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If you're tired of packed vacation spots and sharing a beach with hundreds of other people, then check out these six little-known vacation destinations. These tucked away places are spectacular and promise to deliver a fun-filled, awesome escape.
On Route 78, just west of Ft. Meyers Florida, there's a sign that reads Island Time Zone Begins Here and boy, does it ever. Welcome to the tiny islet town of Matlacha. Pronounced mat-la-shay, this colorful little town boasts local art galleries, delicious food, and amazing fishing.
Surrounded by dozens of mostly unhabituated islands, the placid waters make for action-packed kayaking and paddle boarding experiences. After an active day on the water, continue on Route 78 from Matlacha to serene Pine Island.
A seventeen-mile slice of Old Florida and home to plantations, Pine Island is filled with gorgeous palm, citrus, avocado, guava, macadamia, and mango trees. Pine Island's light traffic and scenic bike path runs from one end to the other, making it ideal for cyclers.
Hikers and history lovers will enjoy the Calusa Heritage Trail, which winds through ancient mounds and remnants of an impressive cross-island canal built by the Calusa Indians who first settled in the area 2,000 years ago. Trail signs illustrate the thriving seaside village that greeted Spanish explorers in the early 1500's.
Another Pine Island attraction is the Mango Mania festival. It promises to be a lot of fun with games for the kids, recipe contests, and of course, the Mango Queen. It is held annually in late July.
Another great adventure lies just off the coast of Georgia. Cumberland Island is an ideal place to get away from it all. A National Seashore, Georgia's largest barrier island boasts one of the most spectacular natural habitats on the East Coast.
Accessible only by a National Park Service ferry, this car-free island has outstanding campsites, as well as a beautiful mansion once owned by robber baron Andrew Carnegie. Today it is a famous hotel and is still owned by members of the Carnegie family. This gorgeous island is known for its swimming, stargazing, and wildlife, especially the majestic herds of wild horses that roam the island.
Damascus Virginia, a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is the meeting point for the Appalachian Trail, the Virginia Creeper Trail, the Trans-America National Bicycle Trail, the Iron Mountain Trail, the Daniel Boone Heritage Trail, the Crooked Road Musical Heritage Trail, and Virginia's Birding and Wildlife Trail. That's a lot of trails!
It also lies just within a short distance of hundreds of other hiking, horse riding, and biking trails, making this location one of the best outdoor exploration areas in the country for everyone from beginners to serious die-hard enthusiasts.
However, if hiking and biking aren't your thing, Laurel Creek and the streams that feed it, provide excellent whitewater opportunities for both individuals and groups. It claims rapids Class I through III all season, and sometimes even Class IV when the water is running high. In mid-May, Backpacker's Magazine hosts the Appalachian Trail Days Festival, bringing in hikers and nature lovers by the thousands. This three-day festival is filled with music, outdoor workshops, and activities for kids of all ages.
On the southern coast of Lake Erie and home to Ohio's first summer resort, the town of Geneva on the Lake also caters to your inner child. Imagine spending your days cooling off in beautiful Lake Erie, where boating, fishing and swimming are often just a short walk from your front door.
Back on land, you might want to make your way to Geneva State Park for a peaceful day in the woods. Also, don't forget to visit the countryside and explore the local wineries to get a taste of the local vintages.
In the evening, the famous entertainment strip comes to life. Large arrays of lights fill the night sky and amusement rides and arcades are packed with fun-seekers of all ages. Live music can be heard from almost every restaurant and nightclub, creating a festive feeling.
Last, but not least on our list is Jackson Hole, surrounded by the snowcapped Rocky Mountains in a valley in southwest Wyoming. A visit to this town is like stepping into a time machine and traveling back into the Wild West.
Classic nineteenth-century buildings, wooden sidewalks, and a view that will take your breath away all combine for an over the top, one of a kind experience.
The activities are seemingly endless and incredibly diverse. Float down the Snake River, known as one of the best whitewater rivers in the country or stay on a working ranch and fulfill every kid's dream of being a cowboy or cowgirl.
There is so much to see and do and once you're done exploring the immediate area, a short drive will take you to both the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park where you can explore some of the most beautiful natural wonders in the entire world.
So there you have it. Six great hidden getaways just waiting to be discovered! Avoid the traffic, and crowded areas, and instead head out to an exciting, action packed adventure that will have everyone in your family begging for more.
Where are your favorite little known destinations?
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Stephen Schreck is a world traveler, nomad, and adventure backpacker. Knowing a life of aimlessly wandering the globe in search of adventures was the only life for him he set out to make his dream his reality. Currently he is trying to conquer his fears and tackle his bucket list. Follow Stephen's adventures at A Backpacker's Tale or on social media on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.
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