Country

  • Pay homage to country music legends at the famous Gruene Hall in New Braunfels.
  • Catch a rodeo or visit a honkey-tonk venue in Banderas, dubbed the “Cowboy Capital of the World.”
  • Go swimming, tubing or canoeing at Guadalupe River State Park in Spring Branch.

Where to Stay in the Texas Hill Country

Horseshoe Bay Resort

Horseshoe Bay Resort, hotel to avoid crowds
Photo|Horseshoe Bay Resort|Provided by ICE PORTAL

Sitting along the shores of LBJ, Horseshoe Bay Resort is a destination in itself with its three championship golf courses, multiple restaurants and family activities, from boating to tennis. Indulge in a treatment at the spa or relax poolside, then dine on Texas Gulf Coast seafood on the outdoor patio of Waterfront Bar & Grill.

Spacious rooms are decorated with plush furniture, while multi-room villas and apartment rentals are ideal for families and large groups. Many offer separate living rooms and views of Lake LBJ and the Texas Hill Country. Enjoy lake-side recreation, a romantic sunset cruise or visit nearby Marble Falls for a day trip excursion.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 189 – USD 2,500
Guest Rating: 8.8
Address: 200 Hi Circle North, Horseshoe Bay, TX 78657, United States

Why You Should Visit Anchorage, Alaska

Backpacker hiking in Chugach State Park near Anchorage, Alaska, destination to avoid crowds
Photo|Backpacker hiking in Chugach State Park|GETTYIMAGES – HAGERPHOTO

Alaska’s proximity to the great outdoors is its biggest lure for travellers looking for destinations to avoid crowds in the U.S., with Anchorage offering access to glaciers, wildlife and mountains. Discover year-round activities, from leafy parks with bike paths and mesmerizing glaciers to kilometres of ski trails, dog sledding and ice skating in winter. Alternatively, within a short drive of downtown are dozens of wilderness adventures.

Best Experiences in Anchorage

Where to Stay in Anchorage

Hotel Captain Cook

Hotel Captain Cook, hotel to avoid crowds
Photo|Hotel Captain Cook|Provided by ICE PORTAL

Located in the heart of downtown Anchorage, every one of the rooms at Hotel Captain Cook boasts stunning views of the Cook Inlet or the Chugach Mountains. Junior Suites add separate living rooms, while posh Crow’s Nest Suites add a large parlour and exclusive access to the Captain’s Deck lounge with free breakfast and a nightly wine and beer reception.

Food lovers will be delighted with the hotel’s on-site dining options, including the fine dining at Crow’s Nest restaurant, which features a cellar with more than 10,000 bottles of wine and stunning panoramic city views. Alternatively, opt for Italian cuisine in a classic English pub setting at Fletcher’s or cocktails and shareable plates at Whale’s Tail.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 172 – USD 504
Guest Rating: 8.9
Address: 939 West 5th Avenue, Anchorage, AK 99501, United States

Why You Should Visit Plum Island, Massachusetts

 Plum Island, Path toward beach, destination to avoid crowds
Photo|Plum Island, Path toward beach|GETTYIMAGES – WIN-INITIATIVE

An excellent destination for nature lovers, Plum Island is a barrier island set off the north-east coast of Massachusetts. Only 17 kilometres in length, this hidden gem is a fantastic place to enjoy the outdoors and avoid crowds in the U.S. Named for its wild beach plum shrubs that grow on its dunes, this oasis is perfect for anyone seeking a little peace and quiet.

Best Experiences in Plum Island

  • Visit the Plum Island Lighthouse, which was built in 1898, and catch a stunning coastal sunset.
  • Enjoy birdwatching at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, a hotspot for migratory birds.
  • Visit Bob Lobster for fried clams, chowder and lobster rolls paired with outdoor seating and marsh views.

Where to Stay in Plum Island

Blue – Inn On The Beach

Blue - Inn on the Beach, hotel to avoid crowds
Photo|Blue – Inn on the Beach|Provided by BOOKING.COM

Set right on the beach, Blue – Inn On The Beach is about as oceanfront as you can get, offering a luxury vacation cottage experience away from the masses. Relax in the hot tub or enjoy a glass of wine on the deck. Wake up to a sweet and savoury breakfast basket, then explore the charming downtown Newburyport just a short drive away.

Choose from stylish rooms, suites and cottages, with many featuring expansive porches and lounging decks with ocean views. Two-Bedroom Queen Cottages are ideal for families with a full kitchen and living room, while the Oceanview Lark Suite is a romantic retreat with 180-degree ocean-viewing.

Star Rating: 3*
Price: USD 562 – USD 880
Guest Rating: 9.2
Address: 20 Fordham Way, Newbury, MA 01951, United States

Why You Should Visit Stowe, Vermont

Stowe Church on a fall season morning, destination to avoid crowds
Photo|Stowe Church on a fall season|GETTYIMAGES – ENZO FIGUERES

Stowe is a charming outdoorsy destination in northern Vermont, beloved for its winter sports, leaf-peeping opportunities and family attractions. Drive through the picturesque Smugglers’ Notch State Park to see cliffs as high as 300 metres, while Auto Toll Road winds up to the summit of Mt. Mansfield. Alternatively, opt for a hiking excursion to stunning waterfall views at Moss Glen Falls or Sterling Falls Gorge.

Best Experiences in Stowe

  • Avid fans of “The Sound of Music” can take a history tour of the Trapp Family Lodge.
  • Enjoy the relaxed, scenic setting at Stowe Recreation Path, which is popular for hiking, biking and picnicking.
  • Get your adrenaline pumping with skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing at Stowe Mountain Resort.

Where to Stay in Stowe

The Lodge at Spruce Peak

The Lodge at Spruce Peak, hotel to avoid crowds
Photo|The Lodge at Spruce Peak|Provided by ICE PORTAL

The Lodge at Spruce Peak is Stowe’s only ski-in, ski-out luxury resort. Beautiful mountain vistas can be seen from floor-to-ceiling windows, while the lavish spa boasts an outdoor pool, Jacuzzi and signature massage treatments. When hunger strikes, Solstice Restaurant serves bistro fare and local brews and The Beanery offers hot and cold espresso drinks, smoothies and sandwiches.

Spacious studios boast king-size beds, kitchenettes and private outdoor terraces, while Junior Suites add a cosy fireplace. Got the kids in tow? Upgrade to a one, two or three-bedroom suite for gourmet kitchens and living rooms. There are also multi-bedroom penthouses, mountain cabins and a six-bedroom rental option available.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 218 – USD 799
Guest Rating: 9.1
Address: 7412 Mountain Road, Stowe, Vermont, United States

Top Under-The-Radar Destinations to Avoid Crowds in the U.S.

Couple with son and daughter riding bicycles near lake, destination to avoid crowds
Photo|Family riding bicycles near lake| GETTYIMAGES – MICHAEL DEYOUNG

For your next vacation getaway, avoid crowds in the U.S. by visiting one of these tranquil off-the-beaten-path destinations. These often-overlooked spots are perfect for enjoying a stress-free holiday, providing great value for your money and more intimate, authentic travel experiences. Skip places with over-tourism and instead add these alternative city breaks to your growing bucket list.

What are your favourite destinations to avoid crowds in the U.S.? Let us know in the comments below.

Author: Charity De Souza

Born and raised in Orlando, Florida, I have been travelling with my battered backpack full-time for over a decade. My favourite travel memories include skydiving in Switzerland, wine tasting in Portugal, road tripping through Iceland, snorkelling in Indonesia and watching a sunset in the Sahara Desert.

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