7 Most Underrated Tourist Destinations In America, Ranked

When planning your summer vacation or spring break road trips, it’s easy to find popular tourist destinations across the United States. Sure, you could choose to visit one of the more popular spots like Vegas, New York City, or San Francisco, but those places are busy and full of other tourists looking for the same experience as you. These destinations tend to be crowded, expensive, and not very relaxing. America is full of beautiful sights and great places to visit, so to help you find those hidden gems, we’re breaking down some of the most underrated tourist destinations in the U.S.

With international travel being in higher demand, and costing more than ever, why not save some money and explore America instead? But which tourist destinations are the perfect hidden gems? StudyFinds did the research, consulting 11 travel and tourism sites in an effort to bring you the most underrated tourist destinations in the U.S. Our list comprises the seven most frequently listed destinations from across these sites. Do you feel we missed one? Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!

a man waiting for an airplane
Man in an airport (Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash)

The List:The Most Underrated Tourist Destinations in the U.S. to Visit Next

1. Block Island, Rhode Island

Block Island Harbor, RI
Block Island Harbor, RI (Photo by M.M.PHOTO on Shutterstock)

Topping the list of the most underrated tourist destinations in the U.S. is Block Island, Rhode Island. Block Island is one of the most beautiful and natural places on the East Coast. The town is full of sights, trails, and beaches. As CNN explains, 40 percent of the island is comprised of wildlife refuges and other natural areas.

Be aware that if you’re looking for all-inclusive resort-style accommodations, then you’ll want to look elsewhere. A decades-long focus on land conservation makes Block Island a protected area for rare migratory birds and a great place to relax on vacation, notes Going. Although Block Island is a less popular destination than some of the surrounding areas such as Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, it’s by no means a hidden vacation spot. Plenty of vacationers are aware of Block Island, so you’ll still want to book your summer getaway a few months ahead of time.

As Way to Stay notes, Block Island remains a hidden gem for now, but that’s quickly changing. The natural sights of Block Island are by far the biggest attraction for urban travelers. If you’re looking for a quiet, serene vacation spot to escape busy city life, then you’ll definitely want to consider a trip here. Enjoy outdoor activities during the day before heading out to visit one of the many amazing restaurants and bars.

2. Florence, Oregon

Heceta Head Lighthouse in Florence, Oregon
Heceta Head Lighthouse in Florence, Oregon (Photo by Alex Moliski on Unsplash)

The second place on the list takes us back across to the other side of the country to the West Coast in Florence, Oregon. Travelers rave about the beauty of Oregon’s coast and Florence is one of the hidden gems of that region, writes Jetsetting Fools. Florence’s population is under 10,000 but that’s part of the charm of this small coastal town situated along the Siuslaw River on the Pacific coast.

Florence is undoubtedly one of the best places to experience Oregon’s stunning coastline without all the crowds, notes Way to Stay. The weather tends to be a little too cool to swim or sunbathe. Still, Florence offers a population of sea lions, birds, and whales for you to soak in as you stroll and explore the natural coastal areas. You’ll also find Oregon Dunes Natural Recreation Area as well as Sea Lion Cave in Florence, so you won’t have to worry about running out of gorgeous sights to see or places to explore during your vacation.

One of the other main attractions in Florence is the Heceta Head Lighthouse where you’ll certainly want to stop and capture a few memorable photos. The lighthouse was built in 1894 and is situated on a rocky cliff, making it a must-visit destination while in Florence, highlights Going. Aside from the coastline, Florence also boasts a quaint, historic town center complete with a boardwalk and places to visit. If you’re looking for a way to explore Oregon’s coast without the crowds or hustle and bustle of the bigger cities, Florence is a great place to start.

3. St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine Lighthouse
St. Augustine Lighthouse (Photo by Carmen Ziss on Shutterstock)

The next stop on our road trip to the most underrated tourist destinations in America takes us to St. Augustine, Florida. Of course, Florida is full of excellent tourist destinations with plenty of attractions, but St. Augustine tends to fly under most traveler’s radars, says My Global Viewpoint. Many travelers choose other destinations around Florida such as Orlando and Miami, but St. Augustine’s rich history makes it a lovely destination for a peaceful, warm-weather getaway.

St. Augustine is the oldest city in the U.S., according to Time magazine. Dating back to 1565 when it was settled by the Spanish, St. Augustine is the country’s oldest continuously occupied European settlement. You’ll love the Spanish architecture that lines the streets, transporting you to a different era of history. With a small population of around 16,000, St. Augustine features two beaches and an abundance of outdoor activities to enjoy.

You definitely won’t run out of fun things to do and sights to see in St. Augustine. If the Spanish architecture caught your attention, then be sure to check out the marble Bridge of Lions that connects Anastasia Island and downtown St. Augustine, writes Way to Stay. St. Augustine isn’t just for adults looking to immerse themselves in historic sights, either. Of course, there are the beaches, but you can also check out the original Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum. If you’re into ghost stories, be sure to visit the Old St. Johns County Jail which is said to be haunted by former inmates. There’s truly something unique for everyone in your family to enjoy in St. Augustine.

4. Buffalo, New York

downtown snowy city
Downtown Buffalo in the winter (Photo by Pavol Svantner on Unsplash)

Winging its way into the fourth spot on the list of the most underrated destinations across the U.S. is none other than Buffalo, New York. You might hear “Buffalo” and think about the crippling snow storms you’ve likely heard about on the nightly news, but throughout the warm summer months, Buffalo is a great place to spend a relaxing vacation. Buffalo was once a struggling city that saw citizens fleeing to other parts of the state and country, but this beautiful, historic city is on the rise again, hitting its stride in a big way, notes Lonely Planet.

Buffalo was once a “boomtown” located at the confluence of the Great Lakes and Erie Canal, but the city was rather quiet throughout the 20th century, explains CNN. However, as the city starts to awaken once again, travelers are rediscovering the well-preserved architecture and historic sights such as the Art Deco City Hall, Victorian glasshouses at the botanical gardens, and a plethora of canalside entertainment and shopping. Not to mention, Niagara Falls is just a short drive up the road from Buffalo.

Travel Off Path recommends Buffalo as a great vacation base for exploring the surrounding areas of Western New York. Other than Niagara Falls, you’ll have quick access to the Finger Lakes region of Western New York as well as a variety of wineries and vineyards to explore. Foodies will love visiting in July as Buffalo is also home to one of the country’s largest two-day food festivals. There’s no doubt that Buffalo is an underrated city with plenty to offer tourists looking for a unique destination.

5. Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland, Ohio (Photo by DJ Johnson on Unsplash)

Rocking its way into the fifth spot on the list of the most underrated tourist destinations in the U.S. is Cleveland, Ohio. Located on the banks of Lake Erie, Cleveland was pivotal in the building of America. The city has seen many ups and downs over the years, but today, the city is revitalized and offers plenty to see and do on vacation, notes Jetsetting Fools. Of course, there’s the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but Cleveland also features plenty of museums and restaurants to enjoy as well.

One stroll through the downtown area and you’ll quickly realize that Cleveland is a beautiful city with plenty of entertainment options. As Reader’s Digest notes, the city offers similar attractions to New York City without the exorbitant pricing of “The Big Apple.” Enjoy one of Cleveland’s affordable museums such as the Natural History Museum or the Cleveland Art Museum as well as one of the destination dining spots such as Little Italy.

Cleveland is also a great sports destination, boasting teams across the National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA), and Major League Baseball (MLB). The Browns, Cavaliers, and Guardians (formerly the Indians) have all been competitive in recent years and all three are historically relevant teams in their respective sports. As Huff Post explains, Cleveland also features impressive street art and famous Polish food. And, fans of the classic holiday movie “A Christmas Story” can visit Ralphie’s house which has been preserved to look as it did in the movie and transformed into a museum.

6. Greenville, South Carolina

bridge and waterfall in Greenville South Carolina
Downtown Greenville (Photo by Emmy Gaddy on Unsplash)

Located just over the border from North Carolina in the northwest corner of South Carolina, Greenville is a gorgeous city at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. As Lonely Planet describes, Greenville is equal parts natural escape, walkable downtown, foodie haven, and caffeine capital of South Carolina. Greenville is the biggest city in Upstate South Carolina but it’s not too big to where it’s overcrowded and not too small to limit your dining, drinking, and entertainment options.

Greenville strikes a balance between a bustling city and a quaint, small Southern town. Huff Post agrees that Greenville is a hidden treasure that boasts a vibrant restaurant and brewery scene. Enjoy lunch and dinner at any one of the incredible restaurants located across the downtown area. From there, take a stroll through downtown and absorb the natural landscape with sights such as Falls Park on the Reedy River.

Reader’s Digest calls Greenville a “spring break-style destination without the crowds or high prices.” Falls Park on the Reedy is certainly one of the reasons for the town’s relaxing atmosphere. The park features riverside gardens, a suspension bridge, and beautiful waterfall views. Again, all of this is located in the immediate downtown area. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, take a hike or a bike ride around the 22-mile Swamp Rabbit Trail which connects parks and the downtown area with nearby Travelers Rest, South Carolina.

7. Asheville, North Carolina

Beautiful Asheville, North Carolina sunrise.
Beautiful Asheville, North Carolina sunrise (Photo by Clayton Manche on Unsplash)

The final stop on the list of the most underrated tourist destinations in the U.S. takes us roughly 70 miles North of Greenville into the mountains of Western North Carolina in Asheville. Asheville mixes big-city vibes with cool outdoor activities, explains My Global Viewpoint. Downtown features a blend of indie shops, craft breweries, and amazing restaurants while the Blue Ridge Mountains offer a plethora of outdoor activities such as hiking trails, bike paths, waterfalls, and river tubing.

Time agrees that Asheville should be a top choice for anyone looking to explore the South. You’ll get the best of many worlds here. Over the past couple of decades, the city underwent a bit of a renaissance, transforming into one of the best craft beer cities in America as a variety of breweries set up shop in the mountain town. There are plenty of historic attractions including the infamous Biltmore Estate located on the outskirts of downtown.

As Madelyn on the Move notes, to take advantage of everything Asheville has to offer, you’ll want to visit in the summer or fall. The scenery across the mountains during the fall is spectacular. Although Asheville is considered a hidden gem, tourists from all over start flocking to the mountains in October to witness some of the most beautiful foliage in the country. Driving on the Parkway in the fall is truly breathtaking. And, for anyone visiting around Christmas, the Biltmore Estate is a must-see attraction during the holidays.


Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links in which we receive a commission if you make a purchase.


  1. Why is the Biltmore Estate “infamous”? Infamous and famous are not interchangeable, as infamous denotes negative connotations.

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