Off the Beaten Path: Hidden Gems in the US – Dispatches From Route 66

One of the most enjoyable aspects of my job is hearing about the amazing places our clients experience through their travels. Some of their recent destinations include New Zealand (pre-volcano), Ireland, Egypt, the Maine coast, and Cuba  just to name a few. I love swapping stories and recommendations.

You may be familiar with research that shows that we get more enjoyment from experiences rather than objects. Interestingly, psychologists have also found that not only do experiential purchases provide more enduring happiness than material purchases, but this happiness actually includes the anticipation of an experience being greater than the anticipation for a material purchase. In other words, if you are considering taking a vacation in 2020, book it sooner rather than later.


While thrift is a virtue and many of us master the art of delayed gratification, behavioral economists are increasingly telling us we need to flip these concepts upside down when it comes to enjoying those hard-earned dollars. This is particularly difficult in retirement, when we switch from net saving money to spending, which can feel uncomfortable.

Our colleague Bob McCormick recently retired after 27 years with Trust Company of Oklahoma. He plans on hitting the open road with his wife Julia in their RV to experience the best of Americana firsthand. I share Bob’s enthusiasm for places off the beaten path. In an ode to Bob and his future travels, here are some of my favorite hidden U.S. destinations:


1. Polihale Beach, Kauai, Hawaii. If you want some secluded beach time with just you and a few curious crabs, take the island’s highway west until it ends, then take the dirt road a little further.

Polihale Beach of Kauai, Hawaii. iStock

2. Cannon Beach, Oregon. Just 90 minutes west of Portland and home to the famous Haystack Rock, there may be no better place in the U.S. to escape the Oklahoma summer. It’s small, so don’t tell anyone else!

3. Mount Shasta, Lassen Volcano, and Redwood National Park, California. Experience both volcanoes and thousand-year-old trees in the same day.

Mount Shasta, California. iStock.

4. Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. A relaxing and breathtaking lake town near Spokane, WA.

5. Flagstaff, Arizona. Stay here to visit the Grand Canyon, go mountain biking, or see native pueblo sites.

Wupatki National Monument near Flagstaff, Arizona. iStock.

6. Oxford, Mississippi. A quaint college town with great restaurants among the rolling hills of Northern Mississippi. Be sure to tour Ole’ Miss, a historic and beautiful college campus.

7. The Maine Coast. Start in Portland, Maine, and stop in any of the dozens of small towns along the coast for some fresh lobster en route to Acadia National Park.

Coast of Maine. iStock.

8. Fort Collins, Colorado. This is where New Belgium brewery makes Fat Tire beer. Need I say more?

9. Buffalo National River, Arkansas. Hundreds of miles of amazing hiking in Arkansas? Yes, it’s true.

10. Wichita Mountains, Oklahoma. Southwest of Oklahoma City and the result of a failed continental rift, these mountains rise out of the otherwise flat, grassy landscape that is typical of Oklahoma. There is plenty of hiking, climbing and even bison to see.

Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge. iStock.

With the U.S. equity bull market about to enter its 12th year, coupled with 2019 being an exceptionally strong year, it’s okay to take some of those hard-working dollars off the table. They may need a rest, too, after all. Reallocate some of those funds to an enjoyable and memorable travel experience that will last a lifetime.

Nick Gallus, CFA
Senior Vice President

(918) 744-0553