6 that are short on crowds and long on fun
By Katie Morell
Hitting the road for points less traveled can be energizing and exciting, similar to the feeling of driving a jalapeno-colored Chevrolet Spark. It’s all about adventure and discovery. Here are six of our favorite less-trod destinations for recharging after your long winter’s nap.
Boise sits at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and offers more than 25 miles of hiking. Less than an hour away, you can go white-water rafting or relax at a few of the area’s wineries. Stay at Hotel 43, eat at either Fork Restaurant (try the lamb chops) or Bardenay Restaurant & Distillery (order the fried cod and chips), and take in a show at the Boise Contemporary Theater.
Remember the perfect town featured in The Truman Show? That wasn’t a soundstage; it was Seaside. The 80-acre town offers 350 private cottages for rent. While there, visit the Saturday Farmers Market, stroll down Main Street for some boutique shopping and stop in for meals at The Shrimp Shack, Bud & Alley’s or Amavida Café.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Portsmouth is continuously rated one of the nation’s best places to visit. The town was founded in 1623 and retains its historic charm, especially in its Market Square, a collection of independent shops and eateries. During the day, visit Strawberry Banke Museum, which features a variety of historical exhibits. In the evening, take in a show at The Music Hall or Seacoast Repertory Theatre. Consider staying at The Governor’s House Bed and Breakfast Inn and booking a table at Library Restaurant.
Des Moines, Iowa
Des Moines has tons of things to do. Starting in mid-April, visitors can go to Prairie Meadows, located in nearby Altoona, to watch a horse race. Also close by is Adventureland Amusement Park, which opens in April and offers a water park and roller coasters. There are several good restaurants in Des Moines, including Baratta’s, David’s Milwaukee Restaurant and Sbrocco. Consider staying at the Renaissance Des Moines Savery Hotel, a historic property with modern touches.
If the weather is warm, take a hike up Baldy Mountain. Big Sky is an hour south, and worth a visit. Try fly-fishing, and check out Black Bear Bar & Grill for some fine local beers. Stay at TroutChasers Lodge, located right on the Gallatin River.
Sandusky is known for its indoor water parks, such as Great Wolf Lodge, Kalahari Resort and Maui Sands Resort. When you aren’t splashing in wave pools, consider visiting the 100-acre African Safari Wildlife Park or the American Civil War Museum. Book a table at Zinc Brasserie for dinner and stay at one of the water parks (most of them double as hotels). Your kids will love it.
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Katie Morell is a San Francisco-based writer and editor.