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30 Fun Vacations That Aren't the Beach

Costa Rica

Costa Rica has plenty of beaches, but you could avoid them entirely and still have a great time here. From rafting down a beautiful river to hiking up a volcano, there’s plenty to do in this lush, beautiful country. 

Chicago

You can’t get much further from the beach than by heading to the Midwest. But what Chicago lacks in salt water, it more than makes up for in fun vacation ideas. Culture, historic landmarks, delicious cuisine--Chicago has it all. 

New Orleans

New Orleans may just be a hop, skip, and jump away from the Gulf of Mexico, but all the best fun here is in the city proper. This historic Southern city is known for its classic architecture, thriving arts scene, and plenty of rowdy fun--especially around Mardi Gras! 

Antarctica

Nothing says "I don't want to go to the beach with you, please" quite like fleeing to the farthest corner of the Earth to a place where the landscape really on has one feature—a feature that is notably not a beach. Of course, there's a lot to do here. It's a fantastic place to see wildlife, and don't forget the Aurora Australis.

Zeppelin Flights

Luxury zeppelins aren't as much of a thing as they used to be, but rigid airships are still a perfectly valid means of touring. There aren't a ton of them in use today, but with several exciting concepts for luxury zeppelin hotels in the works, it might not be too long before they come roaring back.  (Or, uh...before they come back slowly, and quietly, in that zeppelin-y sort of way.)

Makgadikgadi Pan

Okay, yes, it's one of the most remote places in the world, so this would be a bit out of your way, regardless of where "your way" actually is. But the Makgadikgadi Pan in Botswana is perhaps the largest salt flat on Earth, a place so barren that until the rainy season arrives, only algae can survive here. If there's a clearer way to say "No beaches for me, thanks!" we sure don't know what it is.

Road Trip

Grab your friends and family, and re-enact the Winnebago episode of Frasier! That was a really good one! Except maybe don't because the border is probably a lot stricter than it was when Daphne's American accent passed muster. We would suggest our road trip, but it spends a lot of time cruising the Pacific Coast Highway, and you don't like beaches.

A Bookstore or Library

Maybe it's not just the beach; it's all of it. All that sunshine, and people, and other garbage. Just because you don't like the thought of getting sand in your pages doesn't mean that you can't enjoy a bookish vacation. Check out some of the world's wildest bookstores in places like Venice or Buenos Aires, and spend a week lost in the stacks.

Forest

Let's say you really, truly do hate water. What better way to give water the finger than to flee to a forest, where thirsty trees will suck up any of it before it has a chance to get you. We've rounded up some of our favorites, though you might want to avoid the whole "rainforest" situation.

New York City

Not every non-beach vacation has to be "the opposite of a beach." You could just go to a nice city you've never been before. (Note to New Yorkers: Okay, yes, you're from New York and it's awesome. We get it. Go to Chicago or Paris or something.)

Fez, Morocco

Morocco is a gorgeous country with some lovely beaches, none of which are anywhere near Fez, a landlocked city in the middle of a desert for your non-beachy pleasure. Fez is one of our favorite "second cities" in the world, and it's not hard to see why. There's a real, old-world charm here, and it's impossible not to feel it as you walk through the narrow streets to the markets of the Old City.

Denver, Colorado

Denver has it all, as long as you aren't including "beaches" as part of "it all." This place is a veritable hipster utopia with all of the great food that implies, but on top of that, there's skiing! The Rocky Mountains are absolutely stunning and do not in any way involve being on the beach.

Napa Valley

Instead of enjoying a tropical cocktail on the beach, why not enjoy a glass of wine in the beautiful Napa Valley instead? But even if wine isn’t your thing, this beautiful countryside has plenty of fun to explore--including spas, shopping, and scenic hikes. 

Montreal

While everyone else is getting sunburned on the beach, why not spend your summer in the beautiful (and temperate!) city of Montreal? This French-speaking Canadian town is perfect if you want to experience a little bit of Europe without a transatlantic flight. 

Vail, Colorado

In the winter, Vail is a snowy wonderland, but in the summer it transforms into a lush, green mountainside. Whether you like skis or hiking boots, Vail is a fun time year round. 

Martha's Vineyard

Martha’s Vineyard may be an island, but there’s plenty to do without ever dipping a toe in the Atlantic Ocean. You’ll see exactly what we mean when you’re strolling through beautiful historic neighborhoods with a lobster roll in hand. 

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston is a hidden city gem in the wilderness of South Carolina. You might come for the out-of-this-world BBQ, but you’ll stay for the historic architecture and the large arts scene. 

Savannah, Georgia

If you find yourself on vacation with a beach lover, they can get their fix in Savannah. But you’re really missing out on the Savannah experience if you spend all your time on the sand. Why not hop on the trolley and see a little bit of everything Savannah has to offer? 

Seattle

Seattle has a little bit of everything--especially for those who love the forest more than the beach. Hiking, camping, and all sorts of outdoor activities are waiting for you just outside the city limits. For those who have had enough of the great outdoors, the Museum of Pop Culture is sure to contain no traces of organic life. 

Paris

Paris may be a vacation cliche, but it’s worth at least one visit. Whether you’re hoping to experience more art and culture or simply want to stuff yourself with croissants, France is the place to be. 

Machu Picchu

Sea level will be a distant memory as you’re exploring the beautiful mountain citadel of Machu Picchu. Located in Peru, this historic landmark once housed an Incan emperor and is now a tourist hotspot--bringing in thousands of visitors each year. 

Yellowstone National Park

If you hate the beach but still want some watery fun, it’s time to visit the monumental geysers of Yellowstone National Park. We guarantee there aren’t any sharks lurking in Old Faithful!  

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree is a beautiful national park, but it is located in a desert, so you might just be missing the beach by the end of your stay! Named for the distinctive-looking trees native to this area, Joshua Tree offers an outdoor experience you won’t find at another park. 

San Antonio

The ocean might be a no-go, but rivers are fine, right? The San Antonio River Walk is a great vacation option for folks who want to enjoy the water while staying dry. Home to all sorts of shops, restaurants, and entertainment, guests can enjoy a stroll by the San Antonio river or hop on a boat to experience the river firsthand. 

Washington D.C.

Looking for a little taste of American history? You’ll find more of that in Washington D.C. than you will on any beach. From museums to monuments, learning can be fun and memorable at our nation’s capitol. 

Colonial Williamsburg

Strap on your bonnet, we’re headed to Colonial Williamsburg. The beach will be a distant memory as you immerse yourself into the world of colonial living in this unique “living history” museum located in Virginia.  

Las Vegas

If the beach is off the table, why not try the gambling oasis in the middle of a desert? Vegas is full of glitz, glamour, and more casinos than you can imagine. You won’t need your snorkel, but you will need your wallet! 

Disney World

While everyone else in Florida is heading to the beach, you can head to Disney World instead. Just kidding, everyone is headed to Disney as well. But if you can brave the crowds and temperatures, Disney World could be your perfect, beach-free vacation. 

Jacqueline Nell/Disneyland Resort/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Image

Niagara Falls

It might not be the beach, but Niagara Falls has plenty of water to go around. This breathtaking wonder of nature has turned into a bit of a tourist trap over the years, but really, nothing could diminish the beauty of this giant waterfall. 

Open Water

Because "technically correct" is the best kind of correct. If the thing that you don't like about the beach is the dude-bro patrol, then you're probably in luck. You're probably not as likely to see a legion of triple-popped collars here. Of course, if you don't like beaches because of the water, then this is an absolutely terrible suggestion, and you should probably move to the next slide as fast as possible.