11 Off the Beaten Path Places to Visit in the United States

This article has links to products that we may make commission from.

Considered as the land of the free, United States of America is home to many iconic sights. You have the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and Times Square in New York City, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, plus all of the amazing National Parks, not to mention a plethora of smaller destinations that are equally stunning.

In this post, we will share with you some of the more off the beaten path places to visit in the United States that you may not even know about — all that are worth the visit and the headache of obtaining a visa.

Lake Tahoe - off the beaten path places to visit in the United States

» Looking for more travel inspiration in the United States? See our U.S. Summer Vacation Ideas and 12 U.S. National Parks to Visit. Here are a few more fabulous U.S. Cities to visit.

Lesser Known Destinations in the United States

In addition to the famous landmarks in the U.S., there are some hidden gems which are not as well known to the world. Listed below are some of our favorite off-the-beaten-path spots to visit in the United States.

1. Moab, Utah

Moab, Utah

You’ve heard of the Grand Canyon, but have you heard of Moab, Utah? If you’re wanting to visit more Utah National Parks, you can visit two of them from Moab: Canyonlands National Park and Arches National park. This vast open space has some of the most stunning landscape you’ll ever see, with miles of red rock formations that are stunning.

It’s definitely a place of extremes, with thousand-foot canyons and snow-capped peaks.  Some of the outdoor activities to enjoy in Moab include hiking, biking, rock climbing, rafting, kayaking, four wheel adventures, and some of the most spectacular sight seeing in the country. Be prepared for an adventure.

2. Outer Banks, North Carolina

Outer Banks

North Carolina’s Outer Banks is a popular beach destination for travelers in the U.S.. This 100-mile-long group of islands welcomed the first European settlers, witnessed mankind’s first winged flight, and is one of the most popular beach areas on the east coast of the United States.

Besides the sand, history, and exposure to the elements, the Outer Banks has many outdoor recreation possibilities, including kite flying, deep sea fishing, swimming, boating, and sailing.

Jockey’s Ridge State Park features the highest sand dunes on the east coast; the Cape Hatteras National Seashore stretches over 70 miles with gorgeous sandy beaches; there are wildlife refuges and maritime forests.

3. Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake, Oregon
Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake, nestled in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon, offers a breathtaking view unlike any other, with its deep blue waters surrounded by steep cliffs.

This caldera lake, formed by the collapse of Mount Mazama over 7,000 years ago, is the deepest lake in the United States and entices visitors with its pristine beauty and clear waters.

Unique activities include taking a boat tour to Wizard Island, where you can hike to the summit for unparalleled views of the lake, or exploring the Rim Drive, a scenic route that offers various overlooks and trailheads, perfect for capturing the lake’s magnificence from every angle.

For the adventurous, snowshoeing tours in the winter months reveal a serene, snow-blanketed landscape, offering a quiet solitude that contrasts with the bustling summer season.

4. Pismo Beach, California

Pismo Beach, California

California has always been associated with beautiful coasts. However, most of the times, it is always Long Beach that gets tagged when talking about the state. For some reason, it has gained more reputation than others.

That is why when we saw Pismo Beach, we begged to question the reason because Pismo Beach itself is a wonderful place to take a stroll around. It differs from other beaches because it has coves and caves which visitors can visit and explore.

Other than that, it also has a pier that locals use for sightseeing, fishing, watching the sun set, and even the most casual of strolls. Moreover, you can enjoy some great wine in the Paso Robles wine region near Pismo Beach.

5. Lake Tahoe, California

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is a freshwater lake located between Nevada and California that is known for its crystal clear water and amazing views of the mountains that surround this lake.  One of the best things to do when you are in Lake Tahoe is to drive around the lake because the views and landscape changes as you go.

You’ll go through small towns and resort areas that have shop, restaurants, and beaches to check out. On the southwestern side, don’t miss Emerald Bay State Park, and on the northeast side don’t miss Sand Harbor Beach and Spooner Lake, a gateway to the popular Tahoe Rim trail.

In South Lake Tahoe, there are a lot of casinos where you can do a bit of gambling. There are also a lot of ski resorts, like Heavenly Mountain Resort, that draw in tourists during all seasons. If you’re in to hiking, head out to the Eagle Lake trail, which is about a 2-mile hike.

It leads into Desolation Wilderness and the scenery is simply stunning. If hiking isn’t your thing, you can take a paddle boat ride, go skiing on the lake, or just hang out on the beach.

6. Fayetteville in West Virginia

new river gorge
New River Gorge

Not a common place you would hear when asking for advice as to where to go when visiting the United States. However, due to the excitement that the New River Gorge has brought, people have been driving in droves to experience it first-hand.

The New River Gorge has become famous for rafting while enjoying the scenic view that the river’s surroundings has to offer. Of course, in true US fashion, you have other options other than rafting if it does not fit your fancy. There are tours offering horseback riding and hiking, in true outdoor spirit.

Of course, it also has something for art contemporaries. It should be a given considering the rich cultural history that surrounded the state in the past.

7. Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

Valley of Fire State Park
Valley of Fire State Park

Valley of Fire State Park, just a stone’s throw from Las Vegas, Nevada, is like stepping onto another planet. With its vibrant red sandstone formations that blaze under the sun’s rays, it’s easy to see how this place got its fiery name. It’s not just about the views, though they are spectacular. This park is a playground for adventure seekers and nature lovers alike.

Hiking here is a must. Trails range from easy strolls to more challenging treks, leading you to stunning vistas, ancient petroglyphs, and unique rock formations like the famous Elephant Rock. Photography enthusiasts will find endless inspiration, especially during golden hour when the landscape truly comes to life.

And let’s not forget the history. The park is dotted with petroglyphs left by Native Americans thousands of years ago, offering a fascinating glimpse into the past. Camping under the stars, surrounded by the park’s otherworldly terrain, is an experience you won’t forget.

8. St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine, Florida, isn’t just any coastal town; it’s a dive into the past with a beachy twist. As the oldest city in the U.S., St. Augustine is a very unique city with its cobblestone streets, hauntingly beautiful Spanish colonial architecture, and landmarks steeped in history. But it’s not all about the past; this city knows how to blend historical charm with modern-day fun.

First off, you’ve got to check out the Castillo de San Marcos. This old fort isn’t just a pile of stones; it’s the heart of the city’s history, offering killer views and a real sense of the past. Then, take a stroll down St. George Street. It’s the main drag for a reason, lined with quirky shops, cafes, and a vibe that feels like you’ve stepped back in time.

For a bit of mystery, the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park is where it’s at. Yes, it’s a tourist trap, but in the best way, with peacocks strutting around and the chance to sip from the legendary waters (spoiler: you won’t actually stay young forever).

Don’t forget to hit the beaches. St. Augustine’s beaches are laid-back and beautiful, perfect for a day of sunbathing or catching waves. And when the sun sets, the city doesn’t sleep. Check out the local eateries and bars; the seafood here is as fresh as it gets, and the craft beer scene is popping.

9. Ohiopyle State Park, Pennsylvania

Youghiogheny River Gorge
Youghiogheny River Gorge (CC4.0 photo by Jacob Brown)

This place must have it all. It has four waterfalls which might have inspired Frank Wright to build a house over one of them. Its gorge, the Youghiogheny River Gorge which is simply called by the locals as the Yough, has a Lower Yough, a Middle Yough, and an Upper Yough, which offers great whitewater rafting opportunities at different strengths.

The Middle Yough gives off a Class I and II rapids that is great for casual rafters. However, if you are looking for an adventure, the Lower Yough is the place to be with rapids that go as strong as Class IV.

Additionally, the Ohiopyle State Park, offers a bike path it as far as 27 miles. It also has 79 miles worth of trekking ground that you can cover.

10. Katy Trail in Missouri

Once a railroad that ran from Missouri to Kansas and all the way to Texas, the Katy Trail is now the longest developed rail-trail in the country, so it attracts trekking enthusiasts from all over the world. The trail is 240 miles long and takes an average of 5 days to complete. 

The majority of the trail follows the Missouri River. If you’re a history buff, you’ll be excited to hear that a section of the trail between Cooper County and St. Charles County has been designated as an official segment of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.

If trekking is not your cup of tea, there is always a day trip which will get you through two early 19th century towns in Rocheport and Boonville. There you can enjoy nature preserves, excellent vineyards, and great river views.

11. The Cache River in Illinois

kayaking on the river

One of the more under the radar swamps in the United States, the Cache River only receives 200,000 visitors annually. This does not do justice to how beautiful the place is. Best explored on a canoe or kayak, the Cache River is home to many endangered or threatened species, some you may only find here.

The most picturesque landscape in my opinion however is the Heron Pond. During summer, its surface is riddled with floating duckweed, giving the pond a bright-green layer that brightens up the landscape. It can easily highlight the season.


The United States has many off the beaten path places that are not yet known across the globe. Most of the times, people go for the large landmarks that occupy the country’s skyline. However, the country has many hidden gems waiting to be discovered.

So, if you are bored with the mainstream go-to places, take these into consideration and truly take in the natural beauty of the United States of America.

Be Prepared For Travel
Planning is the most important part of any successful trip. Do it the easy way:

🧳 Travel Packing List | ✔️ Why You Need Travel Insurance | ✈️ What to Do Before You Leave Home


Pin it for later

11 Off the Beaten Path Places to Visit in the United States

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *