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Top 10 Lesser Known Places to Visit

Elias Moore

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Vacations normally consist of driving cramped in a car to one or more extremely crowded attractions and then leaving only to drive back that same distance. I say it’s time to break that system. There are many hidden attractions all around the United States all equally as exciting and interesting as those everyone knows about. Below is a list of 10 of these attractions, all offering entertainment for whatever you’re looking for.

  1. Korner’s Folly* North Carolina

For those interested in history or architecture, Körner’s Folly is a must-see attraction and by far the easiest to visit on the list. The house, built in 1880 by Jule Gilmer Körner, is 6000 square feet and a confusing 3 ½ stories tall. Over the years it has changed, but It originally featured a stable for horses inside as well as an open carriageway running through its center. The Folly was built to showcase the possibilities of interior design, and features 22 individual rooms ranging from small bedrooms with 5 foot high ceilings to large and expensively decorated ballrooms. At its top, Körner’s Folly features the oldest privately owned theater in the attic.

 

2. International Wolf Center* and Soudan Mine* Minnesota

Definitely a trip for the summer, there are a few areas to visit In Minnesota. Both the Soudan Mine and the International Wolf Center are located far north, but are worth the travel if you ever find yourself up there. The Soudan Mine was an iron mine that extended 2,300 feet underground at its deepest level. If you ever go to the mine, make sure to call ahead and reserve spots to take an underground tour. It begins with a half-mile elevator ride before it stops on the 27th level, where mine carts take you another ¾ of a mile into the mine. Though not open to the public, the University of Minnesota has an underground laboratory connected to the bottom of the mine for hopefully locating dark matter and other particles.

The International Wolf Center is located even farther north, in Ely Minnesota. They offer tours and have an extensive museum along with a pack of wolves living on the site. Visitors can schedule to sleep with the wolves as an overnight stay (protected by glass of course).

 

 

  1.  AAF Tank Museum* Virginia

For everyone interested in the history of WWI and WWII, there is no better place than the AAF Tank Museum. Located in Danville, Virginia, the 330,000 square foot family owned museum has the most extensive collection of tanks, medium caliber weapons, and military uniforms. At the moment, the museum has over 120 armored vehicles and artillery pieces, including the only M4A3E8 Sherman tank fitted with a bulldozer plow and the German Pz. IV H variant (one of only 5 in the world). The museum is open 1 to 2 days per week, and they have special events, such as vehicle run days where running armored vehicles are driven around the building, and even a flamethrower day where working WWII flamethrowers are fired up and tested.

  1.  The Apostle Islands, Wisconsin

This group of islands is located in Lake Superior right off of Northern Wisconsin. They are a perfect vacation spot to get close to nature and see the beautiful views North American has to offer. Of these 22 islands, many have sea caves that are amazing to see. During some winters the National Park Service will even allow guests to walk across the frozen lake to these caves and see them first hand.

© Chuck Haney/Danita Delimont
Layered sandstone cliffs and sea caves on Devils Island in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin

 

  1.  Desert View Watchtower* Arizona

Designed in 1932 to reflect the architecture of ancestral Puebloan towers, the Desert View Watchtower has been a landmark of Colorado for years. Located on the edge of the Grand Canyon, it offers 360 degree views of the surrounding area. The interior is decorated with artifacts and artwork of the 4 corners area native people.

 

  1.  Sears (Willis) Tower Skydeck* Illinois

A staple of the Chicago region is the towering Sears (now Willis) tower. The 108 story building stands out from the skyline with its twin antennae. For those wanting to add a little excitement to their visit, there is the skydeck open on the 103rd floor. These glass cases extend from the building and allow you to step outside the building and see the drop to the bottom of the skyscraper as well as views of up to 4 different states on clear days. 

Jackman Chiu

 

  1.  Mesa Verde* Colorado

Mesa Verde, Spanish for green table, was the home of the ancestral pueblo people for 700 years. The national park contains cliff dwellings carved from the sandstone rock of the area to provide better safety the people who lived there as well as a larger area for farming on the plateau. Visitors can walk through almost all of the remaining dwellings, as they are mostly intact.

Jim Shoemaker
Mesa Verde National Park

 

  1.  Hawaii Volcanoes, Hawaiian Islands

Being honest, it doesn’t seem logical to go on vacation to volcanoes, let alone to the most active ones in the world. But that’s where the Hawaiian Volcanoes are special. Visitors can take helicopter tours over the top to see the molten rock spewing out or a boat ride along the coast to see where the lava runs and cools as it hits the ocean, gradually increasing the island’s size. More adventurous people can chose to hike 45 minutes inland to reach surface lava flow, which is completely open with no barriers.

 

9. Neptune Memorial Reef, Florida.

Not a casual day trip, the Neptune memorial reef is for those who enjoy scuba diving. About 3 ½ miles off the coast of Florida, and 40 meters below sea level, it is the largest man-made reef ever conceived. Construction is still continuing on it, but completed parts are meant to represent a lost city below the surface of the ocean, giving it a surreal feel.

 

  1.  Grotto of the Redemption, Iowa

West Bend Iowa seems like the last place to find anything out of the ordinary, but that is just what the Grotto is. Built solely by one man, a German immigrant who recently recovered from pneumonia, the religious shrine was built as his way of thanking the Virgin Mary for his recovery. It is believed to be the largest Grotto in the world, as well as the world’s most complete collection of man-made materials, shells, fossils, and gems in a single place. The entire shrine is covered with precious stones and valuable minerals, and its estimated worth is $4,308,000.

 

Any item listed with a “ * ”  means that I have visited the site and can confirm it is interesting.

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Top 10 Lesser Known Places to Visit