If not Bar Harbor, Maine

…then Freeport, Maine

Bar Harbor, Maine, is a lovely summer destination, but accommodations sell out quickly. If your heart was set on Bar Harbor, try Freeport for your getaway instead. Another coastal Maine city, located about 160 miles from Bar Harbor, Freeport offers many of the same amenities, such as world-class shopping, plentiful outdoor activities, and a quaint oceanside lifestyle.

Known as the headquarters for L.L. Bean, Freeport has an L.L.Bean Flagship Store near the center of town, and it’s surrounded by a plethora of shops and local restaurants, making it easy to spend a full day shopping. In fact, Freeport was declared the “Best shopping town in New England” by Yankee Magazine. Additionally, the town has a performing arts center offering fun nighttime entertainment.

If you’re more interested in outdoor activities, Freeport has over 1,200 acres of open space. With coastline, a mountain, and even a nearby desert, there are ample opportunities for camping, biking, hiking, swimming, boating, and bird watching. Just a five-minute drive from Freeport’s shopping district, Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park has over 200 acres of gorgeous landscapes. Hike through the forests and picnic along the rocky shorelines, or take a bike ride on the nine-mile loop from town to the park and back. You can also explore Maine’s Mast Landing Audubon Sanctuary, offering three miles of nature trails, or visit the Desert of Maine, a natural phenomenon where you can play desert dunes disc golf or hunt for gemstones.

Best of all, Portland is only a 20-minute car ride from Freeport, so you can easily explore all of Portland’s attractions. It’s also incredibly convenient for travelers who plan to fly in and out of Maine, since the largest airport in the area is in Portland.

 


 

If not Napa, California

…then Ashland, Oregon

If you wanted to visit Napa for wine tasting but there was no room at the inn, don’t fret. There’s a different area on the West Coast with more availability, tons of wineries, and a plethora of cultural and outdoor activities: Ashland, Oregon.

According to the Ashland Chamber of Commerce, Ashland serves as a gateway to over 100 wineries and 250 vineyards on almost 5,000 acres. With over 70 varieties of white wine and red wine grapes grown here, you can find all kinds of wine styles in this area. There are some wineries in Ashland, but you’re also just a 15-minute drive to the Bear Creek Wine Trail. You can also take a day trip to explore the nearby Applegate or Upper Rogue wine trails.

Ashland is also home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which has numerous daily performances throughout the summer and some in the spring and fall. Most of the plays are by the Bard, but they also feature more modern plays and musicals. Many Ashland visitors love grabbing a bite at one of the over 100 delicious local restaurants, catching a play in the festival, and then going out for drinks at a local bar.

In addition to a rich arts and culture scene, you’ll find loads of fun outdoor activities since the city is near the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, where the Siskiyou, Cascade, and Klamath mountain ranges converge.

 


 

If not Boston, Massachusetts

…then Newburyport, Massachusetts

Boston B&Bs may be full for the summer, but nearby Newburyport is an ideal alternative for travelers. Only 35 miles from downtown Boston, Newburyport has much in common with the Massachusetts capital, including rich history, plentiful arts and culture activities, and coastal life.

In the town’s Market Square Historic District, you can explore beautiful architecture and visit the Custom House Maritime Museum for a taste of the area’s maritime history. (After all, Newburyport is considered “the birthplace of the US Coast Guard.”)

Spend some time wandering throughout town, with your pick of hundreds of local shops and restaurants of all kinds. Visit the popular Waterfront Park, a green space in the center of downtown where you can relax, play, enjoy views of the waterfront, and see live entertainment and festivals.

The Clipper City Rail Trail is just over a mile that goes from the MBTA station to the Merrimack River shoreline close to downtown Newburyport. The trail is ideal for walking, running, or biking, and it connects to side streets full of shopping and attractions like parks. For even more outdoor adventures, visit the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge or Maudslay State Park for miles of trails to go hiking, biking, walking, horseback riding, or picnicking.

 


 

If not St. Augustine, Florida

…then Ocean Grove, New Jersey

The Florida coast books up quickly for summer travel, and even if you can find an open room, the beaches will be packed. You may be looking at St. Augustine for its unique combination of history and a beach town, but try another spot on the same coast that also offers both: Ocean Grove, New Jersey.

While Ocean Grove is only one square mile, it offers a lovely year-round seashore that’s family-friendly. Ocean Grove is at the center of the Jersey Shore, making it easy to visit other attractions and destinations on the Shore on the same trip. It’s also just an hour from both Manhattan and Philadelphia, a convenient getaway for East Coast road trippers. In the summer, you’ll find lively flea markets, bustling arts and craft shows, and musical performances at the Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove. There’s also a large car show in May.

The seaside resort town was founded in 1869 by Methodist clergyman who came to set up a summer camp community. History buffs will love taking a historical walking tour to learn more about Ocean Grove’s roots. According to The Historical Society of Ocean Grove, the town has “the largest assemblage of authentic Victorian architecture in the nation.” The organization also runs a museum and Centennial Cottage, built in 1884, and both can be toured by history-loving visitors.

If your favorite summer destination is full, relax. You’ll be able to experience a similar escape at one of these four lesser-known spots that offer similar attractions and amenities.