You’ve searched Pinterest. You’ve read a million top destination posts. But now you’re ready to see something real. Something that’s a little more unexpectedly awesome.
I’ve got you covered.
Just like you, I’ve got unique interests. For me? I love ice cream. I love ice cream so much I travel the country in search of amazing scoops of it.
And some of the coolest memories I have aren’t places that will make many Top 10 lists. And they certainly aren’t places that were even on my radar, let alone my bucket list.
But they’re definitely worth talking about. Here are 5 unexpected places to visit while you tour the US!
#1 Find Nature in Midland, Texas
If you’re driving across Texas, there are long stretches of open space, without anywhere interesting (or at all!) to stop. Midland, Texas is a popular city to stop in. While spending some time at Midland RV Park, whether for a night or a week, or as a midday break, I highly recommend visiting the I-20 Wildlife Preserve.
The parking lot isn’t huge, but it can accommodate a couple of big rigs. And it doesn’t look like much from the outside – after all, you’re surrounded by oil rigs and a very industrial city. Nothing pretty. But as you walk toward the trees of the preserve, you’ll soon realize you’ve entered an entirely different world.
Have you ever driven across Texas?
I have and let me tell you. There are long stretches of open space. And you’re lucky to find a place to stop. Let alone a place to stop that is interesting.
But don’t let me discourage you too much. Among the vastness is Midland. Midland Texas is a definite unexpected place to visit in the great big state of Texas!
Park your rig at Midland RV Park and head to the I-20 Wildlife Preserve.
It doesn’t look like much from the outside. Midland is a very industrial city with oil rigs for days. after all, Nothing pretty, really. But as you walk toward the trees of the preserve, you’ll soon realize you’ve entered an entirely different world.
As you get deeper into the paths and boardwalks, you’ll be lost in seas of birds. You might even run into some bobcats. I did! It’s easy to spend a few hours here, but it’s worth stopping for even a half hour.
It’s a gorgeous escape into nature, where you can forget about the oil industry and tune in to nature.
As you walk the paths and boardwalks, you’ll be lost in seas of birds. You might even run into some bobcats, like I did! It’s easy to spend a few hours here, but it’s worth stopping for even a half hour. It’s a gorgeous escape into nature, where you can forget about the oil industry and tune in to nature.
Escape to Oz in Liberal, Kansas
I know. I know. No one dreams about going to Kansas one day. (sorry Kansas.)
But if you find yourself passing through the state, do yourself a favor and stop through Liberal.
Liberal, Kansas is home to the Seward County Historical Museum. This is a sweet, free museum. But you’ll absolutely want to pay for a tour. At $7 (or less for kids, seniors, and veterans), it’s a no-brainer. And you get a tour of Dorothy’s House.
Please tell me you’ve seen The Wizard of Oz, my friend.
An entrepreneurial local resident once got the idea to create Dorothy’s house just as it appeared in the movie.
So the sweet and quaint Historical Museum got a whole lot more interesting when the artist brought her 5,000 sq. ft. Land of Oz exhibit there!
Available only with the tour, it’s an incredibly charming experience that recreates the movie as you walk through it.
Side note: the folks that work there are as friendly as it gets.
Finding ice cream in Roswell, New Mexico
Roswell is already an extremely popular tourist destination.
Conspiracy theories? Check.
So go ahead and visit the museum, explore the downtown…and then stop. This is where your itinerary changes from what you’ve read in the blogs and travel books.
You’re going to head into Sippy & Opal’s. Yes, those are people. And yes. They sell some amazing ice cream.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m obsessed with finding delicious homemade ice cream. I plan my travels around it. (Sometimes more than once in a day!)
So when I read the reviews for Sippy & Opal’s it sounded great. But I was skeptical. I had been eating ice cream all over New Mexico. And to be perfectly honest…
There was nothing special about any of it.
Until Sippy and Opal’s.
Get ready for some of the creamiest, fluffiest and most delicious ice cream you’ve ever had. Period.
I’ve honestly never had a flavor I didn’t love.
So do yourself a favor and try some. Key Lime, Green Tea, Mint Chocolate Chip, Butter Pecan…they’re all winners. And certain flavors are even clearly labeled gluten-free. This is an unheard of Godsend for those of us with a gluten allergy or intolerance.)
Oh, and yes. they’ve got an Alien flavor too. Obviously.
#4 It’s an Art in Cleveland, Ohio
When you think of Cleveland, your mind usually goes to Rock N Roll. Or Drew Carey. And if you’re a basketball fan, maybe even LeBron James.
But I’m here to tell you today Cleveland’s art museum is where it’s at for this city.
The Cleveland Museum of Art isn’t your average art museum. And with a vision to be a global leader among museums and a mission statement to create transformative experiences through art…. This museum is a must-see that delivers on its promises.
The way they present art and build on an “audience-centered” culture, everything is incredibly unique and interactive.
It’s free. Gorgeous. Fun. And you’re going to tell everybody about it.
Come here with your smartphone, some headphones, and an open mind. In short, get ready to fall in love with this Midwest city.
#5 Fall for Decorah
Decorah is the cutest town you’ve never heard of.
It’s a college town… an artist’s town. It’s got lots of history, culture, and a farmer’s market to boot.
Nut you probably won’t stumble upon Decorah by accident. I mean, you probably won’t even enter the whole state of Iowa by accident.
But if you do happen to get to Decorah, you might find yourself considering an extended stay.
The downtown is adorable. Enjoy it by foot. The Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum is a destination in itself. And StoryPeople is a must-see stop while strolling the area. There you’ll find incredible art, fantastic art, and remarkable people.
This list is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to unexpected places to visit while traveling the country. What should we add to our list?
Kay Warner says
As God is my witness, DO NOT GO TO MIDLAND TEXAS. There is an oil boom going on and unless you have a death wish or want to lose your rig in a pot hole or want to get run over by an oil field worker, avoid the West Texas area entirely. That water in the picture ? It’s a playa lake. It’s usually empty unless you happen to visit after we’ve had a weeks worth of rain. (HINT: it generally rains about 3-5 inches A YEAR.) Because Big Oil owns the Permian Basin everything is overcrowded and obscenely over priced. And it’s not even pretty. Pumpjacks by far outnumber the trees. I passed the RV park mentioned in this article last week and it was full. And every RV park within 100 miles either way is the same way and has been full for months. The towns are overcrowded and overburdened by the sheer amount of people that have arrived in droves to (hopefully) make big bucks working in the oil fields. Today, rent is anywhere from $1200 (for an apartment) to $3000 (to rent a very well used 3 bedroom starter home) a month if you could find a place to live. People are throwing up RV campsites in their yards. The Midland/Odessa area has the highest volume of wrecks (and fatalities) in the state of Texas. And did I say: it’s not even pretty! This has been my home for 30 years…..and I’m trying my hardest to get out of here. I don’t even recognize the place anymore.
Thanks for the personal experience Kay! It’s really helpful.
Jamie, you have given me lots of New Mexico ice cream locations to check out close to my home base. Thanks, very interesting.
Jamie Feinberg says
Thank you, I hope it’s helpful! I’m seriously considering a return to Roswell (several hours out of our way) just for Sippy & Opal’s!
Delphia Gomez says
Thank you for mentioning our great state of Kansas! I have to admit that I’ve lived here for 28 year and I have yet to see Dorothy’s house. And Wizard of Oz is my all time favorite movie! lol
Jamie Feinberg says
Wow, sounds like a trip is in order!
Delphia!!! You’ve got to go!