The United States is lucky to have such a wealth of destinations to visit. It seems that you could travel within America for your whole life and still never see all there is to offer. From mountains, cities, seas, deserts, and everything in between — the U.S. really has something for everyone in terms of travel destinations.
While the more popular spots always receive a record number of visitors, why not head to a lesser-known destination for your next trip? Visiting one of these underrated places this spring or summer can save you money and the headache of dealing with jam-packed crowds. So pack the car and head to one of these 10 Underrated U.S. Destinations To Check Out This Spring.
Buffalo, New York
If you have read about Buffalo in any headlines recently, it was likely for the massive amounts of snow that winter usually brings to this western New York city. With a location along the shores of Lake Erie, the lake-effect snowstorms are one reason Buffalo is not a destination that is suggested in winter. However, the rest of the year is a lovely time to visit this underrated gem, with spring, summer, and fall all bringing moderate temperatures and sunny skies.
Not only is a visit to Niagara Falls an easy day trip, but the wineries that surround western New York and the nearby Finger Lakes are also reasons to make Buffalo a good base for exploring the area. Full of art deco architecture, and charming neighborhoods such as Elmwood Village, there is a lot to explore in Buffalo. A visit in July can also land you right in the middle of the largest 2-day food festival in the country, a huge draw for any foodies out there.
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Known as the world’s largest small town, there are many reasons to visit Oklahoma’s second-largest city of Tulsa. A city rich in history, both good and bad, Tulsa played an important part in both the oil boom, but is also known for the race riots that shook this area of the country in the past. Tulsa is a city that looks forward to a bright future while trying to reckon with its tumultuous past.
It doesn’t hurt that the famous Route 66 runs right through the middle of the city, with iconic landmarks and signs dotting the sides of the street. A fabulous art museum, a world-class recreational park, shopping, bars, restaurant districts, and numerous other activities can be found here. Tulsa’s location makes the weather favorable nearly year-round as well, meaning you can enjoy the many offerings of the city in any weather.
Traverse City, Michigan
The small town of Traverse City is nestled on the northwest edge of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula and looks out over the crystal-clear waters of Grand Traverse Bay. While spring can be a bit chilly still, the town is starting to awaken after a long winter, and the buzz can be felt on each street corner. This charming small town is best enjoyed between May and October when visitors can enjoy swimming, beaches, and water sports.
Festivals such as the Traverse City Film Festival and the National Cherry Festival are popular events here in the summertime, so if you are looking to avoid crowds, check the dates for these major events. Fall is another time of year that visitors love this area for the foliage and that autumn fresh air.
San Luis Obispo, California
If a town has been named “the happiest place in America”, you know it must be doing something right, and it seems San Luis Obispo definitely has. Located along the California coast, about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, this small college town has a rich history, not to mention lots to do. It’s a perfect year-round destination, with wineries and breweries, hiking trails, art galleries, and more.
To really make a trip out of it, you could board the Pacific Surfliner train and ride along the southern California coast until you reach San Luis Obispo, stopping at many small towns before you reach your destination.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Medora, ND
While there is no shortage of national parks in America to enjoy, some are more popular than others. Theodore Roosevelt National Park is an underrated location that is known to be one of the most scenic drives in the country, with stunning views, wildlife, and the possibility to see the Northern Lights at certain times of the year.
If you are one of the many National Park fans who like to take advantage of the days that you can visit for free, then this destination can prove to be very budget friendly if you plan in advance.
This Pacific Northwest city is known to be a cheaper alternative to its more well-known northern neighbor, Seattle. People love Tacoma because of its rich cultural arts scene and the many free festivals and concerts that take place in the warmer weather.
Tacoma also has a light rail that makes traveling around the city a breeze, and speaking of breeze, Tacoma is closer than Seattle to some of the big outdoor draws in the area. Reaching Olympic national park and Mount Rainer from Tacoma should not take you more than an hour, allowing you to explore the natural beauty by day and still get back in time for a nice dinner at one of the many restaurants in the trendy North End.
If you have been to Branson, you might question its addition to an underrated destination list, as it’s not exactly a secret amongst travelers in the midwest. However, it seems outside of the surrounding area, Branson is a bit unknown. Branson offers so much for everyone who visits, with one main draw being its very family-friendly appeal, with many attractions for all ages, not to mention the absolutely adorable Silver Dollar City amusement park.
There are numerous live shows and museums to take in, from Dolly Parton’s Stampede to the Titanic Museum. In addition to the fast-paced entertainment, Branson is an outdoor lover’s dream, and fishing, hiking, and boating are all popular here as well.
Eau Claire, Wisconsin
This midwest university town is full of independent thinkers, and budding innovators and artists make up a large percentage of the population. Some refer to Eau Claire as the indie capital of the midwest, and after a visit, you can see why. Lounge along the beautiful riverfront, take in the music and local bands that play year-round, visit the museums and enjoy the rich history of the area. Located only 90 miles east of Minneapolis, Eau Claire makes a great addition to this underrated destination list.
Located only 45 minutes to the south of the much more famous Salt Lake City, Provo is an underrated destination for people looking to experience some of the beauty of Utah, without the big city prices. A recent addition to Provo is the immersive experience park of Evermore, a true highlight for fans of sci-fi.
Provo’s downtown is full of restaurants and cafes to try out, museums to visit, and nature trails to bike or hike. Not to mention Provo Canyon, Provo River, and Rock Canyon are here for you to explore as well.
Ouachita Forest and Mountains, Arkansas and Oklahoma
The Ouachita National forest is actually in both Oklahoma and Arkansas, and the picturesque area features lakes, rolling hills, and plentiful opportunities for adventure. The mountain range is unique in that it runs east to west, whereas the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains run north and south.
The scenery, the hot springs, the fishing, and the wildlife are all big draws for this area. The city of Hot Springs is the main hub in this area, and the downtown holds restaurants, bars, shopping, and all the small-town vibes you could ask for.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com