SIX UNDERRATED PLACES TO VISIT IN THE UNITED STATES
1. Savannah, Georgia
What popular cities like Miami, Los Angeles, and New York lack in charm, Savannah brilliantly flourishes in. Blush & blue colored Victorian-era mansions line old squares, covered in vines and displaying wick-burning lanterns to welcome visitors. Skyscrapers are nonexistent while maintaining cobble-stone streets remain a top priority. On every corner appears to be a trendy brunch spot or a small organic corner cafe. It perfectly integrates modern day trends with rich southern history. And just when you think it can't get any better, wait until you hear the ghost stories.
2. McCall, Idaho
McCall sits on the southernmost end of Payette Lake, a stunning freshwater lake filled with boats and framed by both sandy beaches and jagged cliffs. Endless northern forests flow endlessly in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. In the winter, numerous ski resorts within the area become a top priority for visitors, while not far away natural hot springs hide among tall pines, a perfect snowy escape. A midwest girl a heart, McCall perfectly combines my love for the water while encouraging my passion for the mountains and endless adventure.
3. White Mountains, New Hampshire
When thinking of America's Northeast, we often think of places like Boston, Cape Cod, and Long Island. However, the northeast encompasses some of the most beautiful (and treacherous) sections of the Appalachian Mountain Range. The White Mountains are home to dozens of waterfalls, hiking trails, mountain chalets, and even Mount Washington, one of the most dangerous and beautiful mountains in the U.S.
Whether looking to go peak bagging, enjoy a luxurious mountain getaway (check out this resort & spa), hike sections of the AT, or simply enjoy the scenery, it's got a little something for everyone.
4. Southern Utah
When rounding out this list, I knew I had to choose a place in Utah. It turns out I couldn't decide, and rightfully so. Southern Utah is other-worldly, a vast expanse of red rock mountains, deserts, arches, hoodoos, and even alien activity. From Utah's five insane national parks to the complete lack of humanity and endless Milkway, there are few places in the world with such a calming presence surrounded by pure-adrenaline adventure. Just take a look at this video of a casual swing over Canyonlands National Park, or test your sixth sense with extraterrestrial myths on a night camping in no-man's land. While living in a van, we spent months in Utah. Once you visit, it'll be easy to understand why.
5. Marquette, Michigan
Hidden among the rocky shorelines of Lake Superior, Marquette is a small town with a big heart. Breweries serve up some of Michigan's best brews, while just a few miles away groups are either hanging out on the long sandy beaches or taking a plunge off one of the local cliff jumping spots. If you haven't guessed, the coast is the focus here. It changes in an instant, going from fine white-sand beaches with Caribbean-blue water to rugged shorelines sporting black rocks and cliffs entangled with thick pine roots and pebbles.
6. White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
When driving to White Sands National Monument, you might first wonder if you're lost. Then you'll see signs for "White Sands Missile Range" and have a moment of pure panic while deciding whether you should continue to your unknown fate. White Sands National Monument is a treasure, and once you suddenly stumble upon the rolling dunes, you go from "lost in the middle of nowhere" to "possibly the most beautiful place in the U.S." in an instant. Pack (or rent) sleds to enjoy a ride down soft fine sand, or take to the Alkali Trail for an adventure into a scene fit for a fairytale. Don't forget to pack water!
ADDED BONUS: An Underrated Adventure in Canada
Between Lake Huron and the Georgian Bay is a remote section of Ontario known as the Bruce Peninsula. The area is a coastline lovers dream, with endless freshwater shores decorated in pebbled beaches and hundred-foot cliffs. The crystal clear water attracts both freedivers and scuba divers from around the world, eager to explore the underwater caves of The Grotto. In the summer you'll walk along the shore, hearing an occasional scream followed by a splash. The rocky outcrops along the shoreline make perfect natural diving boards, ranging from small fifteen-foot jumps to this eighty-foot jump which (rightfully) landed me bruises down my left side:
The United States includes some of the most expansive and diverse landscapes, cities, and towns in the world. On your next vacation, take a chance on something new. Discover your own adventures, get purposefully lost, put a marker on a map and just go. You'll be surprised what lies ahead.
Soulful adventurer. Probably lost. Definitely eating ice cream.
In her late-teens, Shalee drove out of her small hometown watching the sunset behind her along the two-lane highway. Her ventures began in Michigan, where she taught herself to travel on a budget. Today, Shalee shares her tips and stories to thousands of readers interested in adventure, budget, and outdoor travel. Learn more about her here.