The gorgeous inlet on Alabama's Gulf coast is the fourth largest bay in the U.S. You can stay at a numerous charming and quaint shoreline towns along the eastern shore. The sunsets are absolutely breathtaking. Visit in the summer to witness the natural phenomenon known as a "jubilee." This is when fish and crabs crowd the shore in huge groups, making them very easy to catch. Mobile Bay Basin is known for diverse ecosystems; it includes more than 200 wetlands and waterways.
Alaska: Anan Bear Observatory
This is where you go for an exceptional Alaskan wildlife viewing experience where a variety of wildlife, including brown and black bears, can be seen. The Anan estuary and Observatory is only accessible by boat or plane, which only makes it more adventurous. Take the half-mile trail leading to the observation deck, along which you can see bears. The observation platform and photo blind overlook cascading falls where the salmon jump upriver and the bears catch their meal.
Arizona: Sunset Crater
Arizona's Sunset Crater Volcano offers hiking, scenery of flora like Ponderosa Pines, and an array of wildlife. People had been living here for several hundred years, at least, before the volcano erupted sometime between the years 1040 and 1100, according to the National Park Service. Sunset Crater is still the youngest volcano on the Colorado Plateau. Its red rim and the dark lava flows have cooled and hardened. As plants return, so do the animals that use them for food. People are coming back, too, intrigued by the opportunity to see nature's response to a volcanic eruption.
Arkansas: Whitaker Point
The gorgeous trail is about 3 miles long round trip. It crosses over streams to take you to a crag, a rock formation that overhangs from the bluff's face looking like a hawk's beak; it overlooks Whitaker Creek and the Upper Buffalo Wilderness. Several waterfalls are located around the trail. The moderate trail is accessible all year round.
California: Stinson Beach
Stinson Beach, one of the most underrated North American adventure destinations, is a place to walk for miles on white sand, take a dip, have a barbecue, jog, or play games. The oceanfront makes it one of the best swimming beaches in northern California - not to mention a favorite surfing, picnicking, and volleyball spot. The best times of the year for surfing there are in the winter and spring. The adjacent town offers several restaurants and a handful of shops.
Colorado: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
While millions of people make their way to the Grand Canyon, you should ditch the crowd and take in the indescribable rugged beauty of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. No, it's not the same as the Grand Canyon, but in a lot of ways it's better. The 2,000-foot-deep canyon sees a mere fraction of the foot traffic, and extreme outdoor adventure is just waiting. Intense rock climbing, extraordinary canyoneering and whitewater paddling are just a small sampling of the many things that will get your heart pumping in this epic Colorado park.
Connecticut: Gillette Castle
This is one of the most unbelievable castles you can actually stay in. It overlooks the Connecticut River. It looks like a classic fortress, but the interior is quite different. Ordered and partially designed by William Hooker Gillette, an actor most famous for portraying Sherlock Holmes on stage, the 24-room castle includes strange features - original doorknobs and locks, hidden surveillance mirrors, and about 60 images that pay tribute to Gillette's 17 cats. No two doors are the same in this castle. Gillette's own walking paths were constructed with near-vertical steps, stone-arch bridges, and wooded trestles. Activities include river camping, hiking and picnicking.
Delaware: Fort Delaware
This harbor defense facility is now a museum that is said to be the most haunted place in the state. The spirits of former Confederate soldiers who were prisoners there during the Civil War are believed to "still occupy" the facility. The soldier's ghosts have been seen by visitors on tours, and they have also inexplicably appeared in photos. The fort has even been featured on an episode of the TV show "Ghost Hunters."
Florida: Perdido Key
Perdido means lost. The aptly named community in Escambia County, near Pensacola, is a one of Florida's hidden gems. Everything you love about the state in general - nice weather, pristine beaches and water, wildlife preserve, unspoiled parks, etc. - you will find in Perdido Key, minus the crowds. People have a laid-back attitude, traffic is minimal and everything is just a short drive away.
Georgia: Providence Canyon
This is Georgia's "Little Grand Canyon." Massive gullies as deep as 150 feet were caused simply by poor farming practices during the 1800s, making what is today some of the prettiest photographs within the state, according to GA State Parks. The rare plumleaf azalea grows only in this region and blooms during July and August. The canyon soil's pink, orange, red and purple hues will take your breath away. Visitors can enjoy views of the canyons from the rim trail.
Hawaii: Waipio Valley
The gorgeous valley is one of the most incredible places in the Aloha State. It was once home to Hawaiian royalty who oversaw the cultivation of taro root in the valley's fertile earth. Many still consider the place sacred. The valley is a mile across and over 5 miles deep, and is surrounded by cliffs up to 2,000 feet high. Hawaii Island's tallest waterfall, Hiilawe Falls cascades down 1,300 feet in the back of Waipio, according to GoHawaii.
Idaho: Bruneau Canyon Overlook
This is the Grand Canyon of southwest Idaho. It was shaped by an astounding combination of volcanism, glacial melt and regional drainage patterns. The Bruneau Overlook is the only readily accessible spot to view this spectacular canyon carved through basalt and rhyolite by the Bruneau River, according to Bureau of Land Management. The opposite rim is 1,300 feet away and the distance from rim to riverbed is 800 feet. This is where you can see the wild and picturesque Bruneau River tumbling out of the Bruneau-Jarbidge Rivers Wilderness.
Illinois: Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum
A wonderful museum, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum is a magnificent place for people who are interested in history but also prefer something more interactive. ALPLM is the largest presidential museum in the country. Building this world-class center devoted to Abraham Lincoln took almost four times as long as the Civil War. It features many inspiring exhibits on Lincoln's life and a rotating exhibit of the most precious of artifacts related to him.
Indiana: Indianapolis Zoo
It's the first zoo in the U.S. that is certified as a zoo, aquarium, and botanical garden. You get a chance to connect with animals and plants in each "biome": Deserts, Encounters, Forests, Oceans and Plains. These distinct areas present about 1,400 animals and 31,000 plants together in simulated natural habitats. Don't miss the interactive dolphin experience. The gondola ride across the zoo is a must. You can see downtown Indianapolis, the zoo, and the orangutans.
Iowa: Effigy Mounds National Monument
"If I had to choose one [underrated tourist spot] I would probably pick the view of the Mississippi River bluffs in the fall from Effigy Mounds National Monument," Jerry Ruttenburg, an an Iowan most of his life, says. "If you're in the Midwest, save that trip to New England. There is all the color you would want on the Mississippi River Bluffs."
Kansas : Cosmosphere & Space Center
The Cosmopshere & Space Center is a destination that kids will absolutely love and ask to come back again and again. Curiosity and excitement here know no restrictions. The Justice Planetarium, a state-of-the-art, digital dual projector, is a favorite. The museum features the largest combined collection of U.S. and Russian space artifacts in the world. Visitors come face-to-face with American heroes and Soviet secrets.
Kentucky: The National Corvette Museum
The fact that this 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.
Louisiana: Gardens of the American Rose Center
The official garden season is from April 1st through the end of October. The peak rose blooming seasons are mid-April to late May and mid-September to mid-October - depending on weather. At the end of the year, the gardens are transformed into a winter wonderland of twinkling lights for Christmas in Roseland.
Camden is a classic seaside town at the foot of Camden Hills. Its slogan is "Where the Mountains Meet the Sea," and it is considered by many visitors to be one of the most beautiful places in New England. It has a small town sensibility with friendly people, gorgeous views, preserved buildings and historic structures. Camden and its surroundings are perfect for hiking, mountain biking, sailing, and paddle boarding.
Once a military outpost manned by George Washington and considered "The Gateway to the West" for early American pioneers, Cumberland is now home to a thriving arts community. The town has also turned into an outdoor recreation destination. Ride the Rail Trails, go on a fossil hunt at the Calvert Cliffs State Park, or hike Maryland's portion of the Appalachian Trail, which covers 40 picturesque miles.
Massachusetts: Cape Ann
Not to be confused with Cape Cod, Cape Ann, located just about 30 miles away from Boston, should get more visitors. It offers all the charm and loveliness you'd find in more popular New England towns, minus the crowds. It's ideal for family vacations, romantic getaways, ocean adventures, and fresh seafood. Go sailing, fishing, kayaking, and whale watching, which is a popular summer activity.
Michigan: Sleeping Bear Dunes
The Sleeping Bear Dunes, which are among some of the largest dunes in the world. Part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, located along scenic State Route 22, Sleeping Bear Dunes Point beach boasts clear, turquoise waters and white sand beaches. Because the atmosphere is so reminiscent of the Caribbean, you might actually forget you are in northern Michigan. Learn about the "Legend of the Sleeping Bear" while you visit the park and make time for a boat tour over to the Manitou Islands for more pristine beaches and scenic hiking, unreachable by car. Take advantage of all the camping options including the primitive sites on the Manitou Islands.
Minnesota: Voyageurs National Park
Even though the park is not the most famous place for camping because most campsites are quite remote (you will actually need a boat to reach them), it is a great place for an outdoor overnight adventure. So if you're looking for peace of mind, isolated camping and copious water activities, consider this park. If you don't have your own vessel, go on a guided boat tour to see the natural beauty of the park. The topography of the park is rugged and varied; rolling hills are interspersed between bogs, beaver ponds, swamps, islands, countless small lakes and four large lakes.
Tunica has several casinos, making it a fun gaming city people from throughout the South can reach with a short trip. They don't just offer slot machines and poker tables. They also schedule a lot of concerts and fun events like horse shows, sporting, stage bars and festivals. Tunica is popular for its golf courses, as well as blues clubs.
Missouri: Leila's Hair Museum
One of the most bizarre tourist attractions in the country, Leila's Hair Museum is the only hair museum in the world. It boasts more than 600 hair wreaths and over 2,000 pieces of jewelry made of human hair. Hair was a token of love in Victorian time as well as a remembrance of someone who passed away. The tradition of giving a lock of hair goes back hundreds, even thousands of years. People who go there for the first time never know what to expect but leave nicely surprised because they learn a lot.
Leila's Hair Museum/Yelp
Montana: Lewis and Clark Caverns
Camp, hike and experience amazing geological wonders at Montana's first and best-known state park, a showcase of one of the most highly decorated and largest limestone caverns in the Northwest. You can access the caves by guided tours only from May 1 to September 30 and on holiday tours in December. The Winter Holiday Candlelight Tour in December is the best way to explore this natural wonder.
Nebraska: Toadstool Geological Park
At Toadstool Geological Park, there are six campgrounds, a 3-mile hiking trail to Hudson-Meng Education & Research Center and a 1-mile interpretive loop trail. The scenery is breathtaking. The "moonscape" of the Badlands is an unusual setting for a picnic but worth every effort. Visit so you can see unspoiled nature and geology that started forming 45 million years ago.
Nevada: The Neon Museum
There is so much more to do in Vegas than gambling and walking along the Strip. The museum collects and preserves all neon signs of Las Vegas. You can see more than 150 signs. So if you want to know more about the Sin City, this is where you go to learn. Find out how the signs were made and what their role was in the rich history of Las Vegas.
New Hampshire: Jericho Mountain State Park
This is one of the newest additions to the state park system. Jericho Mountain State Park provides opportunities for miles of trail riding for ATV, UTV, trail bike, and snowmobile enthusiasts, and the park is also home to the annual Jericho ATV Festival. There are plenty of scenic outlooks to enjoy along the way. Swimming, fishing, canoeing and picnicking at Jericho Lake are favorite activities.
Flickr/Michael Hicks/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
New Jersey: Point Pleasant
The city of Point Pleasant, New Jersey, is the ideal mix of fun for the entire family and parties on the beach, all accessible by train from densely packed northern New Jersey. The shoreline town features resorts and boardwalks, and nearby Manasquan Beach is popular with surfers looking to ride the waves during warm months.
New Mexico: Santa Rosa Blue Hole
Blue Hole, which is 82 feet deep, is a gem in the middle of a desert. Once known as Blue Lake, it is one of seven sister lakes connected underground by a vast system of water. Water always is in a land of little rain. The lake is unsurpassed for its clear, pure water. Avid scuba divers are known to drive 10 or more hours to get there. Visibility is an astonishing 100 feet, due to the fact that the water completely renews itself every six hours, and the temperature is a constant 62 degrees.
New York: NY Transit Museum
Want to see every kind of train that has been operating ever since the subway opened more than 100 years ago? NY Transit Museum is the place to be. And not only for that. Learn about the extraordinary engineering feats, workers who labored in the tunnels, communities that were drastically transformed, and the ever-evolving technology that runs 24 hours a day. Board the vintage cars, sit at the wheel of a city bus, and step through a time tunnel of turnstiles.
North Carolina: Nags Head
Asheville usually gets all the attention when people are looking to North Carolina as a vacation destination. But Nags Head is worth a consideration if you're looking to relax on a secluded beach and hike in a scenic paradise that is the Nags Head Woods Preserve. People interested in American history will find it interesting as well. Visit in time for the annual Seafood Festival in October.
North Dakota: International Peace Garden
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." Cycling enthusiasts have been coming here for years to condition and to train. A popular attraction is the Carillon Bell Tower. Faintly ringing, throughout the Garden, every 15 minutes and on the hour, are familiar strains of Westminster Chimes.
Ohio: Serpent Mound
This effigy mound - a heightened piece of land constructed in the shape of an animal, symbol, religious or other type of figure - was created by Native Ohioans nearly 900 years ago and is considered a significant symbol of the state's storied past. Now is the time to visit the archaeological monument to learn about pre-Columbian history and America's indigenous tradition of monumental architecture.
Heironymous Rowe/Wikimedia Commons
Oklahoma: Turner Falls Park
This is a quick getaway for everyone living in Oklahoma and nearby states. People go for the natural swimming areas, wading area, sandy beaches, bath houses, picnic sites, water slides, caves which they can explore, and the Rock Castle. The 77-foot waterfall and cold refreshing streams are perfect for relaxing. There are plenty of hiking trails, camp sites and cabin rentals.
Oregon: Vista House
From Vista House's vantage point 733 feet above the Columbia River and overlooking the busy I-84, hundreds of sightseers have enjoyed a step back in time and one of Oregon's most inspiring views. The Vista House was built as a rest stop observatory for travelers and as a fitting memorial honoring Oregon's pioneers. The architect, Edgar M. Lazarus, had described it as "a temple to the natural beauty of the gorge."
Pennsylvania: Susquehannock State Forest
This protected forest on the rolling hills of the Allegheny Plateau in central Pennsylvania is among the most remote places east of the Mississippi. And how remote would that be, exactly? In Cherry Springs State Park, inside the state forest, there is so little light pollution that the Milky Way actually casts a shadow, which is why it was designated as the second International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association. Susquehannock State Forest also contains Pennsylvania's most remote place, Hammersley Wild Area.
Rhode Island: Block Island
Beautiful and naturally wild, Block Island is an island vacation you can take without a passport. Lush green hills meet towering coastal bluffs and 17 miles of beach meet the Block Island Sound on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. Great bike culture and 30 miles of hiking trails draw adventurers inland while all kinds of water sports pull visitors into the water. The island is so naturally spectacular that The Nature Conservancy called it one of the "last great places in the Western Hemisphere."
South Carolina: Edisto Island
Edisto Beach is both a romantic spot and a top fishing destination. The options are endless - surf fishing, river fishing, pier fishing, and deep sea fishing are anglers' favorites. Edisto Island is also for people who prefer to relax on secluded beaches as opposed to crowded shores. Experience its beauty by canoeing; and make sure you stay at a treehouse. The experience is absolutely magical.
South Dakota: Wind Cave National Park
The main attractions at Wind Cave National Park, which is one of the oldest national parks in the country, include the world's longest and most intricate collection of caves and more than 28,000 acres of mixed-grass prairie, ponderosa pine forest and its accompanying wildlife. Join in on one of the park's "Adventures in Nature," which provides a comprehensive overview of all the park has to offer.
Tennessee: The Lost Sea
The largest underground lake in the country, the Lost Sea is located deep inside a mountain near Sweetwater. It is a part of an extensive and historic cave system called Craighead Caverns. They have been known and used since long before European settlers came to Tennessee.
Texas: Big Bend Scenic Loop
An underrated road trip, this is the best way to explore the rugged beauty of Texas - 250 miles along the border with Mexico. You can go rafting and kayaking along the way. Conservation fans can have a blast - more than 300 species of birds have been documented at Big Bend Ranch, more than at any otherTexas state park, according to Texas Parks & Wildlife. Set a tent under the stars at the Madera Canyon and Grassy Banks campgrounds for quick river access to mixed desert scrub and riparian zones.
When people go to Utah they usually head straight to any of its five gorgeous national parks. (The soaring canyon walls of Zion are Springdale's postcard background.) Hiking, running, biking are favorite options for the adventure lovers. But people who like to relax also have plenty to do. The music and art scene is thriving. The food is good, too. There are nearly three dozen restaurants in the small town, according to Visit Utah.
Vermont: The Northeast Kingdom
Regularly called the best-kept secret in the Northeast by those in the know, the Northeast Kingdom (or NEK) is set between the Green Mountains and the Connecticut River in northern Vermont, making for perfect scenery and plenty of adventures. See the area by kayak, bike or on foot - the NEK has 40,000 acres of water for paddling, hundreds of miles of mountain bike trails and 75,000 acres of public forest park lands just waiting to be explored.
Virginia: Luray Caverns
In Luray Caverns, visitors can hear the haunting sounds of the world's only Stalacpipe Organ. Among the most surreal caves in the world, the caverns are located deep beneath Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. They are a U.S. Natural Landmark and the largest, as well as the most popular, caverns in Eastern America, according to Visit Shenandoah. Visitors can explore cathedral-sized rooms with ceilings 10 stories high, filled with towering stone columns and crystal-clear pools.
Washington: North Cascades National Park
The park is just about three hours from Seattle. You can find everything there - jagged peaks, abundant forest, alpine lakes, cascading waterfalls, and more than 300 glaciers. Whether you prefer backpacking trips or camping, climbing and fishing, this national park will accommodate you. The unique wilderness is worth the trip. The North Cascades is not among the most visited parks, which makes it more appealing to many avid travelers.
West Virginia: Morgantown
Adventure awaits in Morgantown! From riding the mighty roller coaster rapids of the Cheat River to treating yourself to the breathtaking scenery from hiking and biking trails, Morgantown is worth a stop if you are in west Virginia. The town is full of Appalachia history and antiques. It's also home to West Virginia University, and the many young people contribute to the town's bustling nightlife and a cutting-edge art scene.
Wisconsin: The Apostle Islands
Go in the winter to see amazing ice caves at this eye-popping destination. They are located at the western end of the Mainland Unit of the park, in far northern Bayfield County. By February, an ice bridge may often form to connect Sand Island to the mainland, according to the NPS. The lake surface is usually a frozen white expanse, which is a stunning view in itself. A dreamland of needlelike ice columns forms inside, and they change every day.
Wyoming: Bighorn Canyon
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area is a lesser known treasure waiting to be discovered. It boasts breathtaking scenery, countless varieties of wildlife, and abundant recreational opportunities, such as boating, fishing, ice fishing, camping, and hiking. Bighorn Canyon offers visitors what few other National Park areas can, with a solitude and serenity that makes this an utterly mesmerizing destination.
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