10 Of The Least-Crowded Vacation Spots You Can Visit In The U.S. This Summer

Summer vacations are a time of exploration and relaxation. Whether plans include relaxing on white sand beaches along the coast or hiking through the wilderness in one of the country’s more than 400 national parks, every vacation can be hampered by one thing; crowds. Too many visitors can make it hard to enjoy the views, find a place to unwind, or even catch a chance to think.


Fortunately, for every overcrowded beach or packed trailhead, there is often a quieter, less-explored alternative nearby. Those hoping to make the most of their days off can check out one of these less-crowded vacation spots and ditch the masses in favor of a simpler state-side summer getaway.

10 Amelia Island, Florida

Coast of Amelia Island, Florida
Photo by Julia Kuzenkov on Pexels

Footprints left along the coast of Amelia Island, a barrier island off the coast of Florida. 

The Florida beaches are a classic summer vacation spot thanks to their warm waters and white sandy beaches. Certain destinations, particularly along the Florida Keys, tend to attract swarms of travelers every year. Fortunately, hidden destinations like Amelia Island take only a little more work to get to and offer far more space to spread out the towel. For a $6 ferry ride, visitors gain access to over 40 beaches, a state park, and a picturesque historic district. The island is also home to luxury resorts, restaurants, and even a golf course, meaning that every aspect of a perfect Florida vacation is attainable on this 40-square-mile island.

  • Things to Do:
    Sunbathing, Swimming, Snorkeling, Golfing, Fine Dining, Amelia Island Museum of History, Boardwalk, Sand Dunes, Horseback Riding

9 Isle Royale National Park, Michigan

isle royale national park
Shutterstock

isle royale national park

The Great Lakes are a truly unique site, and as a very northern US location, they make an excellent summer escape. Like many summer hotspots, these lake beaches can become a bit overcrowded as summer peaks, but a nearby national park offers the perfect solution. Accessible only by boat or seaplane, Isle Royale National Park is one of the least visited national parks in the country, averaging only 20,000 visitors a year. Nonetheless, it offers all the lake views, hiking trails, and remote camping sites Michigan visitors could hope for. Fewer crowds also mean visitors are more likely to encounter the local wildlife, such as moose, or be able to kayak through picturesque coves without dealing with crowds of tourists.

  • Things to Do:
    Windigo Visitor Center, Hiking, Kayaking, Swimming, Rock Harbor Lighthouse, Boating, Pete Edisen Fishery

8 Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Western town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Shutterstock

Western town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Wyoming is generally an unassuming part of the US map, but its national parks are some of the most visited in the country. With both Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park inside its borders, it’s no wonder millions of summer vacations are spent in Wyoming. For those looking for all the natural beauty with a fraction of the crowds, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, has late-blooming wildflowers, snow-melt-fed streams, natural hot springs, and beautiful hiking trails. The town, generally known as a ski destination, also boasts a lively downtown area and access to Grand Teton National Park for those who don’t mind a little more company.

  • Things to Do:
    Rock Climbing, Mountain Biking, Hiking, Camping, Whitewater Rafting, Paragliding

7 Bar Harbor, Maine

Bar Harbor, Maine
Shutterstock

Aerial view of Bar Harbor, Maine

With more than four million visitors flocking to Acadia National Park annually, it can be hard to fully enjoy the rocky cliffs and dense forests. The gateway town to Acadia, Bar Harbor, is far less inundated, and still offers incredible views and famous Maine lobster. Visitors can enjoy many of the same activities that are found inside the park, including bus tours and multiple hiking trails. The highlight of Bar Harbor is Frenchman Bay, which is perfect for boating, beach walks, sailing, fishing, and water skiing.

  • Things to Do:
    Hiking, Sightseeing, Sailing, Fishing, Acadia National Park, Fine Dining

6 San Juan Islands, Washington

an orca jumping out of the water off orcas island
Shutterstock

an orca jumping out of the water off Orcas island

This five-island archipelago may not compete in size with Washington’s parks, including Olympic National Park and Mount Rainier National Park, but with top-notch views of the landscape and wildlife, these islands are worth a weekend visit. For just over $15 a person, guests can enjoy a day on any one of the five islands. The largest of the five, Orca Island, offers some of the best summer viewings of Orcas and the tallest peak among the islands, Mount Constitution. Visitors can also enjoy the Orca Island Historical Museum, Winery, or 9-hole golf course. Thankfully, the nearby national parks and ferry rides to reach the islands mean that the crowds at this little offshore oasis are never overwhelming.

  • Things to Do:
    Hiking, Kayaking, Swimming, Whale Watching, Wine Tasting, Golfing, Historical Museum

Related: How To Plan The Perfect Vacation In Washington State’s Picturesque San Juan Islands

5 Molokai, Hawaii

Molokai Island , Hawaii aerial view
Shutterstock

Molokai Island , Hawaii aerial view

Another classic summer vacation spot, Hawaii in summer is alive with color and natural beauty. Those hoping to enjoy the warm waters with the less human company can skip major islands Oahu and Hawaii and opt instead for Molokai, a tourist-friendly island with far more untouched landscape due to the lower visitation numbers. Vertical sea cliffs along the northern shore create a unique view, even against the beauty of the Hawaii islands. These views can be enjoyed both in Kalaupapa National Historical Park and Pala’au State Park, where the natural wildlife is likely to outnumber fellow visitors on this least-visited Hawaiian island.

  • Things to Do:
    Swimming, Hiking, Boating, Pala’au State Park, Kalaupapa National Historical Park, Halfway Falls, Sightseeing

Related: 10 Convincing Reasons Molokai Should Be Your Next Travel Destination

4 Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah

Natural Bridges National Monument
Pixabay

Natural Bridges National Monument

Southern Utah is home to no less than five unique national parks, affectionately known as the Mighty 5. The striking red rock, natural Arches, and other unusual rock formations attract millions of visitors each year, so much so that the parks have had to implement various limitations on the number of visitors and the time they can arrive. Those looking to enjoy the natural beauty of Southern Utah without spending their time waiting in line can detour to Natural Bridges National Monument, home to three of the namesake natural bridges as well as numerous other unique rock formations common in Southern Utah. The remote location away from the national parks means fewer visitors and more summer enjoying the natural landscape.

  • Things to Do:
    Hiking, Sightseeing, Stargazing, Visitor Center, Scenic Byway

Related: 10 Incredible Spring Hikes In And Around Utah’s Mighty 5

3 North Cascades National Park, Washington

Boy walking on the Ladder Creek Falls trail in North Cascades National Park
Shutterstock

Boy walking on the Ladder Creek Falls trail in North Cascades National Park

Glacier National Park in Montana is one of the most well-known national parks in the United States, and subsequently draws in millions of visitors each year, particularly during the warm summer months. Those looking for a quieter vacation spot with similar views can head to next-door Washington and the often-overlooked North Cascades National Park. Like Glacier National Park, North Cascades offers one-of-a-kind views of tree-covered mountains, snow-melt lakes, and impressive glaciers. Similar to the Going-to-the-Sun Road, North Cascades Highway offers a scenic look at many of the park’s highlights. Fortunately, this scenic byway is far less crowded than its Montana counterpart, leaving more time to enjoy the massive natural structures and less time in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

  • Things to Do:
    Hiking, North Cascades Highway, Birding, Camping, Boating, Stargazing

Related: California’s Natural Wonders: 10 Of The State’s Best Nature Spots

2 Big Bend National Park, Texas

Santa Elena Canyon and Rio Grande river at Big Bend National Park
Shutterstock

Santa Elena Canyon and Rio Grande river at Big Bend National Park

The Texas heat and humidity may be well known, but they rarely do anything to hinder the millions of summer visitors that flock to the state each year. Warm gulf beaches and popular urban attractions like Dallas, Houston, and Waco are often packed with guests, making it hard to take in the large state’s true beauty. Tucked against the Texas-Mexico border, away from the crowded beaches and big cities, is another underrated national park, Big Bend. What the park lacks in beachfront property and southern cooking, it makes up for in diverse plant life, striking rock formations, and a wide variety of wildlife. The size of the park, along with its numerous hiking trails, make it worth several days of exploration at least. Thankfully, with less than half a million visitors each year, the unique views offered here are left unobstructed by the masses of people left on the beach.

  • Things to Do: Hiking, Biking, Horseback Riding, Camping, Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, Backpacking, Bird Watching, Stargazing

1 Carlsbad, California

Carlsbad Flower Fields in San Diego, California
Shutterstock

Carlsbad Flower Fields in San Diego, California

A southern California beach vacation is a must for any summer vacation plans, but dealing with San Diego crowds can put a real damper on relaxation. Thankfully, just 30 miles away lies the far less known beach town of Carlsbad. With all the sandy beaches of its famous neighbor to the south, including South Carlsbad State Beach, Carlsbad is the perfect Southern California vacation spot for those looking to dig their toes in the sand and enjoy ocean-side seafood without millions of others keeping them company. Carlsbad is home to Legoland and is also less than an hour from San Diego itself, so those who decide to face the crowds can also enjoy SeaWorld or any of the other major attractions in the big city before retreating back to the quiet beaches.

  • Things to Do:
    Swimming, Sunbathing, Carlsbad Flower Fields (seasonal), Sea Life Aquarium, Walking Trails, Legoland

Next Post

10 Luxury Hotels In Boston Worth Booking This Summer

America’s East Coast is a popular travel destination. Some vacationers embark on scenic East Coast road trips, while others seek out large cities. One popular, must-visit city on the East Coast is Boston, Massachusetts. Boston is one of the most visited cities in the US, with 22.7 million people visiting […]
10 Luxury Hotels In Boston Worth Booking This Summer