USA: hidden gems you can’t miss, according to travel bloggers

When most people think about traveling to the USA, often cities and places like New York City, L.A., the Grand Canyon etc. come to mind. But what other places are worth visiting according to locals? I’ve asked five of my fellow bloggers to write a short piece on a hidden gem in the state they are living: Hocking Hills Ohio, Tampa Florida, Floyd Virginia, Kalamazoo Michigan, Baton Rouge Louisiana and Charlotte North Carolina. 

•••Hocking Hills, Ohio•••

Hi there, my name is Shana from TravelingShana.com. I’m a wanderlust who is always looking for new and exciting places to explore.  Someone once told me that “Some of the best vacation destinations can be found in your own backyard”.  This inspired me to embark on a journey throughout the state of Ohio to discover places off the beaten path.  I’ve uncovered an endless amount of hidden gems, but only one continues to top the charts.

Copy of Hocking Hills, Ohio

The Hocking Hills Region is located in Logan Ohio and encompasses over 9,000 acres. It is visually unique to the area in that it offers ravenous caves, cascading waterfalls, dramatic gorges and rugged cliffs. The unique landscape affords us the opportunity for a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, zip lining, canoeing, horseback (or mule) riding, rock climbing and rappelling, and so much more!  You’re lodging options go as far as your imagine can. You can stay anywhere from Gypsy wagons, yurts, treehouses, tents, and teepee’s to luxurious houses, cabins and hotel resorts. One of my favorite accommodations is Cherry Ridge Retreat (Hellloooo Boat House Luxury Lakefront Cabin) because it’s completely luxurious but doesn’t take away from the authentic Hocking Hills experience.  If you ever find yourself wanting to visit the area feel free to reach me at TravelingShana.com and I will be happy to help you.

By Shana ¦Blog: https://travelingshana.com/

 

•••Tampa, Florida•••

Hello friends! My name is Amanda! I was born and raised in Ohio, but now I’m a student at the University of Tampa, in downtown Tampa, Florida, where I am studying International Business. I also blog on the side about all of my travels. Last year I lived in Chambéry, France and got to travel to 13 countries during my time there! As you can probably tell, I love to travel. That’s why I moved to Tampa, Florida because there are so many fun places to visit here! 

Hello friends! (1)

The Tampa Bay Area is absolutely beautiful!! And I’m not saying that because I live here, I truly mean it! It has so much to offer to it’s residents and tourists alike! Tampa remains a fairly warm temperature year round so many events are held outside. You can spend a day at the beach, enjoy a meal outside in the sunshine, or attend an outdoor festival- there’s always something going on in Tampa! One of the most famous events in Tampa is the Gasparilla Pirate Festival that happens every late January. It’s an event for people of all ages where they celebrate the “Pirates” that came to Tampa in 1904. All of downtown Tampa comes together to celebrate by setting up a parade, live music, and much more! It’s definitely an event that can’t be missed! I’d love to go on and on about this exciting city, so feel free to contact me! 🙂

By Amanda ¦Instagram:@amandamaxim     ¦  Snapchat:@amanda.maxim ¦

Blog: www.amandamaxim.wordpress.com

 

•••Floyd, Virginia•••

I grew up in a little place called Floyd. It’s a one stoplight town in the southwestern tip of rural Virginia, with a town population of 400 and a county population of 5,000. Floyd is home to a smorgasbord of characters: farmers, artists, entrepreneurs, good Christian families, “free-spirited” types (“granolas” as my history teacher used to call them), retired millionaires, raging conservatives, raging liberals, world-travelers, and people who have never left the state, all of whom have one thing in common: they choose to live simply.

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In this town, business and community are one. Every plate of barbecue you buy goes to feed the family of the little girl you used to babysit; every cup of coffee you buy from the Black Water Loft gives you the opportunity to talk to your old drama teacher, who bought the shop from her mother. One of Floyd’s biggest events is the Farmer’s Market, where, every Saturday morning, a parking lot is converted into an outdoor supermarket for neighbors to buy produce, baked goods, flowers, handmade soaps and bath bombs, and more from one another. It’s not just that everyone knows everyone–we support each other. If it weren’t for the community and enthusiasm around small businesses, no one would be making money. (Plus, what’s better than being able to make a sandwich and know exactly where your fresh baked bread and organic lettuce and tomatoes come from?).People come to Floyd because they want to pause, to enjoy their lives, to make and nurture meaningful connections, and to experience what many believe is “the way life is meant to be.”

 

 

(Source Pictures: Sustain Floyd and Mother Earth News)

I often think of Floyd as the town time forgot. Life is simple here. Not dumbed down, but content in the rituals of working, spending time with family, and feeding the soul. In a time of painful differences plaguing the country this town is, in itself, a grassroots movement. I’ve traveled all around the country and I’ve never experienced an American town with so much creativity, community, and character. Along with the crisp mountain air, there is an energy here; it’s in the tender smile between neighbors as they pass each other in the grocery store aisle, the face of the old man with a john deere cap and plaid shirt tucked into his blue jeans rushing to hold the door for you even as you insist, “no, please, I’m trying to kill chivalry!”, it’s in the excited grin the little girl at the Farmer’s Market booth gives you as she points to the cookies she baked. It inspires you, it reminds you how precious time is, and it asks you not to take these winding back roads for granted.

By Maggie ¦Blog: https://mountainmarked.wordpress.com/

•••Kalamazoo, Michigan•••

My name is Hayley and I write about my life, love, and adventures on Life of Hayley. I am a recent college graduate from a small town in Michigan. My summers include days at the lake with my family, camping in the Upper Peninsula, and enjoying the many fun activities that Michigan has to offer.
One of the best parts about living in Michigan is that I am always near a lake. Michigan is a pennisula surrounded by 5 “Great Lakes” which makes us unique compared to other states. I live less than one hour away from the sandy beaches of Lake Michigan and visit often. My favorite visit this past summer was for my bachelorette party where we rented a little cabin, visited the shops in the downtown area, and relaxed at the beach.
Visiting one of the many lakes is a must when traveling to Michigan. No matter what time of year you are visiting, I guarantee it will be beautiful. Summer lake days include swimming, kayaking, and boat rides. While winter lake days can include ice skating, ice fishing, and snow ball fights. There is always something fun to do!
By Hayley ¦Blog: https://lifeofhayley.com/

•••Baton Rouge, Louisiana•••

Hello, I’m JR, a certified amateur at life. Despite years of study no one really wants to give me a job relevant to my degree without 3+ years experience that seem impossible to obtain. Thus a blog was created to help other amateurs do things besides start a dream career and have a drool worthy Instagram. Because I don’t know how to any of that.  See for yourself on my blog or my Instagram .

 

 

Currently I live in Baton Rouge, La, about an hour Northwest of New Orleans, which is probably much more recognizable. They have this small Mardi Gras get together every year, you may have heard of it. But I’m here to say, if you’re coming to Louisiana, a day in Baton Rouge wouldn’t be a waste. However, the keys to an optimal visit to BR are good weather and various festivals. It gets quite hot and humid in the South, and if it’s not a climate you’re used to, you may not want to do certain actives taking place in the great outdoors, because you’ll sweat your dang face off. And without a face, you probably won’t enjoy whatever it is you’re doing.  Weather here tends to mellow from late October until early-mid March. and the best ways to see what festivals/fair/markets will be taking place during your visit check Facebook Events. Baton Rouge is all about knowing where to look. (To see events not near you, go to Local in your settings, select Events, and then click the settings at the top and change the location.)

 

 

There is no shortage of festivals for everyone at each time of year. Baton Rouge, tends to offer a little something for everyone, from beer (Baton Rouge on Tap), to food (Baton Rouge Mac and Cheese Fest), to art (Downtown Arts Market), to film (Manship Theater). There’s a number of museums (Capitol City, LSU Rural Life), art galleries (Baton Rouge Gallery, LSU MOA), comedy shows (BR Comedy, Heartly/Vey),  and scenic walks (Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center, LSU Campus) available all year long. The peak of local BR is the abundant amount of local restaurants, many of them offering a smorgasbord of Louisiana classics (Bistro Byronz, The Chimes, Spanish Town Market), others specializing in gourmet burgers (Fat Cow, Curbside), some authentic Italian (Monguni’s), there’s even sushi with an amazing view (Tsunami). And for absolutely free, you can visit Mike the live tiger mascot at Louisiana State University. If you’re planning a visit to Baton Rouge, or even just Louisiana, feel free to contact me for more in depth recommendations. Happy travels everyone, wherever you may go.

•••Charlotte, North Carolina•••

I’ve lived in Charlotte, NC for four years, and what I love the most is how quickly I can drive from the urban center of Charlotte to the rural countryside surrounding it. I live in the suburbs of Charlotte, right in the middle of the two. A twenty minute drive in one direction takes me to uptown Charlotte and it’s artsy neighborhoods, like NoDa and Plaza Midwood. There I can enjoy high end entertainment like museums, ballets, Charlotte’s Symphony Orchestra, Opera’s, and more funky offerings, like roller derby, festivals, and pop up art markets. The food is just as varied, with high end restaurants mixed with craft breweries that offer brunch and Food Truck Fridays.
Twenty minutes in the other direction takes me to Charlotte’s rural fringes and surrounding towns, which offer many unusual outdoor activities. There is a zoo comprised completely of rescued predators, a historical plantation that doubles as a bird sanctuary, and beautiful botanical gardens. I also enjoy the numerous parks that offer hiking trails, my favorite being at the site of a former gold mine, where you can walk though the mine’s tunnels (for free!) The food is a great mix of family owned restaurants, offering southern comfort food, burger joints, and breakfast spots. Instead of brewery’s, there are numerous winery’s where you can sample until you discover a new favorite, then sit back, sip, and relax. My biggest recommendation for anyone visiting Charlotte is to make sure you see both the urban and rural sides to this diverse southern city.
I’d like to thank all of the bloggers for this collaboration! Your pieces give us a unique insight on the places you are living. Do not forget to check out their blogs and social media!

 

28 thoughts on “USA: hidden gems you can’t miss, according to travel bloggers

  1. I’m planning on coming back to the US for around 4 weeks next summer so this was really helpful! Added a few places that I hadn’t given much thought about visiting 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

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