Locals Reveal the Most Underrated Tourist Attractions in Each State from Locals Reveal the Most Underrated Tourist Attractions in Each State
Locals Reveal the Most Underrated Tourist Attractions in Each State
There are lots of reason to take the road less traveled. On top of beating lines, underrated places might offer lower prices, could be less developed and give you the thrill of going somewhere undiscovered. Just because they aren’t the top-visited tourist destinations doesn’t mean they don’t have amazing quests in store for travelers willing to pick the road less traveled. The following list is based on a survey conducted by RENTCafé. More than 2,500 Americans living in all 50 states were asked which landmarks they felt were overrated, and which hidden gems they thought got too little attention.
Alabama – U.S. Space & Rocket Center
This is the one adventure you can’t miss in Alabama. Did you know you can go on a two-night adult space camp? The weekend experience is an adventure that allows trainees to assume roles in hands-on, interactive space missions. Yes, you will wear a flight suit, experience weightlessness, and work on rockets.
Alaska – Fjords
The icebergs and glaciers there are majestic year-round. Tidewater glaciers like Holgate Glacier are sure to impress as they calve off into Resurrection Bay. The Harding Icefield offers a challenging 3.5-mile hike, rewarded by endless views of the ice fields. Spring is the time to visit if you want to witness gray whales coming back to Alaska. It is also the time to see how black bears live in their natural environment.
Arizona – Sedona
Sedona is one the most underrated cities in the U.S. The desert town draws in artists, healers and wanderers, while the surrounding landscape brings active people who love the outdoors. Adventurers are also drawn by its beautiful red rock formations and the energy vortices rumored to exist there. Take to Submarine Rock on a mountain bike, head off the beaten path with ATVs, and hike Red Rock State Park.
Arkansas – Eureka Springs
People visit Eureka Springs in different seasons for different reasons, but winter is the time they can have it all – festivals, hiking, culinary adventures, and cozy spa experiences – minus all of the tourists. You can stay in a unique treehouse or a haunted hotel. Take your family for some quality time, and explore the dozens of natural springs tucked into the mountains and winding trails, small lakes and pocket parks.
California – Legoland/Yosemite (Tied)
Kids will love the Lego Ninjago World, Imagination Zone, Castle Hill and Land of Adventure. There are tons of rides. As for Yosemite National Park, it hardly needs an introduction. From the trees, to mountains, high cliffs and stunning waters, if you have a love for nature you will have a great appreciation for Yosemite.
Colorado – Garden of the Gods
This is an incredible summer hike. The Garden of the Gods Park is home to picturesque red-sandstone formations and mountain views. There are many trails to try. Depending on conditions, easy walks, even in the winter, include the Perkins Central Garden Trail or the Siamese Twins Trail.
Connecticut – Maritime Aquarium
This is not your average aquarium. There are 75 live exhibits featuring more than 2,700 marine animals. You’ll see creatures living in freshwater river, shallow waters of the salt marsh, as well as in deeper and deeper habitats and the open ocean.
Delaware – State Parks
Take Cape Henlopen State Park as an example. Swimming, hiking, biking and an 18-hole disc golf course…How about some American history? Native American communities, WWII bunkers and towers, Cold War preparations, and even pirates. Visit this versatile state park for six miles of beach that dips into the Atlantic, a WWII Observation tower with 360-degree views and convenient saltwater fishing.
Florida – Busch Gardens
Take a break from the all too familiar Disney…Go on other scary and absolutely thrilling rides. Montu at Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay is one of them. Also, the park is one of the largest, most highly accredited zoo facilities in the country.
Georgia – Zoo Atlanta
The zoo is one of four zoos in the U.S. currently housing giant pandas. This alone should be enough to go. Zoo Atlanta has seven species from Madagascar, including the critically endangered radiated tortoise. Overall, it’s a magnificent place; you can see about 1,000 animals from around the world.
Hawaii – Hiking trails
There is no hiking trail that is not absolutely stunning. Rugged beauty, incredible coastline, fine-sand beach, steep cliffs, turquoise waters crashing below you…The breathtaking beauty of the Hawaiian islands will have you go back again and again. Don’t limit yourself to Waikiki beach; locals say it’s really overrated.
Idaho – Craters of the Moon
Craters of the Moon National Park features other-worldly volcanic formations and lava flows. Think of being on the moon but without the cool view of Earth. The monument contains three major lava fields covering almost half a million acres and a quarter million acres of sagebrush steppe grasslands.
Illinois – Starved Rock State Park
If your ideal summer getaway is a peaceful retreat into nature, look no further than Starved Rock State Park. Scenic hiking trails lead you to waterfalls, sandstone canyons and overlooks of the Illinois River. The park is a quick 90 minute drive out of Chicago, or if you’re an avid cyclist, the ride is worth the challenge.
Indiana – Indiana Dunes
Located on the southern tip of the lake, you’ll get an incredible view of the Chicago skyline from the peaceful shores. Miles of beaches, sand dunes, bog, wetlands, woodland forests, an 1830's French Canadian homestead, and a working 1900 era farm combine to make the national lakeshore a unique setting. The state park has more than 70 miles of hiking and biking trails which wind through dunes, forests, prairies and marshes.
Iowa – Adventureland
Adventureland’s thrill rides are sure to impress you. Spin and swing on the Sidewinder, ride the 3,200 foot long Tornado roller coaster and prepare to be launched straight into the sky on the Space Shot. When you’re ready to wind down, enjoy dinner and a show at the Coca Cola Café, or grab a frozen chocolate dipped banana from The Oasis.
Kansas – Flint Hills
The so called “Flint Hills Scenic Byway” is known as one of the eight wonders of Kansas. See the wide prairie lands of this gorgeous region to enjoy views of what looks like endless grasslands that surround quaint and charming small towns.
Louisiana – State Parks
Get out there and explore Louisiana’s amazing nature. To see some of southern Louisiana’s most remarkable landscapes, go to Bogue Chitto State Park. It is a perfect campground for all types of outdoor enthusiasts. The 1,786-acre park offers opportunities for everything from kayaking to horseback riding, fresh water fishing and perfectly picturesque picnicking.
Maine – Acadia National Park
Don't miss out on the majestic beauty and many adventures of Acadia. It has long been known for its stunningly rugged natural coastline and the best way to take it all in is from the water, making it a perfect location for paddling.
Maryland – Baltimore Inner Harbor
There is something for everyone – family-friendly museums, bustling nightlife, cultural experiences, cruise opportunities on the Bay, visiting the Maryland Science Center, to name a few. At the National Aquarium you’ll see sharks, dolphins, rays and tropical fish.
Massachusetts – Mountains in Western Mass
If you haven’t see the rural region that is the Berkshires, correct that mistake as soon as you can. Go in the fall for the awesome festivals, notable art, and thriving culture. The hues of colors make for a spectacular scenic backdrop. Make sure you find time to hike Mount Greylock, the highest natural point in Massachusetts at 3,489 feet.
Michigan – Pictures Rocks National Lakeshore
The best way to see the well-known Lake Superior, inland streams that are amazing for paddling, waterfalls and other lakes, is with a kayak. You won’t get closer to the natural beauty and magnificence of the park – counting the many colors of the sandstone cliffs you’ll be passing by and exploring the cutaway rock caves that peer into the clear waters of the lake.
Minnesota – Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is part of the Superior National Forest. Over 1 million acres in size, it has over 1,200 miles of canoe routes. Because this area was set to preserve its primitive character, it allows visitors to canoe, portage and camp in the spirit of the French Voyageurs of 200 years ago, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
Mississippi – Natchez Trace Parkway
The Natchez Trace was a 440-mile footpath used for centuries by Native Americans and traders. Commemorated as the Natchez Trace Parkway, it is now a scenic two-lane road from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. Some portions are on the original sunken footpath.
Missouri – Saint Louis Zoo
It was recently voted Best Zoo and America’s Top Free Attraction. Experience 16,000+ animals in the Zoo’s care; many of them are rare and endangered. The Zoo is renowned for its innovative approaches to animal management.
Montana – Glacier National Park
The park is usually among the most visited every year, but, clearly, some locals think it’s not popular enough. Named for the glaciers that carved the steep rock faces and still remain in the park today, significantly smaller than they once were, the park is a wild preserve you have to see to believe. Lakes, waterfalls and wildflower meadows are made more beautiful by the mountainous backdrop and at times it seems as though everything is perfectly preserved as it once was.
Nebraska – Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
You don’t just walk around and looks at animals. Climb aboard the Omaha's Zoo Railroad and take a ride on the steam locomotive, get a new view of the Zoo from above on Skyfari, a ski-lift style ride, and travel back in time with a ride on Sue's Wildlife Carousel.
Nevada – Red Rock Canyon
Situated about 17 miles west of the Las Vegas Strip, Red Rock Canyon boasts 195,819 acres and is home to the Red Rock Rendezvous climbing festival—a weekend-long gathering that welcomes climbers of all abilities. According to Travel Nevada’s visitor’s guide, Red Rock features more than 2,000 climbing routes and is one of the top five climbing destinations in the U.S.
New Jersey – Delaware Bay
The bay extends southeastward for 52 miles from the junction of the Delaware River with the Alloway Creek to the entrance (12 miles wide) between Cape May, N.J., and Cape Henlopen, Del. Kayaking and paddling in Cape Henlopen State Park are popular activities. You have a good chance of spotting dolphins from the park shoreline.
New Mexico – Carlsbad Caverns
The park has about 120 known caves — all formed as sulfuric acid dissolved the surrounding limestone. The Big Room will give visitors a peek into the main section of a cave, while guided tours of varying difficulties can be reserved in advance. Witness a bat flight, a hair-rising adventure in the caves. Hundreds of thousands of Brazilian free-tailed bats fly out of the cave at sunset in the summer in their nightly search for food.
New York – Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world, straddles the international border between the United States and Canada. It consists of three falls, the Horseshoe Falls, American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. The view is absolutely stunning. Now imagine photographing it with a rainbow in the distance…
North Carolina – Blue Ridge Mountains
Drive along the highest ridge tips of the Southern Appalachians on the Blue Ridge Parkway and explore their scenic hiking trails – Graveyard Fields, one of the most challenging trails and Craggy Pinnacle Trail which is about a 30 minute drive from Asheville. You can also try and run the Blue Ridge Marathon in Roanoke. With a course elevation gain of over 7,000 feet, this challenging but beautifully scenic marathon has been dubbed "America's Toughest Road Race."
North Dakota – International Peace Gardens
The original idea is “to foster and give protection and support to the material expression of a world ideal concerned in the interest of International Peace and its benefits to humanity.” Cyclists will love it. They have been coming for years to condition and to train. A popular attraction is the Carillon Bell Tower.
Ohio – Hocking Hills
Oregon – Crater Lake
Pennsylvania – Knoebels
It’s the largest free-admission amusement park in the country. Enjoy classic rollercoasters, kid-friendly rides, swimming, camping, and, of course, golf.
South Carolina – Downtown Charleston
Charleston is not just some beach town. It’s more like a cultural mecca. Learn about the historical roots of the city by going to the foremost notable site of the Civil War – Fort Sumter. Also see the Waterfront Park, which stretches 12 acres alongside the Cooper River.
South Dakota – Badlands National Park
Camping and hiking alongside bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets? It’s a good time in the Badlands, which spans 244,000 acres — a picturesque expanse of mixed-grass prairie and one of the world’s richest fossil beds. That’s probably why scenes of the films Dances with Wolves and Thunderheart were shot here.
Texas – Big Bend National Park
From desert to mountain environments, the park hosts some of the most spectacular diversity of plants and animals. Situated on the boundary with Mexico along the Rio Grande, Big Bend National Park, a place where countries and cultures meet.
Utah – Arches National Park
Home to the largest concentration of natural stone arches on the planet, the red rock formations are popular subjects themselves, but also serve as natural frames for shots of the greater landscape. Photographers hoping to capture stunning images of a dark night sky will have a tough time finding a more perfect venue.
Washington – The Gorge/Deception Pass (Tied)
The drive over the Deception Pass is foggy and straight, but overall not too bad. Walking over the narrow pedestrian lane however is said to be a terrifying experience. Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge has the Beacon Rock, an 848-foot-tall basalt monolith, a stunning wildflower display in the spring, and awesome breweries along the way.
West Virginia – New River Gorge Bridge
Another example of a place locals say is both over- and underrated. New River Gorge Bridge, which is 876 feet tall, has been the most popular and insane BASE jumping spot in the country every year in October since 1980. You get only day of the year when you’re allowed to leap off the bridge.
Wyoming – Devils Tower
Declared a United States National Monument in 1906, Devil’s Tower is widely considered one of the most popular climbing spots in the U.S.
D.C. – Hirshhorn Museum/National Arboretum/Rock Creek Park (Tied)
The Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum is where you go to see contemporary art and culture. Rock Creek Park is truly a gem in the U.S. capital. Fresh air, majestic trees, wild animals, and the ebb and flow of Rock Creek emanate the delicate aura of the forest. The National Arboretum is a garden, a park, and a research institution, part of the USDA.