When we think of a US vacation, chances are we have states such as Florida, New York or California in our minds. Maybe if it’s a follow-up visit, we might plan to explore cities such as Chicago, Boston or Seattle; perhaps we envisage a road trip through New England, the Deep South or Texas. But at the other end of the scale, there are a clutch of states that you probably haven’t considered. Worthy in their own right, they promise interesting cultural and natural attractions without the crowds. Intrigued and in need of inspiration? Here are Mundana’s suggestions for the eight US states you probably haven’t thought of visiting – but should!
Montana is home to one of the most breathtaking national parks in the country. Yet, international visitors often overlook it, choosing instead to visit neighbouring Wyoming where you’ll find Yellowstone. It takes a little more effort than average to get there, but once you set eyes on the landscapes of Glacier National Park you’ll be glad you did. Hire a car and drive right through the middle on Going-to-the-Sun Road. Scenic overlooks and summer hiking trails reward those who stop with mountain peaks, Alpine meadows and icy glaciers.
Arkansas doesn’t figure on many US itineraries but if you’re looking for a place that suits an outdoorsy vacation, this might just be it. This overlooked state is best known for its lakes, rivers and hot springs. You might also remember it as the home state of former US President Bill Clinton. Base yourself in the state capital Little Rock, where you can tour the Capitol building. Just outside of town you’ll find Pinnacle Mountain State Park, riddled with hiking and mountain bike trails. It forms part of a diverse space that also houses the Arkansas Arboretum.
If you’re on the lookout for somewhere different for a city break, why not try Baltimore? This Maryland city is known for its culture and creativity. You’ll find countless museums, such as collections celebrating the lives of writer Edgar Allen Poe and baseball player Babe Ruth. Also call in at the Baltimore Museum of Art, which houses the biggest Matisse collection in the world. History fans should visit Fort McHenry, which played a pivotal role in the 1812 conflict with the British and inspired the US national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner.
The potato-growing capital of the US might not sound that interesting, but this state in the north west does boast some remarkable scenery. Shoshone Falls, for instance, is taller than Niagara; you’ll find it on the Snake River not far from the city of Twin Falls. Take a dip in one of Idaho’s many hot springs; geothermal activity created Boat Box, Frenchman’s Bend, Trail Creek and Kirkham Hot Springs, to name but a few. The culinary scene is equally impressive. Alongside the state’s famous tubers, you’ll find local ingredients such as huckleberries, morel mushrooms and white sturgeon caviar on the menu.
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Located in the verdant Appalachian Mountains, West Virginia is possibly best known for the Civil War battle that took place at Harper’s Ferry. Visitors can also explore the area’s industrial heritage at Nuttallburg, where hikers can see what’s left of a New River coal mine once leased by Henry Ford to fuel his steel mills. The state also contains some somewhat unusual visitor attractions. Head over to Ansted for Mystery Hole, a place where they claim you’ll “see the laws of gravity defied” or the creepy Archive of the Afterlife in Cameron.
You might associate the Badlands with neighbouring South Dakota, but this rugged landscape spans the border. Experience the big skies and varied scenery at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, named after the former president. Juxtaposed against the rocky terrain are areas of lush grazing which attract herds of bison, feral horses and pronghorn. One of the most fun towns in which to stay is nearby Medora, where there’s a nightly extravaganza that will have your toes tapping and your hands clapping as they belt out country and western classics on stage.
New Hampshire is a tax-free shopping destination. But there’s plenty to do here besides outlet malls and antiquing. Outdoor adventurers can ski or snowshoe in winter, hike or bike in summer. Ride the historic Mount Washington Cog Railway, clamber on board the Navy’s first modern submarine the USS Albacore or visit one of the covered bridges that this part of the country is known for. Visit art galleries and theatres, attend music concerts and dine out in style. Come in fall, when the foliage turns the landscape into a riot of colour, making this the ideal focus for a road trip or a ride on Amtrak’s Downeaster service.
Delaware has a slew of amazing beaches, each with their own distinct characteristics. If you’re looking for charm and seclusion, you could choose historic Lewes. Perhaps sand dunes hold more appeal? Then drive over to Cape Henlopen State Park and take a look at the lighthouse. Dewey Beach attracts a younger crowd thanks to its lively nightlife, while Bethany Beach and Rehoboth Beach are two of the most family-friendly stretches of sand in the state. Laidback Fenwick Island is the ideal place to unwind, with a plethora of water sports on offer when you’re ready to be more active.
All of these states can be added to a holiday somewhere that’s on the beaten track. For instance, New Hampshire could complement a trip to New York or Boston. Idaho and even Montana makes sense as a side-trip from Seattle, while it’s easy to include North Dakota if you’re already planning to be in Minneapolis. Meanwhile West Virginia, Delaware and Maryland could be combined with a vacation that includes Washington DC. The possibilities are endless. If that all seems a little overwhelming, that’s where we come in. Whether you’re planning to get around by road, rail or air, Mundana’s experts can talk you through your options and help you figure out an itinerary that’s ideal for the time of year you’d like to travel. Get in touch today and explore America’s overlooked corners before everyone else discovers them.