Top 5 Places To Visit in the US Before You're 30

Bucket lists can consist of anything from the Pyramids of Egypt to seeing Paris lit up at night. Sometimes though, low off the maps, there are places that are just as worth the venture (And  that can be nicer on the pocket book too!). These places can be eccentric, or niche, but if you have fun, anywhere can be a great place to visit. Here is a list of some of the top 5 most unconventional places in the U.S. to visit before you’re 30.

1.   Virginia Safari Park, VA

When visiting Virginia Safari Park, an Elk or an Ostrich might stick its whole head into your window for you to feed them —so make sure you’re driving an old car in which you wouldn’t mind this happening!. This safari park in Natural Bridge, Virginia, allows you to drive around the park for a solid hour, petting every animal you see along the way. At the entrance you can buy buckets of food to feed the animals, as well to entice them towards you. Be warned though, that the pellets will get in your car, but it’s worth it. After spending time at the park you can also go to the Natural Bridge and take a scenic walk... but honestly, you’ll want to spend most of your time at the Safari Park. If you don’t have a car when you arrive at the park, you can take their wagon through to see the animals. There is also a zoo portion where you can see the big cats, reptiles, and the kangaroos.  

A lama comes into the car to be fed at the Virginia Safari Park. Photo by Madelaine Formica

2. City Museum in St. Louis, MO

Mazes upon mazes of jungle gyms greet guests at this museum meant for children and those who are young at heart. This museum feels like a bunch of welders had a competition to out do one another, with a ferris wheel left on top of the roof to add the icing on the cake. Located at the heart of the city, the City Museum incorporates the industrial side of St. Louis, MO. With an eclectic assembly of functional art pieces, the City Museum will spark the joy in anyone.

3. Ben And Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard, VT

Madelaine Formica, Junior, being watched by the raven at the Flavor Graveyard; Photo courtesy of Madelaine Formica

If you find yourself in Vermont on a warm and haunted day, take a drive to the Ben and Jerry’s headquarters where you can take a tour of the factory and find out how their ice cream is made. Next to their Factory is their Flavor Graveyard. Flavors of all kinds have come and gone through this life, some including ‘Chocolate Comfort’, ‘Vermonty Python’ and ‘Oh Pear.’ For ice cream lovers, it is definitely a must see.

The grave of Miz Jelena’s Sweet Potato Pie flavor, resting in peace at the Flavor Graveyard. Photo by Madelaine Formica

4. Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, TN

As a person who has gone to Ireland and done the Titanic Museum in Belfast, trust me when I say that this one is honestly better. You are moved through a life size replica of the ‘unsinkable’ ship, Titanic. You can touch the iceberg, witness the water washing towards you as the ship sinks, and escape to survive on lifeboats. The museum is nicely paced so even if you’re like me and can’t focus, you’ll still find yourself enjoying this museum and even learning a thing or two. Pigeon Forge is also home to Dollywood. Even if you’re not a fan of country music or the legendary Dolly herself, it is still a beautiful theme park with plenty of green space, paying as much  homage to the Great Smoky Mountains than to Dolly. The town of Pigeon Forge is cheese with plenty to see, but if you go to only one place there, take the time to go to the Titanic Museum.

Madelaine Formica, Junior, outside of the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge TN. Photo courtesy of Madelaine Formica

5. Norske Nook Restaurant & Bakery

The whole Wisconsin town of Osseo’s main street is mainly just the Norske Nook. There is no way to miss the constant stream of people coming in and out. The Bakery is so popular that there’s even a gift shop across the street. What makes it so special though? I would argue it’s the giant pies that they create. Made in solid tins, the pies can be taken to go, or a slice can be enjoyed in the homey atmosphere of the restaurant. Pies such as apple, pumpkin and lemon meringue pie are made to be as big as a person’s head, and taste like they came from heaven themselves! Even if you’re just passing through, I recommend going once and then going back for seconds.

No matter where you are in the country, there is always something small or large that you can have a chance to cross off the bucket list. Even when you are just driving, who knows what you’ll find - don’t be afraid to just pull up to random places on the side of the road. They’re meant to be appreciated, and life is too short to stick to just the conventional wonders of the world. Go out there and explore!