So instead of trekking to a tourist trap, check out one of these breathtaking, fit-guy-friendly destinations that are well off the beaten path.
1. Redwood Mountain Grove of Sequoias
Where it is: Kings Canyon National Park, CA
Where it’s better than: Giant Forest
Why it’s fun: National parks are infamous for hordes of tourists who flock to a few attractions, like Sequoia’s Giant Forest, with its 275-foot General Sherman—the most massive tree on the planet. But just up the road, Redwood Canyon has the largest sequoia grove and the most old-growth sequoia trees—as well as the tallest great sequoia—in the world, yet it barely registers on the park’s map. The rugged Redwood Mountain Loop whisks hikers away from crowds and into the silence of a majestic forest.
2. Cumberland Island National Seashore
Where it is: Cumberland Island, GA
Where it’s better than: Hilton Head
Why it’s fun: The 18 miles of white-sand beaches and rolling dunes found on Cumberland Island, one of the East Coast’s most pristine barrier islands, appear wild and untouched, save for resident wild horses and sea turtles. The 19th-century Greyfield Inn (greyfieldinn.com), the sole commercial enterprise, is a luxe base camp for exploring its beaches. The Carnegies once owned most of Cumberland, and evidence of four family mansions remains: the ruins of the Dungeness and Stafford plantations, and the intact Plum Orchard and Greyfield Inn. When you tire of the beach, crushed-shell hiking trails beneath 300-year-old moss-draped oaks lead to ruins ripe for exploration.
Why you haven’t heard of it: Only accessible by boat, the island’s also restricted by the National Park Service to 300 people at a time.
Vist nps.gov/cuis for more information.
3. Taylor River Lodge
Where it is: Almont, CO
Where it’s better than: Dunton Hot Springs
Why it’s fun: Perched on a riverbank in the Rockies, this high-end, all-inclusive resort has the fun-loving spirit of a summer camp for adults. Ask a guide to take you hiking, mountain biking, running, climbing, rafting, or, right on the property, fly-fishing. Afterward, restore your body with massage, hot-tub soak, and farm-to-table meal. And luxe doesn’t have to mean stuffy. A camp-style “firing range” with archery sets, BB guns, and throwing axes provides fireside storytelling fodder.
Why you haven’t heard of it: After a long soft opening, the lodge is now starting its first full season.
Visit elevenexperience.com for more information.
4. Grand Teton to Glacier
Where it is: Jackson, WY, to Whitefish, MT
Where it’s better than: The Red Rock Road (Moab to Grand Canyon)
Why it’s fun: Over 650 miles, including three national parks, you can fish and hike in grizzly country, soak in hot springs, and bike the Continental Divide—with just an $80 National Parks Pass. There’s no limit to adventure—or great craft beer—in this wild corner of the U.S.
Why you haven’t heard of it: Road-trip classics like Route 66 and Highway 1 have long overshadowed the Northern Rockies route.
Visit nps.gov/grte for more information.
5. The Narrows
Where it is: Zion National Park, UT
Where it’s better than: Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon
Why it’s fun: Hiking from the forested upper reaches of the canyon—with its lush hanging gardens, gushing springs, and deep pools—to the skyscraper-like Wall Street feels like a big adventure. The Zion Narrows isn’t exactly a secret, but most hikers get it wrong, hitting it from the bottom up, and seeing only the final two or three miles. To fully appreciate the narrowest section of Zion Canyon, where the Virgin River squeezes between 2,000-foot vermilion walls, you need to hike its 16-mile length from top to bottom, and camp in one of 12 riverside campsites.
Fun fact: One million tons of sediment from the Virgin River scours and removes from the Narrows each year, digging it ever deeper.
Why you haven’t heard of it: Logistics. Getting a backcountry permit, arranging a shuttle, and hauling gear is a lot of work—but totally worth it.
Visit nps.gov/zion for more information.
Where it is: Vancouver Island, Canada
Where it’s better than: Santa Cruz and the rest of Northern California
Why it’s fun: Consistent waves make the rock-lined coves and wide-open sandy beaches the perfect summer-time proving ground. When surf is flat, hiking, salmon fishing, hot springs soaks, endless markets, festivals, and cultural events offer diversion. The crowded lineups and surfer-dude vibes found at the mecca of West Coast surfing aren’t for everyone—especially novices. But point your board north, and you’ll find more waves (with 22 miles of surf-ready beach break) and, believe it or not, warmer water in Canada’s laid-back, beginner-friendly surf capital.
Fun fact: There are 16 1/2 hours of summer sunlight per day in Tofino, which is so far north the sun rises around 5 a.m. and doesn’t set till 9:30 p.m.
Why you haven’t heard of it: With its 50° waters and Canadian-bred hockey heritage, Tofino simply isn’t on Americans’ radar.
Visit tourismtofino.com for more information.