There is more to America than the stereotypical tourist spots like the Statue of Liberty, The Golden Gate Bridge, or Disneyland. To limit your travel to only the top travel sites is to miss out on so many hidden gems beyond the typical tourist destinations we’ve all come to know. We’ve compiled a list of outstanding places the usual guidebooks don’t tell you about. Include these places in your next itinerary and you’re certain to have a richer traveling experience. Not to mention all the countless unique Instagram pictures you’ll be able to take!
Galena, named after its abundant minerals, has stayed true to its roots since 1826. Most of its 19th century structures still stand today, and 85% of the town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is known for its historic Main Street, Chestnut Mountain Resort and as the home of Ulysses S. Grant. Galena is the starting point of Illinois’ Great River Road, an 885-kilometer adventure along the Mississippi. Stay at the Eagle Ridge Resort, Aldrich Guest House, or Farmers Guest House for the best lodging in town.
Wolfeboro, New Hampshire
This popular New Hampshire town has an unmatched scenery along Lake Winnipesaukee. It is known as the oldest summer resort in America. But beyond this there are so many activities to do all year round. You can visit the Wright Museum of WWII, picnic and sail at the Allen Albee Beach, and ski at the Wolfeboro Cross Country Ski Association. Stay at the Wolfeboro Inn or at the 123 North Main Bed & Breakfast for the quintessential Wolfeboro accommodation.
Healdsburg is a small, romantic town surrounded by picturesque hills and vineyards. It’s a town that will make you want to slow down when strolling around its 19th century plaza, wine-tasting, or playing bocce ball. Visit the dazzling Ferrari-Carano Winery and Gardens and the Healdsburg Ridge Open Space Preserve in the summer, and attend the Winter Wineland Festival in January. Stay in some of Healdsburg’s finest hotels and inns: Healdsburg Inn, Hotel Healdsburg, H2 Hotel, and the Duchamp Healdsburg.
Cedar Key, Florida
Hidden away in Florida’s Gulf coast, Cedar Key moves along at its own peaceful pace. It’s a relatively small and walkable place, one that lets you unwind in intimate beaches, away from the crowds. Cedar Keys is populated by vibrant, eclectic Old Florida-style buildings with second-story porches. Sample their seafood, especially their clams, at favorite restaurants like The Island Place next to the marina. The best time to visit is between February and May, and check Cedar Key Bed and Breakfast, and Cedar Key Harbour Master Suites for accommodations.
This quaint town was founded by German immigrants and settlers in 1846, and has maintained its unique German-Texas distinctiveness up to this day. There are more than 30 wineries, and if wine isn’t up to your speed, it’s also home to interesting house-brewed ales and lagers. The Fredericksburg Brewing Co. takes care of your adult retreat as it’s both a brewery and a hotel. For some 1940s nostalgia, Hangar Hotel is the place to stay that offers a history lesson into WWII. Book your vacations for September to November, and don’t forget to drop by Main Street and the Markplatz.
Hood River, Oregon
Hood River, and the Columbia River Gorge are hotspots for people into wind and water sports. Because of the Gorge’s steady wind, it’s perfect for windsurfing and kitesurfing. Hike, bike, or drive to breathtaking views of rivers, forests, waterfalls, and the magnificent Mount Hood. Antique enthusiasts can visit the International Museum of Carousel Art dedicated to the restoration and exhibition of antique carousels, chariots, and engines. Book your stay at the Hood River Inn, Columbia Cliff Villas at the Columbia Gorge Hotel, or the Hood River Hotel.
Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania
This town is unmistakably referred to as “the Switzerland of America” because of its picturesque mountains, foliage, and architecture. It’s the gateway to the Pocono Mountains, and is a railfan’s utopia. People can tour the town in trains with vintage coaches dating from 1917, and take in the charm of its naturally beautiful scenery. Apart from white water rafting, hiking, and mountain biking, make sure to visit the exquisite Asa Packer Mansion. Plan your trip between May and October, and stay in the bed and breakfast Harry Packer Mansion or DeFeo’s Manor.
Newport, Rhode Island
Breathtaking shorelines, romantic coastal sunsets, sparkling water, sailing, classic architecture, and amazingly fresh seafood. These are some of the things that make Newport America’s Most Beautiful Place. Go on the Cliff Walk to see the shoreline and Newport’s architectural history. Visit Bowen Wharf and the Rose Island Lighthouse to round out your nautical tour. And check in at Castle Hill Inn, The Chanler at Cliff Walk, Grace Vanderbilt, or Hotel Viking for some Newport hospitality.
Boone, North Carolina
There’s always something to do in Boone, no matter the season, allowing people to step away from their everyday routine. Biking, hiking, fishing, kayaking, rafting, and tubing are the choice summer and spring activities. In the colder months, people can snowboard, sled, and cross-country ski. Visit Grandfather Mountain, the world’s only privately owned International Biosphere Reserve, or High Gravity Adventures, their new aerial adventure park. It’s best to go from July to November, and book your stay in Lodge at River Run, Lazy Bear Lodge, or Lovill House Inn.
St. Petersburg, Florida
St. Petersburg, also known as the Sunshine City for having the most consecutive sunshine days (768 days to date), boosts miles of award-winning, powdery beaches and crystal clear water. It is home to the famed Salvador Dali Museum, and Fort De Soto Park. Go on a dolphin snorkeling cruise, sail, visit the Weedon Island Preserve, or spend the day at St. Petersburg Beach. Stay at The Vinoy Renaissance, The Don CeSar, or The Kimpton Hotel Zamora for the best hotel experience in St. Petersburg.
No matter the season, activity, or adventure preference, there’s always an underrated place in the US waiting to be explored. Expand your itineraries, walk the less traveled paths, enrich your travel experiences, and make the best memories discovering new places in America.