It is seemingly impossible to travel the main streets of hot vacation destinations without bumping into a funny-looking building disguised as a Ripley's Believe It or Not! or a wax museum. Restaurants are mostly of the chain-variety with Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. or Joe's Crab Shack reigning king. Endless rows of outlet stores hock the same screen-printed t-shirts. While we're not denying that the value of these quintessential trip experiences, more often than not, the best way to really experience a destination is to forge your own path and follow the road less traveled.

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Research before you Disembark

Do your homework before you setoff. There's plenty of sites online where past travelers have shared reviews, comments, and suggestions to point you away from the crowds. The internet is also a great place to learn about local events happening during your visit or to to find less traditional experiences like architecture tours or even haunted tours. Most importantly, pre-booking activities can save you from waiting in lines and wasting time. You don't have to head into your vacation blindly -- create your own bucket list right on our site to save ideas and inspiration and help structure your trip.

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Get One with Nature

From the beach to the mountains, Mother Nature has provided you with a free form of entertainment. How many opportunities will you have to watch the sunrise from the beach overlooking the ocean? While hiking, you can create your own scavenger hunt as you keenly scour the wilderness in hopes of spotting animals, or unique flora or fauna. These magical moments are only available once you're far removed from the hustle and bustle of city life.

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Ask the Locals

Even if you are only in town for a week, no one knows the area better than the people that live there. The best way to discover hidden gems is by talking to a resident to find their favorite spot, whether it be a restaurant or a place to unwind. In terms of finding the most authentic and delicious food off the radar, chatting with locals is the way to go.

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Just Wing It

You don't need to head into your vacation with every minute planned out. Spend a day without plans. Simply exploring on two feet is one of the best ways get to know a destination. While maps can be helpful, sometimes it takes getting a little lost to really get to know a place. Your senses will be heightened and you'll notice more of the little details that make somewhere special.

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Sometimes, You Just Need to be a Tourist

Technically, you are a tourist, and these iconic destinations are popular for a reason. Go with the flow and embrace the popular attractions. While they don't need to be the defining moment of your trip, they're sure to be a standout experience. There's something satisfying about checking something off your bucket list before going on to make your own memories.