Not a fan of crowds, lines, or round-the-clock partying? It's certainly possible to have a relaxing getaway without any of that — but you won't have to scrimp on style to do it. Visit these popular spots in the off-season or under-the-radar gems any time of the year for a refreshingly quiet weekend getaway.
cape may, new jersey
This Victorian wonderland at the southern tip of New Jersey bills itself as the nation's oldest seaside resort, so yes, in summer, it can be a bit of a madhouse, admittedly a beautiful madhouse with one of the best beaches on the East Coast. With year-round activities, natural beauty, historic sites such as the Emlen Physick Estate and plenty of fine dining, your stay will be memorable no matter the season.
litchfield county, connecticut
Romantic B&Bs, stunning scenery, charming boutiques, and a famed collection of antiques shops have been luring visitors to this part of the state for ages. Design your own getaway, following your own pace — even if it's a restorative crawl.
pacific grove, california
san juan islands, washington
The San Juan Islands are said to offer "inspiration for the senses," and isn't that what travel's all about? Take a ferry from Seattle, one of several scenic ways to arrive, to one of the three destination islands and feel the blood pressure drop as you bike, kayak, visit an alpaca ranch or lavender farm, stop by a winery and soak up the local color.
newport, rhode island
Experience life in The Gilded Age with a trip to this classic summertime destination. After Labor Day, though, crowds thin out markedly and you can savor the historic (and mind-blowingly opulent) seaside mansions, journey on the fabled Cliff Walk, take a trolley tour, visit the International Tennis Hall of Fame — or just stroll through the boutiques and dine on some classic seafood fare.
st. michael's, maryland
The 1879 Hooper Strait Lighthouse will leave an impression, as will your time in this charming harbor town where it's easy to find a waterside eatery where you can spend the afternoon filling up on a classic crab feast.
indiana dunes national lakeshore; porter, indiana
Less than 60 miles from Chicago, you can spend time at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Stroll the sandy beaches of Lake Michigan without the summertime crowds, hike the trails through dunes, marshlands and pine forests — and still have views of the Chicago skyline. You can even fly a kite. Nearby attractions include historic sites and more.
the berkshires, massachusetts
Whether you want theater or art, charming boutiques or scenic vistas, the Berkshires make a great escape. Make MASS MoCA, the destination museum created in a restored 19th century factory, as your centerpiece — and find more treasures in this western Massachusetts region.
new paltz, new york
On the surface a college town, New Paltz is a step back in time with a decidedly hippie vibe. Wander the meandering streets, shop boutiques both quirky and upscale, stop for coffee, and be sure to check out the nearby Mohonk Mountain House, where if you can't spring for the premium accommodations, you can at least spend the day amid its natural beauty.
old town alexandria, virginia
A quick jaunt from the hustle (and headache) of Washington, D.C., Old Town Alexandria offers a charming step back in time in a designated national historic district. Take the King Street Trolley, gawk at the skinny Spite House, hit the farmers market and more.
edisto river treehouses, south carolina
If you really want to take the search for quiet to the extreme, head to the Edisto River Treehouses. This private wildlife refuge is situated between Savannah, Charleston and Columbia, accessible only by canoe. Swim, picnic, explore — or simply sit on your rocking chair and watch nature at its best.
Almost "hidden" in West Texas, this charming desert town in an arts hub that offers a nightly light show in the sky — an unexplained natural phenomenon known as the Marfa Lights (which have their own festival). Come for the lights, stay for the museums, galleries and attractions such as the Big Bend Cowboy Hall of Fame.
In a most welcome shadow of the bustling Rehoboth Beach, Lewes is a step into an earlier era — with low-key, walkable streets filled with attractive shops, parks, water views and more. This destination — where the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay meet — has a vivid sense of history (it was founded in 1631 by the Dutch) including museums, plus galleries and plenty to keep you as busy (or not) as you like.
springs preserve, las vegas
So, you have to be in Las Vegas? Well, it doesn't have to be 24-hour party time. Within the city is a place to escape that may find you returning more than once. The Springs Preserve is a 180-acre botanical garden where you can also hike, bike and take classes — or simply sit on a bench and read, chat or zone out. And after you have your fill of peace and quiet, Sin City also has loads of cheap attractions, too.
If your definition of a quiet and relaxing moment is sharing wine and good conversation, then a trip to Carlton wine country might make for a most fruitful getaway. There are nearly two dozen tasting rooms here, representing all regions of Oregon's wine production. Restaurants, shopping (from antiques to fine chocolates), and a wide variety of accommodations (from silo suites to a farmhouse) allow you to customize your trip.
new hope, pennsylvania
Bucks County has long been a weekend getaway — and it can get crowded — but time it right and you can seemingly have the entire Delaware River-side paradise known as New Hope to yourself. Find stunning shopping options, charming dining destinations and history at every turn, including an old-time railroad excursion and the venerable Bucks County Playhouse that has hosted everyone from Liza Minelli to Robert Redford and Grace Kelly. And if you tire of this spot, equally attractive Lambertville, New Jersey, is a short bridge hop away.
If you tire of Nashville, head just a handful of miles away to tour "America's Favorite Main Street," which dates from 1799. Explore shops, restaurants — with so many locally owned there's a real sense of community — and breathe in the historic surroundings. Head back to the "Music City" with a new perspective.
flint hills, kansas
When you want to get away from it all, head to the prairie. No matter the season, the vistas will dazzle here, with activities ranging from bird watching to hiking, biking and trail rides. Start at the Flint Hills Discovery Center in Manhattan — and plan your time in the Tallgrass Prairie from there.
The Cape Cod Chamber points to Thumpertown Beach in Eastham as one of its five best "secret beaches," noted for its small, secluded plot on the Outer Cape. Spend your time visiting the Cape Cod National Seashore Salt Pond Visitor Center, marvel at the Gothic Revival Nauset Lighthouse — and Windmill Park.
art of living retreat center; boone, north carolina
They say "health meets happiness" here, a splurge destination designed for rejuvenation. It's all set within nearly 400 acres of forest, with spa services, and programs designed to nourish the mind, body and spirit. And if nothing else, you'll have spent some quality time in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
A weekend getaway from Atlanta, this destination bills itself as "The World's Luckiest Fishing Village," so anglers take note. There's also the Destin Harbor Boardwalk, the History & Fishing Museum, and plenty of arts-related offerings for those the landlubbers in the group.
morro bay, california
Get back to nature at this coastal town where otters and pelicans will be your companions. Morro Bay State Park includes the landmark Morro Rock along with lagoons, trails and a saltwater marsh. It also has a Museum of Natural History which spotlights ecology and local Native American culture. There's also destination shopping and plenty of family activities.
bristol, new hampshire
Visiting New England says Bristol is "not impressed with becoming flashy and trendy" but has an old-time feel highlighted by its location on Newfound Lake. Use this as a low-key home base when touring the White Mountains region.
Said to be a destination for those seeking an alternative to The Hamptons outside New York City, Ogunquit features boutiques, art galleries, theater and upscale restaurants that attract a cultured crowd. And the name? It's from the Abenaki tribe meaning "beautiful place by the sea."
Do you imagine a classic town green, a covered bridge, farms and charming shops when you think quiet getaway? If so, then the historic destination of Townshend might be for you. It's found in the state's southeastern Windham County and has been thriving since 1753. It's said to be the perfect place to unplug, while still offering easy access to nearby attractions including ski resorts.
french settlement, louisiana
This town outside Baton Rouge offers a mix of historic sites along with natural attractions, festivals, and an active historical society for when you really want to immerse yourself in the charms of small-town living.
amish country, ohio
The best vacations take you far from your everyday life, so where better than to step back in time and meander through Amish Country in Holmes County, Ohio? Tour the small towns, appreciate the natural vistas and glimpse a way of life that continues to thrive (with artisan-made goods and food for the buying).
For a mix of shopping, dining, art, and nature, Ridgefield has it all, wrapped up in a taste-of-yesteryear feel. Stroll its quaint main street where there's an old-fashioned candy shop (plus contemporary fashions and a well-stocked bookshop), or sip a coffee from a sidewalk table. Star attractions include The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, the Ridgefield Playhouse which draws national acts — and don't miss the nearby Weir Farm National Historic Site, where art and nature intersect in a most attractive way.
amnicon falls state park; south range, wisconsin
Forget roaring traffic — instead disappear into the sounds of roaring waterfalls and rapids of the Amnicon River. Enjoy it all from a picturesque footbridge — and you can even set up camp for a true wilderness adventure.
meramec caverns; stanton, missouri
Make the underground wonders of the Meramec Caverns the centerpiece of a trip about an hour from St. Louis, where you can also camp at La Jolla Natural Park. Expect to be awed by the minerals and colors — as you tour the walkways and an entire seven-story "mansion" underground.
schultz tank; coconino county, arizona
If you think Arizona is all desert, think again. Schultz Tank near Flagstaff — picked by Arizona Highways magazine as one of the state's top "quiet places" — is a man-made pond at Schultz Pass. It's a haven for wildlife and a great day destination to combine with a trip to nearby Flagstaff, where you can gaze at the stars from Lowell Observatory.
The roadside attraction The Creede Fork might be a big draw but this off-the-beaten-tourist-track town is a find for those with an interest in the history of mining or with theater, spas, shopping, farms and plenty of natural beauty.
The Sunken Gardens, which date back to the 1930s, offer a floral display that provides an oasis — an escape within an escape — in this manageable city where you can also tour the Sheldon Museum of Art, the International Quilt Study Center & Museum, the Nebraska History Museum and more.