Help me find a completely atypical vacation spot with in the continental USA.
December 14, 2008 6:57 PM   Subscribe

Help me find an atypical vacation spot within the continental USA.

I want to spend about $1000 over a week. It's just me and the wife. We want to go somewhere that is completely atypical, off the beaten path. In other words, place like New York City or Orlando or Miami would be far too obvious. I want to hear about places that most people don't think of when they think vacation, but still places that do attract some tourists. I mainly want to go to one of these towns and relax: eat good food and see interesting things.

I should also say, we're in our late-20's, we don't drink, are not really into outdoor sports, and don't want to spend a great deal of time hanging out with strangers (so no tours please).

Any ideas?
posted by JPowers to Travel & Transportation (21 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Asheville, NC is a great place to spend a vacation. There are many things to see and do there for a couple out on their own. The downtown area is full of interesting shops, off-beat bookstores and unique restaurants. It's a college town with a lot of culture and local flavor. If you get tired of the city, the surrounding mountains are great for a hike or you can take a slow drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway. I have also heard good things about the Biltmore Estate.

If that sounds good to you, there are several threads here on MeFi about interesting things to do in Asheville.
posted by bristolcat at 7:14 PM on December 14, 2008

I don't know if Santa Fe or Portland count as "too obvious," but I think they're both great towns with tons of local character, things to see, good food, etc.

If you're more into chilling among the landscape, I'd say Big Sur, CA and environs (San Simeon to the south; Carmel and Monterey to the north).
posted by scody at 7:17 PM on December 14, 2008

Is New Orleans too obvious? The food is great, the music is amazing, and there's lots to see. Plus they could still use your tourist dollars.
posted by Quietgal at 7:23 PM on December 14, 2008

The oregon coast is great. Yes 1000 wont get you far if you want to stay in a nice hotel, but you can rent a house during the off season for about 1/2 that for a week. You can spend your mornings sitting on your porch looking at the ocean. There are a lot of great things to do in an area like Seaside or Lincoln City. As far as food some of the greatest seafood in the Northwest.
posted by sharp2403 at 7:30 PM on December 14, 2008

Seconding the Oregon coast. Also, maybe San Luis Obispo, CA. It's out of the way and cheap, but I think I'd get bored if I spent more than 2-3 days there.

Also, maybe Burlington VT, but not until April or so. How large of a city are you looking for?
posted by A dead Quaker at 7:40 PM on December 14, 2008

Austin? I've never been there, but everyone I know who has speaks very highly of it. There's lots of live music and bars and restaurants but it isn't super touristy. Also, the winters are mild, which depending on where you're coming from and when you're going might be a plus.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 7:41 PM on December 14, 2008

posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:41 PM on December 14, 2008

After looking at your profile I see you're already in Texas, so Austin might be old news. As everyone else has pointed out Portland and Seattle are both quite nice.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 7:48 PM on December 14, 2008

Charleston, SC.

It's a beautiful city with many attractions (Yorktown, Ft. Sumter, carriage rides). It has a lot of shopping (King Street and the open air market) and enough history to last you awhile. You also have the ocean which adds another dimension to things. You also get some great southern culture and cooking.

You might have some difficulty spending an entire week so you could hop over to Hilton Head Island or maybe Savannah, GA.
posted by bobber at 8:35 PM on December 14, 2008

I think West Texas fits the bill. There's Big Bend, the Marfa Lights, really good places to eat in Marathon, Alpine, and Marfa, and nice places to stay in all three as well. The McDonald Observatory has star parties, Marfa has the Chinati foundation and a lovely courthouse. Alpine has a good place to see live music. I've been a few times and I never tire of the area and never see everything I want to see. It's so far away from everything it really feels like you're getting far far away too. One of my favorite places in the world really.

I also really like Durango Colorado and the area around there too.

Looking forward to this thread's other suggestions.
posted by dog food sugar at 9:01 PM on December 14, 2008

As I was reading, Asheville was the first place that came to mind, and there it was in the first answer.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 9:22 PM on December 14, 2008

Montreal is right next door and with the exchange rate it's a pretty good deal. Plus the food is great and he city is a lot of fun, albeit cold this time of year. Of course, it's also very pretty in the snow. The sights are unparalleled in North America with the big, old Catholic churches and the general oldness of Old Montreal.
posted by GuyZero at 9:49 PM on December 14, 2008

We've gone to Cambria and Nevada City in California. Great small towns, plenty of stuff to look at. There's a beach in Cambria, Nevada City is in the mountains (and chilly), but they're fun places to go to that aren't generally that packed to the gills when I've gone. And the food was great in both areas.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:36 PM on December 14, 2008

I spent a night in Pittsburgh last year and thought it was rad. The people were incredibly nice, there were good, interesting restaurants (and bars, though I understand you don't drink) to go to, the neighborhoods I saw were colorful and cool, the Warhol museum was weirdly laid-out but worth the money, and the geography is really interesting. It's a cheap town, too. And the bridges are cool!
posted by juliplease at 10:42 PM on December 14, 2008

Tell us a little more about your interests. Do you like history? Theater? Natural wonders? Are you traveling in the winter or summer?
posted by LarryC at 11:37 PM on December 14, 2008

jalama beach, ca is a fantastic little place hidden between lompoc and vandenberg afb.
posted by krautland at 3:30 AM on December 15, 2008

We vacay at St. George Island, Florida. It is on the Gulf. It's about a 7 hour drive from Atlanta but I know you can get there from Pensacola or Tallahassee, too (if you are flying in).
SGI is not that developed. There are crappy old beach cottages from the 60s there. There are also some larger homes that were built in the 80s. There are some newer houses there, too. No motels as I recall and one B&B. There are only like 3 restaurants on the island. You can go there and be as social or as housebound as you'd like.
Apalachicola is "town" on the mainland and there are a lot of nice restaurants there--I highly recommend the Owl Cafe.
Be warned, bring your own groceries if you can. There are only two grocery stores in Apalach, and they are not the greatest.

My other suggestion would be San Antonio. Love it! Beautiful city, you can see the Alamo, and Austin is within driving distance.
posted by FergieBelle at 7:09 AM on December 15, 2008

If you like astronomy:

Very Large Array
posted by Spurious at 8:40 AM on December 15, 2008

If you do New Orleans maybe include Southwest Louisiana in your week, especially if you're into the regional music. The food is super rich. If you're interested look into the Liberty Theater, Saturday morning jams at Savoy Music (beautiful accordions), both in Eunice, Louisiana. Lafayette has the Blue Moon Saloon and Guesthouse, Breaux Bridge has the Maison Des Amis. Lots of fun little hole in the wall places full of good food and music.
posted by dog food sugar at 9:42 AM on December 15, 2008

My wife and I stayed on a friend of a friend's boat in Key West.
Key west may be a typical vacation spot, but sleeping in a little old shrimping boat/house a mile off shore was pretty romantic, and inexpensive. We paid $60 per night and it included a motorboat to get to shore and the use of some scuba gear and bicycles. The guy who's boat we were using stayed at a friend's house and met up with us a few mornings to help us catch some fish and to show us around the island.

A lot of people in Key West live on boats and will rent them out to tourists. You can probably find one on craigslist or if you send us a message, we can give you our friend's contact info.
posted by abirae at 5:01 AM on December 16, 2008

The Very Large Array is not quite so large as to take a week to see.

Astro buffs might visit around the time of the Enchanted Skies Star Party.
posted by yohko at 12:04 PM on December 16, 2008

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