LUX Travel: Summer Hideaways

Skip around the overcrowded destinations this summer, pack up the car and slip into explore mode. Travel enthusiasts have the right idea about escaping to some of the best-kept secrets when it comes to seasonal fun around the US. Like the hot spots, these destinations include picturesque beaches and vibrant nightlife, with refreshing opportunities to find solitude! Check out a few and start your adventure.

1. Orange Beach, Alabama - As the sister city to the renowned Gulf Shores, Orange Beach is becoming a popular destination in its own right thanks to beaches with cotton white sand and warm gulf waters.

Orange Beach is home of the largest Ferris wheel in the Southeast, located at The Wharf, where children and parents can enjoy concerts, seaside shopping and recent blockbusters at Carmike Cinemas. The beach town packs everything from seafood to art to German Sausage festivals and Mardi Gras celebrations!

2. Carolina Beach, North Carolina - Carolina Beach is famous for its sun and sand, with tons of water activities to keep everyone entertained. Speed across the water jet skiing, take a boating charter to fish marlin and tuna or swim the day away.

Windsurfing is another popular activity in this resort town, with scores of colorful wind sails peppering the surf on windy days. Once you've worked up an appetite, stop by Britt's Donut Shop, one of the oldest and most popular draws in the neighborhood.

3. Newport, Rhode Island - Make your way to the same seaside city that served as the "Summer White House" for presidents John F. Kennedy and Dwight Eisenhower. The harbor town is home to some of the freshest seafood on the Atlantic Coast and world-renowned sailing.

There are dozens of private and public sailing clubs that offer sailing excursions and lessons for beginners. Don't forget about the many cultural attractions, such as lighthouse tours, museums and brewery/winery tours.

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4. Pacifica, Northern California - Mere minutes south of San Francisco, Pacifica is a coastal treasure that feels worlds away from the big city. Splash in the cool ocean waters or find a quiet spot to fish for salmon and striped bass.

Pacifica Pier is the only place in the Bay Area where you can crab for free. Hiking trails along the beach and bluffs offer stunning views and are fun to explore with kids.

5. Ventura County - Nestled between sultry Malibu and posh Santa Barbara, Ventura County’s beach towns cost a fraction of their pricey neighbors and the beaches are just as beautiful. Oxnard’s seven miles of hidden, pristine beaches include Hollywood Beach, a former celebrity playground for Clark Gable, Charlie Chaplin and others.

Amenities include free street parking, volleyball courts, lifeguards (in summer) and restrooms. Mrs. Olson’s Coffee Hut serves the best breakfast potatoes, pumpkin pancakes and crab cakes in town.