3 Underrated Summer Travel Destinations

Some of the best times I’ve had have been while traveling. There is something about disengaging and going on a vacation that is good for the soul. Whether it’s for rest and relaxation, fun exploring, or a combination of these purposes, these are often really fun times.

Now, I have to say that my travel heyday was in years past. I’ve been to 47 of the 50 states (Alaska, Hawaii and Maine yet to go), and have taken 2 trips to Europe and 3 to Asia. For now though I’m quite busy with family and other matters, so travel has been curtailed. However, I certainly hope to get back into it in the future – and traveling with kids can be fun anyway and a way to build memories and life experience for kids.

Along those lines, I thought I’d share a few observations about my travels in the form of underrated summer travel locations within the U.S. Here goes:

Underrated Location #1: Coastal Oregon

I’ve actually written a bit about this area before, but why not revisit.

To me, this area is a real gem. It’s kind of like a poor man’s version of Coastal California. Having driven from San Francisco to Carmel, and really enjoyed it, I find the Oregon coast to actually have quite a few similarities. It’s on the rugged Pacific shoreline, mountainous, and has scenic winding roads. Also, there are a number of quaint towns.

There are some differences though. For one, it’s a bit cooler. Also, the area does have a bit of a “Northwest” feel to it that doesn’t exist south of San Francisco. But another big difference is that the area seems much less crowded and also less expensive. You can truly get away to a beautiful, scenic, refreshing area for a reasonable cost. I’d like to make another visit.

Underrated Location #2: Eastern Shoreline of Lake Michigan

What? The Midwest?

Some folks might chuckle, but I happen to think that the western part of the state of Michigan has some really nice summer escapes that fly under the radar for most people around the country.

For those living here in Chicago, it’s not that far away. Maybe a few hours. But it seems like a world away, with nice beaches and towering sand dunes. Plus, there are some quiet lakefront towns with nice dining, hotels and golfing if you’re into that.

There are plenty of things to do outdoors here besides the beaches. In particular, one example of inexpensive summer fun is blueberry picking.  You can actually pick the blueberries at take home large quantities at ridiculously low prices.  All of this not too far from the beach front areas either! All in all, good relaxing summer fun can be had there – for a low price.

Underrated Location #3: Disneyland, California

Okay, I know that Disney seems like an odd choice for an “underrated” location. So many people make a trek to a Disney park at least once in their lifetime.

Having said that, I’m referring to the California location here. Florida is nice too, and seems to be the default option for most from the Midwest, East Coast, or South. I have no data on this, just observations over the years that if people are going to Disney – it’s generally to Florida. I’m guessing this is not the case in the West, but that’s not where the bulk of the population is.

Anyway, having been to both parks, I would go with California. I say that because the weather in Florida can get really hot and muggy in the summer. Kind of like walking outside in a swampy sauna. However, that Southern California weather is warm but really comfortable. Having been to both the Florida and California Disney parks in my lifetime, I’ll take the west coast weather any day!

Plus, I have to admit, we did visit there a few years ago for a short trip to Disney. It was a lot of fun, as I shared in a post I wrote about reasons why Disneyland is worth visiting.  I have to say that it was impressive how clean, updated, and positive they keep that place. It didn’t look dated or run-down at all, in my opinion. Things seemed really well run there, a lot better than other theme parks I’ve been to.

My Questions for You

Have you visited any of these 3 “under the radar” locations?

I’m sure you have your own places that you would called underrated summer travel destinations.  What are they?


Okay, here’s where it gets fun.  I’m excited to be teaming up with a group of other bloggers on a giveaway.  Prizes are: $200 for 1st, $50 for 2nd, and $25 for 3rd.  You can see below to enter, and there are easy ways to get additional entries too!


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As I mentioned, this giveaway is being run in conjunction with a few other bloggers. Be sure to check out their blogs and share their posts each day as well for more chances to win $200!

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  1. says

    I’d like to check out Oregon someday. I’m really not that far from it, just a few hours drive and would probably appreciate the lower cost compared to California! As for Michigan, I don’t see that in my future anytime soon. :)

    • Squirrelers says

      I’m guessing that the costs to live would be a good deal lower, though probably not dirt cheap :) That being said, the weather kind of reminds me of Northern California coastline weather – much closer to S.F. weather than L.A. weather. If you’re cool with that (no pun intended), you might really like it!

  2. says

    Being a Michigan resident, I have to say that I’m glad that you recognized Lake Michigan, it really is an amazing place. We do a few camping trips every summer and we try to spend as much time on Lake Michigan as we can. It’s a beautiful lake, great swimming, lots of great areas and hotels, and you can find a million different things to do. Pure Michigan!

    • Squirrelers says

      The shoreline of Lake Michigan is really underrated, particularly the Michigan side. Lots of sand dunes, beaches, and quiet towns. It’s like an inland sea, but I’m guessing many on the coasts wouldn’t ever think of it or consider it. But it’s a nice place to visit.

  3. Class Act says

    Oregon Coast is one of my favorite places to visit. Just returned from a week long stay and can not wait to go back. Try to hit it up every couple of years.

    • Squirrelers says

      It’s been a few years for me. It’s the type of place that after you stay for a week, you know that you want to make a return visit.

  4. Jenny says

    I have been to Oregon and Lake Michigan, and agree that they are both wonderful places to visit. There was one place in Oregon we stayed, and the lot across from our motel was under construction and they had a dirt hill and retaining wall. On this hill there were blackberries that are the biggest I’ve ever seen, and they were so sweet and juicy, and free for the taking. We picked and ate buckets, and hardly put a dent in them.

  5. says

    Never been to any of these places, but the way you talk about the first 2, they sound very interesting. Not sure about Disneyland though. I was at Disney World when I was younger and it wasn’t that great.

    • Squirrelers says

      The first two are enjoyable, for sure. As for Disney, I really liked the California version better as it was not humid and very pleasant when I went, and the park itself was very clean and well run. Customer service was excellent.

  6. says

    Until we discovered Vancouver Island, the Oregon coast had become our favorite vacation destination. Continuous spectacular scenery and so many cool towns. Gold Beach is my favorite–just far enough away from both San Francisco and Portland to not be overcrowded and ‘touristified’.

    • Squirrelers says

      I’ve heard good things about Gold Beach. I made it as far south as Yachats, which was quiet and relatively secluded. Those types of towns are really great for getting away, with just enough to do to feel like there is civilization around yet peaceful and scenic too.

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