10 Best Secret Vacation Spots in US

Sidestep the overcrowded destinations and head to one of the best-kept secrets among travel enthusiasts. Like the hot spots, these destinations include picturesque beaches and vibrant nightlife, with refreshing opportunities to find solitude.

  1. Charleston, South Carolina

    Isle of Palm property #292114vb


    Charleston, South Carolina is the second largest city in the state and offers vacationers a wealth of history, sun swept beaches and must-play golf courses. Charleston dates back to 1670, so one can almost feel the Old South come alive in this sunny southern harbor town. History buffs have plenty to discover, from the scores of 18th century buildings to several Civil War sites - there's even a Civil War battleship monument.

    Aside from the historical features, visitors can also opt for carefree fun in the sun on five major pristine beaches including Isle of Palms and Kiawah Island, a 10,000-acre barrier island with 10 miles of uninterrupted shoreline. After all that relaxing, take advantage of countless seafood restaurants and steak houses. And don't forget about the city's signature candy bar, Charleston Chew!



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  2. New Braunfels, Texas

    New Braunfels property #68960vb


    Originally a German settlement, New Braunfels is located in the heart of Texas, near San Antonio. In recent years, it has turned into an up-and-coming vacation spot with myriad popular water sports and outdoor adventure.

    Due to the mostly warm climate, visitors can tube, raft or water-ski nearly year-round on the city's two rivers, Comal and Guadalupe. Fishing is huge here, so get your jigs ready! New Braunfels also attracts a lot of water enthusiasts with one of largest water parks in the U.S., Schlitterbahn. If that doesn't float your boat, go on a family safari at Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch or catch a glimpse of the largest caverns in Texas at Natural Bridge Caverns.

    For music, you might hear honky-tonk melodies pouring through the walls of Gruene Hall, the town's most popular venue and Texas' oldest dance hall. This is where Lyle Lovett and George Strait honed their chops before they became famous, and it's a great place to don Wranglers and line-dance until the break of dawn.



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  3. Orange Beach, Alabama

    Orange Beach property #3809496


    As the sister city to the renowned Gulf Shores, Orange Beach is becoming a popular destination in its own right thanks to beaches with cotton white sand and warm gulf waters.

    Orange Beach is home of the largest Ferris wheel in the Southeast, located at The Wharf, where children and parents can enjoy concerts, seaside shopping and recent blockbusters at Carmike Cinemas. The beach town packs everything from seafood to art to German Sausage festivals and Mardi Gras celebrations.

    Birders watch their passion take flight at the nearby Alabama Gulf Coastal Birding Trail, a migratory hotspot for thousands of winged wonders. With year-round activities in Orange Beach, there is always something to enjoy while vacationing here.



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  4. Tybee Island, Georgia

    Tybee Island property #446651vb


    One of the main attractions of Tybee Island is the wide, 3-mile-long beach that's backed by grass-covered sand dunes. With only a little more than 3,000 full-time residents, the island hardly ever gets crowded, so visitors can get a taste of the laid-back lifestyle.

    Dig into unique cuisine at the 25 restaurants located on Savannah's Beach, and be sure to try some freshly caught wild Georgia shrimp, one of the local favorites. Or, shop 'til you drop at galleries where you can buy remarkable jewelry.

    As an additional bonus, Savannah is only 18 short miles from Tybee Island and offers art, cuisine and exceptional ambience. Savannah's St. Patrick's Day Parade is one of the most celebrated and raucous parades in America, with people painting their bodies green and drinking green beer in the streets (which is legal as long as it is in a plastic cup).



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  5. Virginia Beach, Virginia

    Virginia Beach property #3321807


    The beaches are wonderful (and plentiful!) in Virginia. The waves that roll in from the Atlantic are much higher and conducive to surfing compared to those on most other East Coast beaches, drawing surfers from near and far. After hitting the beach, make sure to check out the lively boardwalks, restaurants and nightlife in Virginia Beach. 

    Beyond the beach, vacationers like to explore Hampton Roads, which contains two of the most historically preserved towns in the United States: Jamestown and Colonial Williamsburg.

    Jamestown is the first permanent and still existing settlement in America, a legendary must-see-before-I-die location. Colonial Williamsburg has a multitude of exhibits and activities relating to America's Revolutionary period. The area is also home to one of the top amusement parks, Busch Gardens.



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  6. Carolina Beach, North Carolina

    Carolina Beach rental #3671880


    Carolina Beach is famous for its sun and sand, with tons to water activities to keep everyone entertained. Speed across the water jet skiing, take a boating charter to fish marlin and tuna or swim the day away. Windsurfing is another popular activity in this resort town, with scores of colorful wind sails peppering the surf on windy days. Once you've worked up an appetite, stop by Britt's Donut Shop, one of the oldest and most popular draws in the neighborhood.

    The Carolina Beach Boardwalk has been ranked among "America's Best Boardwalks" by Food & Wine Magazine, brimming with weekly fireworks, concert series and carnival rides.

    For land attractions, Carolina Beach State Park packs more than 700 acres perfect for hiking, boating and fishing. Kids have a blast at Fort Fisher - North Carolina Aquarium, where they can touch a live bamboo shark and climb along the Adventure Reef. Beyond that, enjoy the restaurants, shopping and family activities, link miniature golf, bumper cars or renting bicycles.



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  7. Perdido Key, Florida

    Perdido Key rental #452989vb


    "Perdido" means "lost" or "hidden" in Spanish, referring to how this elusive bay was discovered in 1693. As a result, many local residents refer to Perdido Key as Lost Key. With such a mysterious name, it's no surprise why this beach is among the best secret vacation spots the U.S.

    This barrier island saddles extreme northwest Florida and southeast Alabama and beautiful beaches, parks and preserves make up more than 60 percent of the area. Vacationers hike down trails where they can spot endangered wildlife, such as the Perdido Key Beach Mouse and sea turtles.

    Diving enthusiasts should go on an adventure at the resting place of the U.S.S. Massachusetts that was sunk at Fort Pickens State Park Aquatics Preserve after 100 years of duty.



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  8. Newport, Rhode Island

    Newport, Rhode Island rental #462208vb


    Make your way to the same seaside city that served as the "Summer White House" for presidents John F. Kennedy and Dwight Eisenhower. The harbor town is home to some of the freshest seafood on the Atlantic Coast and world-renowned sailing. There are dozens of private and public sailing clubs that offer sailing excursions and lessons for beginners.

    Don't forget about the many cultural attractions, such as lighthouse tours, museums and brewery/winery tours.



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  9. Laguna Beach, California

    Laguna Beach rental #3544566


    To fully enjoy Laguna Beach, one must tee off at the Aliso Creek Inn Golf Course, bask on one of the 20 public beaches, or dine in one of the numerous restaurants offering fabulous cuisine.

    The 7 miles of coastline are considered to be among the most beautiful in the world. Giant 15-foot waves provide great surfing, as well as windsurfing and body boarding.

    Moreover, Laguna Beach is home to a vibrant arts community that boasts more than 100 art galleries. The Laguna Playhouse is the oldest continually operating theater on the West Coast, providing both well-known and obscure productions in an intimate setting. The Laguna Art Museum hosts exhibitions as well as the largest permanent collection of artwork by California artists. The town also hosts three major art festivals: The Festival of Arts, the Sawdust Art Festival, and Art-A-Fair.



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  10. Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri

    Lake of the Ozarks property #277291

     

    Lake of the Ozarks is a paradise for fishing enthusiasts. Its waters are filled with large mouth bass, walleye, and bluegill across 1,150 miles of shoreline. Local fishing guides provide bait and tackle and take visitors directly to the hot spots.

    At Lake of the Ozarks State Park, hikers can take advantage of 12 trails that lead to Ozark Caverns, complete with a lantern-light cave tour. Or, admire the architecture and breathtaking scenery at Ha Ha Tonka State Park, one of the state's most treasured spots.

    Gambling is another popular to-do here. The Isle of Capri Casino in Boonville has 27 table games, a live poker room and three great restaurants.



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