How can you make ordinary trips across America more unique and fun? Look for hidden gems scattered around each state! Though tourist spots like museums, bustling cities, landmarks, theme parks, or national monuments are often highlights of a destination, hidden gems like the ones listed below, can turn your traveling experience from memorable to unforgettable!
When you search for activities on your vacation, try to find hole-in-the-wall places, often times located in between attraction hotspots. You’ll find yourself learning something new while getting away from the crowds.
The easiest thing to do is Google search “unique places around me,” or “unusual things to do at ____” to look for interesting wonders to visit. You’ll also be inspired to go searching for secret spots to venture to in your own backyard. Here are some suggestions on where to get started…
California: Downtown Los Angeles Underground Tunnels
What comes to mind when you think of California? Disneyland, the Hollywood sign, Santa Monica Pier – I bet you it’s not this! Most people don’t realize there are a network of tunnels underneath the city. As Los Angeles began to grow a century ago, underground tunnels were carved out for transportation needs. However, the 11-mile hidden passage became even more of a hotspot during the prohibition period. Such tunnels became the meeting place for basement speakeasies and a method for people to transport liquor. But now, they have been abandoned.
To explore this hidden gem, you can slip into an elevator behind the Hall of Records on Temple Street, or you can schedule a guided tour.
Louisiana: New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum
Connected to nature, spirits and ancestors, Voodoo is a historic religion in “Big Easy” city. With its mix of African, Haitian and Catholic spiritual practices, it became widespread among the slave population of New Orleans during the 18th century. Inspired by the Voodoo culture, local artist Charles Massicot Gandolfo founded the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum in 1972. This hidden gem offers interesting items for sale such as potions, books and fortune-telling. Also, you will find artifacts, antique dolls and recollections of the famous Voodoo Priestess Maria Laveau.
As the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, Laveau was a black priestess who wielded tremendous power and magical abilities. Such beliefs continue today as visitors still visit her grave and make their wishes. If you want to spice up your usual trip to the French Quarter, check out this enriching culture spot.
Colorado: Paint Mines Interpretive Park
After hiking the famous Rocky Mountains, journey on over to El Paso County, where beautiful, brightly colored rock formations will inspire you. Unlike other national parks, orange, purple and white clay bands decorate this geological formation. It’s said that ancient Native Americans collected sediments from this area 9,000 years ago to create colorful pottery and even war paint.
For anyone wanting a hiking spot that is more intimate and has a historical background, Paint Mines Interpretive Park is definitely a hidden gem to visit.
Pennsylvania: Philadelphia’s Magic Garden
Wanting to add a little magic to your vacation? Make some time to visit Philadelphia’s Magic Garden. Don’t let the name fool you. Instead of flowers, mosaic tiles, antique objects and other artistic knick-knacks entirely make up this garden.
Isaiah Zagar, a local artist in the 1960s, began tiling South Street and never stopped. A wide range of Latin-American to Chinese art fills the Magic Gardens encompassing half a city block. Don’t forget to check out the neighborhood of indoor galleries and an outdoor labyrinth. On your next trip to Philadelphia, let yourself get lost in this gorgeous work of art!
~By Virtual Marketing & Communications Intern, Laura Vo. Laura’s a Public Relations Major at Kennesaw State University and has a passion for supporting great causes like Go Eat Give.