Each state has its iconic tourist attractions, but there are also many interesting locations that fly under the radar.
Everyone has heard of the Empire State Building in New York, but do you know about Upstate New York’s Letchworth State Park, unofficially dubbed the Grand Canyon of the East? How about the Lost Sea in Tennessee, which is the country’s largest underground lake?
We’ve put together a list of the lesser-known tourist attraction in every state. While some of these places have a significant amount of visitors each year, they are hidden gems to many out-of-state travellers.
ARKANSAS: The Crystal Bridges Museum contains artwork from famous artists like Georgia O'Keefe and Benjamin West. It was built by Alice Walton, heiress of Wal-Mart, as a tribute to Bentonville, the town where Wal-Mart got its start as Walton's Five-and-Dime in the 1940s.
FLORIDA: If you're visiting Key West, the southernmost point buoy is a must-see. This massive buoy marks the southernmost point in the continental United States, and is only 90 miles from Cuba.
IDAHO: Balanced Rock is exactly what it sounds like: a 48-foot tall rock that is perched precariously on an approximately 3-foot pedestal. After getting a close-up look at the rock, have a picnic in nearby Balanced Rock Park.
INDIANA: Indiana Dunes National Park offers 15 miles of beautiful beaches along Lake Michigan, with views of the Chicago skyline on the horizon. When you're not sunbathing, you can visit a historical cemetery or hike on one of the park's many trails.
KANSAS: The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center has the second largest space artifacts collection in the United States and the largest amount of Russian space artifacts outside of Moscow. In other words, it's a great place to learn about space.
MASSACHUSETTS: Plum Island is the perfect summer getaway for nature lovers. Enjoy miles of sandy beaches that are home to more than 800 species of birds, plants, and other wildlife. You'll also find a couple of great year-round restaurants.
NEBRASKA: The Durham Western Heritage Museum is dedicated to telling the history of the western United States. It is the first museum in the heartland to be associated with the Smithsonian Institute, meaning it has a bunch of great visiting speakers and travelling exhibits.
NEW MEXICO: Pecos National Historical Park features the remains of an Indian pueblo and offers plenty of areas to explore. Take a ranger-guided ruins tour or venture 1.25 miles to the Pecos pueblo on your own. On the weekends, van tours to Civil War sites and the Forked Lightning Ranch are available.
NEW YORK: Letchworth State Park is known as the 'Grand Canyon of the East,' probably because of its towering cliffs that reach as high as 600 feet. The gorge also features three major waterfalls formed by the rushing Genessee River. Take a guided walk, go white water rafting, or even take a hot air balloon ride.
NORTH CAROLINA: The NASCAR Hall of Fame is home to 150,000 square feet of artifacts and interactive exhibits that appeal to everyone, regardless of their car knowledge. Test drive a racing simulator to feel like you're actually racing in NASCAR, and make sure to visit the Race Week exhibit, which takes you behind the scenes to see how drivers prepare for a race.
NORTH DAKOTA: The International Peace Garden lies on the border of North Dakota and Manitoba, Canada, and serves as a token of friendship between the U.S. and Canada. This botanical garden is spread across 2,339 acres, and visitors can choose to visit a number of sites including a bell tower, a 9/11 memorial, and a large floral clock.
OHIO: Cedar Point Amusement Park is known as the rollercoaster capital of the world, with 17 coasters in total. The amusement park opened a new rollercoaster this year called Pipe Scream, which spins as it flies along the track.
OKLAHOMA: Turner Falls Park is located within the Arbuckle Mountains in Oklahoma, and offers a bunch of outdoor activities. See the 77-foot waterfall, swim in the mountain water, and make sure to visit the abandoned Collings Castle.
RHODE ISLAND: The International Tennis Hall of Fame is located at the Newport Casino, the site of the first U.S. National Championships in 1881. Visitors can learn about the history of tennis through interactive exhibits, videos, and memorabilia.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Brookgreen Gardens was named one of the top 10 public gardens in the U.S. by TripAdvisor. This incredible attraction has art exhibits, a butterfly garden, and an accredited zoo, among other things. Luckily, if you can't see everything in one day, your admission ticket is good for one week.
TENNESSEE: The Lost Sea, which is 140 feet below ground level, is the largest underground lake in the country. A guided tour will give you the chance to observe the area's caverns, which are full of interesting geological formations. You will also get to take a glass bottom boat ride along the lake.
UTAH: Natural Bridges National Monument was Utah's first national monument. It features three stunning natural bridges, named 'Kachina,' 'Owachomo,' and 'Sipapu' in honour of Native Americans who previously lived in the area. Hiking trails and overlooks allow for close-up views of these natural phenomena.
VERMONT: Lake Champlain Ferries can take you from Vermont to upstate New York in just over an hour. Try taking a ferry from Burlington to Port Kent, N.Y., and take in the beautiful mountain views. You might even catch sight of 'Champ,' the rumoured Lake Champlain monster.
VIRGINIA: Luray Caverns make up the largest series of caverns in the eastern U.S. As well as exploring this cave of stalagmites and stalactites, you can also visit the Car and Carriage Caravan Museum, get lost in the garden maze, and fly through the Rope Adventure Park.
WYOMING: Grand Teton National Park offers more than 200 miles of trails, some over challenging mountain terrain and some alongside scenic lake shores. You can also float along the Snake River, which runs through the park.
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