Road trips are great ways to bond with your family and friends, and to visit places you’ve never been before. Popular road trip destinations like The Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls boast some stunning natural beauty and scenery, but they can also be crowded—especially during peak travel times.
If you’re looking for a place less traveled but still capable of setting your Instagram or Facebook alight, you might want to check out these unexpected gems. Here are some quirky and fascinating places to visit on your next adventure:
Neon Museum, Las Vegas, Nevada: From flashy casinos to exotic hotels, the Las Vegas Strip is one of the most well-known tourist attractions in the United States. In fact, 40 million people visit Las Vegas each year; those are some big crowds! If you’re looking for something a little more unique—and steeped in Sin City history—the Neon Museum is your best bet. This six-acre museum is filled with vintage neon signs restored to their former glory.
The experience is only available through hour-long guided tours, which can be booked on the museum’s website. You can see the tour during the day for $19, or at night for $25 per person. The Neon Museum also offers discounts for seniors, students, active military, veterans, and Nevada residents. Tickets sell out quickly, so plan in advance. Learn more at www.NeonMuseum.org.
Kenai Fjords National Park, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska: Unless you’re from the frozen state, Alaska is off the beaten path for pretty much everyone. However, the Kenai Fjords National Park is worth the trip. Here, you can gaze at the stunning frozen beauty of 40 glaciers, and maybe even catch a glimpse of the many wildlife that roam the tundra—such as puffins, sea otters, bald eagles, and mammoth humpback whales.
Through the National Historic Park’s website, you have the option of booking whale watch tours, day cruises, or even an Alaskan king crab dinner on Fox Island—an isolated, mountainous isle in the Kenai Fjords. The 2017 season begins on March 24, and ends on September 30. Whatever you choose to do, it’s sure to be an unforgettable adventure. Learn more at www.KenaiFjords.com.
The Wave, Kanab, Arizona: Arizona is home to some of the most unique and challenging hiking trails in the US. The Wave, located in the Coyote Buttes North area of the Arizona Strip, is a beautiful red sandstone formation with a unique wave pattern. The Wave is difficult to get to, and funnily enough, gained a lot of popularity after the launch of Microsoft’s Windows 7, which featured the geologic oddity as a wallpaper option.
Because it’s become so popular, hikers have to enter a lottery four months in advance to get a permit at $7 per person. The odds for obtaining a permit vary depending on the season, but can be about 4 to 5%, so start planning your trip well ahead of time. If you are one of the lucky ones to be granted access to the trail, you’re sure to leave with some great pictures and an unforgettable experience. Learn more at www.TheWave.info.
Gillette Castle, East Haddam, Connecticut: Though it’s no Paris or Rome, the United States has its fair share of iconic architecture. But if you look a little further than the skyscrapers of New York City, you’ll find some really extraordinary buildings, like the Gillette Castle, commissioned by famous stage actor William Gillette in 1919. Don’t let the strange, rocky exterior fool you; inside you’ll find a plethora of bizarre decor, from built-in couches to hidden surveillance mirrors.
The castle is open Thursday–Sunday from Memorial Day to Labor Day, so be sure to pick up tickets while you can. You’ll be able to wander around the structure and observe William Gillette’s eccentric home furnishing tastes, and museum staff will be there to answer any questions you have. Learn more at www.ct.gov/deep/gillettecaste.
Whether you’re looking to experience the classic American tourist destinations, or something a little more exclusive, you’ll find what you need in virtually each and every state. And, by venturing off the beaten path, you’ll have a memorable adventure no matter where you go.
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