Oftentimes travelers can forget how beautiful their own country is. It can be hard when there are so many places around the world, to remember there are some hidden gems in the US.
15 Best Unknown Places to Visit in the United States
While there are so many well-known places, there are also some that are unknown but just as beautiful.
The hidden cities and towns in the US are smaller, not as crowded, and take a bit more exploring than popular destinations. In each location, you can look at Airbnbs, resorts, or even camp!
These hidden gems in the US are great for people who want to see the natural beauty and unique cities unlike most in the country. They are listed in no particular order!
Ausable Chasm, New York
Ausable Chasm is truly a hidden gem in Western New York. New York City tends to hoard all of New York’s glory, but this spot is about 5 hours northwest. Located on the opposite side of Lake Champlain, this gorge was a naturally made river from a waterfall. Basically like a mini Niagara falls!
Within the chasm, there are three different trails, tubing, rock climbing, rappelling, and even lantern trails! You can book tours easily in the main building. You can even stay in the cabins behind the entrance.
This takes camping to a whole new level, and you can see the gorge from all angles!
Anna Maria Island, Florida
If you like feeling like you are living in a romance novel or on a reality tv show set in a beach town – Anna Maria Island is your place to go.
It is basically a small town located on an island about 45 minutes east of Tampa and 30 minutes south of Sarasota. The beaches look as though they are in a Caribbean island.
The water is turquoise green-blue and the sand is white. It is not uncommon for manatees to swim right up and bump into you at some locations!
The beach houses are easily rentable, restaurants closeby range from shacks to fine dining, and you can walk down the street barefoot to a paddleboard rental place and fit in like a local!
See Related: Travel Hacking 101
Willamette National Forest, Oregon
The Oregon Coast in general is a wonderful spot for those trying to explore the United States. Any national park can be explored and feel like a hidden paradise!
The forest stretches over 110 miles long and is 1,675,407 acres in size. If you are hiking you can follow the rivers to see three waterfalls. One of which is the second tallest waterfall in Oregon.
There are 50 different campsites along the national forest. and the dry landscape has just as much history to offer than the waterfalls.
Some of the rocks on the hiking trails are lava rocks so similar to that of the moon that NASA has used them for training. Definitely a hidden gem of the west!
Devil’s Tower, Wyoming
Devils Tower is a national monument in Wyoming. A very large conglomerate of rock spending 1,267 feet above the Belle Fourche River, this monument is unlike any other in the United States.
This hidden gem is available to visit and plan hikes around, climbing up, or camping along the forest. There are also options to see the monument at night with the large open Wyoming sky.
Nearby to this geological wonder, there are multiple other parks and canyons like Bighorn Canyon, Badlands National Park, and Mount Rushmore!
Devil’s Tower would be a great place to visit if you are staying in Wyoming or South Dakota and would like a day trip!
Texas Hill Country
The Texas Hill Country is full of many hidden activities and natural beauty that escapes tourism. The Hill Country has authentic locally-owned restaurants that people rave about.
In Blanco, there are miles of Lavender Fields and even a Lavender festival! If you go towards the end of May you will find peach fields where you can pick your own peaches. Stargazing and gardening are top activities here. You can see stars and plants like no other place.
In addition, Topaz is found plentiful here – even in the dirt! You can find your own hidden gems, literally in Hill Country.
Assateague Island, Virginia
Assateague Island is one of the best unknown places in the U.S. because of the ponies! You read that right, ponies. Wild ponies live among the island.
An urban legend says that they were brought onto the island on a cargo ship that crashed. The ponies swam over to the island and have been living and repopulating ever since!
Assateague Island is on the border of Maryland and Virginia. On the east coast, these beaches are locals’ favorites and a great hidden paradise. Beachgoers can drive their cars, trucks, RVs, and motorhomes right on the beach and camp. You can also have fires on the beach, something that is oddly not allowed at any other beach in Maryland.
If you get the chance to stop over, try to plan it around the end of July. Not only is this the nicest weather, but there is an annual pony swim.
The horses swim from one side of the island to Chincoteague, another island. There is a whole festival and farmers market to watch!
Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
Great Sand Dunes National Park combines four different terrains in one location: sand dunes, forest, creeks, and mountains.
Sand Dunes that are as large as mountains look almost fake in this beautiful Colorado park. Activities like sandboarding, sand sledding, hiking, camping , swimming in the Medano Creek, and 4WD through the trails are just some of the activities you can leisurely take part in.
Near this park are waterfalls and ranches where you can stay. Imagine going to stay on a ranch in Colorado and visiting some of the biggest sand dunes you may ever see.
Then, you hike through the national park, take a swim in the creek under a waterfall, sandboard down a small dune and then stargaze in the open sky before returning to your ranch.
Sounds like a hidden paradise vacation to me!
See Related: Best Travel Backpacks for Minimalists
Big Sky, Montana
Big Sky may not be one of the most unknown places, but it is one of the best-underrated places to visit in the U.S. People often think they should only visit Big Sky if they are skiing. But this is not the case!
Big Sky is a hidden gem for those wanting a resort getaway or to explore an up and coming town. This town is one of the best unknown places to visit due to the fact that you can stay in a resort all weekend long and see some of the best views in the United States or you could plan your own trip and explore a great town.
You can do any snow activity possible in Big Sky, and it is beautiful! You can snowshoe, dog sled, ice skate, go to hot springs in Yellowstone, flyfish, or just rest and relax in an elusive resort, like Big Sky Resort, or at a winter home, you can easily rent.
Big Sky is known to have a small-town feel and is one of the best unknown places in the United States to have a romantic or cozy getaway!
Dewey Beach, Delaware
Dewey Beach is a relation spot. Easily one of the most overlooked beach towns in the United States, Dewey is a small peninsula only about a mile long and a mile wide. On either side, there is water, the Atlantic Ocean and the Assawoman Bay.
Dewey Beach is one of the best unknown places to visit in the United States because it is the best place to combine leisurely activities and fun, all in one spot. Dewey is located between Rehoboth Beach, Delaware and Ocean City, Maryland – two large beach cities that are very populated and commercialized.
Dewey is the opposite, it is a great easy-going town. In a half-mile radius, there are 6 different restaurants, a concert venue, a beachfront tiki bar, a cult-favorite brewery, and beautiful beaches.
Dewey is a great spot to stop and visit if you want to relax, not have too many plans and just take each day and activity on a spontaneous level.
You can walk to everything you would want to and make each day as active or as relaxing as you want. In addition, Delaware has no taxes- which really adds up when you go out!
Apostle Islands, Wisconsin
When most people think of Wisconsin, they think of snow, cheese curds, and state fairs. But, Wisconsin actually has so much to offer. The Apostle Islands are one in 28 islands in Lake Superior off of the Coast of Wisconsin.
The best thing about this unknown hidden gem is that it is a great treasure to visit in the summer or winter. In the summer, you can organize a water taxi, charter, or even cruise around the islands. In the winter, you can walk around the caves that are usually filled with water. The winter showcases these caves full of icicles!
These islands offer cliff diving, camping, kayaking, cave exploration, and lighthouses. Not to mention they are stunning! You would find it very hard to believe that this is a large lake and not a Caribbean ocean.
Apostle Islands and the surrounding islands are a great exploration site and a great unknown place to visit in the United States.
Have you ever seen an orange mountain like that? Kanab, Utah- that’s where you can find it. Kanab is one of the best unknown places to visit in the United States because it is simply stunning. Most people from Utah will probably know about it, but others usually do not!
Kanab is full of orange clay mountains and layers of sunstone like this one. Multiple different canyons, valleys, and mountains combine to make the mountains in Kanab shine. Nearby there are coral pink sand dunes, Lake Powell and Zion National Park.
Kanab is a great place to visit because there are so many different paths and hikes you can do to see beautiful sights. You can also combine a multitude of activities in Utah, Arizona, and Nevada all in one week by planning on visiting Kanab!
Camden is a port full of history and charm. There are sailboats, yachts and fishing boats coming in and out of this port. Because of this, it makes it so easy to go on boat trips up the Penobscot Bay.
Camden is one of the best unknown places to visit in the U.S. for two reasons. One is that there is historic charm all throughout the town. All of the homes are 19th-century buildings, the library is the biggest building in the town, and there is a local Opera House.
Secondly, Camden has become a hub of activity for world-renown chefs. Many high-class chefs use seafood and local goods to create amazing meals at restaurants all over the town.
Camden is a great place to go if you feel like you want to live out a Hallmark movie setting and just explore restaurants, old towns, boutiques, antique stores and go on some boat rides!
See Related: Top 10 Free Travel Magazines to Consider
Oracle is right outside of Tucson, but one of the reasons it is one of the best unknown places to visit in the United States is because of the Biosphere 2.
Biosphere 2 is one of the best environment conservatory research centers in the world, and you can go see it! Biosphere 2 has a mock ocean to promote coral reef conservation and building.
In addition, they have a space exploration habitat that is so close to what Mars and the moon may be like, that NASA used it.
Biosphere 2 also has events like a musical pairing with a night stargazing show. There are so many things to learn from going to Biosphere 2, Oracle just has to be on the list.
It is one of the most unique environmental learning experiences in the world, and it is located in Arizona!
See Related: 7 Top Day Trips from Phoenix
Lookout Mountain, Georgia
If you are a hiker or not, you’ll have to agree that Lookout Mountain is an amazing sight. In the Georgia heat, this mountain would probably be better to take on in the fall.
The best feature about lookout mountain is the waterfall and small pond that seems to appear out of nowhere near the top.
Along the hike up you may pass Lula Lake, which is one of the bluest lakes in the mountain range. Along this walk, there are the Fairyland Caverns, Rock City Lookout Bridge, and See Seven States Monument.
Fairyland Caverns is a hiking path and museum displaying well-known fairytales in a real-life demonstration within this area.
Rock City Lookout Bridge is a large hanging bridge over a canyon that you can pass on your hike.
And lastly, See Seven States Monument is a lookout point where Tenessee is located west, then Kentucky, a small part of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and all the way to the east is Alabama.
Seven states in one location!
Lookout Mountain in Georgia is a great hidden gem, it is a nice spot to stop on a road trip with a family or a place to visit for a day while staying in Georgia!
See Related: 10 Best Museums in Minnesota
Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
Mammoth Cave National Park is the world’s longest cave, 400 miles long! Did you know that? Mammoth Cave National Park is definitely one of the best unknown places to visit in the United States not only because it is the largest in the world, but because it is also 70 miles of nature trail and 20 miles of river to explore!
There are 13 different camping locations, so if you want to try to hike the full 70 miles of trails- you can! The caves have cave tours that would be a great introduction to the caves and you can learn a lot of history. You can also bike the paths, raft down the river and even go horseback riding!
Mammoth Cave can provide you with multiple different sceneries, something that a wonderful hidden gem will do.
Visiting any of these places would be worthwhile, but it is always recommended that you plan trips based on what you like to do!
Some of these destinations may be better than others once that is taken into consideration. Enjoy your exploring!
- The Route 100 Road Tip in Vermont to Follow
- 14 Valuable Day Trips from Las Vegas Worth Exploring
- 14 Best Day Trips From Palm Springs
- 13 Top Midwest Festivals to Visit
via travelers is a modern travel blog providing the best tips, hacks, and itineraries to ensure you have an amazing adventure.