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6 Unexpected Cities Named Best Summer Vacation Destinations In The U.S.

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A lot has been written about dreamy remote destinations that’ll take the world by storm this summer, but little has been said about the gorgeous, albeit unconventional, hotspots right here in the States that promise the holidays of a lifetime.

That’s why Men’s Journal set out to discover the best summer vacation destinations you can visit without ever leaving the country, and to say that the findings were surprising would be an understatement.

Wisconsin State Capitol and Madison skyline panorama

Because while most of us expected classic summertime hotspots like Miami, Myrtle Beach, or New York to top the list, six far more underrated cities dominated the ranking instead.

Spokane, WA

Drone view of downtown Spokane

Lovingly called “Lilac City” by locals, Spokane is by far one of the best cities you can visit if you don’t want to compromise between adventure opportunities and that traditional city charm.

If you’re put off by the idea of a sedentary holiday where all you do is sit around all day, this is the perfect destination for you.

With its stunning Riverfront Park (home to Spokane Falls), Centennial  Trail, and an endless array of galleries, theaters, and music venues, the Washington gem promises a summer to remember.

Duluth, MN

Summertime in Duluth

For those of you looking to explore places that are further into the heart of the country, Duluth is one of the most underrated gems you’ll come across.

Again, this is a city that caters mostly to adventurous souls, with its miles of rugged landscapes and iconic Superior Hiking Trail, which offers the most awe-worthy views of the lake and surrounding forests.

And if you don’t feel like going on a hike, a relaxing bike ride along the North Shore Scenic Drive (which, believe me, lives up to its name) might just be the summertime experience you were looking for.

Marquette, MI

Business district, Marquette, Michigan

With just a little over 20,000 inhabitants, this is officially the smallest city to make the list, but what Marquette lacks in fame or size, it more than makes up for in breathtaking, untouched views.

This charming Michigan gem is actually the closest you’ll get to a more typical summer vacation today.

Featuring a rugged coastline full of picturesque beaches, here, you’ll get plenty of opportunities to swim, paddleboard, kayak, and do everything else that requires calm waters and summery temperatures.

Hikers won’t have to worry, either, though.

The nearby Presque Isle Park promises miles of scenic hiking trails and panoramic views of the lake that are just waiting to be explored.

Juneau, AK

Juneau, Alaska

If you’re looking to enjoy a truly alternative summer vacation this year, exploring the mountainous wonders of the Alaskan capital might be just what you need.

Surrounded by towering peaks and pristine fjords, Juneau looks like something straight out of a fairytale, and while summer temperatures are obviously nowhere near what they are throughout most of the country, they’re mild enough for you to go hiking, glacier trekking, and wildlife viewing without freezing – so if you’ve ever been tempted to explore Alaska, this summer might be the best time to finally do it.

Madison, WI

Madison Wisconsin capital building at sunset

Famously nestled between two scenic lakes, Madison is the perfect place to go if you’re looking for a relaxing, rejuvenating retreat.

Don’t get me wrong – you’ll still get to do a lot, from hiking and picnicking to exploring the city’s vibrant downtown and the gorgeous Wisconsin State Capitol – but there’s just a laid-back, unpretentious air about Madison that makes vacationing here feel like something you’ve been waiting for your whole life.

Minneapolis, MN

Downtown Minneapolis

Finishing off strong with the biggest and arguably most famous city of the bunch, Minneapolis welcomes travelers this summer to explore its iconic Chain of Lakes (along with many other gorgeous natural sights) and fascinating culture.

If you’re a sucker for a good city break, this is your best bet.

Between admiring the pieces at the Minneapolis Institute of Art and catching live performances at the historic Guthrie Theater, you’ll get a chance to connect with your art-loving side without having to sacrifice more adventurous experiences—which, let’s face it, is what most of us prioritize during our summer travels.

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.