Hidden gems of USA
Hidden gems of USA

Top 25 Hidden Gems of USA

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Enough with visiting those well-known spots and being among crowds! Ever felt that way? Then you are in luck. Here is the list given by well-known travel bloggers sharing the hidden treasures in the United States of America that you can visit for your next trip.

1. Minturn, Colorado

Mallory says that Minturn in Colorado is the best place to experience historic Rocky Mountain railroad town vibes. It is celebrating 115 years of Colorado community and inviting visitors to #Makeit2Minturn.

Minturn
Photo by Mallory Kaufman

The town is unveiling new river access points for fishing, pop-up art exhibits, a face-lift for historic Main Street, as well as a stellar lineup of outdoor concerts, markets, and drive-in movies.

Nestled between the glamour of Vail and Beaver Creek, the Eagle County’s own gem Minturn maintains a western spirit that offers an authentic escape and ample reasons to “make it to Minturn.”

If it’s the “First Friday” of the month, the town will be home to “Pop-up” Art Galleries featuring local artists from the valley and around Colorado.

2. Stupa Peace Park, Arizona

Jo from Tea and Cake For The Soul blog says that Sedona is famous for its red rocks, vortexes and spirituality. However, we found a hidden gem nestled away on the outskirts of a residential housing estate. You would never know that Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park was there.

Stupa Peace Park
Photo by Jo

Whatever your spiritual beliefs are, you are welcome to visit here. A beautiful park at one with nature, with a huge Stupa and Buddha in the center of the park. You can walk around the multi-level park, admiring the red rocks in the distance, or sit quietly and meditate.

People leave offerings of rocks, gems, flags, poems and trinkets to hang off tree branches. The peace here is so relaxing. The only sounds are the birds and wind chimes in the trees. It is tranquil and calming. It has a kind of spiritual magic that you can’t explain.

It is free to get in but donations are welcomed for the park upkeep.

3. Big Bear, California

Sara from Our Kind Of Crazy blog says that Big Bear is such a great city in Southern California that is widely overlooked. It is a great place to visit in any season. It’s in the mountains of Southern California, so the summers offer awesome hiking trails and the beautiful Big Bear Lake to spend your days on the water.

Big Bear
Photo by Sara

And winters bring snow for a fun day on the slopes for skiing, snowboarding, or snow tubing! It’s around 2 hours from Los Angeles, so it’s a perfect spot for day trip or getaway from the city. T

here are lots of cute shops and restaurants in their downtown, and you can rent cozy cabins and turn it into a weekend getaway. We definitely think Big Bear is a great hidden gem in the U.S.

4. Colorado Springs, Colorado

Micki and Charles from The Barefoot Nomad blog say that one of the coolest cities we’ve discovered in the USA is Colorado Springs. Just a 2 hour drive from Denver, Colorado, mountainous Colorado Springs has great resorts, a world class zoo as well as America’s most visited mountain, Pike’s Peak which makes for a great day trip.

Colorado Springs
Photo by Micki and Charles

It also has the Garden of the Gods, which features some gorgeous over-sized rock formations and the Cave of the Winds which features a beautiful, easily walk-able cave system.

Another great thing about Colorado Springs is that it’s on the footsteps of the central Rocky Mountains so you have great hiking and skiing right on your doorstep. Not only can you golf there year round, you’re also less than an hour away from some of Colorado’s best whitewater rafting areas near Canon City.

5. Hudson Valley, New York

James from Travel Collecting blog says that New York City gets all the attention, but the Hudson valley, which is just north of NYC, is New York State’s hidden gem. In the fall, the Hudson Valley is ablaze with beautiful fall color (lake Minnewaska is a perfect spot to see the red, orange and yellow foliage), and there are corn mazes, apple and pumpkin picking at local farms.

Hudson Valley hidden gem of USA
Photo by James

Winter has snowshoeing at Mohonk Mountain House, cross-country skiing at Mohonk Preserve and downhill skiing in the nearby Catskill Mountains. In spring, the river valley is splashed with fall flowers, and the weather is perfect for hiking.

In summer, go swimming in lakes, antiquing in villages and cherry and peach picking. No matter what the season, there is always something fun to do in New York’s Hudson Valley.

Also read: Top 5 Free scenic campsites in the US

6. Bighorn Canyon, Wyoming and Montana

Lisa from TheHotFlashPacker blog says that Bighorn Canyon is a National Recreation Area which spans across two states – Wyoming and Montana. Parts of the canyon and the canyon overlooks are accessible by road, but most of the canyon is only accessible by hiking or by boat on the Bighorn River.

Bighorn Canyon hidden gem of USA
Photo by Lisa

You can enter at the north and south ends of the canyon, but the best views are in the south, accessible from Lovell, WY. The park is home to wildlife such as bears, bighorn sheep, and wild horses, which spend most of their time in the Pryor Mountains to the west of the park.

This park, part of the National Park Service, is a real hidden gem. It’s located only a few hours from the eastern exit of Yellowstone National Park but only gets a small fraction of its guests.

Camping, with and without utilities, is available in the park. If you want to get on the river, you can launch your own boat or use one of the outfitters that operate on the Bighorn River.

7. Havasu Falls, Arizona

Michelle from The Wandering Queen blog says that one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the United States is the brilliant, blue waterfall of Havasu Falls. The waterfall achieved its status due to its milky blue color and the surrounding bold, orange canyons. It is a perfect summer destination, and it is located in the state of Arizona.

Havasu Falls hidden gem of USA
Photo by Michelle

Visiting this waterfall is not an easy process. First, you have to obtain a much sought after permit. Then, you have to make a long road trip followed by a 10-mile, one-way hike to the site.

If you are up to this task, then you will get to enjoy the canyon for four days as the permits are now for a three-night trip. Getting to this beautiful waterfall and everything it has to offer is a fun, worthwhile, once in a lifetime trip.

8. Rapid City, South Dakota

Leona from The Wandermust Family blog says that Rapid city is one of my favorite cities in the US and is completely underrated. It is a place that really should be celebrated more!

Whether you are travelling as a family or couple, and for if you like quirky attractions or the outdoors, Rapid City literally has something on offer for everyone! Within the city travelers will enjoy the presidential walk, dinosaur park and for children the fab storybook island!

Rapid city Hidden gem of USA
Photo by Leona

Dinosaur Park dates back to the 1930’s and was created to capitalize on the tourists that were in the vicinity to visit Mount Rushmore (more on this later). The park contains seven dinosaur statues on a hill overlooking the city and is now on the National Historic Register of Places. A really quirky must see!

The attractions near Rapid City are actually the things that are perhaps the biggest draw for Rapid city as there is an abundance of natural wonders at your finger tips including Custer state park, the badlands National Park and the famous Mount Rushmore! It is truly a brilliant place to base yourself to get lot of things ticked off your bucket list! I have no idea why it is so underrated, but if you decide to visit you like me will come away singing its praises.

9. Bear Mountain, New York

Laura from Live, Adventure, Travel blog says that it is a wonder why Bear Mountain, New York is considered an off the beaten path location? It really has it all, stunning viewpoints, mountainous fresh air and a whole lot of walking. The definition of Paradise for nature lovers.

Bear Mountain hidden gem of USA
Photo by Laura

The 4 mile Bear Mountain loop trail takes approximately 2 hours to complete. The summit is home to phenomenal views of Hudson Valley, Hessian Lake and a memorial tower for George W. Perkins. Hikers can climb the tower for a 360 view of the valley and beyond (It is also possible to drive to the viewpoint).

Bear Mountain is the perfect day trip from New York City as it is located only one hour away from Manhattan. A fantastic way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, for some well-needed relaxation time!

10. Greenville, South Carolina

Margie from DQ Family Travel blog says that Greenville is a hidden gem in the southern U.S. It is a small city in South Carolina that has a big personality. The downtown area is filled with boutique shops, breweries, and delicious restaurants.

Falls Park on the Reedy
Photo by Margie

It is no surprise that Greenville gets its name from all the green space in the area. One of the highlights of this city is a gorgeous park located at the edge of downtown.

Falls Park on the Reedy has a beautiful rock waterfall surrounded by plenty of green space and a walkable suspension bridge that goes over a scenic overlook of the area. In addition, the city has a 20-mile biking and walking path that traverses scenic areas and connects two other towns. Greenville is a charming city to visit and truly a hidden gem.

11. Islamorada , Florida

Amanda from Toddling Traveler blog says that Islamorada, the “village of islands,” is known for being the laid back fishing town of the Florida Keys. This hidden gem doesn’t attract even close to the same level of tourists as the more well known Key West, and the low crowds are one of the biggest draws for most visitors.

Islamorada
Photo by Amanda

In addition to the beautiful beaches, Islamorada is a great place to enjoy the outdoors. With great weather all year round, you can experience anything from deep sea fishing, manatee sightings along the water, and swimming with the dolphins almost any time of year.

Islamorada also offers a multitude of great restaurants with outdoor seating and fresh seafood, including Lazy Dayz, Lorelei and Morada Bay. Whether you’re visiting Islamorada as a family or looking for a relaxing and romantic getaway, there’s something for everyone in Islamorada.

Also read: Beautiful places to enjoy hot air balloon rides

12. St. Louis, Missouri

Jessica from The Uprooted Traveler blog says that while St. Louis, Missouri is considered a fly-over area by many travelers, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The venerable Food and Wine Magazine recently named St. Louis as the fifth best city to eat in 2019 and with the city’s diverse culinary offerings of every type of cuisine from Bosnian to finger-lickin’ barbecue, this shout-out should come as no surprise.

St. Louis hidden gem of USA
Photo by Jessica

And not only is its food scene heating up- St. Louis’ craft brewery industry is second to none, with more than fifty breweries spread across the city. After your hunger and thirst is sated here, you can check out the city’s crown jewel, Forest Park, a sweeping green space bigger than New York City’s Central Park.

Here, you can check out the world-class St. Louis Art Museum or family-friendly Science Center (both completely free!) or stop by the boat house to pick up a paddle boat and a bottle of wine to enjoy some time on the water.

More of an artsy person? Drop by the City Museum, a multiple story building that can only be described as a mash-up of installation art made from re-purposed architectural and industrial objects, with a Chuck E. Cheese for adults. No matter what your interests, a fun (and probably delicious!) adventure awaits you in St. Louis.

13. Mobile, Alabama

Wendy from The Nomadic Vegan blog says that The city of Mobile in Alabama is often skipped over in favor of New Orleans, less than 150 miles away. Both cities were founded by French colonists and share much in common. The architecture of the buildings features beautiful wrought-iron balconies, and both host elaborate Mardi Gras celebrations.

Azalea Trail Maids
Photo by Wendy

But Mobilians love to point out that they had Mardi Gras first! The celebrations began in Mobile in 1703, a full 15 years before New Orleans was founded.

And Mardi Gras parades aren’t the only festivities in Mobile. The Azalea Trail Festival is a riot of color, when the Azalea Trail Maids dress up like Southern Belles in their pastel hoop skirts and parasols.

But even if you can’t time your visit to catch Mardi Gras or the Azalea Trail, the stately oak-shaded streets of downtown Mobile, lined by antebellum mansions, are a delight to visit at any time of year.

14. West Texas

Kristen from Yonderlust Ramblings blog says that it may come as a surprise to learn of the incredible diversity residing in west Texas, including canyons, deserts, mountains, and dunes!
Palo Duro Canyon, the second largest canyon in the United States, impresses with its vibrant colors and rugged views. The best place to appreciate canyon hiking is at Palo Duro Canyon State Park.

Palo Duro Canyon
Photo by Kristen

The Chihuahuan Desert ranks among North America’s four major deserts, and happens to call west Texas home. Perhaps the best place to enjoy this unique desert ecosystem are at Big Bend National Park.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park breaks the mold by injecting some high altitude, forested terrain into the surrounding desert. The trek to the state high point, Guadalupe Peak, is a must.

One of the most magical finds in west Texas are the Monahans Sandhills. It is the perfect place to go sand sledding on the beach like dunes!

15. Texas Hill Country

Lance and Laura Longwell from Travel Addicts blog say that centered around the small, charming town of Fredericksburg, TX is a large region called The Texas Hill Country.

Hidden gem of USA
Photo by Lance and Laura

It’s an extremely popular weekend getaway location for people from Texas and all across the south, and it’s easy to see why. The region is full of popular wineries producing excellent vintages. Some of the best BBQ in all of America can be found in the small towns throughout the area.

Some of the best whiskey and spirits distilleries in America can be found here. And, there are numerous national spring swimming holes to cool off on those hot summer days. Every summer, people flock to the hills cool off, eat good food, and live the good life. And the Texas Hill Country is the place to do it.

16. Bennington, Vermont

Tara from Back Road Ramblers blog says that nestled in the Southwest corner of Vermont, Bennington is a small town with a whole lot of natural beauty. Because it is tucked between the Green Mountains to the east and the Taconic range to the west, you will find ample opportunities for hiking and recreation.

Hidden gem of USA Bennington
Photo by Tara

The world-famous Appalachian Trail meanders just east of town, and there are several state parks and the Green Mountain National Forest just a short drive away. Whether you fancy camping, swimming, fishing, skiing, or paddling, Bennington is a four-season getaway.

Downtown Bennington is home to three local breweries, every manner of restaurants, and several art galleries and high-end boutiques. Historic attractions included the Bennington Battle Monument, which is the tallest building in Vermont, the Old First Church, and the renowned Bennington Museum, which features the largest collection of Grandma Moses paintings in the world. Read more about beautiful places to visit in Bennington, Vermont on Back Road Ramblers.

17. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Adam from Milwaukee Insider blog says that hiding along the shores of Lake Michigan is the little big city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Often overlooked as a vacation destination this charming and quirky city has a lot to offer. If you know anything about Milwaukee it’s probably that there is lots of cheese and beer here. A trip here will most certainly involve both – but surprisingly a lot more.

Milwaukee Wisconsin Skyline
Photo by Adam

The culinary scene in Milwaukee has a lot more depth than just cheese – even though deep fried cheese curds and frozen custard are worth the trip alone. Milwaukee has a thriving restaurant scene which would stand up again cities twice its size. However, the vibe here is laid back and welcoming; the locals would rather have their noses in a beer glass than snobbishly up in the air.

Travelers who come know that the people here in Milwaukee are some of the best part of the visit. Come for the big music festivals, unique architecture, and food – stay for the friendly, quirky, fun-loving locals.

18. Upper Chesapeake, Maryland

Susan from Gen X Traveler blog says that the Upper Chesapeake Bay region may be lesser known than the Lower Chesapeake or even its Eastern Shore but this area offers something for everyone including Fido.

Upper Chesapeake
Photo by Susan

The Upper Chesapeake is a rural area located in the Northeast corner of Maryland bordering on Pennsylvania, Delaware and the Susquehanna River. It is easily accessible from I-95 and only a 45-minute drive from both Baltimore and Philadelphia.

Besides its easy accessibility, the Upper Chesapeake Bay offers both the best of rural and bay life. This area still has significant farmland with u-pick orchards, wineries, and horseback riding. If you enjoy hiking, Fair Hill Nature Reserve alone offers 5,656-acres with more than 25-miles of trails.

If you prefer bay-life, you can find an abundance of that as well. There is plenty of kayaking, crabbing, and fishing too.

19. Fort Meyers, Florida

Adam from Getting Stamped blog says that in the shadow of Tampa Bay and neighboring Naples, is the quiet and laid back Fort Myers Beach. The same sand fills the beaches here in front of clear turquoise colored waters, but still it gets a lot less attention than other Florida destinations. However, what it lacks in notoriety it makes up for in natural beauty.

Fort Meyers
Photo by Adam

In addition to the deep white sand beach are clusters of islands sprinkled out in the gulf waiting be explored. Besides working on your tan, Fort Myers and the surrounding islands have a lot of things to do.

Here you can spot dolphins, stroll on isolated beaches, visit historical estates, and go sea shelling. There are lots of reasons to visit Fort Myers next time you are looking for an off the beaten path trip.

20. Lopez Island, Washington

Lisa from My Snapshot Traveler blog says that Lopez Island, part of the San Juan Island chain off the coast of Washington, is a picturesque getaway any time of year.

Shark Reef Sanctuary Lopez Island
Photo by Lisa

Outside of Washington, many don’t know about this hidden gem tucked inside the waters of Puget Sound. Whether you’re camping at Spencer Spit State Park, renting one of the dozens of AirBnBs or staying at a boutique inn, you’ll find some of the friendliest folks (locals always offer the “Lopez wave” as you pass by) and most gorgeous scenery.

Hike down to Watmough Bay, grab an ice cream cone at Lopez Village, bike through the rolling hills, or go on a whale watching tour – this island has a little bit of something for everyone.

21. Detroit, Michigan

Liliane from My Toronto, My World blog says that Detroit, Michigan is definitely a hidden gem in the United States and one that often gets overlooked. Detroit went through some harsh times during the financial crisis some years ago but has bounced back fantastically.

Detroit hidden gem of USA
Photo by Liliane

There’s a budding street art scene and a ton of up and coming restaurants you have to check out during your visit. There’s also some fantastic culture and history to be found at the Detroit Institute of Arts, Historic Fort Wayne and Motown Museum.

If nature’s your thing then you have to head to Belle Isle Park which is a stand alone little island that’s part of Detroit and has everything from an aquarium to a conservatory to a lighthouse!

Detroit’s a gem because you can get everything you want from a vacation from it including great food, world class museums, an amazing street art scene, a great nightlife and a piece of nature right in the city!

22. Santa Fe, New Mexico

Jonathan from Journey Maxx blog says that sharing a border with Arizona, Colorado and Texas, the state of New Mexico often gets unfairly overlooked by some as little more than a stopover destination en route to its iconic and colorful neighbors.

Santa Fe
Photo by Jonathan

But in doing so there are many things you could be missing out on. The second youngest of the contiguous United States has some great quirks for visitors such as the Albuquerque Balloon Festival and the inevitable UFO souvenir kitsch of Roswell. But it is the state capital of Santa Fe that provides the best historical and cultural focus.

For it is in Santa Fe that visitors are going to be impressed with the streets of traditional adobe houses for which the state is most famous. One of which is indeed the official “Oldest House in the USA” on 215 De Vargas Street, dating back to 1646. The New Mexico Governor’s House and Museum of Art, all located inside adobe structures too.

The Spanish influence here is very keenly felt especially with the Romanesque Revival Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi which is instantly recognizable by its curved arch towers. Another fascinating feature is the display of quirky sculptures dotted around the main plaza and around Canyon Road. Santa Fe is definitely deserving of a more thorough visit.

23. San Juan, Puerto Rico

Alexander from Destinavo blog says that San Juan is a unique place to visit in the US. Not only is it located on a tropical Island, but it’s also home to some impressive colonial Buildings. While English is the official language, far more locals speak Spanish on a daily basis, and you can definitely get some real Latino vibes in Puerto Rico.

san juan
Photo by Alexander

Old San Juan especially is a hidden gem that more tourists should discover. The colorful houses, colonial heritage, charming cafes and lively bars are just some of the treats that are awaiting visitors. From here it’s also easy to do day trips to beaches, tropical islands and one of the wettest jungles in the World, El Yunqe Rainforest.

24. Solvang, California

Alex from Swedish Nomad blog says that Solvang is a historical town in California, and it’s also known as the Danish capital of the USA. Danish settlers came here during the 1900s, and today you can admire the Danish architecture, old windmills, and of course taste some Danish wiener-breads.

solvang
Photo by Alex

It is such a cute little town, and it is just a 2-hour drive from Los Angeles along Highway 1. In Solvang, you can also buy Danish confectionery, eat Danish foods such as Pölse, and much more. All in all, you don’t have to travel all the way to Denmark to get a taste of it, just go to California!

25. Cambridge, Massachusetts

Yulia from That’s What She Had blog says that while Boston is definitely one of the most popular destinations in the USA, a little town of Cambridge, just across the bridge from Boston, doesn’t receive nearly as many tourists.

Cambridge
Photo by Yulia

Meanwhile even one day in Cambridge would give you a great opportunity to learn about its famous universities, try some amazing food, and see some of the most treasured art pieces in the world.

Cambridge is a student city first and foremost, so walking around the grounds of Harvard and MIT is a must. You can try to spot the building where Mark Zukerberg invented Facebook or go inside the library where the likes of JFK and FDR borrowed books, or see the campus where scenes from Good Will Hunting were shot.

Apart from history and art, Cambridge also boasts some amazing seafood. One of the best lobster rolls I’ve tried in New England was from a local restaurant right here in Cambridge.

Hidden gems of USA: Find out where you can visit to enjoy the best of USA while avoiding the crowds!
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Also read: Glorious Sunrise Travel section for more interesting travel tales!

Discover more than 20 hidden gems of USA and take a unforgettable vacation without the crowds
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About Priyadarshini Rajendran 164 Articles
Priyadarshini Rajendran is a travel enthusiast, avid reader and a passionate writer. She has a few of her books published and is writing more books. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked as a software consultant taking breaks for her travels. Her blog is her passion and she writes about travel, books and food on the blog. She offers customized itineraries for South Indian destinations.

10 Comments Posted

  1. I’m so glad to see Rapid City, SD getting some love. I fell in love with it years ago. So many great little bars and restaurants and really awesome people.

  2. Great collaboration and hidden finds. I actually never would have guessed Arizona would have so many unique spots. Puerto Rico looks and sounds amazing – that’s on my list of places to go next.

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