When planning your next vacation, look beyond the major tourist destinations and, instead, check out these six often overlooked cities that have a whole lot to offer.
1. Salida, Colorado
Are you up for some outdoor adventure? Then Salida is calling your name. This Colorado city has practically every outdoor activity you can imagine, including kayaking and rafting on the Arkansas River, zip-lining, mountain climbing, four-wheeling, hunting, camping, hiking, and much more. And the fun doesn’t end in the wintertime. With some of the tallest mountains in the U.S., and a few even towering at heights over 14,000 ft. high, there are plenty of places to go skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling. Wind down in Salida’s downtown area where you can enjoy fine dining, boutiques, and art galleries. Splurge a little and stay at the Salida Palace Hotel. Located in the heart of Downtown Salida, this historic hotel embodies everything the city stands for.
2. Bentonville, Arkansas
The city of Bentonville, once known only for being home to the corporate headquarters of Walmart, has truly blossomed in recent years, coming out of its big box retailer shell to become one of the country’s newest hot travel destinations. This surge in popularity is due in large part to Walmart heiress Alice Walton, who in 2011 opened The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Art lovers visiting Bentonville for the museum may also appreciate staying at the 21C Museum Hotel. Tourists can browse small shops, admire charming gardens, and tour the Walmart Museum, as well, in the town square. The Museum of Native American History is also worth visiting while in Bentonville. And with a generally mild climate, you can enjoy all this city has to offer any time of the year.
3. Tucson, Arizona
When you think of Arizona, you’re likely to envision a hot, dry, desert landscape with very little in the way of attractions. But Tucson’s many attractions make this city an excellent place to visit. Do some space exploration with the kids at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory or the Pima Air and Space Museum. Admire the beauty of Tucson at one of its many state parks. And of course the city offers shopping, dining, and entertainment downtown. Stay at the Lodge on the Desert to complete your Tucson experience. Keep in mind that the heat can be unbearable in the summertime so you might want to schedule your trip to Tucson for Spring or Winter. But if you do visit in the hot summer months, you can always cool off at a pool, water park, or in one of the city’s underground caves.
4. New Braunfels, Texas
This Texas city, located near San Antonio, boasts some great attractions. Take a trip down to the beautiful Comal or Guadalupe Rivers for water sports such as rafting, tubing, and water-skiing, or just for some good old-fashioned fishing. New Braunfels is also home to the largest water park in the country, Schlitterbahn. While here, you’ll also want to take the little ones to the McKenna Children’s Museum. Instead of spending your nights at a run-of-the-mill hotel, stay at the Lamb’s Rest Inn, a quaint bed and breakfast in New Braunfels. And with year-round warm weather, Texas is a great vacation spot to venture to in any season.
5. La Crosse, Wisconsin
The city of La Crosse has something for everyone. Nature-lovers can enjoy breathtaking views of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa at the park atop the 570 ft. high Grandad Bluff. They can also learn the history of the Mississippi River aboard a paddlewheel boat cruise and may even catch sight of majestic eagles soaring above the water. Auto enthusiasts can take a tour of Dahl Auto Museum’s collection of classic cars. For the kids, head to the Children’s Museum of La Crosse which houses three floors of interactive, hands-on exhibits. The Best Western Riverfront Hotel is a great place to stay while in La Crosse, with a mini indoor water park and a private beach on the Black River.
6. Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City is largely underrated as a travel destination considering all it has to offer. With its rich history in jazz music, you haven’t truly visited KC unless you’ve gone down to the 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District and taken a tour of the American Jazz Museum. Kansas City is well-known for two other things as well: gorgeous fountains and nationally-acclaimed barbecue. There are over 200 beautiful fountains scattered throughout the city and over 80 barbecue spots vying to be the best BBQ in town. Kansas City is also home to Hallmark Cards’ international headquarters, Crown Center, which is a great place to take the kids for some entertainment and crafts. Complete your trip by staying at the historic Muehlebach Hotel downtown. Visited by many U.S. presidents over the years, the Muehlebach is now a wing of the Kansas City Marriott Downtown. Any time is a good time to travel here but Spring, Summer, and Fall offer the most ideal weather conditions for walking the city’s streets.
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