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6 Hidden Locations to Visit in the U.S.

Man On Mountain Looking Around, Bicycle on the Ground, Hidden Locations to Visit in the U.S.

Ron Chapple/Getty Images

Skip those urban and resort meccas and opt instead to head for the hills.

They say it's best to avoid the obvious. When it comes to travel, this means skipping those urban and resort meccas and opting instead to head for the hills — or the mountains, valleys, islands, bayous and bays unknown to the tourists. Here are our picks for such escapes: six hidden locations to visit in the United States.

1. Morgan City, Louisiana

About an hour's drive from New Orleans, through sugarcane country and bona-fide swampland, is the Cajun haven of Morgan City. Each Labor Day weekend, this small town hosts the Shrimp and Petroleum Festival — drawing revelers for three days of music, rides, deep-fried delights (try the gator on a stick), and the "blessing of the fleet" of shrimp and oil boats on the Atchafalaya River. On a nonfestival visit, relax in Lawrence Park and stroll through the scenic downtown area and along the seawall's elevated walkway. Be ready for gorgeous sunset photos of the historic, two-lane Long-Allen truss bridge, opened in 1933. — Kelsy Chauvin

2. Guffey, Colorado

North of the Royal Gorge and west of Pikes Peak, Guffey has 98 human residents who look to their pets for political leadership: Citizens have elected cats and dogs as their mayors for as long as anyone can remember. The town itself is a ramshackle masterwork of roadside Americana, taking cues from the Wild West and the Psychedelic '60s in equal measures. Accommodations come in the form of funky, inexpensive cabins and dining is at a bar and grill, making Guffey the perfect destination for a lost weekend. — Eric Peterson

3. Waipio Valley, Hawaii

Tucked away near the northern tip of the Big Island's windward side is Waipio Valley. To Hawaiians, this is a sacred place, one where kings trace their ancestry. In fact, an important heiau (temple) once sat on Waipio's black sand beach, before it was wiped out by a tsunami in the 1400s. The handful of residents who live in the verdant valley where taro is grown still talk about mysterious "night marchers," or ghosts, who occasionally appear in the area. You might not see a ghost, but you will, no doubt, spend time relaxing on the beach and exploring the valley. — Jeanette Foster

4. Bath, North Carolina

It's just a faint blip on the North Carolina map — a mere 1.1 square miles of tree-shaded coastal green — but this tiny town has more history in its acreage than almost anywhere else in the state. Bath is North Carolina's oldest incorporated town, laid out in 1705, with colonial architecture lining oyster-shell paths and sailboats dotting picturesque Bath Creek. See the state's oldest church (circa 1734) and imagine Blackbeard sailing in from Pamlico Sound in 1718 and dazzling the good citizens of Bath with his swashbuckling ways. — Alexis Flippin

5. Solomons, Maryland

At the tip of one of Chesapeake Bay's innumerable peninsulas sits the small town of Solomons, connected to yet another peninsula by the Governor Thomas Johnson Bridge. It's only 50 miles from Washington, D.C., but life in this 1,500-person community moves to the pace of Chesapeake Bay's locals, who sail and fish year-round. Rent a boat, dip a line in the water at sunrise or sunset, or just hang at the Tiki Bar while you work up an appetite for some of the bay's famous blue crabs. — Rob Tallia

6. Mackinac Island, Michigan

The Great Lakes Michigan and Huron edge this diminutive island, population 500 or so. Most of its 3.8 square miles is state parkland, which partially explains the no-cars-allowed rule. After the ferry drops you off, transportation is on foot, by bike or in horse-and-buggy livery — just like when the Victorians vacationed here, leaving behind an assemblage of structures, from Queen Anne mansions to Stick-Style cottages. Among them is the Grand Hotel, whose rocker-lined porch stretches into forever. Tour an old fort, hike wooded trails or wander downtown to buy some fudge, a local specialty. — Laura M. Kidder


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