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Off the Beaten Path Across the United States

November 22, 2017

While the USA has a number of world-famous attractions, landmarks and destinations, there are several others that are lesser-known, but equally worth visiting. From canoeing around a true Southern swamp to exploring quaint small towns, here are just a few of the off the beaten path adventures to be had across the USA.

Rock City, Lookout Mountain, Georgia

Lookout Mountain, Georgia

Located just six miles from Chattanooga, Tennessee, Rock City is a rock formation that dates back over 200 million years. From a 90 foot waterfall to a suspended bridge to attractions just for children, there is plenty to see and do here. You will also find a few nature trails that feature over 400 species of plants and trees, as well as some incredible views from the top of Lookout Mountain.

Rosendale, New York

Just two hours away from New York City lies Rosendale, a small town with quite an arty vibe. In 1895, Rosendale experienced a fire that destroyed over half of the town, and many of the buildings that you will see here today were constructed in the early 1900s.

This quaint town is home to a number of artists, so there are always creative events taking place, while the backdrop of the Catskill Mountains and Rondout Creek make it an incredibly picturesque location too.

Falmouth, Massachusetts

A quiet and quaint town, Falmouth is known for its many beaches, with over 68 miles of coastline and 12 miles of shoreline, and also boasts the warmest water temperatures on Cape Cod. Falmouth boasts a number of fantastic restaurants, serving up some of the best cuisine in the area.

In addition to exploring the town itself, Falmouth’s location makes it an ideal base from which to take day trips to explore a few other destinations, including Plymouth, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

Caladesi Island, Florida

Caladesi Island, Florida

Caladesi Island may be small, but, seeing as it is only accessible by boat, this keeps the crowds away, and leaves the island beautifully untouched.

There are no paved roads on the island, just three miles of beaches, several winding birding trails, and some fantastic fishing spots. There is a local café that you can eat at, but many visitors choose to bring their own picnic and enjoy this on one of the white sand beaches.

Cache River Park, Cache River State Natural Area, Illinois

The Cache River State Natural Area in Illinois is home to a number of famous swamps, but Cache River park is the one you should visit if you are looking for true solitude. This park receives about 200,000 visitors a year, which equates to about one visitor per acre, each month. While you may not see any other people, you will see forests, wetlands, and floodplains, as well as endangered wildlife species.

Wondering how to get around?

There are both canoe trails as well as foot trails in place to help you to explore the park. You can either bring your own boat, or rent one.

Louisville, Kentucky

This Kentucky city has so much to offer, whether you are into sports, nature or wildlife.

Here are a few of your options:

  • Explore the Louisville Slugger Museum, dedicate to baseball legends
  • Walk through the Jefferson Memorial Forest, which is the largest urban forest in the country and also a designated wildlife refuge
  • Head to Otter Creek Park for spectacular views of the Ohio River
  • Check out some of Louisville’s other 120 parks
  • Take a walk along the city’s waterfront to soak up its skyline
  • Head to the Louisville Mega Cavern for zip lining adventures

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

The heart of Amish country, Lancaster is famous for the incredible food and wine that it produces, making this a great destination for any foodies out there.

When is the best time to visit?

June is always a popular month, not only for touring the breweries and wineries, but also because of the Brandywine Wine and Food Festival held here each year.

Other than sampling fine food and wine, here are a few other activities that you can do in Lancaster:

  • Check out some local artists and musicians
  • Take a bike ride through the lush green hills
  • Visit a few of the 25 historical covered bridges in the area

Smith Fork Ranch, Crawford, Colorado

The Smith Fork Ranch is what some would call an all-inclusive resort, but it is one with a big difference…

Rather than spending your days lounging by the pool, you may be doing everything from foraging for wild mushrooms to fly-fishing to horse-riding. In terms of food, this is homemade, but to five star quality, using local ingredients that have been freshly harvested, ensuring that you leave with a whole new appreciation for the land around you.

Accommodation is in luxury cabins, furnished with nothing but the finest of antiques and artisan crafts.

Taos, New Mexico

Taos, New Mexico

The ancient town of Taos is one that looks unlike anywhere else you will have seen in the United States, or even the world, and this is a huge part of its charm. This mountain town is not only visually stunning, bordered by the red peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains on three sides, but has also really retained its native culture.

This means that not only will you find a thriving art scene in Taos, but the locals also have a strong connection with the great outdoors. If you are feeling especially adventurous, the tallest mountain in New Mexico, Wheeler Peak, is right here waiting to be climbed, while the Taos box section of the Rio Grande is perfect for skilled paddlers.

Little Tybee Island, Georgia

Little Tybee Island is an uninhabited nature preserve that can only be accessed by boat. As you would imagine, this has left the environment here relatively untouched and wild, with the island being home to rich salt marshes, subtropical forests, and flawless beaches. You will also see plenty of wildlife here, from the egret and the heron to the endangered woodstock.

Wondering how to get around?

Kayak tours are always popular, and, since camping is permitted here, you can really take the time to explore the island at your own pace.

Damascus, Virginia

For those who enjoy cycling and hiking, you will love Damascus, as this is where seven major trails all intersect, including the 2180 mile Appalachian Trail.

The actual spot that these trails converge in happens to be the parking lot of a coffee house, which is always buzzing with activity, especially around breakfast-time.

Pando, Fish Lake National Forest, Utah

Pando refers to a collection of over 45,000 trees in Utah’s Fish Lake National Park, which, on first impression, may not seem too impressive.

However, underneath the ground here is a massive root system that connects the trees together, meaning that each tree that you see is actually just a limb that belongs to the largest organism on the plant. Believed to be over 80,000 years old, imagining the incredible underground root system just below your feet is truly a humbling experience. 

Mount Graham International Observatory, Safford, Arizona

Interested in astronomy and telescopes?

Then you will likely already know about the Mount Graham International Observatory, which is home to the largest telescope in the world. This telescope offers even better clarity than the Hubble Space Telescope, and tours are available to visitors on the weekends.

Fredericksburg, Texas

Fredericksburg, Texas

Philip Arno Photography / Shutterstock.com

In the 1830s, a huge wave of German immigrants arrived in Fredericksburg, bringing with them their culture, food, architecture, and, of course, their beer. As a result of this, Fredericksburg developed quite a German feel to it, and this is still evident today.

Many of the beer gardens that the German immigrants built are still in use today, while the grape seeds that they planted have resulted in several of the vineyards that you will find in Texas hill Country.

Of course, Fredericksburg is also considered to be quite a foodie destination, with a number of innovative chefs opening up establishments here.

Indiana Caverns, Indiana

Home to the longest cave in Indiana, and the 9th longest in the country, the Indiana Caverns has only recently been opened to the public, which is why many people still do not know about it.

The underground river is used to take visitors on boat tours of the interior of the caverns, which takes about 25 minutes. In addition to seeing a giant underground waterfall, you will also pass through a series of caves, each one sporting its own unique features and characteristics.

Eugene, Oregon

While Portland may be the go-to destination in Oregon for food and wine enthusiasts, Eugene also has great access to wine country, as well as an artisanal food scene that is rapidly growing.

This up-and-coming destination has also earned itself the nickname of TrackTown USA.

Why?

Because this is the birthplace of Nike, as well as being home to a mind-boggling array of running trails and city paths, helping you to work off all of the delicious food that you will eat during your stay here. 

Albuquerque, New Mexico

There are a few different reasons as to why you may want to visit Albuquerque…

To begin with, this is where the hit television show Breaking Bad was filmed, and fans are able to visit Walter White’s house, as well as several other locations used in the show. http://orogoldstores.com/tour-albuquerque-for-breaking-bad-scenes/

Other than that, Albuquerque is considered to be quite the natural playground, making this a great destination for outdoor lovers. With 310 days of sunshine and blue skies a year, as well as colorful sands, some of the finest golf courses in the country, and famous hot air balloon rides, you will never be short of something new to do here.

The Wave, North Coyote Buttes, Arizona

The Wave, Arizona

Located near the Arizona and Utah border, The Wave is a spectacular sandstone formation that features around eight miles of vibrantly colored trails. These date back over 180 million years, and really make for an incredible landscape.

However, there is one slight problem…

Acquiring a permit to visit this historical natural structure is not that easy, requiring a reservation as well as a lottery system. However, you can apply for all of this online, and it is well worth trying your luck at getting a permit, as this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Nevada Northern Railway, Ely, Nevada

The Nevada Northern Railway was built over 100 years ago, as a form of transportation for the copper mining industry in the region. Today, it is famous for being the last railroad of its kind, and has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

Visitors can take a ride along this historic route, which takes around 90 minutes, and then explore the grounds and shops nearby. There is even the option of booking accommodation in a traditional bunkhouse or caboose, for those who really want to immerse themselves in the experience.

Sutter Creek, California

Sutter Creek is a quaint town with historic Victorian architecture and a rich sense of heritage. It is also the center of Amador Wine Country, and the wines that you will find here are exceptional in quality.

Equal to those of what you would find at Napa Valley, the advantage to Sutter Creek is the fact that there are far less crowds here, giving you more of an opportunity to make the most of its fine wine.

Arcata, California

Arcata, California

Located in Humboldt County, the small town of Arcata is one that cherishes the value that the natural world brings, going out of their way to preserve the forests and wildlife around them. In return, the forests here are thriving, making this a great spot to get up close and personal with some redwoods.

Head to the North Coast Adventure Center, where, after putting on a harness, you will be able to shimmy 100 feet up the back of a giant redwood, and then zip line your way across the forest.

Talkeetna, Alaska

Talkeetna is the perfect destination for those seeking a winter wonderland type of adventure.

Here are just a few of the things that you can do in this quaint Alaskan town:

  • Try your hand at some Nordic skiing
  • Ride a snowmobile across frozen rivers
  • View the Northern Lights
  • Go flightseeing
  • Take a zip line tour

 

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