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Under-The-Radar US Places to Visit–and to Avoid

While some U.S. destinations are world-famous, others are lesser-known. Some of them are hidden gems just waiting for you to fall in love with them, but others may be better avoided altogether. Let's have a look at the places you don't want to miss–and the ones you're better off not visiting at all.

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01Visit: Assateague Island, Virginia, And Maryland

If you're a horse lover, Assateague Island is an absolute must-visit. Three hundred wild horses roam the fields and beaches of this fairytale island, creating a magical and mystical atmosphere. According to local folklore, the wild horses stem from horses who came to the island in the 18th century after a shipwreck outside Virginia. The northern part of the island is in Maryland belongs to Virginia, and they're both well worth a visit. The Maryland part is where you find the Assateague Island National Seashore and Assateague State Park, and the Virginia part is home to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. This island is an animal and wildlife lover's paradise.

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02Avoid: Reno, Nevada

Original Reno Arch Photo by Tucker Monticelli on Unsplash

Reno, Nevada, is sometimes referred to as the depressed little brother of Las Vegas. The city boasts a large gambling scene and is struggling with economic issues such as layoffs and a plummet in real estate costs, which is not necessarily a very healthy combination. However, Reno is trying to bring new life to the town n projects like "The River Walk," beautiful water and sculpture path downtown.

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03Visit: Camden, Maine

The historic harbor in Camden, Maine. Photo by Benjamin Rascoe on Unsplash

Located on Penobscot Bay, Camden in Maine's MidCoast region is a city of adorable houses painted in every color you can imagine. It's a seaside town with that classic New England charm and an excellent place for enjoying delicious seafood. Hike up Mt. Battie for panoramic views of the bay and Camden Harbor, or head to Camden Snow Bowl and catch the scenic chairlift ride.

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04Avoid: St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis Gems Photo by Brittney Butler on Unsplash

St. Louis is plagued by shockingly high crime rates, making it a lot less attractive as a travel destination. The risk of experiencing a violent crime in St Louis is 1 in 53, and for property crime, the risk is as high as 1 in 10. This is primarily due to a struggling economy. However, if you don't mind the crime rate, the city is undergoing some interesting revitalization projects to revive its historic neighborhoods.

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05Visit: Grand Marais, Minnesota

This tiny town hosts some really cool and crazy festivals, such as "Moose Madness," celebrating all things moose, and the "Hygge festival," celebrating winter and coziness. Located on the North Shore of Lake Superior, it's a popular tourist town all year round. Exciting things to see include the historic Naniboujou Lodge and Artist's Point. In 2015, Grand Marais was voted "America's Coolest Small Town" by Budget Travel, which gives you a hint about why this place is well worth your visit.

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06Avoid: Cleveland, Ohio

Wendy Park, Cleveland, OH Photo by DJ Johnson on Unsplash

Harsh as it may sound, Cleveland was once dubbed "the mistake by the lake" in a review by Forbes, describing the city as a truly miserable place. Notorious for brutally cold winters and a high crime rate, it's a place that has seen over 7o, 000 residents leave during the last 5 years. But Cleveland does have some perks and boasts a vibrant arts and culture scene. Impressive cultural attractions include the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the Cleveland Museum of Art.

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07Visit: The Black Hills And The Badlands, South Dakota

Couple hiking together in Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA Adam Hester / Getty Images

It's pretty difficult to think of a more evocative name of a place than the Badlands. But actually, there's nothing bad about this place. This area's raw and rugged beauty attracts tourists worldwide, who come here to trek through the National Park hoping to see some of the magnificent wildlife that includes bison, black-footed ferrets, prairie dogs, and beautiful bighorn sheep. While sadly today extinct, this region also used to be the home of saber-toothed cats. Don't forget a trip to the Black Hills, where you can admire the giant faces of former U.S. Presidents that are carved into the mountain.

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08Avoid: Hazard, Kentucky

While Hazard (despite the name) is not a dangerous city, some might say it's a dangerously dull city. The only recreational activity available in Hazard is bowling, and the most exciting sightseeing consists of a trip to Walmart. If you're looking for fun and excitement, Hazard is simply not the best destination for you.

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09Visit: Beacon, New York

Beacon is a small town by the Hudson River in Southwestern Dutchess County. Formerly a factory town, Beacon is now home to a vibrant art and culture scene, complete with antique and flea markets for the hipster crowd. For a day of shopping, head to Main Street and make sure to visit some of the town's many glass studios. "Dia: Beacon" is an old factory transformed into a contemporary art museum and worth a visit.

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10Avoid: Lubbock, Texas

Downtown Lubbock, Texas DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

In a real estate study recently conducted, Lubbock was ranked as the most boring city in the U.S. Lubbock has very little, if anything, to offer in terms of culture, and there's no arts or music scene. And while dining options are also scarce, Lubbock does have some nightlife going on. So, if all you want is a night about town, and you're not that into culture, perhaps Lubbock is not that bad after all.

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11Visit: Door County, Wisconsin

Door County is sometimes called the "Cape Cod" of the Midwest, and with good reason. It's actually not just one community, but nineteen, bookended by Lake Michigan on the one side and by Green Bay on the other. Each of the communities provides a unique experience, and it's easy to navigate between them. Go to Forestville if you're in the mood for outdoor adventures and to Egg Harbor when you fancy some golf and fine dining.

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12Avoid: Chicago, Illinois

View of N State street with the sign of the Chicago Theatre Massimo Borchi/Atlantide Phototravel / Getty Images

Chicago pops is often listed as one of America's least popular cities. It is the third-largest town in terms of population, but also the city with the highest murder rate in the U. S. With high unemployment rates and many private property foreclosures, it can feel like quite a sad town. However, Chicago boasts a vibrant nightlife and music scene along the lakefront, and the city also has a beautiful public beach.

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13Visit: Northern New Mexico

Northern New Mexico is a magical experience characterized by the almost surreal landscape, spiritualism, creativity, and cultural diversity. The city of Santa Fe is a hip waterhole brimming with culture, and the area truly has something to offer for everyone. Need to relax? Go to Taos and soak in the Manby Hot Springs. Want to experience something inspiring and different? Go to Taos Pueblo and tour the otherworldly Earthship Community - a village of eccentric homes created by an enthusiastic community of hardcore recyclers. Northern New Mexico is a new age paradise, in the very best sense of the word.

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