There are a lot of places to visit across the United States, and there are some staples that almost always top the list. New York City attractions, the beaches, and piers of Santa Monica, or even the infamous Old Faithful geyser. However, there are hundreds of lesser-known destinations that speckle the country like secret gemstones just waiting to be discovered. Here are five that you probably haven’t heard of before!
1. Hamilton Pool Preserve, Texas
Created when the dome of an underground river collapsed after centuries of erosion, this natural pool outside of Austin, Texas, looks like a perfect slice of paradise. With a naturally provided waterfall and a rock-formed grotto circling the pool, it truly looks like something out of a fantasy novel.
Locals love to flock here for swimming, and the water quality is regularly monitored.
2. Cache River State Natural Area, Illinois
Most people don’t think of swamplands when they hear Illinois, but if you head to Johnson County, you’ll find over 14,000 acres of sprawling pools and towering cypress trees.
Visitors can take canoes through the large areas, taking in the over 100 various endangered plant and animals species that call this incredible park it’s home.
3. The Biosphere 2, Arizona
This massive, futuristic building situated in Oracle, Arizona, is actually made more impressive by what is inside. Undertaking an ongoing experiment to learn more about our world and our place in it, scientists created seven complete ecosystems, airlocked and sealed inside. The systems include an ocean, a desert, a savannah, a rainforest, a marsh, an area of intensive agriculture and a human habitat.
So far this has already been hugely beneficial to environmental researchers, but there are tours available to the public as well to check out what some call a “must-see world wonder.”
4. Fly Geyser, Nevada
This colorful formation, found in Washoe County, is the result of man-made drilling expeditions back in 1916. At the time the people were seeking irrigation water but found instead this previously sealed geothermal point.
The Burning Man Project nonprofit bought up the land that Fly Geyser and the surrounding 3,800 acres that make up the Fly Ranch. Though it sits on private land, there are guided tours open to small groups of the public on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
5. Grotto of the Redemption, Iowa
Currently believed to be the largest grotto in the world, stuffed to the gills with what is considered, “the world’s most complete man-made collection of minerals, fossils, shells, and petrifications in one place.”
This enormous religious shrine, found in West Bend, Iowa, contains a high concentration of valuable precious and semi-precious stones, putting the value of the site altogether at over $4,300,000. There is a museum included, showcasing various precious stones as well as photos and trinkets surrounding the construction of the site.