So I made a list of places that I’ve visited in the US that not a lot of people know about. Most of these places are overlooked because they’re either a far drive out of a major city or there are other more popular attractions that over-shadows them. But I think that’s a good thing because these attractions are budget-friendly and aren’t as packed with tourists!
Horseshoe Bend – Page, ArizonaYou’ve probably seen photos of this attraction and assume that it’s part of the Grand Canyon. At least that’s what I thought. But it’s actually about a two hour drive away from the Grand Canyon, and that’s why most international tourists don’t know about this magnificent rock formation on the Colorado River.
Naples – Long Beach, California
Naples is a small Italy-like neighborhood in Long Beach, about 30 miles outside of LA. It’s made up of islands that are separated by canals which open into the bay and the streets have Italian names. A great time to visit this picturesque place is during the holiday season when all the houses are decked out in Christmas lights and decor.
Solvang, CaliforniaSolvang is a danish city located 45 minutes north of Santa Barbara, CA. I’m so thankful that my cousins from Long Beach told me about this place because I’ve never heard of it before. Being there makes you feel like you are in a small village in Denmark or The Netherlands. You will see little windmills and buildings made of traditional danish-style architecture. And a bunch of restaurants and cafes serving delicious danish food!
Santa Catalina Island, California
Santa Catalina is a beautiful island off the coast of California and can be reached by ferry in one hour from four mainland ports. It’s known as a resort destination so staying at one of the hotels here can be expensive. However, a day trip here gives you ample time to lay on the beach, eat, and maybe check out the Catalina Casino, which houses a museum and movie theater.
Venetian Pool – Coral Gables, Florida
This public swimming pool is located only six miles west of Miami, but is mostly known only by Florida residents because tourists tend to stay around South Beach and probably prefer going to the beach than a pool. But I definitely recommend visiting this unique facility, which is essentially a lagoon carved out of coral rock and features emerald waters, stone bridges and waterfalls.
Watkins Glen State Park – Watkins Glen, New York
This is probably the most popular state park in New York’s Finger Lakes Region. This nature retreat is about a five hour drive from Manhattan, so not a lot of tourists come here. But I think Watkins Glen, or any of the other Finger Lakes state parks, are worth a visit especially if you enjoy hiking or camping.
Saddle Mountain – Clatsop County, Oregon
For travelers who enjoy the outdoors, Saddle Mountain is only an hour and a half drive from Portland, OR. This natural state park has a fairly easy hiking trail where you can reach the highest peak in less than three hours. And the epic view from the top will leave you breathless.
Cypress Gardens – Moncks Corner, South Carolina
This swamp garden is a 40-minute drive from Charleston, and was the location for that romantic boat scene in the movie, The Notebook. If you visit, make sure you rent a boat and wander around the swamp filled with cypress trees. There’s also a butterfly house and scenic walking trails around the property.
Cadillac Ranch – Amarillo, Texas
This roadside attraction is a public art installation that consist of junk Cadillacs that have been spray-painted by spectators over the years. This unique instagram-worthy spot is located in the middle of a wheat field, off the famous route 66 in Texas. My only regret was stopping here during my cross-country road trip and not having a can of spray paint to leave my mark.
Hamilton Pool Preserve – Dripping Springs, TexasThis natural pool is located about 23 miles west of Austin, TX and was originally created when the dome of an underground river collapsed due to massive erosion thousands of years ago. They only let in a certain amount of people at a time, so make sure you come early if you don’t want to wait in line. They might also restrict swimming in the water due to health and safety reasons.
I hope this list encourages you to take a trip outside the city you are visiting and explore other areas, because you are bound to find interesting places that are just waiting to be discovered. Ask locals for recommendations or just do a little more research online before your trip. =]