50 Hidden Gems in Every State

The entire town of Cape May, one of the oldest seaside resort towns in the U.S., is a National Historic Landmark—and appropriately so. At the southernmost tip of New Jersey, it's got old-fashioned Victorians and a lighthouse built in 1859, as well as pristine beaches, surf and fine dining.

Slide 1 of 50: This archeological site sheltered prehistoric people thousands of years ago. The ballroom-size cavern is also one of the oldest sites of human habitation in North America, according to the National Park Service. Visitors can experience this hidden gem via boardwalk, and they can view a display of weapons and other tools found at the site in a small museum. It is open daily except for major winter holidays. Don't miss the 15 places travel experts recommend visiting in 2019.
Slide 2 of 50: The Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve is a state park and wildlife refuge in Haines. The Chilkat Valley, in particular, is home for 200 to 400 eagles. There is a free roadside pull-off at 19-mile Haines Highway with a short trail. In the summer, however, rafting and jet boat tours are available.
Slide 3 of 50: This reconstructed 1890s town includes gold-mine tours, Old West gunfights, and a history museum. The newest attraction is a zip line, but there tons of other attractions at this hidden gem too. The town is open daily but certain attractions have specific hours.
Slide 4 of 50: 
Arkansas might not be the state that comes to mind when you think of American art, but the permanent collections at this museum might change your mind. In addition to the permanent art including sculptures and paintings, special exhibits frequent the museum too. Walmart sponsors general admission, so there is no cost to view permanent collections. The museum is closed only on Tuesday. Please check the website for specific hours.
Slide 5 of 50: Yes, the sand at this California beach is black—and it's considered one of the most beautiful black-sand beaches on the U.S. mainland. It's not ideal for swimmers since the waves are rough, but it's great for those who want to bird watch at a less-crowded beach. Also, keep in mind that at high tide the beach will be narrow so check tide charts before you go. Californiabeaches.com notes that some locals consider this a clothing-optional beach (consider this your warning.) Check out these other black sand beaches you never knew existed.
Slide 6 of 50: This Gothic Colorado castle hides in the foothills of the San Isabel National Forest. It is complete with wrought-iron bridges, stained glass windows, and even a metallic fire-breathing dragon. The best part is that the entire castle was built by one man who gathered and set stones to create it. The castle is 'always open and always free,' according to the website.
Slide 7 of 50: Only some of the gorgeous old-growth white pine and hemlock trees survived the three tornadoes that devastated the area in 1989. The existing trail at Cathedral Pines is worth exploring for the trees and birdwatching. Here are the places you need to visit this year.
Slide 8 of 50: This park is an outdoor-lovers paradise. In the peak summer season, you can rent kayaks, pedal boats, and canoes for fishing. There are also tons of trails and volleyball courts. The main attraction is the pond itself since freshwater wetlands once covered a significant portion of the area. The park is open daily until sunset.
Slide 9 of 50: The 22,000 acres of this park is overrun with alligators, bison, horses, and more than 270 species of birds. You can hike, bike, or horse ride on any of the nine trails. There is also a 50-foot observation tower with a panoramic view of the prairie. The park is open 365 days a year from morning until sundown.
Slide 10 of 50: Tallulah Gorge State Park has a trail overlooking three waterfalls and outcrops known as Lion Rock and Lover's Leap. The park is also a great stop to add to your road trip. Here are other hidden gems for your next trip.
Slide 11 of 50: This 50-year-old temple honors the anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. It is a smaller replica of the Byodo-in Temple, a United Nations World Heritage site, in Uji, Japan. People of all faiths are welcome to worship, meditate, or simply appreciate the temple. You might also recognize the temple from shows like Lost, Hawaii Five-O, and Magnum, P.I. The grounds are open daily with admission costing no more than $5.
Slide 12 of 50: This small canyon is notoriously hard to get to, but it's worth the effort to see the natural abstract sculptures and formations in the basalt rock. It is accessible in late July and August and through the winter, but you should call the Big Wood Canal Company first to make sure you don't visit when water is scheduled to flow through.
Slide 13 of 50: The area is situated within a floodplain carved years ago by glacial floodwater of the Ohio River, made up of more than 14,000 acres and includes three distinct spots: Little Black Slough, Lower Cache River Swamps, and Glass Hill. Hikers, bikers, and nature-lovers will enjoy this site.
Slide 14 of 50: It's fitting that this church, or open park, exists in a town partly called harmony. The interfaith church is open to the public and is maintained by the Robert Lee Balffer Foundation. Although it does, in fact, have a roof, it is really a protective cover for a sculpture by Jacques Lipchitz.
Slide 15 of 50: This short and steep elevator boasts views of the historic Dubuque business district, the Mississippi River, and three states: Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Although the creator was a senator-turned-banker in 1882, a round-trip ride costs no more than $3 today. It is, however, only open from April through November.
Slide 16 of 50: It might seem ironic that a troll is a hidden gem, but this sculpture has been making people smile since 2007. It's chained to pipes beneath a large sidewalk close to the Arkansas River. Next, check out these under-the-radar destinations that are about to get popular.
Slide 17 of 50: This 70-acre gem features the only underground river cave tour in Kentucky. In addition to some cool history—the caves were a campsite for nomadic groups and a shelter for troops during the Civil War—the Lost River Cave includes meadowlands, wetlands, and trails too. Adventure seekers could also check out the new zip lines which are open mid-May through Labor Day. Tours are available seven days a week and the park is closed on major winter holidays.
Slide 18 of 50: The Los Adaes fort was once under Spanish rule before eventually closing down. Now, the 58-acre site has a historic hiking trail, earthen works, a timber outline of the fort, and part of the original El Camino Real de los Tejas, the major roadway to Mexico City. There is also a visitor center with displays of various artifacts. The grounds are open daily except for major winter holidays.
Slide 19 of 50: Skip the popular Freeport Mall and check out the Vintage Bargain Barns, flea markets disguised as farmhouses that dot the coast. You'll find everything from vintage finds to unique hand-made items. The markets are off the main road that runs from Bar Harbor to Portland. Don't miss these other best-kept travel secrets.
Slide 20 of 50: Book lovers rejoice! This library is both picturesque and functional. It's a popular wedding venue, but it still operates as a library six days a week.
Slide 21 of 50: This is just a theory, but this lake might be a hidden gem simply because of the original 45-letter name. The scenic lake near the Connecticut border also goes by the longer name, Lake CHARGOGGAGOGGMANCHAUGGAGOGGCHAUBUNAGUNGAMAUGG.
Slide 22 of 50: The project consists of creative guerrilla-art installations featured via abandoned houses with some covered with polka dots and others with lotto numbers. Tours are offered by the group. Make sure you know these underrated travel destinations around the world.
Slide 23 of 50: This hidden gem is also an adorable tradition. A small 'elf door' is attached to a tree near the Lake Harriet area of Minneapolis. Both big and little kids are charmed by this elf home, mainly because the elf answers messages from the kids of Minneapolis.
Slide 24 of 50: The Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum runs a life-size replica of the typical small southern town. It features everything from a schoolhouse to a cotton gin and everything in-between giving you an inside look at life in the 1920s. The museum is open Monday through Saturday and is closed for most major holidays.
Slide 25 of 50: Come for the scenery of pinkish granite rocks and the rushing water of the Castor River, but stay for the wade and bank fishing.
Slide 26 of 50: When a fire destroyed most of the Havre town, business owners took their shops underground until the town was rebuilt. Now, tours along the streets beneath Havre show a saloon, a Chinese laundry, an ethnic restaurant, a bordello, and an opium den. Daily tours are available, but their winter tours aren't available on Sunday.
Slide 27 of 50: The Happy Jack Peak and Chalk Mine is the only publicly accessible chalk room and pillar mine in North America. In addition to a great view of North Loup Valley, there is hiking and picnicking. Commenters on some travel sites said they were able to take a piece of chalk home. Admission to the grounds is free, but you do have to pay for the mine. Offseason tours are available by appointment.
Slide 28 of 50: This national park really has it all. Although it is in the Great Basin Desert, the park contains most of the South Snake mountains and the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive towards the peak—close by is one of a few ancient bristlecone pine groves and the marble Lehman Caves. The park is open year-round except for holidays.
Slide 29 of 50: These man-made ice castles are beautifully crafted. The creators use drip pipes to trickle out their icicles eventually forming together creating full-scale icy castles. There are additional locations in Utah, Colorado, Minnesota, and Canada. They are only open as long as the weather permits and opening day also depends on the weather by location. Tickets are available daily while the castles are open.
Slide 30 of 50: Average theme parks, step aside. Diggerland is a construction theme park complete with trucks, tractors, diggers, and even a zip line. Most attractions have a height requirement as well as a Diggerland ride operator to help you navigate. The hours are subject to change, but they are open mainly on Saturday and Sunday with select weekday openings throughout the year.
Slide 31 of 50: This blue gem is smack in the middle of the desert and offers swimming, snorkeling, and diving in 64°F water. The crystal-clear spring is home to various fish species and is open daily. Check out these other family travel destinations.
Slide 32 of 50: Not all subways are created equally—and the Old City Hall Station isn't your typical 6 train station. In 1904, the inaugural subway ride left from City Hall station and its tenure ended in 1945. Now it's part of the Transit Museum and is seen through exclusive guided tours. Spots are limited to members, and all ticket sales are final and go fast—so sign up for updates on tour availability. Don't miss these other NYC hidden gems.
Slide 33 of 50: This park and museum features supersize spinning pinwheels, also called whirligigs. The installation features 30 revolving works of art as well as occasional music and film programs, a farmers market, picnicking and even Tai chi classes. The two-acre park is free and open daily, even during holidays.
Slide 34 of 50: The garden offers canoeing, camping, cycling and various winter activities—but its chapel is one of the most unique aspects of this hidden gem. The chapel is open for everyone to come in, sit and contemplate 'a world at peace.' The 3.65-square-mile park is adjacent to the International Peace Garden Border Crossing between Canada and the United States. The garden is open daily, and make sure to check document requirements before visiting.
Slide 35 of 50: Ohio doesn't seem like the place you would find an eccentric medieval castle, but nevertheless, Chateau Laroche exists thanks to Harry Andrews. He built the castle himself with an additional secret room that was discovered only years after his death. The museum Winter hours are from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday only. Check the site in the warmer months for hours changes.
Slide 36 of 50: This non-profit organization offers tours and private playtime with select animals for an additional price. You can pet and play with different animals depending on the time of year including lemurs, kangaroos, baby foxes, bobcats and ligers (the result of breeding a male lion to a tigress). The park is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., but select tours are only offered from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Slide 37 of 50: These hot springs are also called Cougar Hot Springs. With six soaking pools with temperatures ranging from 85 to 112 degrees Fahrenheit, the pools, located in the Willamette National Forest, are open year round. They are, however, closed on Thursday afternoons for cleaning.
Slide 38 of 50: This quaint garden is worth a visit for the pictures alone. A beautiful array of roses and other flowers are typically in peak bloom from June to July. The park is also a popular spot for walking and biking. It is open year-round from dusk until dawn. Make sure you aren't following these popular travel 'tips' that just aren't true.
Slide 39 of 50: This island isn't for the faint of heart—people used to amenities like restaurants and supermarkets beware! This simple island is only accessible by boat and has a whopping population of 88, making it a cool off-the-grid day-trip.
Slide 40 of 50: La Bastide des Lavandes is the first official lavender farm in South Carolina. The team planted 6,000 plants and trees in less than six years including 60 varieties of lavender. Now, the farm also sells lavender products made with all natural ingredients.
Slide 41 of 50: The rock sculpture park is a sight to behold. An entire city block is entirely dedicated to petrified wood, fossils, and stone. It also features a museum, wishing well, waterfall, and castle. It's open daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Slide 42 of 50: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park occupies more than 800 square miles of land—and there is a secret entrance in Wears Valley, Tennessee. This entrance is typically less crowded than others, which is why locals take this route. The park is open 24 hours a day 365 days a year. There are, however, some visitor facilities that close in the winter.
Slide 43 of 50: Solar viewings and guided tours are available at this observatory, with 'star parties' and live solar monitoring events offered as well. Visitors can use telescopes for a better look at the stars too. There are lots of tours and special viewing nights with various schedules, so be sure to check their website beforehand.
Slide 44 of 50: Although the red sands shift as much as 50 feet per year, the fun activities at the dunes remain the same. (Think camping, hiking, horseback riding, and ATV riding.) It is open every day with no holiday park closures. Here are the best places to travel every month of the year. 
Slide 45 of 50: The Fairbanks Museum has an entire collection dedicated to 'Bug Art.' It features mosaics created by John Hampson made using thousands of beetles, moths, and butterflies. The museum is open daily except for major holidays and the occasional private event.
Slide 46 of 50: This scenic spot is the home of seven rock formations, a reminder of a time when an ocean covered the Shenandoah Valley. In addition to the rocks, there is an annual jousting tournament, biking trails, and a camping area that are open year round.
Slide 47 of 50: The One Square Inch of Silence is the quietest place on earth. The mossy area was designated on Earth Day 2005 to protect the space from harsh human noise and, instead, highlight the sounds of nature. The area is part of Olympic National Park which is open 24 hours a day year-round, although some roads, campgrounds, and facilities are open seasonally.
Slide 48 of 50: The park's name stems from the amber waters of Blackwater Falls—a 75-foot cascade of water 'tinted by the tannic acid of fallen hemlock and red spruce needles.' The falls are accessible from various viewing platforms year-round.
Slide 49 of 50: The quaint little town of Princeton has lots to offer visitors looking for a short and calming getaway. It's the home to one of the largest flea markets in the state with many antique stores too. Meanwhile, nature lovers can swim, kayak, and fish in the nearby Fox and Mecan rivers.
Slide 50 of 50: This spring is unique because it completely stops flowing for a few minutes at regular intervals. There are only a handful of similar springs in the world—and the one close to Afton is said to be the largest. The spring is part of the Bridger-Teton National Forest, and picnic tables are nearby. Next, check out the best budget travel destinations of 2019.

Alabama: Russell Cave National Monument, Jackson County

Alaska: Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, Haines

Arizona: Goldenfield Ghost Town, Apache Junction

Arkansas: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville

California: Black Sands Beach, Sausalito

Colorado: Bishop Castle, Rye

Connecticut: Cathedral Pines Preserve, Cornwall

Delaware: Trap Pond State Park, Laurel

Florida: Paynes Prairie Preserve, Micanopy

Georgia: Tallulah Gorge State Park, Tallulah Falls

Hawaii: Byodo-In Temple, Kaneohe

Idaho: Black Magic Canyon, West Magic

Illinois: Cache River State Natural Area, Johnson County

Indiana: The Roofless Church, New Harmony

Iowa: The Fenelon Place Elevator, Dubuque

Kansas: The Troll, Wichita

Kentucky: Lost River Cave, Bowling Green

Louisiana: Los Adaes State Historic Site, Robeline

Maine: Vintage Bargain Barns, Bar Harbor

Maryland: The George Peabody Library, Baltimore

Massachusetts: Webster Lake, Webster

Michigan: The Heidelberg Project, Detroit

Minnesota: Lake Harriet Elf House, Minneapolis

Mississippi: Small Town Mississippi, Jackson

Missouri: Castor River Shut-Ins, Fredericktown

Montana: Havre Beneath the Streets, Havre

Nebraska: Happy Jack Peak and Chalk Mine, Scotia

Nevada: Great Basin National Park, White Pine County

New Hampshire: Ice Castles, Lincoln

New Jersey: Diggerland, West Berlin

New Mexico: Blue Hole, Santa Rosa

New York: Old City Hall Station, Manhattan

North Carolina: Vollis Simpson Whirligigs Park & Museum, Wilson

North Dakota: The International Peace Garden, Rolette County

Ohio: Chateau Laroche, Loveland

Oklahoma: The Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, Wynnewood

Oregon: Terwilliger Hot Springs, Lane County

Pennsylvania: Malcolm Gross Rose Garden, Allentown

Rhode Island: Prudence Island, Narragansett Bay

South Carolina: La Bastide des Lavandes, York

South Dakota: Petrified Wood Park and Museum, Lemmon

Tennessee: The Hidden Smoky Mountain Entrance, Wears Valley

Texas: McDonald Observatory, Fort Davis

Utah: Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Kane County

Vermont: Bug Art at Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium, St. Johnsbury

Virginia: Natural Chimneys Regional Park, Mt. Solon

Washington: One Square Inch of Silence, Hoh River Trail, Forks

West Virginia: Blackwater Falls State Park, Davis

Wisconsin: Princeton

Wyoming: Periodic Spring, Swift Creek Canyon in Star Valley, Afton

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