Repeat visits to favorite haunts are a safe bet when it comes to planning a vacation, if a little dull maybe. Here are some unusual ideas that just might surprise and delight.

Mexico Beach, Florida

Many US beaches are popular and crowded at peak times, yet often the more peaceful and secluded coastal areas are underrated simply because it takes a little extra effort to get there. About 30 miles east of Panama City, Mexico Beach boasts outstanding natural features – warm, clean, clear waters and fine powdery sand made of quartz crystals that have their origin in the Appalachian Mountains.

The five-mile long beach is well cared for, clean and safe – a habitat beloved by sea turtles that nest on the beach – no open fires are permitted and no type of glass. This is a great experience for those who respect and enjoy nature.

 

Munich, Germany

Providing a real-life fairytale experience, Munich’s elaborate architecture features charming palaces and castles, plus there are great amusement parks, toy museums and puppet theaters that children adore. This is a city with a welcome for everyone, and there are friendly beer halls suitable for families, many of which delight customers with live music during mealtimes.

 

As Germany’s third largest city, after Berlin and Hamburg, Munich is underrated simply because its attractions are less well known. Check with the cooperative travel advisors for more details.

Estacada, Oregon

For a quirky vacation experience, an hour south-east of Portland, State Route 224 takes visitors to an old logging town, Estacada. Once a boomtown, outwardly Estacada is a little shabby, and so underrated by the average tourist. Those who enjoy exploring swimming holes think otherwise – there are at least six spots for jumping into crystal clear, cool Cascade runoff, and a delicious hot spring.

 

Landmarks in the town include a giant tree carving of a logger and the former Safari Club now known as Hong’s Chinese Restaurant and Lounge. This is the home of taxidermy, with families of jaguars and tigers on display in every nook and cranny. The town motto is, ‘Close to everything … but away from it all.’

Nong Khiaw, Laos

Luang Prabang is the big tourist attraction in Laos, which means it’s always crowded. For an altogether more private yet exhilarating experience, a trip up the Nam Ou River from the city takes visitors to the lesser known, and therefore underrated, riverside town of Nong Khiaw. Nestled amongst limestone karsts of dramatic proportions and deep in the forest, this is an enchanting spot and a good base for river exploration.

Frequently, backpackers find they have lingered longer than anticipated in Nong Khiaw, enjoying the timeless atmosphere and the charming allure of the Phanoy Guesthouse, Bakery and Bookshop.

Uzbekistan

For a long time Uzbekistan was too remote and inaccessible to be of interest as a vacation destination, however improved travel links are tempting visitors to enjoy the outstanding architecture of the cities of Bukhara, Samarkand and Khiva. Ornately tiled madrasas and mosques, sporting elegant and colorful minarets, adorn every street corner.

An unfortunate political history of dictatorship and corruption has meant Uzbekistan has been relegated to a secondary position that underestimates how much it has to offer. In fact, the remarkable architecture and friendly local people offer welcoming experience to travelers.