by KELSEY OGLETREE
Skip the throngs of tourists this summer and head to a lesser-known destination to experience incredible food, one-of-a-kind hotels, eclectic festivals, and more.
Instead of Washington, D.C., try Charlottesville, Virginia
Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe both once called Charlottesville, Virginia, home. While this history-rich city of 47,000 is only about 100 miles southwest of our nation’s capital, it feels worlds away from the hustle and bustle. The nearly 300-year-old Boar’s Head Inn makes a great home base for exploring the Virginia countryside. Have a picnic at Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards, which The Washington Post dubbed a “sumptuous landing spot for lunch,” or take in an aerial view of the city via hot air balloon. No visit is complete without a tour of Monticello, the former home of Thomas Jefferson. This summer, catch events like CURED Central Virginia Bacon Festival in July and Virginia Craft Brewers Fest in August. Also, see 15 of the best vacation spots for summer travel in the United States.
Instead of Philadelphia, try Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Seventy miles north of the City of Brotherly Love is Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, home to 75,000 and the nation’s largest free music festival. Celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, Musikfest will feature more than 450 performances from artists including Dierks Bentley, Daughtry, Kesha, and Jason Mraz over ten days in August. Music isn’t the only attraction here, though: History buffs can explore the area’s deep industrial heritage at the National Museum of Industrial History, which opened in 2016, and walk the elevated Hoover-Mason Trestle. Favorite dining spots in town include the solarium-like 1741 on the Terrace, Fegley’s Brew Works, and Apollo Grill.
Instead of New York City, try Greenwich, Connecticut
Only a 45-minute train ride from Grand Central Station lies Greenwich, Connecticut, a walkable city with all the charm and convenience of a small town. For a town of 62,000, it’s surprisingly diverse: About a quarter of its residents were born outside the United States, and nearly 29 percent speak another language in addition to English, according to U.S. Census data. Summer is polo season in Greenwich, with matches at Greenwich Polo Club drawing thousands. Stay at European-inspired Delamar Greenwich Harbor, a pet-friendly property on the water with a spa and award-winning French restaurant. Leave room in your suitcase for souvenirs: Family-owned stores like Richards, Betteridge, and Hoagland’s of Greenwich are must-shops.
Instead of Seattle, try Tacoma, Washington
A more affordable alternative to its neighbor to the north, Tacoma, Washington (population 211,000), is a family-friendly destination that’s easy to get around (thanks to the Link Light Rail through downtown), rich in art and culture, and close to many outdoor activities. As one resident puts it, Tacoma is “all the beauty you love about the Puget Sound with none of the crowds.” Visit in summer to take advantage of free, all-you-can-pick blueberries until your teeth are stained purple at Charlotte’s Blueberry Park in East Tacoma. The city also has many free concerts, including the Point Ruston Summer Concert Series every Saturday evening through September 2. The latest Tacoma attraction, Pacific Seas Aquarium, will open in September at Point Defiance Zoo. Don’t miss other family vacations that won’t break the bank.
More cities are highlighted in the original article.