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3 hidden gem vacation spots that should be on your bucket list in 2024

You'll love these hidden gem vacation spots

Isolated stretch of highway in Death Valley with mountains in the background
Aldric RIVAT/ Unsplash / Unsplash

If you’re planning on a road trip this year, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to go. Popular tourist attractions can be full of crowds and tourist traps that can make your trip a little more lackluster than you would have hoped. Fortunately, Bounce has just released a study on the top hidden gem vacation spots to go to this year, all based on Google search metrics. Let’s dive into the top locations from the study, covering everything from the best times to visit and how to make the most of these spectacular spots.

The Munds Mountain Trail is a challenging, remote trail in the Munds Mountain Wilderness in Sedona, Arizona.
Deborah Lee Soltesz/U.S. Forest Service ( / U.S. Forest Service

Sedona, AZ

One of the best places to travel this year is Sedona, Arizona. Sedona boasts luxurious resorts, spas, and a vibrant arts scene. Outdoor activities include hiking, mountain biking, and spiritual retreats. This location received 4.6 million global Google searches in 2023.

The best time to visit is April to May and September to October when the weather is mild.

Things to do in Sedona

Sedona is renowned for its stunning red rock landscapes. There are many popular hiking trails in the area, including Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, and Boynton Canyon, which are all considered to be vortexes. Vortexes are believed to be the centers of energy conducive to healing, meditation, and self-exploration.

If you want to roam off the beaten path, you can go on a jeeping tour, a thrilling way to explore the rugged terrain and learn about the area’s history. Visit ancient ruins like the dwellings of the Sinagua people at Montezuma Castle and the Tuzigoot National Monument, or stargaze under Sedona’s vast, clear sky.

Sedona is also well-known for its art galleries and shops, such as those in the Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village. The town is dotted with establishments that feature local and regional artists.

Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a spiritual journey, Sedona has something special for you.

Mackinac Island, MI
Leah Hetteberg / Unsplash

Mackinac Island, MI

This island received 4 million global Google searches last year and is known for its quaint bed-and-breakfasts, horse-drawn carriages, and fudge shops. Cars are banned, so biking and walking are popular.

Best Time to Visit: Late spring to early fall, with July and August being peak tourist months.

Mackinac Island, located in Michigan, is a charming and historical destination with a wide array of fun activities to enjoy. Biking is a favorite pastime here, and rentals are available if you didn’t bring one. There are four different roads that you can bike or walk on, and they’re all gorgeous.

Alternatively, they also offer guided horse-drawn carriage tours, which are a must-do if you’d like to learn about the island’s history. You’ll likely pass through the downtown area and catch a glimpse of Fort Mackinac, a former military post that is full of exhibits and does live reenactments and demonstrations. Some tours also stop at Arch Rock, which is a natural limestone arch that stands 146 feet above ground level.

The island’s shoreline is also popular for kayaking and paddle boarding, which you can also rent. Mackinac Island State Park, which covers about 80% of the island, has more than 70 miles of hiking and walking trails.

Walnut Street Bridge in Chattanooga, Tennessee
Sarah Swainson / Unsplash

Chattanooga, TN

Surrounded by stunning mountain views and the Tennessee River, Chattanooga is no doubt one of the best travel destinations for this year. It’s a vibrant city that has many attractions, from historic train stations to underground waterfalls.

Best Time to Visit: Fall for the foliage, and spring for mild weather and blooming flowers.

With 3.8 million Google searches last year, Chattanooga is looking to be a must-see in 2024. The city itself is full of fun things to do, from the Tennessee Aquarium to the Buff View Art District. Stroll along Walnut Street Bridge or visit the Hunter Museum of Art.

If you’re up for a bit more adventure, head up to Ruby Falls, an underground waterfall that’s located within Lookout Mountain. To get the most out of this hike, you can hide a guided tour to learn all about its geology and history. Alternatively, you can ride the Incline Railway, which is a steep scenic ride up to Lookout Mountain.

Nearby, Rock City is famous for its massive ancient rock formations and the “See Seven States” lookout point. For a more rigorous adventure, you could also hike or mountain bike at Raccoon Mountain, which has great views and several different levels of trail difficulty.

You could also visit Chattanooga Choo Choo, a historic train station that was turned into a hotel complex that offers lots of dining, shopping, and entertainment options.

Each of these destinations offers a unique experience, ensuring that your 2024 travel itinerary will be filled with memorable adventures. Whether you’re seeking spiritual rejuvenation, historical exploration, natural beauty, or just a peaceful retreat, these hidden gem “bucket list” locations are sure to captivate and inspire. Now, all that’s left to do is pack your bags!

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Sarah Joseph
Sarah is a lover of all things outdoors. With a bright sense of adventure and a heart for the mountains, she is always…
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