While most Americans will choose more popular and well-known hot spots this summer, we recommend checking out some of these hidden gems. We challenge you to step outside your comfort zones when planning a summer vacation and here’s an easy way to do so. Moving away from the popular, often overcrowded destinations makes for a more intimate and meaningful vacation for any traveler. We hope this list will be helpful in planning summer getaways.

1. Mendocino, Calfornia 

Vacationers can expect whale watching, wine tasting, secluded beaches and hidden grottoes to be only a few of the many unique attractions offered by this quaint northern California town. Mendocino is also a short drive away from Montgomery Woods, home to the tallest living tree in the world.

2. Tybee Island, Georgia

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Located in eastern Georgia outside of Savannah, the small island city is home to a mile-long beach surrounded by grass-covered sand dunes and summer cottages. An added bonus for Tybee Island visitors is Savannah – only a short car ride away – and offering art, local culinary fare and a great southern atmosphere.

Photo Courtesy of Visit Tybee

3. Orange Beach, Alabama 

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Travelers can feast their eyes on this destination’s breathtaking, snow-white sand beaches. Home to the largest Ferris wheel in the Southeast, and offering year-round family-friendly activities, this destination is great for the whole family. Don’t forget about the great golf getaways and warm gulf waters!

Photo Courtesy of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism

4. South Padre Island, Texas 

Often thought of as a spring break destination, visitors to this resort town can partake in activities such as water sports, dolphin watches and horseback riding, to name a few. Be sure to check out the destination’s 26th Annual Sand Castle Days happening October 4-6.

5. Destin, Florida 

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Home to white sand beaches and emerald green waters. Destin is a hidden treat for visitors of the Florida panhandle, offering world-class dining and fishing. In fact, the town has nicknamed itself “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village!”

Photo Courtesy of Emerald Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau, Inc