If you're anything like me, sometimes you just want to unwind in a peaceful, relaxing vacation destination. Don't get me wrong, sometimes you want to be a tourist and go where all the people go but I also get wanting to choose a spot where it's quiet and chill. In my traveling adventures, I've done both but for the sake of this post I've put together my top United States vacation destinations that aren't overly crowded.
The list has a city in each region of the US so pick a place and go enjoy!
Stinson Beach, California: If you follow this blow then you'll know I've already done a couple of posts on Stinson Beach, mainly because I love this little town! It is one of Northern California's best kept secrets! My husband and I stayed in Stinson Beach during the month of February which was a downtime for the community but you could still do everything you want in the winter other than lay out at the actual beach. If you're looking to catch some rays I'd recommend going in the summer months but since it's on the Pacific it's always going to be a bit windy and the water will always be chilly. Some of my favorite things to do in this area include hiking, eating at the amazing local restaurants, and taking a day road trip up Highway One.
Boone, North Carolina: Boone is located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway so I'd highly recommend renting a car for this trip or taking a road trip to the area as the drive is beautiful! We went "in season" to the area which is in the winter months because of the mountains and skiing but it still wasn't crowded because there are other more popular towns around Boone. Although, all of the towns in this area are within close proximity and it doesn't take long to go from one town to the next. The downtown area is very quaint and has a ton of cute stores. Boone is also home to the original Mast General Store. There are so many great hiking trails around the area but if you're only picking one then you should definitely hike Linville Falls. Boone just oozes the chill mountain vibe. This is one of those places that you could rent a cozy cabin, build a fire, and play games as a family and be as happy as ever.
Mountain View, Arkansas: Some of you may know that Mountain View holds a special place in my heart because my parents now live here. At first, it was somewhere close to our hometown that we could enjoy a long weekend get-a-way but now they've officially made the move and every time I visit I feel like I'm on a vacation. Mountain View is mostly for the outdoor adventurer. Some of my favorite things to do here include trout fishing on the White River, floating down the Sylamore creek either in a kayak or canoe, and exploring numerous trails that lead to beautiful waterfalls and overlooks. Blanchard Springs Caverns is located in Mountain View. It's a living cavern and can hardly be described in words! If you go to Mountain View you have to experience the caves. They have a ton of different guided tours. Another fun family adventure would be the Loco Ropes! It's an adventure park offering treetop activities like rope climbs, bridge walks, and zip-lining.
Omaha, Nebraska: There are a multitude of things to do in Omaha! You could spend a long weekend there or even a full week and you wouldn't get it all done. Omaha boasts the number one zoo in the entire world, that's right, in the world! The Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is a must visit! I've been to the zoo at least five times and it never gets old. Another place in Omaha that's amazing to visit is the Lauritzen Gardens which is a living museum of plant displays. It has both indoor and outdoor displays and is a hidden sanctuary in the heart of the city. Speaking of museums, Omaha has the Durham Museum which features Omaha and Nebraska history as well as traveling exhibits. This town also plays host to some of the best restaurants in America. Lastly, for adults only, Omaha boasts a number of awesome breweries and a great beer selection.
The Florida Keys (not Key West): The only reason I say "not Key West" is because this post is about vacation in places that aren't overly crowded. I love Key West and have nothing but great things to say about it but it's always crawling with people. If you're looking for more of a relaxing stay, there are so many other keys you can visit. This string of tropical islands are known as a destination to fish, boat, snorkel, and dive. I'd highly recommend staying at a number of different keys during one trip as each island offers its own unique atmosphere and vibe. You can feed the Tarpon at Robbie's in Islamorada, explore John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo, visit The Turtle Hospital in Marathon, and pick a spot on any beach to enjoy yourself and gaze out at the beautiful blue water.
This list of places to visit in the US is mostly unconventional and that's why I like it! But hey, don't knock a place until you've been there! I would love to know what some of your favorite destinations are that aren't overly crowded tourists spots or if you'd been to any of the places I have listed.
I grew up going on vacation to the panhandle of Florida. You name the beach, and I've probably been there: Pensacola Beach, Navarre Beach, Destin, Fort Walton, Panama City Beach, Seaside, etc. Although I grew up going to all of these places, when my husband and I decided to make a trip back just recently, I didn't really know where to go or what to do and it was our "babymoon" so my main concern was where to eat! I asked for recommendations from my trustee Facebook friends, some locals, and a few people that I knew that have second homes in the area. With Spring Break right around the corner and this area being so popular, I thought I'd write a post on some places that we ate and loved! Most of these places are near the Destin area or within 20 minutes of Destin and are definitely worth the drive! My mouth is watering just compiling the list in my head... yum... I love seafood! How about you?! I also love any good food that I don't have to cook and clean up, ha!
Boshamps Seafood and Oyster House: Boshamps is in Destin and overlooks the harbor. This was my favorite place we ate during our trip. They gave you the heartiest portion size and it was the most bang for our buck! It wasn't cheap by any means but the cost compared to the food we got was totally worth it. It was extremely crowded when we went and the wait was super long so we decided we'd sit at the bar as that area was first come, first serve. It was an excellent choice because we got an outside seat and there were just two of us so we didn't feel crammed even when our food arrived. We also went later in the evening but I'd suggest getting there around sunset as I'm sure it would be beautiful over he harbor. Andrew ordered the local catch of the day over creamy cheese grits and boy, was it good! I got the lobster mac n' cheese and it was the best lobster mac n' cheese I've ever had. There was a piece of lobster in every single bite and I even got a lobster claw. The food was fresh and delicious. I'd go back again and again.
Donut Hole Bakery Cafe: There are actually two Donut Hole's in the area so you can choose which one is closest to where you are staying! They are opened 24 hours and the menus are all the same from what I understand. We ate at the Donut Hold in Destin. We got there just before it got crowded so we didn't have to wait long but by the time we left there were people sitting outside waiting to eat. We actually went for breakfast so I'm sure the crowds are different depending on the time of day. Their coffee here was excellent! I even dipped my donuts in my coffee which made both taste better in my opinion. They are more than a donut shop though, they have full menu of breakfast items, salads, sandwiches, and burgers as well as a daily specials menu. The best part is, breakfast is served all day! We ended up leaving this place with a huge piece of Oreo cheesecake which we snacked on the rest of the week in our condo.
Bud and Alley's: This is a waterfront restaurant in the 30A area, a little bit of a drive from Destin but not too far and definitely worth it! No matter where you sit in this restaurant you'll have a fantastic view of the crystal clear blue water and white sand beaches. I think my favorite thing was that we sat on the rooftop area. They have breakfast, lunch, dinner and also do special events. We went during lunch and the vibe here is totally laid back, the food is great, and the drinks are cold. I had a virgin Miami Vice... yum!
The Red Bar: This was the place that I received the most recommendations to try out! I was very eager to see what all of the fuss was about. The food was wonderful but there aren't a ton of options, there are about five items written on a chalk board nightly of what you can choose to eat. This place is more about the ambiance than the food. It's in Grayton Beach and is a total hot spot for great food and live music! I dropped Andrew off at the front so he could get our name on the list thinking I'd just whip around and find a parking place. I ended up driving around and around in circles for about 20 minutes until I was able to find somewhere to park; after that, we waited another 30 minutes to get seated. We didn't even go during busy season so I can't imagine how this places fills up in the summer or during spring break! The band that night was great and the place is truly all red inside, hence the name. This is one of those places you've got to experience at least once! What a fun recommendation, I'm glad we went.
You didn't think I was going to list all of these places to eat without included something sweet did you?! As I said, we were on our "babymoon" and I had been craving/really wanting ice cream. Craving sounds better and makes me feel better! I started asking around and found Hershey's Ice Cream. The place had excellent reviews and when we walked in the owner actually greeted us. We visited here more than once on our trip and I had the best ice cream flavor I've ever eaten called bourbon caramel. It was to die for! If you're in the mood for something sweet after all of these delicious meals you absolutely need to make a stop at Hershey's!
Have you been to any of the places I mentioned? We'll be going back to this are more and more now that we've moved further south and we always love to try out new places so please drop a comment as to where we should eat next time!
A southern girl trying to make my dreams come true. My husband and I love to travel and go on new adventures--We love Jesus and the blessings He provides!