There are countless hidden and beautiful spots in America that are absolutely bursting with loveliness. Check out some of these underrated attractions and sites that will have you skipping the long lines at the tourist traps and enjoying your free time surrounded by beauty.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Texas: Zilker Botanical Garden
Located in Austin, this gorgeous botanical garden has been wowing visitors since 1955. The sites includes an herb labyrinth, a Japanese zen garden, a dinosaur fossil area, cascading rose gardens, and plenty of beautiful walking paths. In addition to the myriad of flower and tree species housed in the botanical garden, there are numerous lovely butterfly varieties that can be spotted floating amongst the blooms.
2. Oregon: The Painted Hills
Located at the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in central Oregon, the Painted Hills are an enchanting collection of beautifully colored slopes. Striped with vivid red, yellow, orange, and gold, the hills were formed millions of years ago by the layering of different soils, clays and minerals. Short paths lead through the hills, and visitors can also explore the Sheep Rock and Clarno areas of the Fossil Beds.
3. Maryland: Cylburn Arboretum
Home to the historic Cylburn mansion and a fantastic array of trees and flowers, this arboretum is a green sanctuary in the heart of Baltimore. Artists can often be seen setting up easels on the sloping, green lawns, and there are plenty of beautiful walking paths to explore. The most visited tree in the arboretum is definitely the Japanese maple. With its twisting limbs and beautiful leaves, this tree is a favorite amongst photographers.
4. Georgia: Helen
The town of Helen has a fascinating and unique history. This community of less than 1,000 people was founded in 1913, some years after waves of gold miners and loggers settled in the area. In order to draw new residents and business, the tiny town decided to model itself after a Bavarian alpine community. Helen now has over 200 specialty and import shops that peddle everything from handmade crafts, Bavarian cuisine, and fine German chocolates. The town also hosts the oldest balloon event in the United States.
5. Pennsylvania: The Mercer Museum
This incredible museum looks like something out of a fairytale. It houses the collection of the late anthropologist Henry Mercer, who was fascinated by the material culture of pre-industrial societies. Over 40,000 fascinating artifacts crowd the museum's 55 rooms
6. New Hampshire: Dixville Notch
This township is home to only 12 permanent residents, though tourists do swell Dixville Notch's ranks during the warmer months. Located on the banks of Lake Glorietta, this tiny town is the site of a lovely state park and offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor fun. Visitors should check out Table Rock, a 2,500-foot-high ledge that overlooks a picturesque ravine.
7. Maine: The Blueberry Barrens
The area known as the Blueberry Barrens encompasses over 200,000 acres of lowbush blueberry plants in Washington County. Besides being the perfect place to grab a handful of fresh berries, a visit to these barrens is a great way to learn about one of Maine's most exported products.
8. Washington: The Quinault Rainforest
The Hoh is not the only spectacular rainforest in Washington. Olympic National Park is also home to the spectacular Quinault rainforest, which receives over 12 feet of rain per year and is filled with emerald-green flora. Visitors looking for a bit of a challenge should hike the North Fork and Graves Creeks trails, while those seeking a shorter and easier excursion around these ancient woods should try the Quinault Rain Forest Nature Trail.
9. South Carolina: Edisto Island
10. Montana: Medicine Rocks State Park
Theodore Roosevelt was an avid admirer of Medicine Rocks State Park, once saying that it was "as fantastically beautiful a place as I have ever seen." Located in Ekalaka, this park contains 60- to 80-foot stone hoodoos featuring mesmerizing carvings. The park is a sacred space for Plains native peoples.
11. New Jersey: Ken Lockwood Gorge
Located between Califon and High Bridge, this spectacular spot is a 260-acre nature preserve filled with beautiful rivers and lush forests. The area is especially ideal for trout fishing, as it offers plenty of shallow pools and fast runs. The gorge contains the southernmost hemlock glen in New Jersey, and visitors have a good chance of spotting a wild hawk flying overhead.
12. South Dakota: Custer State Park
Located in the Black Hills, this state park is sometimes overlooked in favor of other nature preserves in South Dakota. With its rugged beauty and striking natural features, Custer State Park should be on every American's bucket list.
13. Vermont: The Lincoln Family Home
Located at 1005 Hildene Road in Manchester, the family estate of Robert Lincoln, son of President Lincoln, is an incredibly elegant and charming place to spend an afternoon. With guided tours, a working farm, a 1903 Pullman car and plenty of manicured gardens and trails to explore, you won't regret a visit here.
14. Tennessee: Tennessee Aquarium
Located in Chattanooga, this aquairum was built in 1992 and has been instilling wonder in its visitors ever since. With outdoor landscaping that goes right down into the water, incredible modern architecture and, of course, plenty of enchanting sea life, this aquarium is truly a marvel.
15. Virginia: Maymont Park
This Richmond park has a lot going for it. The park offers a beautiful collection of flora that looks good in all seasons, as well as a truly magical Japanese garden that will transport you to a place of pure peace.
Have you been to any of these beautiful spots in America? Do you have any suggestions for other hidden gems? Let us know!