America is a country of road trips, hiking trails and great open skies, where over four million miles of highways crisscross vast deserts, mammoth mountain peaks, great valleys and plains that roll off into the horizon. And let’s not forget about the food, the beaches, the cities and Hollywood. It’s hard to imagine so much of the US is still waiting to be discovered!
The great American experience is all about discovering the unknown, the beautiful and the surreal, which is why we thought we’d put together this list of places you probably never knew existed across the US. From Alaska to Hawaii, New York to New Mexico, add these unknown wonders to your bucket list immediately.
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1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
1. Skagit Valley Tulip Fields, Washington
Hundreds of thousands of visitors come to the tulip fields in Mount Vernon, Washington state, for a month-long festival between April 1-30. The sight of over a million brightly colored tulips, daffodils, and irises is one of WA’s most popular attractions.
2. Haiku Stairs of Oahu, Hawaii
The so-called Stairway to Heaven is a steep hiking trail that is, contrary to popular belief, actually closed to the public. But according to locals, experienced hikers still make the trek. A challenging climb accompanied by steep drop-offs on either side, the Stairs offer unparalleled panoramic views of the Oahu coast.
3. Rainbow Falls, Watkins Glen State Park, New York
Forget Niagara Falls: nestled in the Finger Lakes region of New York State some 250 miles north-west of NYC lies a fantasy-like world called Rainbow Falls. Located about a mile west of the Watkins Glen State Park’s entrance, just follow the 1.5-mile trail through the 400-foot-deep gorge until you reach the picture-perfect waterfall.
4. Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska
Denali National Park and Preserve encompasses a staggering six million acres of Alaska’s epic wilderness. Its crown jewel is the 20,310-foot-high (704-metre) Denali, North America’s tallest mountain peak. The park is home to all sorts of indigenous wildlife including grizzly bears, wolves, moose, caribou and Dall sheep.
5. Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado
This gorgeous expanse of Mother Nature is located deep in the rugged Elk Mountains of central Colorado. Home to over 100 miles of walking and hiking trails, the closest city in reach of this otherworldly wilderness is the winter resort destination of Aspen. Oh, and the entire area spans over 181,000 acres (73,248 hectares).
6. Grand Prismatic Spring, Wyoming
Behold the kaleidoscopic wonder of nature that is the Grand Prismatic Spring, America’s largest hot spring and the third-largest on the planet. The jewel inside the famous Yellowstone National Park, this natural pool owes its multihued coloration to heat-loving bacteria that produce colors ranging from green to red, and everything in between.
7. Zion National Park, Utah
Just outside Springdale, Utah, this incredible 146,000-acre (59,084-hectare) park attracts nature junkies from all over the globe. Most popular site? The majestic, 15-mile-long (24 kilometers) by a half-mile (86.4-meter) deep Zion Canyon.
8. Mendenhall Glacier Caves, Alaska
Juneau’s glittering Mendenhall Valley is a 12-mile (19-kilometer) glacier that hides some very surreal ice caves. Follow the West Glacier trail for a chance to see the whimsical ice clouds for yourself.
9. Thor’s Well, Oregon
Travel along Cape Perpetua along the central Oregon Coast and you’ll stumble on Thor’s Well, a saltwater fountain thing of beauty, which is driven by the power of the ocean tide. Best time to see it in action? An hour before high tide to an hour after high tide.
10. Antelope Canyon, Arizona
This mesmerizing slot canyon made of sandstone is split into two different sections, commonly referred to as The Crack and The Corkscrew. You will be left speechless at the sight of the wondrous contours and waves of the narrow canyon.
11. Oneonta Gorge, Oregon
The Oneonta Gorge is home to a very unique set of aquatic and woodland plants – some of which you won’t find anywhere else in the US. As you can see, the ferns and moss make the walls look like something straight out of a fairytale book.
12. Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico
There’s a total of 119 known caves, formed entirely from limestone and sulfuric acid, awaiting discovery in this rocky New Mexico paradise. You can explore this natural wonder below the Guadalupe Mountains (an ancient reef containing fossils dating back more than 250 million years ago).
13. Bryce Canyon, Utah
This otherworldly-looking collection of large natural amphitheaters is famous for its hoodoos (tall, thin spires of rock) and geological structures formed by frosty weather and stream erosion. Absolutely spellbinding.
14. Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina-Tennessee
A subrange of the Appalachian Mountains, the Smokies are a massive mountain range crisscrossing the North Carolina–Tennessee border. With nine million-plus visitors per year, it’s the US’s most visited national park.
15. Nā Pali Coast State Park, Hawaii
The Nā Pali Coast is probably the only US national park that’s inaccessible by car. There’s good news, however, as the best way to see it is by helicopter. Known for its vertiginous pali, or sea cliffs, lined by narrow valleys, streams and waterfalls, the park – located on the north shore of Kaua’i – has served as a filming spot for movies such as “Jurassic Park”.
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meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.