Florida and California are stand-out tourist destinations in their own right, but they’re far from the only two states in the nation worth visiting.
If you’re sick of tourist traps and swarming crowds, you’re better off vacationing almost anywhere other than a Disney theme park, SoCal beach, or Florida golf course.
So where should you plan your next vacation once you’ve crossed off the ever-popular California and Florida on your list? Out of the remaining 48 states, we recommend checking out these 10 for the adventure of a lifetime.
Whether you’ve been working hard to supplement your Social Security income so you can travel or you’ve been craving a quiet, unique family road trip while your kids are still young, you’re guaranteed a fascinating trip.
If you’re looking for hidden gems, the Gem State is the ideal place to start your tour of the U.S.
Idaho isn’t well-known outside the state for much beyond its famous potatoes. But from the capital city of Boise to the beautiful Coeur d’Alene area in the state's panhandle, Idaho offers a wealth of adventures, landscapes, and attractions.
Even better, like most of the states on this list, Idaho’s cost of living will keep your travel credit card expenses to a minimum while you rack up excellent travel rewards.
For instance, while parts of the Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks stretch into Idaho, Idaho’s state parks more than speak for themselves.
City of Rocks State Park is exactly as magical as it sounds, giving you a glimpse into a unique high desert terrain full of odd rock formations.
If wilderness isn’t your thing, Boise’s botanical gardens and Idaho Falls’ distinct waterfalls in the heart of the city showcase Idaho’s beauty without you driving far from either city’s growing culinary scenes.
Even though North Dakota is one of the biggest states in the country in terms of land, fewer than a million people call it home. If you want to dodge crowds, there’s practically nowhere better.
North Dakota is also one of the quirkiest states in the nation, judging by its 32-mile Enchanted Highway, which is lined with the world’s largest scrap-metal sculptures.
North Dakota also has the nickname of the Peace Garden State, referring to the acres-long International Peace Garden that spans the U.S./Canada border.
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Speaking of full-size sculptures, Oklahoma is another state that occasionally lines its roads with massive figurines, including a giant spider whose body is made out of an old Volkswagen bug and 20-foot Transformers figures near Lexington.
If giant metal sculptures aren’t really your thing, no worries. Oklahoma’s other odd attractions include its Pigeon Museum in Oklahoma City and a stuffed two-headed cow that was born and died in the 1930s.
Most American tourists picture Mount Rushmore when they think of South Dakota, but there’s a lot more to the state that you’ll miss if you only see the massive presidential sculpture.
For instance, the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park is a lengthy road across gorgeous prairie land, giving you ample time to spot bison families, coyotes, and pronghorns on your leisurely drive.
And in Sioux Falls, South Dakota’s most populous city, you can visit aquariums, zoos, museums, candy shops, and other stand-out attractions that are notably affordable.
Looking for California’s direct opposite? While California has the largest population in the country, Wyoming has the smallest.
And while California is famous for high-density cultural hubs like Los Angeles and San Francisco, Wyoming’s biggest city is the capital of Cheyenne, which has a population of under 65,000.
But what Wyoming lacks in population, it makes up for in landscape. Along with visiting Yellowstone and Grand Teton in the off season, don’t overlook fascinating off-the-beaten-path sites.
These include Devils Tower National Monument, the Museum of Aerial Firefighting in Greybull, and Hole-in-the-Wall, the famous (or infamous) hideout for outlaws like Jesse James and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Don’t be hoodwinked into thinking that Nebraska’s endless fields of corn make it a boring, homogenous place to visit.
The 160-acre Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha is considered one of the top five zoos in the entire world.
And the state’s art and science museums set it apart as well, from the niche Museum of American Speed to the Joslyn Art Museum housed in a beautiful 1930s building.
Like Nebraska, Kansas isn’t just idyllic cornfields or grasslands. The capital city, Topeka, hosts the Evel Knievel Museum, the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center, and the Kansas Museum of History. And in Abilene, you’ll find the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library and Museum.
The state is also home to oddities like the privately run Safari Zoological Park, which borders Oklahoma and is home to lions, tigers, fennec foxes, kangaroos, and other exotic creatures.
The only state that lies entirely inside the Appalachian Mountain region, West Virginia is bursting at the seams with gorgeous mountain scenery.
The state also gives you a few unique ways to see the landscape, including multiple massive ziplines through the trees or a rooftop view via biplane.
You shouldn’t pass up a chance to see any of the six national parks in Utah: Arches, Bryce, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Mesa Verde, and Zion.
But the most popular ones are notoriously overcrowded (especially in the summer), so it’s best to visit Utah in the off season if you’re a national park aficionado.
Even if you aren’t, you can still enjoy Utah activities like skiing, exploring old mining sites in historic Park City, and a burger with tasty regional fry sauce at any local joint.
Although the First State has barely a million residents (including President Joe Biden) and is the second smallest state by area, it deserves to be better known as a tourist destination.
From the rolling hills in New Castle County, dotted with du Pont family estates and museums, to the beaches in Sussex County, Delaware has lots to offer.
In the Wilmington area, visit the Hagley Museum along the Brandywine River (the site of the original DuPont Company gunpowder works) to see a collection of inventors’ patent models from the past 200 years.
Or check out the Winterthur Museum which showcases American decorative arts. Heading south toward the beaches, stop by the Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton for a tour and a brew.
The U.S.’s top tourist destinations are the top for a reason. As long as you like them, there’s nothing wrong with swinging by Florida’s beaches or California’s theme parks every once in a while.
But if you’re looking for something off the beaten path that truly makes the travel money you earned at your side hustle feel worthwhile, these ten states put plenty of interesting experiences at your fingertips.
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Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
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