When you travel, mainly you just scratch the surface of each destination you reach. Too many people travel just to see as opposed to traveling to feel. Connection to the culture you are inviting yourself into is one of the most vital ingredients for a worthwhile vacation or adventure. With that being said, here are some of my favorite, unexpected, weird and breathtaking treasures that hide beneath the touristy surface of the United States!
Venice Beach – California
Surf, sand, skating and sun — Venice beach is the place to go. I cannot express how truly awesome this beach is. There is a skate park right smack dab in the middle, the legendary Muscle Beach is right around the corner, and there are shops galore. The energy is so refreshing.
Stone Mountain – Georgia
Stone Mountain is as beautiful as it is entertaining to visit. Unlike Mount Rushmore, Stone Mountain is a wondrous view of a man-made artistic treasure with an awesome camping ground and state park right behind it. An out-of-the-ordinary carving on the mountain is the reason behind its popularity.
Idaho Potato Museum – Idaho
You either love them or you hate them, but nevertheless, you cannot deny their presence in the state of Idaho. Take a trip down to the Idaho Potato Museum to learn all about the history, processing and eventual end of a potato’s journey from the farm to your plate. Any trip out west cannot be complete without a stop to the Idaho Potato Museum!
Cafe Du Monde – Louisiana
Open until 2 a.m., Cafe Du Monde is simply a magical and inspiring place to eat, sit, reflect and enjoy. It is hands down one of the best places to try beignets. Beignets are delicious french doughnuts that are hand-crafted right on site at Cafe Du Monde (you can see all the magic happen while you’re waiting). Definitely a can’t miss spot in the heart of New Orleans!
Corn Palace – South Dakota
The name says it all. The Corn Palace in South Dakota is in fact a building constructed from corn! The outside hosts husks and corn of all shapes and sizes. Step inside the grainy palace and its basically like a history museum focused all around (take a guess)… corn! It’s the missing piece in your life that you never knew you needed and hosts some of the most knowledgeable corny people.
Crater of Diamonds State Park – Arkansas
Test your luck at the Crater of Diamonds State Park! Here, you can dig for riches, pan for gems and spend a few hours soaking up the hot Arkansas sun. Unbeknownst to most is the fact that Arkansas is frequently nicknamed, “The Diamond State,” which is why this state park is a must-see and must-do spot on the map.
The Great Salt Lake – Utah
I am not talking about the city — I am talking about the actual Great Salt Lake in Utah! Utah hosts the only salt water lake in the United States! While dipping your toes into the legendary water, you are able to get a truly breath-taking view of the illustrious mountains that Utah is famous for. Salt Lake City is a totally awesome place that any traveller should check out, but it is much more satisfying to stroll into town knowing that you got to visit the famous place the city is named after.
Mall of America- Minnesota
Although this location generates a lot buzz already, The Mall of America is an incredible feat of design and somewhere that anyone would have a blast visiting. There is a full amusement park, 50 restaurants, and over 520 stores all inside one amazing building. A whole day can be spent just wandering around the Mall of America, and I can promise you — it will be a fantastic day that you won’t regret.
*Photos by Keely Breen