They say it's best to avoid the obvious. When it comes to travel, this means skipping those urban and resort meccas and opting instead to head for the hills — or the mountains, valleys, islands, bayous and bays unknown to the tourists. Here are our picks for such escapes: six hidden locations to visit in the United States.

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1. Morgan City, Louisiana

About an hour's drive from New Orleans, through sugarcane country and bona-fide swampland, is the Cajun haven of Morgan City. Each Labor Day weekend, this small town hosts the Shrimp and Petroleum Festival — drawing revelers for three days of music, rides, deep-fried delights (try the gator on a stick), and the "blessing of the fleet" of shrimp and oil boats on the Atchafalaya River. On a nonfestival visit, relax in Lawrence Park and stroll through the scenic downtown area and along the seawall's elevated walkway. Be ready for gorgeous sunset photos of the historic, two-lane Long-Allen truss bridge, opened in 1933. — Kelsy Chauvin

2. Guffey, Colorado

North of the Royal Gorge and west of Pikes Peak, Guffey has 98 human residents who look to their pets for political leadership: Citizens have elected cats and dogs as their mayors for as long as anyone can remember. The town itself is a ramshackle masterwork of roadside Americana, taking cues from the Wild West and the Psychedelic '60s in equal measures. Accommodations come in the form of funky, inexpensive cabins and dining is at a bar and grill, making Guffey the perfect destination for a lost weekend. — Eric Peterson

3. Waipio Valley, Hawaii

Tucked away near the northern tip of the Big Island's windward side is Waipio Valley. To Hawaiians, this is a sacred place, one where kings trace their ancestry. In fact, an important heiau (temple) once sat on Waipio's black sand beach, before it was wiped out by a tsunami in the 1400s. The handful of residents who live in the verdant valley where taro is grown still talk about mysterious "night marchers," or ghosts, who occasionally appear in the area. You might not see a ghost, but you will, no doubt, spend time relaxing on the beach and exploring the valley. — Jeanette Foster