Travel & Destinations

Ditch Big Cities for the Smaller Towns

As we slowly ease our way out of this pandemic, travelers are selecting some off-the-beaten path destinations in lieu of more popular U.S. hotspots. These smaller locations can offer incredible experiences with less crowds, and they often deliver unexpected surprises. 


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Rockport Motif #1

Cape Ann vs. Boston 

One of our favorite summer getaways was to Rockport, MA. Located at the northernmost tip of Cape Ann, a mere 37 miles from Boston, the picturesque seaside village is filled with charming bed and breakfasts, delightful boutiques, historic lighthouses, and Motif Number 1, a former fishing shack that’s also one of the most-painted buildings in America. 


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Finger Lakes, NY

Finger Lakes vs. New York City

Who doesn’t love the Big Apple vibe? But as the largest city in the U.S., it can be busy and crowded.

Consider a getaway to New York’s central Finger Lakes. This magnificent region is set against the backdrop of Mother Nature’s finest works. With 11 lakes, breathtaking gorges and waterfalls, and one of the most renowned wine regions in the east, a visit here is unforgettable. 


St. Simons Island Pier 2 © Noreen Kompanik W
St. Simons Island Pier 2 | Photo by Noreen Kompanik

Saint Simons Island vs. Jacksonville

Crossing the bridge into St. Simon’s Island, one of Georgia’s Golden Isles, is like entering a whole new world. Surrounded by protected marsh lands, this barrier island is just over an hour’s drive from Jacksonville and has its own special magic. It’s relaxing and laid-back with pristine beaches, meandering golf courses, fascinating historical landmarks, exceptional cuisine, and the best of southern hospitality: Escapism at its very best.  


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Sedona Red Rocks

Sedona vs. Phoenix

While Phoenix has its many luxurious resorts surrounded by scenic mountain ranges, summers here can bring unyielding, hotter-than-Hades temperatures. We love Sedona for its higher elevation, offering cooler weather, stunning red rock formations, and incredible outdoor adventuring, along with beautiful babbling creeks. Nestled in a geologic wonderland, Sedona is a true oasis in the middle of the Arizona desert. And it’s renowned for producing some of the best spiritual energies in its vortexes.  


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Artistic culture of Santa Fe

Santa Fe vs. Albuquerque

Both of these southwestern cities have their virtues, and Albuquerque is well-known for its hot air ballooning. Santa Fe, however, is more beautiful, with its pure southwestern tradition. It’s easily walkable and almost seven times smaller than its sister city.

Santa Fe may be New Mexico’s capital, but it has much more of a small-town feel. Its Adobe and Pueblo-style architecture is second-to-none. Add in its rich history, world-class art galleries, charming inns, alluring markets, authentic cuisine, and wide-open spaces, and you have a spirited town that celebrates its unique culture and heritage in an impressive way.  


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Paso Robles Wine Country

Paso Robles vs. Napa

Napa Valley may be considered California’s foremost wine destination, but this area can get overwhelmingly busy, especially in the summer. We love Paso Robles for its stunning scenery, award-winning vineyards, rolling open lands, and off-the-beaten-path location — just 30 minutes from California’s Central Coast. A visit here provides a true “coast to vine” experience.

Take the right precautions and visit some of these dreamy locations for lots of smiles and memories.


Noreen Kompanik

Noreen Kompanik is a freelance journalist, associate editor, and speaker from San Diego. A retired registered nurse, she now travels the world and writes about her adventures. Her stories have appeared in TravelPulse, Edible San Diego Magazine, Europe Up Close, International Living and more.

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