When choosing a vacation destination in the U.S., you might gravitate towards popular destinations like New York City, Los Angeles, or Orlando. While these cities certainly have their charm, there are many hidden gems in less-known locations that offer unique experiences and attractions rivaling even the most popular tourist hotspots. Let’s take a tour of the ten most underrated states to visit on vacation in the US.
Buffalo, New York
Located in western New York, Buffalo may not be the first place to consider when planning a vacation. However, this city offers a diverse and vibrant culture with plenty to see and do. History buffs can explore sites like the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site or Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House Complex.
Art enthusiasts will appreciate the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and its impressive collection of modern and contemporary art. And no trip to Buffalo is complete without trying the famous buffalo wings at their birthplace, the Anchor Bar.
While the bustling cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh may get most of the attention, Pennsylvania’s vast wilderness should not be overlooked. The Pennsylvania Wilds region offers stunning natural beauty with over two million acres of state forestland, including parts of the Appalachian Trail.
Outdoor enthusiasts will find endless opportunities for hiking, camping, fishing, and more. The area is also home to charming small towns and villages, offering a perfect balance of nature and culture.
Durham, North Carolina
North Carolina is often associated with popular beach destinations like the Outer Banks, but the city of Durham should not be forgotten. This vibrant college town is known for its impressive food scene, boasting everything from BBQ to farm-to-table dining options. History buffs will appreciate touring Duke University’s beautiful campus and visiting the fascinating Museum of Life and Science.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Oklahoma may not be on everyone’s radar when it comes to vacation destinations, but the capital city of Oklahoma City has plenty to offer. Visitors can explore the lively Bricktown district, with its restaurants, bars, and entertainment options.
Nature lovers will enjoy a visit to the Myriad Botanical Gardens or the nearby Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. And for a dose of history, check out the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
Often overshadowed by its neighboring state, Illinois, Southern Illinois offers a unique and underrated vacation experience. The Shawnee National Forest is a must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts, with over 300 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.
Wine lovers can explore the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, home to several award-winning wineries. And history buffs will appreciate the region’s ties to the Civil War, with sites like Fort Defiance State Park and the Lincoln-Douglas Debate Museum.
West Virginia Panhandle
The small towns and scenic beauty of West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle make for a perfect underrated vacation destination. Visit the charming village of Harpers Ferry, where you can learn about its rich history as an important site during the Civil War.
Outdoor enthusiasts will love exploring the many state parks in the area, including Canaan Valley Resort State Park and Blackwater Falls State Park. And for a unique experience, take a scenic train ride through the mountains on the Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad.
While most people think of the big cities like Dallas and Austin when it comes to Texas, the western part of the state offers an entirely different travel experience. The town of El Paso is often referred to as “the Sun City” for its year-round warm weather and abundance of outdoor activities.
Visitors can explore the Franklin Mountains State Park or nearby Big Bend National Park, known for its stunning desert landscapes.
Tennessee may be known for Nashville and Memphis, but the western part of the state offers a quieter and more laid-back vacation experience. Jackson has unique attractions like Casey Jones Village, a living history museum featuring an old-time train ride and delicious Southern food.
Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy Reelfoot Lake State Park, with its opportunities for birdwatching and fishing. For a taste of the music scene, check out the historic Blues City Cafe in Dyersburg.
Often overshadowed by Seattle, Tacoma offers a more relaxed and less touristy vacation experience. This Pacific Northwest city has a thriving arts scene, with the Museum of Glass and the Tacoma Art Museum being popular attractions. Nature lovers can explore Point Defiance Park, home to a zoo and aquarium, or take a ferry ride to nearby Vashon Island for outdoor adventures.
Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City may not be as well-known as some other cities in the US, but it is worth a visit. This Midwestern city has a rich history and culture, with landmarks like the National World War I Museum and Memorial and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
Food lovers will appreciate the city’s famous BBQ joints, and sports fans can catch a game at Arrowhead Stadium or Kauffman Stadium. You can also check out the historic Country Club Plaza for shopping and dining.
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