Taking a break, whether for the weekend, a week or a month, and going out of town is priceless. Don’t flock to tourist traps like New York or Los Angeles. Think outside the box instead and visit places you may have never heard of before. Escape the madding crowds and check the following under-the-radar gems. They are not completely empty, but you are not going to wait for hours just to see them.
Have you heard of this (winter) wonderland? Nordic skiing is among the most exotic winter experiences you can have Alaska. Or maybe snowmobiling across the frozen river? Take your pick. Chase the Northern Lights, undisturbed by city lights. The city offers many zip-line tours in the winter. If you want spectacular pictures of frozen rivers and amazing nature, in general, go flightseeing above the Alaska Range.
This is the canyon’s lesser known trail. The campground is among the best places to stay but you have to reserve a spot in advance. Only a small fraction of the park’s visitors travel to the North Rim. It’s the more rugged and less touristy section. It’s closed in the winter and without many of the “comforts” of the South Rim.
This is where you go if you want to experience traditional music and see folkways preserved. The town is all about music. Once the weather gets warm, musicians join locals and play music late into the night hours outside around the town square, according to Arkansas The Natural State.
Tennessee Valley meanders for approximately two miles through serene, rolling hills down to the Pacific Ocean. During low tide, it is possible to get around the southern end to reach another small, sandy beach with interesting rock formations. Swimming is not a good idea.
No other canyon in North America combines the narrow opening, sheer walls, and startling depths offered by the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. But it’s consistently among the least visited places in the U.S. Black Canyon has some of the steepest cliffs, oldest rock, and craggiest spires in North America. There are no maintained or marked trails into the inner canyon.
This is a quiet little town on the Delmarva Peninsula. It’s known for the Apple-Scrapple Festival held every October, the mission of which is to promote the agriculture industry.
The national park is only by boat or seaplane, which may explain why it gets just over 70,000 recreational visits a year. The park comprises mostly open water around seven small coral reef islands in the Gulf of Mexico. Lying some 70 miles of open sea west of Key West, 19th century Fort Jefferson is the centerpiece, surrounded by blue waters so you can snorkel with incredible marine life.
This pure, uninhabited nature preserve is accessible only by boat, according to Visit Tybee. The wilderness gem is home to rich coastal salt marshes, pristine beaches, natural dunes and subtropical forests of live oak, pine and palm. Wildlife includes the egret, heron, white ibis and the endangered woodstork. Camping is allowed.
While the Hawaiian island of Lanai is often overlooked in favor of the larger, more populated islands, but Lanai, this peaceful spot and its main city, are considered by many to be the most authentically Hawaiian.
The rugged landscape remains remote and largely undeveloped. 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.
This is where you go for all things Superman. It’s located in the Man of Steel's official hometown of Metropolis on, appropriately named, Superman Square. It had more than 20,000 items from Jim Hambrick, who is a longtime Superman enthusiast and collector.
This is one of the most beautiful places in the entire state. It’s the only Nebraska garden listed in the “300 Best Gardens to Visit in the United States and Canada” by National Geographic Guide to Public Gardens. Visitors can tiptoe through the tulips, watch the thousands of annuals bloom, and enjoy various trees and shrubs.
This amazing road offers 68 miles of stunning views and art. The byway was named for 1930's Iowa native artist Grant Wood. It’s a tribute to his skill in reproducing a place and a culture through his art. Locals say the best time to go and explore the beautiful road is in the fall.
This is a 116-acre nature preserve in Olathe that has many trails as well as an education center with animals, and exhibits. It offers many programs, making it ideal for a nice getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. You’ll see tall grass prairies, upland meadows, bottom land forest and a gorgeous stream.
The fact that the museum raffles Corvettes, “America's true sports car,” and you could be the lucky winner is a reason enough to visit. See over 80 Corvettes in periodic settings, including mint classics, one-of-a-kind prototypes and modern-day wonders of engineering and design. Test your knowledge at interactive trivia kiosks, and don’t miss the chance to try a Corvette on. Displays continually rotate so no two visits are the same.
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Can you think of a better place to have a national park dedicated to jazz? Start with the New Orleans Jazz Museum. You can go on a self-guided audio tour, but certainly make time for exploring the neighborhoods “where it all began.” The park historical is located in the Tremé neighborhood, near the French Quarter.
Berlin, one of the most underrated small towns in America, was named the country’s coolest small town in 2014 by Budget Travel. Visiting is like traveling back in time. Stroll down Main Street to walk along the path taken by the Assateague and Pocomoke Indians well before the colonial period.
The 7.4 mile drive loops through the Beech-Maple forest and sand dunes and provides insight to the history of the area, a sampling of the vegetative communities within the park and remarkable overlooks of the Glen Lakes, the Sleeping Bear Dunes, and, of course, Lake Michigan, according to NPS.
The river in southeastern Mississippi is about 80 miles long. Called the “singing river,” it is the largest (by volume) undammed river in the contiguous 48 states, according to the Nature Conservancy. More than 35,000 acres of land along the Pascagoula has been preserved for the public.
These are Missouri’s only known pink granite shut-ins. The pinkish granite rocks from the Breadtray formation and the rushing, cascading water of the Castor River certainly make for amazing photos. Castor River flows through the area with pools, riffles, the shut-in, and small waterfalls, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Even in vast, wild Montana, the Bob Marshall Wilderness is vast and wild. Following the Continental Divide for 60 miles, “The Bob” has one million acres of rocky ridges, alpine meadows and dense forest populated by major North American megafauna, including wolves and grizzlies. Adding to its forbidding nature is a 22-mile, 1,000-foot-high escarpment called the Chinese Wall.
With only two people living here, you are not likely to run into any crowds at any time. Nebraska has a penchant for common nouns as town names, such as Magnet and Worms, but perhaps the most unappealing city name is this one. Ahead of the opening of a new railroad, the area was settled in 1893 by Ben Gross and his wife. The community began to thrive until the railroad ultimately bypassed the new city.
It’s a borough in Camden County with just five residents. The whole purpose of it being formed was so members of Tavistock Country Club were allowed to play golf on Sundays by members of the Victor Talking Machine Company.
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Explore antique cars and wild animals in one place. The 100 acre zoo and museum complex – there are nine museum buildings – is located in Wantage. You can also see old horse drawn carriages and sleighs, antique dolls, one the largest private antique firearms collections, old farm machinery, and Indian artifacts.
The city’s rich history will astonish you. Take the historic walking tour and see ancestral pueblo dwellings, a homesteader’s cabin, and very spot where the first atomic bomb components were assembled. Major attractions include the Manhattan Project National Historic Park, The Bandelier National Monument, and the Bradbury Science Museum. The scenic looks from Anderson Overlook Park will take your breath away.
Not everyone can see the station – you have to pass a background check first. City Hall was the ceremonial terminal of the first subway project in New York, according to Columbia University. It has a sharply curved platform, a Guastavino tile arched ceiling, skylights (blackened in World War II), and plaques praising the work and those involved. It was in service from 1904 until 1945.
Anywhere you turn in the old-school coastal town you may see several bird species, dolphins or sea turtles and other marine animals, according to Topsail Beach. The small-town feel of the island lure visitors who want a laid-back weekend getaway. Explore the maritime forests and enjoy stunning natural landscapes.
As is the case with almost anything that has to do with North Dakota, other than Fargo, the park is largely overlooked. Visit for a chance to see a combination of flamboyant badlands terrain, riparian habitat along the Little Missouri River, and wildlife both native and not (wild horses and longhorn cattle) without crowds.
This 2,202-acre controlled hunting area is located 17 miles west of Port Clinton on State Route 2, and 10 miles north of Oak Harbor on State Route 19. “Nothing can compare to the close up point blank views of migrating warblers that abounded there,” a visitor wrote in TripAdvisor.
Located in Schnecksville, the zoo features Kangaroos, cockatoos, bobcats, bison, pony rides, a penguin pavilion and even a camp for kids. This is a wonderful place to go, even though it’s shadowed by more famous and bigger neighbors such as the zoo in Philadelphia.
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If you love books, this place is your dream come true. This library is about 200 years old. You will find some very rare collections here, as well as contemporary literary works, of course. Imagine if you got married here? Amazing…
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The wonderful beach lies just to the north of Pawleys Island. It is also the midpoint between the quiet, historic city of Georgetown and the very crowded fun-filled, entertainment destination of Myrtle Beach. The area was settled in the early 1700s and its name comes from Litchfield Plantation, a former rice plantation in the community, according to SCIWAY.
For a look at wild buffalo, partially frozen trout streams in the winter and soaring granite peaks – with no crowds – check out the Black Hills National Forest. With more than 1.25 million acres at your disposal, you’ll find a nearly endless array of trails and backcountry terrain.
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The town of about 500 people is a wonderful day-trip destination, especially from busy Nashville. What are 50 miles? Just don’t go there in June when its annual RC-Moon Pie Festival take place. The downtown area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Bell Buckle Historic District.
This park is the world’s premier example of a fossil reef from the Permian Era from 265 million years ago, according to NPS. Back then a vast tropical sea covered much of the region. Today, it’s a barren desert. People who go there appreciate the park’s extensive hiking and backpacking opportunities. This hidden gem in Texas one of the country’s most pristine wilderness areas.
Leave the big city and its chaos behind and spend some time and recharge in Castle Valley. It’s only 20 miles away from Moab. You’ll find adventure and some of the most breathtaking scenery in the state. Castle Rock, or Castleton Tower as the locals call it, is the No. 1 attraction. The 400-ft sandstone tower which rests on a 1,000 feet cone of looser rock, rises high above Castle Valley.
It’s known for its waxed cheeses and Pure Vermont Maple Syrup. You get free samples! The farm in Woodstock is open year-round. In addition to learning and seeing how they are made, take some time to walk on the nature trail to the maple sugar woods. The fantastic sights alone are worth the trip.
You have most likely heard of Virginia Beach. Sandbridge Beach is a calmer, less crowded but just as amazing alternative, even though it’s a smaller beach. But parking is plentiful. This is a cute and unspoiled beach that is really worth the drive from anywhere else if you want to get away from the noise of the boardwalk.
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Take a trip into the wilderness for a premier backpacking or climbing experience. Take a class from the North Cascades Institute at the Environmental Learning Center. Go fishing in a lake or river.
Bayfield is all about a charming, quaint and harbor town vibe. It is the gateway to the spectacular Apostle Islands National Lakeshore - 22 gem-like coastal islands that are home to lighthouses, sea caves, hiking trails, camping, terrific blue-water sailing, and some of the best kayaking in the world, according to Travel Wisconsin. Visit the maritime museum, eclectic retail shops, Victorian B&Bs, and golf courses with remarkable views.
With national treasures such as Grand Tetons and Yellowstone national parks, Wyoming is all about wild nature. Go on a different hiking adventure minus the crowds in the Wind River Range, a huge backcountry area encompassed by the Shoshone and Bridger-Teton National Forests. This is among the most thrilling bucket list adventures in every state.