5 Obscure But Great Travel Destinations

Travel Lists obscure destinations
5 Obscure But Great Travel Destinations

“Get Out There” is a column for itchy footed humans written by Paste contributor Blake Snow. Although different now, travel is better than ever. Today we “visit” some highly-rated but weirdly obscure attractions in America. 

I’ve been traveling for decades and have worked as a tourism journalist for the last 10 years (it’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it). I say that because there are very few places I haven’t at least heard of in my travels—especially places with glowing reviews.

But the longer you live, the more undiscovered places you’ll find. I was reminded of this after stumbling upon a helpful (but admittedly imperfect) listing of the best things to do in America. Although I was familiar with and have visited many of the top picks, I had never heard of several “five out of five star” inclusions that are recommended by tens of thousands of visitors. Two others were in the same boat, although one I had visited before, and the other has been on my bucket list for years. What are these obscure attractions, I wondered to myself, before diving in to write about them.

In an effort to shed light on deserving places, here’s a run-down of each. You might have heard of one or two, but I hope the rest can inspire you to seek out even more overlooked places in your future travels. 

Sugarlands Distilling Co.

Sugarlands Gatlinburg Distillery

(Courtesy of Sugarlands Gatlinburg Distillery)

This place has over 30,000 Tripadvisor reviews. That’s more than Disneyland! 

Located in the heart of the Great Smokies (America’s most visited National Park)—in Gatlinburg, Tennessee—Sugarlands Distilling Co. is beloved for its $5 moonshine tastings, witty guides, and live music. “I laughed the entire time,” one reviewer remarked. “Who knew moonshine tastings would be this fun?”

Although teetotalers won’t appreciate the award-winning rum, cream liqueurs, and rye whiskey, the vast majority of visitors adore the one hour typically spent here, according to reviews. 

Louisville Mega Cavern

Louisville Mega Cavern

(Courtesy of the Louisville Mega Cavern)

Billed as “Tripadvisor’s #1 ranked attraction in Kentucky,” the Louisville Mega Cavern is a former limestone mine that’s 10 stories deep and filled with thrills. Those include “the world’s only underground zip lines,” a ropes course, and BMX bike park, tram-guided tours, seasonal holiday lights. It’s highly regarded by almost everybody who visits, it seems, but it remains one of the more obscure attractions of its type.  

Jack of all trades then, and master of none? Not according to 20,000 visitor reviews. This spot is admired by nearly all who visit it. “I can’t wait to return for the zip lines,” said one reviewer. Visitors typically spend around two hours here. I’d hit it. 

The Haygoods

The Haygoods

(Courtesy of The Haygoods)

If you love music, tribute bands, multi-instrumentalists, and big productions, this might be the show for you. Playing five nights a week in Branson, Missouri, the Haygoods is a group of five brothers and one sister playing 20 instruments and performing some of the biggest songs from the ‘60s to today in an energetic and light-filled show. 

To date they’ve sold 6 million tickets and enjoy a perfect 5 out of 5 star reviews on both Tripadvisor and Google. Those are crazy numbers that I have never heard of, and yet it’s still one of the more obscure attractions out there. But it’s the first thing I plan to do in Branson once I retire (wink, wink). Ageism aside, this sounds like a fantastic concert. 

Garden of The Gods

Garden of the Gods

(Photo from Unsplash)

While I’ve heard of this national landmark, I didn’t realize how treasured it is by so many reviewers—nearly 70,000 between Tripadvisor and Google alone. In short, Garden of The Gods is basically a pedestrian only, real-life Cars Land in Colorado Springs. 

Here y’all find dramatic red rock formations such as fins and balancing rocks jetting from the surrounding greenery. With over 1,300 acres, 21 miles of trails, and a 1.5 mile paved pathway, most people spend 2-3 hours here. Oh, and it’s entirely free. 

Discovery Cove

Discovery Cove

(Courtesy of Discovery Cove)

This is “the greatest theme park you’ve never heard of,” I wrote in my original review of Discovery Cove. In fact, it’s the #1 rated theme park in Orlando, aka “Theme Park City.” And yet it’s still one of the more obscure attractions in the area.

Given its small size and 1,300 daily visitor cap, however, many people still don’t know about Discovery Cove. I’m on a mission to change that. This one-of-a-kind marine park deserves all of its five star reviews. As a bonus, the $250 ticket price gets you free, unlimited admission to nearby SeaWorld and Aquatica for up to two weeks. I hope you go. 

HONORABLE MENTION: The Getty Center—free museum with world-class art and outdoor gardens with stunning views of Los Angeles. Someday


Blake Snow contributes to fancy publications and Fortune 500 companies as a bodacious writer-for-hire and frequent travel columnist. He lives in Provo, Utah with his adolescent family and two dogs.

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