Most people who think about traveling to the USA consider only a handful of the most famous states. They typically head to New York to visit New York City, California to visit San Francisco or Los Angeles and maybe Florida to check out Miami.
But there is a lot more to the USA than those famous cities and states. I’ve traveled to America a lot over the past few years, and I’ve learned how diverse this country’s landscape and culture actually are.
The following 3 states might not be on your bucket list yet, but they’re worth checking out:
Are rodeos and line-dancing the first things that come to mind when you think of Texas? Well, you aren’t wrong, as there’s no shortage of Western culture here. But this giant state has a lot more to offer.
Texas is the second largest state in the USA (after Alaska) and is larger than Germany, the U.K., Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands combined. And everything does really seem to be bigger in Texas, from portion sizes to pickup trucks and from theme parks to the state’s sprawling cities.
The landscape ranges from deserts and a stunning coastline to lush mountains and vast prairies. As for towns and cities, you can find anything from modern, cosmopolitan cities to the most charming, tiny out-of-the-way towns. But maybe best of all are the Texans themselves. Known to be a very friendly bunch they will surely make your visit to this state a memorable one!
Texas Travel Tips
Both Dallas and Houston boast rich arts and culture districts as well as active nightlife scenes. Dallas is a shopper’s paradise offering more shopping centers per capita than any other city in the United States. Houston’s Museum District offers 19 different museums (12 of them are free!) ranging from modern art to photography. Trendy Austin is worth visiting because of its endless live music and its outdoorsy, alternative vibe.
San Antonio is on the axis of three types of terrain: Hill Country, South Texas Plains, and Prairie and Lakes. As this guide to San Antonio details, the city has a lively downtown area, and the famous River Walk is something you just have to check out. Additionally, San Antonio is home to the Alamo, a centuries-old Spanish mission and the site of a long, bloody battle in the early 1800s.
In Abilene, the Frontier Texas! museum introduces visitors to the Wild West using life-sized holograms.
Beyond the cities, Texas also has countless small towns with courthouse squares, landmark cafés, and cute boutiques to explore at a slower pace. You can experience the Western lifestyle at dozens of guest ranches, and you will find plenty of opportunities to explore Texas’ history and heritage.
Texas is great for nature lovers as well. The state boasts more than 90 state parks great for hiking, kayaking and fishing.
If you are looking for a fun day out, the State Fair of Texas, one of the largest state fairs in the United States, is a must. You’ll find an abundance of fried foods (including deep-fried butter… no joke!) rides, games and shows.
One final, quirky attraction worth checking out is Cadillac Ranch, an odd-looking sculpture made of 10 Cadillacs as a monument to the golden age of the American automobile.
And of course, don’t leave Texas without trying the barbecue!
Montana is a state for nature lovers.
With only 1 million people living in this fourth largest state, Montana is all about unspoiled natural beauty and outdoor adventures for people of any age.
Montana is defined by its diverse landscapes, ranging from the flat regions in the east to the towering peaks of the Rocky Mountains in the west. Think pristine meadows, incredible river valleys, beautiful mountains, and stunning glaciers topped with perfect blue skies and great stargazing opportunities. The state holds two of the country’s most famous national parks, Yellowstone and Glacier National Park.
Add to this Montana’s friendly, genuine, laid-back people, and you will understand why this state made my top three.
Montana Travel Tips
Whether you decide to drive by Yellowstone National Park to take in the scenery and stop for a roadside picnic or decide to check out some of its hiking trails, you can’t miss Yellowstone. It’s America’s first designated national park, and it is full of geysers, waterfalls, wildlife (elk, moose, wolves, bison), and exotic flora and fauna.
Famous for its glaciers, Glacier National Park also offers beautiful forests, rugged mountains, and green meadows. If you’re a photography enthusiast, you will love these views. The park is great for hiking and climbing through the glaciers, but if you’re searching for peace and quiet, you’ll enjoy relaxing and taking in the magnificent view from one of the cozy chalets and cottages in the area. The four distinct seasons provide unique experiences in the park.
The historic Lewis & Clark Trail takes you through some of Montana’s most beautiful natural scenery. The most famous of landmark here is Giant Springs, one of the largest freshwater springs in the country.
If you love fly-fishing you will love Montana’s trout-filled rivers. With plenty of knowledgeable guides around, Montana might be the place to give this sport a go if you haven’t tried it yet.
Lastly, Montana is also heaven for anyone who loves winter sports. Skiing, snowmobiling, dog sledding and sleigh rides, with 16 different ski areas ranging in size, Montana is the perfect spot!
I’ve been to Utah twice now, and I feel there is still so much left to see and do.
Utah is another state that’s ideal for anyone who loves the outdoors. It’s home to five national parks, 43 state parks, seven national monuments, two national recreation areas, and some incredible skiing in its 14 ski resorts.
With its famous sandstone arches, huge canyons, the Bonneville Salt Flats and snow-covered mountains, Utah is known for its incredible scenic beauty and year-round outdoor activities. Whether you’re into skiing, snowboarding, hiking, camping, boating, water-skiing, horseback riding or rock climbing, you can do it in Utah. But, there’s also plenty of culture to explore and opportunties to relax.
Read more about Utah’s national park service sites.
Utah Travel Tips
Visit at least some of Utah’s “Mighty Five” national parks: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Capitol Reef and Canyonlands. Zion is famous for its gorgeous sandstone cliffs; Bryce Canyon for its hoodoos, or rock pillars in odd-shapes resulting from erosion; Arches for over 2,000 natural arches made of stone; Capitol Reef for its jagged Waterpocket Fold; and Canyonlands for its vast and infinite canyons and rivers. Every park offers river rafting, hiking, biking and camping, along with unique attractions and views.
Do try to visit Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park as well. As seen in the picture above, this is probably the most famous image of this part of the USA. It’s a red-sand desert region on the Arizona-Utah border, frequently used as a filming location for Western movies.
The picture is actually taken on the Arizona side of the park.
When you need a break from outdoor adventure, Park City is a great choice. I fell in love with this quirky town. Walk around the cute, historic main street for some shopping or grab a bite to eat. But, like most of Utah, this city is a great place for outdoor lovers as well. Park City Mountain is the largest ski resort in the country. It hosts world championships, organizes incredible festivals throughout the year, and has some great mountain biking during the summer months. The International Mountain Bicycling Association actually considers Park City the world’s best mountain biking destination.
Visit Salt Lake City, Utah’s capital. It is a modern, diverse city with plenty of food, shopping, and entertainment options. It also offers an interactive children’s museum and the world’s largest dinosaur exhibit. Temple Square is the headquarters for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons, and is an impressive sight. Going to see the world-renowned Tabernacle Choir is something I would recommend.
Lastly, spend some time at Lake Powell, a giant manmade reservoir where you can boat, paddleboard, kayak, water-ski and wakeboard. Rent a houseboat, camp or just enjoy the lake for the day.
So, if you want to see more of the USA than just the obvious destinations, add these three states to your bucket list! Also check out my other articles about the USA for more travel inspiration.
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