Not all cities are created equally. New York City bursts at the seams with excitement, while Honolulu may possess the world’s perfect weather. South Beach boasts beautiful people, and history buffs can spend days touring Philadelphia and Boston. However, savvy travelers who desire vacations far from the maddening crowds understand that scores of lesser known cities, small towns and cozy hamlets provide extremely enjoyable experiences.
Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Cape Elizabeth, a lovely coastal town located just south of Portland, offers the best of a rejuvenating beach destination combined with the fun of Portland’s urban chic small port city. The region features innovative restaurants, water activities, unique boutique shopping, galleries and museums. Stunning ocean cliff walks at Two Lights State Park offer great views of the Atlantic or abundant wildlife. Enjoy a long meandering stroll on a boardwalk that circles around a 125 freshwater pond at Great Pond. Stay at the luxurious Inn by the Sea, a modern and stylish take on a traditional coastal shingled inn on a mile of unspoiled sand beach.
Ketchikan is truly the beginning of the last frontier. Set at the southernmost entrance to Alaska’s famed Inside Passage, Ketchikan is best known for feisty salmon, idyllic scenery, and an incredibly rich Alaska Native culture. Ketchikan is a photographer’s dream. Misty Fjords National Monument, with achingly blue lakes and snowcapped mountaintops often shrouded in an ethereal mist, is the crown jewel of photos. You will not be bored in Ketchikan. See the world’s largest collection of totem poles or learn about the city’s lawless past at local exhibits. The Black Bear Inn, an elegant Bed and Breakfast, offers unique furnishings, tasteful decor and rooms with stunning views.
A city on the rise, Boise is a Northwest haven for foodies offering an array of restaurants with locally sourced menu items, craft breweries and wine tasting rooms. Boise could be considered the cultural center of the Gem State with visual and performing arts taking center stage with events such as the Treefort Festival. For outdoor lovers, Boise is close to foothills mountain bike trails, a ski area, and the Boise River for fishing, floating and bird watching. The lakefront Shore Lodge offers adventurous travelers upscale accommodations and an expansive menu of activities. These include hiking, paddle boarding, boating and relaxing at the resort’s nature-based spa, The Cove.
Grand Island, Nebraska
There’s something very special about Grand Island, where hospitality mingles with clear prairie skies. A hidden gem, Grand Island’s downtown is ripe with art galleries, boutiques and antique shops. As gateway to the Sandhills, this city claims miles of beautiful prairies and river valleys. Grand Island attracts railroad enthusiasts who come to observe the freight trains – over 140 per day — that pass through the city. The Piccadilly Players perform plays at the Grand Island Little Theater. Hotel Grand has been a Nebraska icon for more than 50 years. The Pool View Double rooms are perfect for those wanting to be close to the large indoor pool.