10 Must-See Underrated Cities to Visit This Summer

Escape peak-season crowds and prices in these often-overlooked locales.

10 Must-See Underrated Cities to Visit This Summer
10 Must-See Underrated Cities to Visit This Summer
Family with map at RV near lake.
Fort Worth, Texas skyline at sunrise.
Pink and violet clouds in rays emanating from Hillsboro Lighthouse looking north inside the inlet.
Beautiful sunset clouds are reflected on the calm waters of Ward Lake in the Tongass National Forest.
Capitol Blvd, Boise, Idaho
A team of horses pulling a carriage pose in front of a victorian home high on West Bluff Road in Mackinac Island, Michigan.
Meditating over the Hudson River in the morning sunshine in Upper Nyack, New York.
The Portland Head Light at sunrise just outside of Portland, Maine.
Hall County courthouse in Grand Island, Nebraska.
A man photographs the desert landscape in Sedona, Arizona.
Rows of different colors of flowers in Carlsbad, California.
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Start planning your getaway to these under-the-radar hot spots.
Every popular city has its unique attributes catering to diverse traveler types and interests. While New York City overflows with cutting-edge museums, art galleries and restaurants, Honolulu offers consistently warm temperatures and a mix of urban and natural allures. And while Miami may cater to active types and sun seekers, Philadelphia and Boston draw history buffs in droves. However, savvy travelers who desire vacations far removed from heavy tourist crowds understand that scores of lesser-known cities and small towns provide immersive and enjoyable experiences. Here are 10 under-the-radar locales to explore this season.
(Getty Images)

Fort Worth, Texas
Renowned for its cowboy culture, Fort Worth intertwines Western history with modern allures. Visitors can check out rodeos and twice-daily cattle drives before heading to acclaimed museums like the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. Plus, you'll find a burgeoning art scene in the historic Camp Bowie District. If you would rather take to the great outdoors, you can explore the Trinity River's 40 miles of trails along with 20 miles of hiking trails at the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge. And when it comes to accommodations, the Stockyards Hotel has been serving visitors for over 100 years, including cowboys and country music stars.
(Getty Images)

Pompano Beach, Florida
Dubbed as "the heart of the Gold Coast," Pompano Beach conveniently lies just north of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The area's revitalized beachfront and historic downtown offers a wealth of attractions. At the heart of Pompano Beach's thriving arts scene, you'll find the new Creative Arts District, housed in a collection of renovated buildings. And for scuba and snorkeling enthusiasts, world-class wreck and reef dives abound in the nearby waters. Meanwhile, Butterfly World captivates visitors with three acres of butterfly aviaries. When you're ready to turn in for the evening, Fort Lauderdale Marriott Pompano Beach Resort & Spa is a charming boutique-style property with stunning views overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
(Getty Images)

Ketchikan, Alaska
If you're yearning to visit the last frontier, it's hard to top Ketchikan. Set at the southernmost entrance to Alaska's famed Inside Passage, Ketchikan is best known for salmon, idyllic scenery and incredibly rich Alaska Native culture. What's more, Ketchikan is a photographer's dream. Misty Fjords National Monument, with its snowcapped mountaintops often shrouded in an ethereal mist, is the crown jewel of photos. After snapping some pictures, check out the world's largest collection of totem poles or learn about the city's lawless past at local exhibits before hunkering down at the Black Bear Inn, an elegant bed and breakfast with tasteful decor and stunning views.
(Getty Images)

Boise, Idaho
A city on the rise, Boise is an-and-coming foodie mecca with its diverse array of restaurants with locally sourced menu items, craft breweries and wine tasting rooms. Consider Boise to be the cultural center of the Gem State thanks to performing arts taking center stage with events like the Treefort Music Festival. And for outdoor lovers, Boise sits close to foothills, mountain bike trails, a ski area and the Boise River for fishing, floating and bird watching. The lakefront Shore Lodge in nearby McCall, Idaho, offers adventurous travelers upscale accommodations and a myriad of activities, from hiking, paddle boarding and boating to relaxing at the on-site spa, The Cove.
(Getty Images)

Mackinac Island, Michigan
Surrounded by Lake Huron, Mackinac Island retains a Victorian era charm, with horse-and-buggies as the main mode of transportation. Explore 70 miles of hiking and biking trails before taking to the lake to paddle board, sail or kayak. Afterward, check out Mackinac Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere. And in the summer, you can attend the annual Mackinac Island Lilac Festival, featuring a Purple Pig Roast. For a remote retreat to remember, stay at Mission Point Resort, a sprawling 18-acre lakeside property that features an upscale spa and resplendent views.
(Getty Images)

Nyack, New York
Nyack is a charming village located within the historic Hudson Valley region, just north of New York City. Nyack offers a variety of art, culture and history along with top-rated restaurants. A favorite destination for cyclists, Nyack is also a great place for active types who want to participate in recreational activities such as sailing, kayaking, fishing, biking, hiking and swimming. Plus, creative types will enjoy the area's vibrant music, film, theater, crafts and art scenes. For a convenient retreat, check into the new boutique-style Time Nyack hotel, which showcases an edgy industrial look with loft-style accommodations outfitted with high-end amenities such as flat-screen TVs and Bigelow bath products.
(Getty Images)

Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Cape Elizabeth, a lovely coastal town situated just south of Portland, Maine, offers the best of a rejuvenating beach destination combined with urban splendors. The area features innovative restaurants, water pursuits, boutique shops and an array of galleries and museums. Cliffside walks overlooking the ocean at Two Lights State Park yield inspiring views of the Atlantic and abundant wildlife. And you can't skip taking a stroll along the boardwalk, which circles around Maine's scenic Great Pond. When you're ready to turn in for the evening, consider staying at the luxurious Inn by the Sea, a stylish, shingled inn perched on an unspoiled beach.
(Getty Images)

Grand Island, Nebraska
On Grand Island, you'll be greeted with genuine hospitality and clear prairie skies. A hidden gem, Grand Island's downtown overflows with art galleries, boutiques and antique shops. And as a gateway to the Nebraska Sandhills, this city claims miles of beautiful prairies and river valleys. Grand Island also attracts railroad enthusiasts who come to observe the freight trains – over 140 per day -- that pass through the city. What's more, the Piccadilly Players perform plays at the Grand Island Little Theater. As for lodging, Hotel Grand has been a Nebraska icon for more than 50 years.
(Getty Images)

Sedona, Arizona
Sedona, a desert town near Flagstaff, Arizona, sits surrounded by red-rock buttes, steep canyon walls and pine forests. Renowned for its mild climate and vibrant arts community, Sedona is a geological wonderland. Multihued stone formations jut upwards from the high desert floor, creating a captivating setting that changes hourly as the sun drifts down. Surrounded by 1.8 million acres of national forest land, Sedona also offers visitors plenty of recreational activities. Uptown Sedona is dense with New Age shops, spas and art galleries, and L'Auberge de Sedona, a luxury creekside retreat surrounded by Sedona's enchanting red rocks, is renowned for its award-winning cuisine.
(Getty Images)

Carlsbad, California
This "Village by the Sea" offers the charm of a European town with the conveniences of a large city. Its streets are lined with antique stores, boutique shops and cozy cafes. During your visit, explore the scenic coastline, beautiful flower gardens and world-class shops. And thanks to Carlsbad's mild climate, you can enjoy unique events and activities, from street fairs to art walks, in comfort. Plus, the city offers uncrowded beaches for swimming, sunbathing and surfing as well as beautiful lagoons for fishing, bird watching and nature trail hikes. Even better, the Omni La Costa Resort and Spa features excellent amenities, including pristine pools and two 100-foot water slides.
(Getty Images)

Family with map at RV near lake.
Fort Worth, Texas skyline at sunrise.
Pink and violet clouds in rays emanating from Hillsboro Lighthouse looking north inside the inlet.
Beautiful sunset clouds are reflected on the calm waters of Ward Lake in the Tongass National Forest.
Capitol Blvd, Boise, Idaho
A team of horses pulling a carriage pose in front of a victorian home high on West Bluff Road in Mackinac Island, Michigan.
Meditating over the Hudson River in the morning sunshine in Upper Nyack, New York.
The Portland Head Light at sunrise just outside of Portland, Maine.
Hall County courthouse in Grand Island, Nebraska.
A man photographs the desert landscape in Sedona, Arizona.
Rows of different colors of flowers in Carlsbad, California.

Start planning your getaway to these under-the-radar hot spots.
Every popular city has its unique attributes catering to diverse traveler types and interests. While New York City overflows with cutting-edge museums, art galleries and restaurants, Honolulu offers consistently warm temperatures and a mix of urban and natural allures. And while Miami may cater to active types and sun seekers, Philadelphia and Boston draw history buffs in droves. However, savvy travelers who desire vacations far removed from heavy tourist crowds understand that scores of lesser-known cities and small towns provide immersive and enjoyable experiences. Here are 10 under-the-radar locales to explore this season.
(Getty Images)

Fort Worth, Texas
Renowned for its cowboy culture, Fort Worth intertwines Western history with modern allures. Visitors can check out rodeos and twice-daily cattle drives before heading to acclaimed museums like the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. Plus, you'll find a burgeoning art scene in the historic Camp Bowie District. If you would rather take to the great outdoors, you can explore the Trinity River's 40 miles of trails along with 20 miles of hiking trails at the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge. And when it comes to accommodations, the Stockyards Hotel has been serving visitors for over 100 years, including cowboys and country music stars.
(Getty Images)

Pompano Beach, Florida
Dubbed as "the heart of the Gold Coast," Pompano Beach conveniently lies just north of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The area's revitalized beachfront and historic downtown offers a wealth of attractions. At the heart of Pompano Beach's thriving arts scene, you'll find the new Creative Arts District, housed in a collection of renovated buildings. And for scuba and snorkeling enthusiasts, world-class wreck and reef dives abound in the nearby waters. Meanwhile, Butterfly World captivates visitors with three acres of butterfly aviaries. When you're ready to turn in for the evening, Fort Lauderdale Marriott Pompano Beach Resort & Spa is a charming boutique-style property with stunning views overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
(Getty Images)

Ketchikan, Alaska
If you're yearning to visit the last frontier, it's hard to top Ketchikan. Set at the southernmost entrance to Alaska's famed Inside Passage, Ketchikan is best known for salmon, idyllic scenery and incredibly rich Alaska Native culture. What's more, Ketchikan is a photographer's dream. Misty Fjords National Monument, with its snowcapped mountaintops often shrouded in an ethereal mist, is the crown jewel of photos. After snapping some pictures, check out the world's largest collection of totem poles or learn about the city's lawless past at local exhibits before hunkering down at the Black Bear Inn, an elegant bed and breakfast with tasteful decor and stunning views.
(Getty Images)

Boise, Idaho
A city on the rise, Boise is an-and-coming foodie mecca with its diverse array of restaurants with locally sourced menu items, craft breweries and wine tasting rooms. Consider Boise to be the cultural center of the Gem State thanks to performing arts taking center stage with events like the Treefort Music Festival. And for outdoor lovers, Boise sits close to foothills, mountain bike trails, a ski area and the Boise River for fishing, floating and bird watching. The lakefront Shore Lodge in nearby McCall, Idaho, offers adventurous travelers upscale accommodations and a myriad of activities, from hiking, paddle boarding and boating to relaxing at the on-site spa, The Cove.
(Getty Images)

Mackinac Island, Michigan
Surrounded by Lake Huron, Mackinac Island retains a Victorian era charm, with horse-and-buggies as the main mode of transportation. Explore 70 miles of hiking and biking trails before taking to the lake to paddle board, sail or kayak. Afterward, check out Mackinac Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere. And in the summer, you can attend the annual Mackinac Island Lilac Festival, featuring a Purple Pig Roast. For a remote retreat to remember, stay at Mission Point Resort, a sprawling 18-acre lakeside property that features an upscale spa and resplendent views.
(Getty Images)

Nyack, New York
Nyack is a charming village located within the historic Hudson Valley region, just north of New York City. Nyack offers a variety of art, culture and history along with top-rated restaurants. A favorite destination for cyclists, Nyack is also a great place for active types who want to participate in recreational activities such as sailing, kayaking, fishing, biking, hiking and swimming. Plus, creative types will enjoy the area's vibrant music, film, theater, crafts and art scenes. For a convenient retreat, check into the new boutique-style Time Nyack hotel, which showcases an edgy industrial look with loft-style accommodations outfitted with high-end amenities such as flat-screen TVs and Bigelow bath products.
(Getty Images)

Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Cape Elizabeth, a lovely coastal town situated just south of Portland, Maine, offers the best of a rejuvenating beach destination combined with urban splendors. The area features innovative restaurants, water pursuits, boutique shops and an array of galleries and museums. Cliffside walks overlooking the ocean at Two Lights State Park yield inspiring views of the Atlantic and abundant wildlife. And you can't skip taking a stroll along the boardwalk, which circles around Maine's scenic Great Pond. When you're ready to turn in for the evening, consider staying at the luxurious Inn by the Sea, a stylish, shingled inn perched on an unspoiled beach.
(Getty Images)

Grand Island, Nebraska
On Grand Island, you'll be greeted with genuine hospitality and clear prairie skies. A hidden gem, Grand Island's downtown overflows with art galleries, boutiques and antique shops. And as a gateway to the Nebraska Sandhills, this city claims miles of beautiful prairies and river valleys. Grand Island also attracts railroad enthusiasts who come to observe the freight trains – over 140 per day -- that pass through the city. What's more, the Piccadilly Players perform plays at the Grand Island Little Theater. As for lodging, Hotel Grand has been a Nebraska icon for more than 50 years.
(Getty Images)

Sedona, Arizona
Sedona, a desert town near Flagstaff, Arizona, sits surrounded by red-rock buttes, steep canyon walls and pine forests. Renowned for its mild climate and vibrant arts community, Sedona is a geological wonderland. Multihued stone formations jut upwards from the high desert floor, creating a captivating setting that changes hourly as the sun drifts down. Surrounded by 1.8 million acres of national forest land, Sedona also offers visitors plenty of recreational activities. Uptown Sedona is dense with New Age shops, spas and art galleries, and L'Auberge de Sedona, a luxury creekside retreat surrounded by Sedona's enchanting red rocks, is renowned for its award-winning cuisine.
(Getty Images)

Carlsbad, California
This "Village by the Sea" offers the charm of a European town with the conveniences of a large city. Its streets are lined with antique stores, boutique shops and cozy cafes. During your visit, explore the scenic coastline, beautiful flower gardens and world-class shops. And thanks to Carlsbad's mild climate, you can enjoy unique events and activities, from street fairs to art walks, in comfort. Plus, the city offers uncrowded beaches for swimming, sunbathing and surfing as well as beautiful lagoons for fishing, bird watching and nature trail hikes. Even better, the Omni La Costa Resort and Spa features excellent amenities, including pristine pools and two 100-foot water slides.
(Getty Images)

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By Roger Sands | Contributor July 1, 2016, at 2:19 p.m.


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