Forget about those typical tourist destinations you always hear about, and take some time to venture off the beaten path and enjoy some lesser-known, yet still amazing, spots. Here are ten places you should definitely visit before you die.
10. Sedona, Arizona
Sedona is famous for its canyons, but there’s another treasure this city has that you may not know about. It’s also known for its spirituality. In fact, it’s become a popular destination for health and wellness trips as well as yoga retreats. And, get this: Legend has it that ancient Native Americans used to go there to heal. They believed Sedona was a sacred place. According to CNBC, the locals say that Sedona is full of vortexes (strong energy points). The area also has a large population of psychics.
9. Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone National Park
When we hear the name Yellowstone National Park, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the famous geyser Old Faithful. But, that’s just one of the park’s many treasures. Also found at Yellowstone is the Grand Prismatic Spring, the largest hot spring in the United States and the third largest in the world. It’s 370 feet long, 121 feet deep, and has rainbow-like colors radiating from its center with orange- and yellow-colored rings around the edges.
FUN FACT: The spring’s vibrant colors are due to the heat-loving microbes found in them. The hue comes from the way temperature and light affect the microbes.
8. Trolltunga, Norway
If you like to walk on the wild side, then Trolltunga, Norway, is the destination for you! Trolltunga is a scenic cliff that was formed 10,000 years ago. It’s about 1,100 meters above sea level and offers breathtaking views. It also offers daredevils, such as yourselves, the chance to live on the edge–literally. According to the Daily Star, many tourists have posed for selfies on the edge of Trolltunga–a spot with no railings! “So far there have been no fatalities,” the Daily Star said in an article published on its website.
7. Gulf Shores, Alabama
You don’t have to make a special trip to the Caribbean if you’re longing to take a stroll on a white sand beach. Gulf Shores has 32 miles of “sugar-white beaches,” as Smithsonian magazine puts it, for you to explore. The beaches are comprised of tiny quartz crystals that were washed downstream from the Appalachian Mountains. Other attractions include the Gulf Coast’s tallest Ferris wheel, the USS Alabama, world-class charter fishing, one of the United States’ most well known birding trails, and six ecosystems along the Hugh Branyon Backcountry Trail. And, while you’re there, you can also sample some Cajun and Mexican cuisine as well.
6. Grand Central Terminal in New York City
Why would anyone go visit a train station when they could see attractions like the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building? Well, for one, Grand Central Terminal is a historic landmark (the oldest in New York, to be exact), not to mention that it’s one of the most famous train stations in the world! Second, it’s architecture is absolutely stunning. And, third, Grand Central Terminal is more than just a transportation hub–it’s home to many iconic shops and restaurants.
FUN FACT: Grand Central Terminal goes by lots of names–Grand Central, the Terminal, and GCT. But, whatever you do, DO NOT call it Grand Central Station. That name actually refers to the post office down the street or the subway station below.
5. Northern Neck of Virginia
If you’re a history buff, then you’ll want to visit Virginia’s Northern Neck–a peninsula nestled between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers, with frontage on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. The Northern Neck is often referred to as the birthplace of the U.S., with three of the first five presidents, plus other historical figures, including some of whom helped form the Declaration of Independence, being born there. Interesting attractions include George Washington Birthplace National Monument, Stratford Hall (the birthplace of Robert E. Lee), and Historic Christ Church, one of the best-preserved (in near-original condition) colonial churches.
But, history isn’t all the Northern Neck has to offer. There are over 1,000 miles of shoreline, wetlands that cover 37,890 acres of the region, and recreational activities such as golfing, camping, hiking, cycling, and boating. And, while you’re there, sample some of the local cuisine (rockfish, blue crabs, oysters, and other seafood) at one of its many restaurants or at events like the Bay Seafood Festival, which is held every year. Other events include the Irvington Crab Festival, the Northern Neck Wine and Oyster Fair, the Westmoreland Berry Farm’s Blackberry Festival, and Taste by the Bay, an annual event that features samplings from Virginia wineries, Virginia craft brews, tastings from local restaurants, live music, maritime attractions, and artisan vendors.
4. Istanbul, Turkey
Patricia Schultz, author of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, recommends visiting Turkey–Istanbul in particular. According to Reader’s Digest, Schultz refers to Istanbul as “one of the world’s most magical cities.” “It’s the only place where you can stand with one foot in Asia and one foot in Europe,” she added. Another interesting thing about Istanbul is that it’s located at the intersection of the ancient trade routes.
According to Travel + Leisure magazine, “the best way to experience Istanbul is to allow for unscheduled wandering in between visits to historical sites and museums.” And, make sure you ride the ferries often. “They’re not just a way to get from here to there; on a ferry you can rest feet weary from sightseeing, drink tea, or eat a grilled-cheese sandwich and take in the best views of anywhere in the city,” the magazine said.
3. Lake Hillier, Australia
This pink saline lake is located in western Australia. It’s 600 meters long and 250 meters wide. From a distance, it looks more like a big blob of Pepto-Bismol. Interestingly enough, no one knows why it’s pink. Some believe that it comes from a combination of the high salinity, salt-loving algae, and halobacteria–a pink bacteria. Unfortunately, looking at the lake is all you can do. No one is allowed to swim in it because the island is used only for research purposes. In fact, you can’t even get near it. You can only view it from a helicopter ride.
FUN FACT: The water from Lake Hillier retains its pink color even when bottled.
2. Sunset Strip in Hollywood, California
This mile-and-a-half-long stretch of Sunset Boulevard is one of the most famous streets in America. It’s littered with live clubs, bars, restaurants, hotels, and retail shops. The best time to visit is during the summer, “when the Strip truly comes to life,” according to TheSunsetStrip.com. “There’s just something about the summer heat that brings out the true magic of the Strip; that lures the visitor to linger, savor and even get lost in the mystique and exotic history of this fabled little stretch.”
1. Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu sounds more like something that should be on Pokémon, but it’s actually “a citadel made up of palaces and temples, dwellings and storehouses,” as Peruvian expert Luis Lumbreras describes it. It’s located in the middle of a tropical mountain forest, stands 2,430 meters above sea level, and is one of the few major pre-Colombian ruins found almost completely intact. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, the dwellings at Machu Picchu were probably built around the mid-15th to early or mid-16th century, but the site wasn’t even discovered until 1911.
-Machu Picchu is open year-round, but July and August is peak season.
-Machu Picchu was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983.
Have you ever been to any of the places on this list? Do you have plans to visit any of them? Let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear about your experiences!