10 Underrated Summer Travel Destinations You Should Consider

Underrated Summer Travel Destinations

Summer is prime travel season, which means popular hotspots like the beaches of Hawaii, amusement parks like Disney World, and major European cities like Paris can get extremely crowded and expensive. But that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank or elbow through throngs of tourists to have an epic summer vacation.

There are plenty of underrated destinations around the U.S. and the world that offer just as much fun, culture, history, nightlife, and relaxation as the overhyped locales, but without the massive crowds and inflated prices. This makes them perfect for budget-conscious travelers looking to avoid peak season madness.

From breezy coastal retreats to up-and-coming urban hotspots, this list covers some of the most intriguing yet overlooked vacation spots for summer travel. Trust us, these underrated gems are anything but second-rate.




Escape to Mackinac Island, Michigan

While most people flock to the coasts for summer beach vacations, the Midwest has its own island oasis that feels a world away, minus the long flights and suffocating humidity. Mackinac Island in Lake Huron has no cars and no crowds, just Victorian charm and a relaxed vibe perfect for couples looking to unplug.

Transport yourself back in time as you explore the island on a bike or horse-drawn carriage. Pop into quaint shops and indulge in fudge tastings before admiring the coastline on scenic hikes through Rockefeller Park. At night, watch the sunset over the Straits of Mackinac while dining on fresh whitefish.

Accommodations range from cozy B&Bs to the iconic Victorian-era Grand Hotel. You’ll feel miles away from the stresses of everyday life on this little island haven.

10 Underrated Summer Travel Destinations You Should Consider





Beat the Heat in Flagstaff, Arizona

Who wants to roast in triple-digit temperatures on their summer vacation? Well, luckily you can skip the desert heat and head for the mild mountain town of Flagstaff, Arizona. The elevation keeps things cool and comfortable, with summer highs in the 70s-80s range and no humidity.

Outdoor enthusiasts will be in heaven with endless hiking options including the iconic Humphreys Peak trail with panoramic views from the highest point in Arizona. Test your skills mountain biking down the thrilling trails of the Peak and Buffalo Park area. Unwind after a day of adventures with craft beer at one of the local breweries like Lumberyard and Wanderlust.

The charming historic downtown boasts indie coffee shops, galleries, and a nice mix of restaurants. Nearby you can explore meteor craters, cave dwellings, and Native American sites like Walnut Canyon National Monument. Escape the punishing Southwest heat by heading to Flagstaff for an active and refreshing summer.

10 Underrated Summer Travel Destinations You Should Consider




Island Hop in the Scenic San Juan Islands, Washington

The Pacific Northwest is known for its rugged natural beauty and islands that seem frozen in time. The San Juan Islands deliver on both fronts, with an archipelago of hundreds of islands northwest of Seattle that exude a relaxed, outdoorsy vibe.

Backpack or kayak between the islands and be mesmerized by the abundant wildlife, from lumbering elephant seals to magnificent orca whales offshore. Visit local lavender farms and vineyards cultivated right in the seawater. Each island has its own personality, like arty Lopez or tranquil Orcas.

Base yourself in Friday Harbor on the largest island for access to great restaurants, shops, and whale-watching tours before ferrying out to further flung islands. With average summer temperatures in the 60s-70s, you’ll avoid the West Coast summer fog while enjoying the beaches, trails, and charming small towns of the San Juans.




Trade Big Cities for Scotland’s Rugged Beauty

Who needs packed streets and stifling subways when you can wander misty medieval villages and craggy coastal cliffs? Scotland’s Highlands and Islands offer all the magic and history of this nation with a fraction of the crowds of Edinburgh and Glasgow once you get off the beaten path.

Base yourself in Inverness for access to lively pubs and music venues, as well as Loch Ness for a cruise hoping to spot its fabled monster resident. Venture north through epic mountain passes for fishing villages like Ullapool or the Isle of Skye, with some of Scotland’s most dramatic scenery. Learn about clan history at Dunrobin Castle and sample Scotch whiskies at distilleries like Oban.

The remote Isle of Lewis and Harris has prehistoric stone structures and white-sand beaches with turquoise Caribbean-like waters. Still want a bit of Scottish city life? Spend a few days in increasingly trendy Aberdeen, known as the Granite City.

10 Underrated Summer Travel Destinations You Should Consider




Discover Southern Portugal’s Seaside Serenity

Ditch the crowded resorts of the Algarve and head southwest to uncover Portugal’s lesser-visited coastline, where medieval fortified towns overlook stunning beaches lapped by turquoise waters. The Alentejo and Vicentine Coast regions offer a more relaxed pace of life and charm you won’t find in bigger tourist centers.

Make your base in lovely Lagos to enjoy the nearby Ponta da Piedade, a dramatic sandstone cliff-framed bay. Try your hand at surfing, hike along the coastal trails, or explore sea caves by kayak. Inland, the charming medieval town of Evora features Roman ruins and great food and wine.

Further south, walk the pedestrian streets of Tavira lined with Renaissance architecture, before hitting the island beach at Ilha de Tavira. End your days feasting on the region’s addictively good seafood while gazing at the sun setting over the Algarve coastline.

10 Underrated Summer Travel Destinations You Should Consider





Hit Europe’s Hotspots for Less

Much of Central and Eastern Europe remains an untapped treasure for travelers looking to experience Old World charm, rich history, and culture on a budget. Get your urban fix in rejuvenated cities like Prague, Budapest, and Krakow without massive crowds or prices.

Wander the winding cobblestone streets and gothic architecture in Prague’s Old Town, taking in sites like the medieval Charles Bridge and Old Town Square. Soak in the healing thermal waters at Szechenyi Baths in Budapest, or gaze out from Fisherman’s Bastion over the Danube.

In Croatia, you can island hop down the gorgeous Dalmatian coastline, exploring gems like medieval walled Dubrovnik, known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic.” End your days diving into mouthwatering schnitzel, goulash, pierogies, and more across the regions. Don’t skip out on these European hotspots that deliver history and beauty while being kind to your wallet.



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Sun and Sand Minus the Crowds in Belize

If you’re looking for Caribbean vibes without the mega resorts and spring break madness, set your sights on Belize. English is the main language, so no need to dust off your foreign language skills. And it remains largely under the radar compared to neighbors like Mexico’s Cancun.

Split your time lounging on Ambergris Caye’s beaches and diving into the epic Belize Barrier Reef—the second largest in the world after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Get your jungle fix exploring ancient Mayan ruins like Caracol or Actun Tunichil Muknal cave. The inland mountain town of San Ignacio is a perfect base for day trips to ancient sites, waterfalls, caves, and natural swimming holes.

With average summer temperatures in the 80s, you can expect mostly sunny beach days. The region gets less rain as the summer progresses too, especially handy during hurricane season. Belize offers the ideal blend of jungle adventure and barefoot Caribbean chillin’.





Good Vibes and Sunshine in Beautiful Uruguay

Forget Buenos Aires—soak up urban sophistication and seaside serenity in darling Uruguay. Laid-back beach vacation meets cosmopolitan city life in this South American gem, minus massive tourist crowds. Montevideo offers artsy cafes, nightlife, and colorful markets perfect as a home.

Stretch out on the Playa Brava in Punta del Este or the lesser-known beaches of Rocha department—South America’s answer to the Hamptons without the attitude or price tag. Further west, go off-grid in the artsy fishing village of José Ignacio or surf the breaks at La Pedrera Beach.

Inland, unwind over glasses of Tannat and Malbec wine at vineyards around Carmelo. Uruguay’s sophisticated resort towns, old-school cattle ranches, and wild Atlantic coast offer the perfect summer combo for chillin’ and thrillin’.




Southern Sri Lanka’s Charms Minus the Crowds

Most tourists flock to Sri Lanka’s north coast, but you can beat the crowds and still enjoy ancient sites and breathtaking beaches in the south. Base yourself in the buzzing capital Colombo with its thriving food scene. Then make your way south via train stopping at tea plantations, historic temples, and jungle parks.

Don’t miss the gorgeous Dutch colonial Galle and its UNESCO World Heritage fortress. Nearby beach villages like Unawatuna and Mirissa offer swimming, surfing, seafood BBQ

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