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It’s summertime, and that means vacation for many Americans. Popular summer towns like Provincetown, Montauk, Malibu and Cannon Beach are certainly beautiful, but they can get crowded and lodging can be expensive. This year, try getting off the beaten path and discover some lesser-known (but equally as gorgeous and relaxing) towns for a summer getaway.

RELATED: These are the coolest California beach towns you’ve never heard of

Duxbury, MA

Duxbury, Massachusetts

Every year, beach goers flock to Cape Cod for a quintessential New England summer, but with them comes high price tags and a ton of traffic. Get the same New England experience for less hassle by visiting some of the towns right before the bridges over to Cape Cod. Duxbury offers lovely beaches and a laid back little town vibe with bars and restaurants full of locals. Head to restaurant Venus II for a true “townie” experience or the Green Harbor Lobster Pound for fresh lobster rolls and seafood by the water. Nearby Plymouth (of pilgrim fame) boasts even more restaurants, shops, walkable streets and nightlife all set on a historic waterfront. The Cabby Shack offers a fun vibe, New England food and live music right on water.

Stay: Hotel 1620 Plymouth Harbor

Solvang, CA

Solvang, California

Solvang is located in Southern California’s Ynez Valley, but its geographical location is pretty much the only SoCal thing about it. Solvang is a Danish village filled with cute Tudor-style buildings—there’s even a wooden windmill! It’s like being in Denmark, but with a sunny, southern California climate. The Danish experience is not complete without tasting authentic pastries from the town’s many Danish bakeries; Olsen’s Danish Village Bakery is a favorite. Another big thing to do in Solvang is wine tasting; there are more than 20 tasting rooms right in town, but you’ll want to head out to the hundreds of wineries in the Santa Barbara area like Presq’uile Winery. Nearby Los Olivos is a popular detour featuring a ton of wine-tasting rooms. Want to do something really off the beaten path? Check out OstrichLand USA, where you’ll find live ostriches and emus roaming around that you can feed for a small fee.

Stay: Wine Valley Inn

Rhinebeck, NY

terrapin - rhinebeck new york

Terrapin | Flickr CC: Doug Kerr

Summer in New York may conjure up images of the ritzy Hamptons, and that’s not wrong. However, there’s a whole other side to summer in the Empire State that’s more laid-back, rural and quaint. If that strikes your fancy, check out the upscale bohemian village of Rhinebeck in the Hudson River Valley. Located about two hours from NYC, Rhinebeck is a go-to country getaway for city folk full of picture-perfect homes, coffee shops, art galleries, museums and gift shops. In the 1970s, Rhinebeck became a mecca for artisans and crafters and that unique, artsy vibe has stuck around. You’ll find plenty of local art and quirky fixtures like Terrapin, a restaurant located in a former church. If you’re in the mood to get a little outdoorsy, take a short, scenic drive over to the Berkshires.

Stay: Primrose Hill Bed and Breakfast

Anna Maria Island, FL

Anna Maria Island, Florida

Flights into Tampa tend to stay pretty cheap year-round, so take advantage of this and head to the Gulf Coast. A couple hours south of Tampa, you’ll find the gorgeous white-sand, clear-water island of Anna Maria. Charter a boat, bathe in the warm water and watch the wildlife all around you –you may even catch a glimpse of a manatee in the water. Sip a tropical drink with your toes in the sand at either the Sandbar Restaurant or the Kokonut Hut. For breakfast, head to the Rod and Reel Pier where you can get a casual meal in the middle of the sea! At this fishing pier you’re sure to see pelicans, fish and sometimes even dolphins! This place is about as “island life” as it gets without having to leave the continental U.S.

Stay: Bali Hai Beach Resort

Whitefish, MT

glacier national park, montana

If it’s a mountain vacation you crave, it’s a mountain vacation you’ll get in Whitefish. Located right outside stunning Glacier National Park, this town offers breathtaking Rocky Mountain views, lakeside beaches and an adorable downtown area for shopping and strolling — you’ll feel like you’re in a postcard! And speaking of picturesque, take the easy two-mile hike to Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park for beautiful views and to dip your toes in the cool, fresh Alpine water. Wiped out from hiking the park? Head to Whitefish City Beach where you can relax on the shore of Whitefish Lake, rent a boat, kayak or paddleboard.

Stay: Firebrand Hotel

Capitola, CA

capitola, california

Fan of the show “Big, Little Lies”? Head to Monterey Bay where the show is set and discover the beautiful, laid-back surfer town of Capitola. Bring your camera because at Capitola Beach you’ll find a perfectly Instragrammable row of bright pastel-colored beach bungalows right on the sand, called the Venetian Condos. The town has a Mediterranean feel and boasts stucco architecture and tons of outdoor bistros and cafes. A must-do activity in Capitola is hiking the California Coastal Trail (CCT). You’ll walk along the cliff sides and catch stunning views of the deep turquoise Pacific Ocean crashing on rock formations below. On the trail, you’ll pass through lush greenery and wild flowers. In Capitola Village, check out Paradise Beach Grille for Hawaiian-inspired fare right on the water. If the Hawaiian vibe is up your alley, check out Big Kahuna Hawaiian Shirts, a staple in Capitola since 1975.

Stay: Inn at Depot Hill

Rangeley, ME

Rangeley Lake, Maine

When you think of Maine you may think of a stormy Atlantic Ocean crashing into cliff sides and lobster fisherman hauling cages up to dock. This is all accurate, but there is also another side of Maine for those who are more into woodsy mountainside adventures. The town of Rangeley is a relaxing family-friendly getaway set against the backdrop of mountain ranges and incredible sunsets. Rangeley Lake is great for boating, kayaking, water skiing and fishing. Hike Saddleback Mountain or head into town where you’ll find gift ships, restaurants and bars. Try Sarges for Karaoke, Parkside for drinks and bites on the outdoor deck overlooking the lake and Moose Alley for drinks and bowling.

Stay: Cozy Cabin at Rangeley Lakes

Holland, MI

Holland, michigan

As the name suggests, Holland, looks like, well, Holland. On Windmill Island, discover the historic De Zwaan windmill, the site of the annual Tulip Time Festival in May. Neli’s Dutch Village is a step back in time 100 years; bring the family to enjoy Dutch Dancing, wooden shoe carving, rides, games and farm animals. The city of Holland lies on the shores of Lake Macatawa and Lake Michigan, so you will find sandy beaches for sunbathing and boating. Holland State Park offers views of the famous Big Red Lighthouse. Laketown Beach offers stunning views of Lake Michigan from a steep stairway leading down the dunes; come here to catch a romantic sunset. Downtown Holland is a walkable area chock full of eateries, shops and galleries—and heated sidewalks in winter!

Stay: The Belvedere Inn and Restaurant

Leavenworth, WA

Leavenworth, Washington

You might get confused and think you’ve landed in Germany when you arrive in Leavenworth. The Alpine buildings lining Front Street in this Bavarian village in the Cascade Mountains resembles sis straight out of a fairy tale. Dine on German fare and beer and visit a gingerbread factory and a nutcracker museum. It’s like Christmas in July! There’s even a Santa’s toy shop (basically); The Woodshop sells handcrafted toys, and the connecting Hat Shop sells—you guessed it —handcrafted hats. Speaking of Christmas, come back in December for the famous light festival. In summer, head to Waterfront Park on the Wenatchee River. Walk the trails through the forest and find small beach inlets where you can take a dip in the fresh water; you’re also likely to spot ospreys and eagles.

Stay: Der Tree Haus

rockport beach texas

Flickr CC: Stuart Seeger

Rockport, TX

A beach vacation in Texas? Yes! Rockport sits along the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and is home to Rockport Beach, a long, sandy beach featuring thatched umbrellas that make you feel like you’re on a Mexican vacation. If you’re into wildlife, check out Aransas National Wildlife Refuge where you’ll see North America’s tallest bird, the whooping crane—an endangered species. History buffs will want to visit Fulton Mansion, a beautiful 19th-century home flanked by palm trees. When you get hungry, seafood is king in Rockport. You’ll dine on crab, gulf shrimp and fried fish.

Stay: Bayside Cottage

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Tagged: Beach, California, Destinations, Florida, New York City, Romance & honeymoon, Seasonal, seattle, Texas

Lidia Ryan

Lidia Ryan

Lidia Ryan

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