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Anyone who’s into world travel will be familiar with Tulum. This jungle coastline on Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula has become a recent hotspot, with its stunning Cenotes and boutique beach hotels featuring prominently all over social media. While Tulum is no longer off the beaten path, the food scene, the funky artist vibe, and the stunning nearby sites make it the perfect destination in our books. If you’re in the area, be sure to take advantage of some great day trips from Tulum.

 

Renting a car is the best way to take day trips from Tulum, but you can also find local tour operators who will organize everything for you. You can check out Get Your Guide or Viator to get an idea of pricing and reviews and to book your tour ahead of time.

1. Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza - one of the best day trips from tulum

The Chichen Itza Pyramid – one of the New Wonders of the World

It’s safe to say that the number one day trip from Tulum is a visit to one of the New Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza. It’s hard to describe the feeling you get when you see this awe-inspiring UNESCO World Heritage Site and how it rises impressively from the surrounding countryside.

Chichen Itza is best reached by car and takes about 2 hours one-way from Tulum. If you don’t have your own car, you can go on a full-day excursion that combines a visit to Chichen Itza, the Hubiku Cenote, and Valladolid.

2. Cenote Ik Kil

Swim in the stunning Ik Kil Cenote - a day trip from Tulum

Swim in the stunning Ik Kil Cenote

Located a 2-hour drive from Tulum is one of the most beautiful Cenotes on the Yucatán Peninsula. The ceiling of a former freshwater limestone cave has long since collapsed, creating a steep crater-like opening with jungle vines spilling into the pool below.

It’s hard to believe that a place like this exists on earth. Keep in mind that there is a fee to enter which seems to get more expensive year after year so come prepared with your pesos. 

3. Swimming with Turtles in Akumal

For one of the best day trips from Tulum, head up the coast to Akumal, a Mayan word that means place of the turtles. In Akumal Bay, you can swim with juvenile green sea turtles who hang out here until they head to open waters in their adulthood.

Akumal is a public beach, so it’s absolutely free to swim with the turtles. However, there are some privately-owned beaches near the area, so be sure to avoid trespassing and upsetting the local owners.

4. Coba Mayan Ruins

Climb the Coba Mayan Ruins on your daytrip in Quintana Roo

Climb the Coba Mayan Ruins

The Yucatán Peninsula is home to some of the most impressive Mayan ruins, and the pyramid at Coba is a must-see. This particular site is special because it’s one of the only Mayan ruins that you can actually climb.

If you have your own car, it’s about a 45-minute drive from Tulum, but there are also local buses that connect Coba to Tulum.

5. Valladolid

The Suytun Cenote near the town of Valladolid

The Suytun Cenote near the town of Valladolid

The colorful quaint little town of Valladolid is a perfect day trip from Tulum for anyone who wants to see an eclectic colonial town in the heart of the Yucatán. If you’re making the trek to Valladolid, don’t miss the nearby Suytun Cenote.

This Cenote is one of the most popular sites on the Yucatán, famous for its cathedral walls and stone platform that leads to the middle of the freshwater pool. It’s a popular spot, so it’s best to visit Suytun Cenote in the afternoon after the tourist buses have departed. 

6. Cozumel

Take a Yucatan Peninsula day trip to the paradise beaches of Cozumel

Relax on the paradise beaches of Cozumel

Cozumel is a mostly-undeveloped island that looks like an island paradise: white sand, turquoise waters, and palm trees that grow right up to the shore. Luckily, it’s possible to take a day trip from Tulum to Cozumel.

There are ferries departing from Playa del Carmen every hour, so there is never too long of a wait. Once on Cozumel, you can go snorkelling among the reefs, or head to a sandy beach to relax.

7. Sian Ka’an Biosphere

The Sian Ka’an Biosphere is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the impressive Mayan-built canals that can still be seen in this area. Located about an hour away, it’s one of the best day trips from Tulum for anyone looking to get a taste for the Mayan culture.

Visitors can even take a kayaking tour through the ancient canals that were used to control irrigation in the region.  If you want to go with a guide through the vast Biosphere, you can take a half-day tour from Tulum that combines kayaking in the lagoon with exploring Mayan ruins in the surrounding jungle.

8. Rio Secreto underwater cave tour

Explore the Rio Secreto Caves and underground lakes

Explore the Rio Secreto Caves and underground lakes

The Rio Secreto is one of the most stunning sights on the Yucatán peninsula. This network of limestone caves has underwater rivers, hiking trails, and massive cathedral-like rooms. You’ll have to go with a guide to explore the underground area, and there are tours ranging from full-day experiences to shorter visits.

9. Swimming with Whale Sharks near Isla Mujeres

Swim with Whale Sharks off the coast of Holbox

Swim with Whale Sharks off the coast of Isla Mujeres

If you’re spending a long vacation in Tulum, you should make time to take a day trip to the north. Here you’ll find a more remote and untouched part of the Yucatán peninsula, so it’s the perfect day trip for those looking to get off the beaten path.

From June to September, you can find Whale Sharks off the coast of Isla Mujeres, and it’s possible to book a tour from Tulum to swim alongside these gentle giants.

10. Bacalar Laguna de 7 Colores

The Bacalar Laguna de 7 Colores & Bacalar Cenote

The Bacalar Laguna de 7 Colores & Bacalar Cenote

If you’re looking for something further afield from Tulum, you can head 3 hours south to Bacalar Laguna de 7 Colores. It’s a good idea to take a day trip to Bacalar from Tulum if you want to get off the beaten path in the Yucatán Peninsula.

Although it’s a fair distance away from Tulum, the stunning lagoon is worth it. The best way to see the lagoon is from the water, so you might consider splurging on a full-day sailing trip that picks up from Tulum.

Anyone looking for things to do in St. Louis already knows to visit Tower Grove Park, the City Museum, the Grand Arch, and the Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tour, but maybe you’re looking for something more off the beaten path. Read on for the top picks of the best hidden gems in St Louis, places that are lesser-known but still well worth a visit!

 

1. Laumier Sculpture Park

Laumeier Sculpture Park - a hidden gem in St Louis

Discover more than 70 large-scale works of art in Laumeier Sculpture Park

The Laumeier Sculpture Park is a free open-air museum located in Sunset Hills which covers 105 acres. Here, you can find sixty sculptures that you can inspect when walking along the various trails across the park.

During your walk, you will come across a Tudor stone mansion which was built in 1816 and now houses a beautiful indoor gallery. 

You can opt to explore the park on your own with a self-guided tour or join the free walking tour, which takes place the first Sunday of every month from May to October. Whichever you choose, you will come away with a whole hoard of knowledge and you may even feel inspired artistically. 

2. Lemp Mansion

If you’re a fan of haunted houses and don’t scare too easily, you should definitely stop at the infamous Lemp Mansion. This historical house is located in Benton Park, where the Lemp family once lived. It is also known for the three suicides that occurred in the house, after the untimely death of the son, Frederick Lemp. 

Legend has it that the Lemp mansion is haunted by the Lemp family and has been named as one of the top ten haunted properties in the US. To see for yourself, you should consider taking the Lemp haunted neighborhood walking tour, where you will find out everything there is to know about the Lemp family, including their brewery business success and of course a few ghost stories. 

3. Union Station Whispering Arch

Hidden gems in St Louis' Union Station - The Whispering Arch

The Whispering Arch in St. Louis’ stunning Art Nouveau Union Station

The Whispering Arch in St. Louis’ Union Station isn’t hard to spot with its intricate green and gold decoration which stands out instantly along with the Tiffany stained-glass windows that feature three robed women. However, the arch is not just beautiful to look at, as it also has sound-altering abilities which make even the quietest of whispers sound clear as day. 

To test out the theory, head up to the second floor in Union Station with a friend. You should stand on opposite sides of the gallery and whisper as quietly as you can, and if the legend is true, it should be heard loud and clear. 

4. Forest Park Jewel Box

The recently restored Art Deco greenhouse is one of St. Louis' best hidden gems

Visit the recently-restored art deco Forest Park Jewel Box

One of the best hidden gems in St. Louis is the Forest Park Jewel Box. While this is not an actual gem, it is an art deco greenhouse that houses hundreds of flowers in the middle of the 17-acre park. 

The Jewel Box was first installed in 1936 and has since undergone a $3 million renovation to rejuvenate its glow by updating the flowers and creating a beautiful and bright space.

You can take a look around the Jewel Box for just $1, although you can keep a look out for any upcoming special events during your visit, as they are bound to be spectacular. 

5. Central Library

Whether you’re a bookworm looking for a quiet space to enjoy a good novel, or want to do a quick search to find out about a travel extension, so you can explore more of St. Louis, the Central Library is the place to go.

This is not only a building with great resources, but it is also brimming with history and beauty, so it’s no wonder that it is known as one of St Louis’ hidden gems and grandest works of art. 

St. Louis’ Central Library is a stunning building that was once voted one of the top 12 architecturally significant libraries globally. To uncover its beauty, you can take your own personal tour of the building or attend one of the many lectures held in the library, where you are guaranteed to come away with a whole host of knowledge. 

6. St. Louis Hills Art in the Park

Another hidden gem in St. Louis is the Art in the Park festival in the St. Louis Hills which takes place every September. Here you can enjoy an array of masterpieces from sculptors to musicians and more. 

If you decide to attend Art in the Park, you will be in for a treat as there is plenty of delicious food available from street vendors. Another great thing about Art in the Park is that admission is free, and it also offers a wide range of child-friendly activities which are guaranteed to entertain any little ones in your party. 

7. Turtle Playground

If you are bringing children along on your trip, then Turtle Playground should be at the top of your list of places to visit. The kids will be entranced by the huge sculptures of snapping turtles, box turtles, and even oversized turtle eggs which are all made of concrete. 

The Turtle Playground was designed as a gift to the children of St. Louis, offering a place to play and explore in the middle of such a busy city. However, just because it was built for the children does not mean you have to resist climbing on the back of a forty-foot-long turtle. 

 


Now that you’ve uncovered some of the best hidden gems in St Louis off the beaten track, it’s time to start planning your itinerary.

Will you be brave enough to face the dreaded Lemp mansion, or would you prefer to discover the beautiful architectural wonders that St. Louis has to offer? Either way, enjoy your visit to ‘The Gateway to the West!’

Ontario can be a great place to travel. However, there are certain hidden gems in Ontario that you might not have been aware of until now. Sure, you might already be familiar with the capital city, Ottawa, but did you know that there are places there that go undiscovered? In this article, we’re writing about the 9 unexplored places in Ontario that you might not have heard of, and you might want to book a trip to for your next vacation getaway!

 

1. Hamilton Waterfalls, One Of Many Hidden Gems In Ontario

Albion Falls in Hamilton, Ontario

Albion Falls in Hamilton, Ontario

Also known as the “Waterfall Capital of the World,” Hamilton is home to almost 100 waterfalls. Whether you choose to hike through it or take a car, the possibilities are endless when exploring the picturesque waterfalls. Don’t forget to bring your camera to have photo ops from every angle possible in one of the most unexplored places in Ontario!

2. Library Of Parliament, a Hidden Gem in Ottawa

Library of Parliament in Ottawa - A Hidden Gem in Ontario

The Parliament Library in Ottawa (on the Parliament Hill, to be exact) is both a massive archive and an architectural marvel. Built in 1876, this library (which is home to information and research for the Parliament of Canada) will transport you through time as you take in its historic architecture, from the carvings to the towering shelves. This stunning library is another hidden gem in Ontario.

3. Flowerpot Island

Flowerpot Island, A surprising Hidden Gem in Ontario

Flowerpot Island is only 4 hours from Toronto when you travel by car. Just off the coast of Tobermory, you’ll be able to get there once you board a boat. Then, you’ll start seeing great things — including rock formations that are structured like flower pots. It’s still a relatively unexplored place in Ontario, with opportunities to hike the many trails in the area and enjoy the azure waters along the shores.

4. Inglis Falls

Inglis Falls, Ontario

Love waterfalls? Ever imagined getting that great photo op of a magnificent waterfall? Then check out Inglis Falls, one of the big unexplored places in Ontario! 18 meters high, these falls were formed by Sydenham River, which meets the edge of the Niagara Escarpment. And, sitting in the middle of a forest, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into a movie set in an exotic amazon!

5. Bruce Peninsula

Bruce Peninsula Park is a hidden gem in Ontario

Ontario may not have the ocean, but it does have rivers, lakes, and bays for you to take a swim in. One of the huge hidden gems in Ontario, the Bruce Peninsula National Park sits on the edge of Georgian Bay, and is well-known to locals for its crystal blue waters and ancient trees, along with its incredible grotto perfect for swimming near, it’s still one of the best unexplored places in Ontario.

6. Sleeping Giant

Just out on the Sibley Peninsula, you’ll come across the Sleeping Giant – a natural formation that towers over Ontario. When looked at from above, the formation resembles a large person asleep, and covered in trees. “Hikers who hike on this “giant” will be gifted with staggering views and treated to a wonderful hiking experience. Hiking here is really one of the best unique things to do in Ontario” says Jannie Lindgren, a lifestyle blogger at Revieweal and UK Services Reviews.

7. Absolute World Towers

The Unique Absolute Towers in Mississauga, Ontario

Mississauga has two towers that make most skylines think twice before exploring it. Just among the low-lying grey landscape are twirling towers – the Absolute World Towers. Among the 5 largest towers in the world, these can twist 209 degrees from the bottom to the top, making the individual dizzy just by looking at them. One of the more frightening unique things to do in Ontario, if you’re brave enough – or at least, adventurous enough – then go for it!

8. Georgian Bay

Something out of a romantic movie and one of the hidden gems in Ontario, the Georgian Bay is one of the best places where writers can find plenty of inspiration. With picturesque sunsets, as well as an overall view of the bay itself, this place is ideal for those who love to bike through trails, those taking cruises, and for casual tourists looking to simply sit by the lake. The possibilities are endless when it comes to finding unexplored places in Ontario around Georgian Bay!

9. Bonnechere Caves

Finally, enter Eganville, one of the unexplored places in Ontario, and you’ll see the Bonnechere Caves. Encased in limestone, these caves are a local-favorite during the summer. During a tour through the caves, you’ll learn about their geology and history.

Conclusion

So, there you have it! 9 places that will surely knock your socks off the next time you plan on going to Ontario. Instead of the usual tourist traps, try one or more of these special hidden gems in Ontario, and you’ll be amazed at what you’ve been missing all along.

 

With its romantic rolling hills, an abundance of Roman ruins, soaring basilicas, and picture-perfect cliffside towns, it’s no wonder that Italy is a top travel destination. Unfortunately, in peak tourist season, even the smallest towns feel more like a theme park, with visitors waiting for hours to visit a place they’ve waited a lifetime to see. Luckily, there is good news for those who want to visit Italy without dealing with the hordes of tourists. In fact, part of the appeal of the country is the number of hidden gems in Italy sprinkled throughout the country. Before you dismiss a trip because it’s ‘too touristy’, take a look through our top places off the beaten path in Italy.

1. Spoleto

Ponte delle Torri in Spoleto - one of Italy's hidden gems

Image by Solfaroli Renzo from Pixabay

The town of Spoleto is medieval Italy at its best, with a Roman theater, Christian basilicas, and narrow winding streets. The highlight of Spoleto is the Ponte Delle Torri, an impressive stone aqueduct spanning a deep gorge. Today, one of the best things to do in Spoleto is to take to the walking trails outside of town. You’ll traverse nearby forests, walk along a ravine, and end at a picture-perfect view of the magnificent aqueduct. From there, you can cross using a narrow walkway, visit the castles at both ends of the bridge, or hike up to the nearby Rocco fortress. 

2. Agrigento and Selinunte, Sicily

Acropolis in Agrigento - one of Italy's hidden gems

Image by hbieser from Pixabay

These columned temples in Agrigento and Selinunte give the Acropolis in Athens a run for its money. Since Sicily was originally the richest of the Grecian territory, they were built 100 years before the world-famous Acropolis. Because the Sicilian temples are off the beaten path in Italy, experience the wonders of Ancient Greece without any the notorious crowds. The ruins are well-preserved for visitors, and particularly special because of their beautiful setting right on the Sicilian coastline.

3. Herculaneum

The Italian town of Herculaneum suffered the same misfortune as its more famous sister city, Pompeii, on the fateful day when Mount Vesuvius entombed the cities in ash. However, Herculaneum is arguably one of Italy’s best hidden gems because it is a bit unknown, less crowded, and perhaps even more well-preserved because it received less attention from historians and visitors. The ruins at Herculaneum cover a smaller area than those at Pompeii, but this makes it easier to grasp. The crucial layer of tufa rock (a form of solidified mud), which helped preserve Pompeii, was much thicker at Herculean, practically creating an airtight seal over the city until it was discovered in the 1700s. If you want to imagine what life was like in ancient Italy, you’re better off visiting Herculean than braving the crowds at Pompeii.

4. Lecce

Lecce - one of Italy's hidden gems

Image by Luca Bove from Pixabay

Southern Italy itself is already off the beaten path, and while you’re there, we recommend spending some time in one of the greatest hidden gems in Italy, the town of Lecce. The city’s name comes from the lace-like Lecce Baroque motif, which decorates many of the building facades. Not only is the architecture impressive, but the city itself is perched on a tall cliff, where it seems to spring up from the sea. Save your energy for a night-time walk, when the town looks especially enchanting with the building facades lit up.

5. San Gimignano, Italy

Image by Makalu from Pixabay

Built around the same time as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the towers in San Gimignano are the highlight of this well-preserved medieval town. While the word has gotten out in recent years about San Gimignano’s beauty, it’s still off the beaten path in Italy compared to nearby Pisa or Florence. Cars are banned in the city center, making it a perfect place to imagine what life was like in 12th century Italy. Today, you can climb the tallest remaining tower, The Torre Forssa, which is nearly as tall as the tower in Pisa. If you’re there in July, time your visit with the Feria delle Messi, a medieval festival complete with musicians, knights, and acrobats.

6. Paestum, Campagna, Italy

Paestum, Campagna - one of Italy’s hidden gems

Image by pascal OHLMANN from Pixabay

The three temples in Paestum are some of the most well-preserved examples of Ancient Greek architecture south of Naples. The massive temples were built in the 5th and 6th century BC, and have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Despite this recognition, Paestum is still off the beaten path in Italy, meaning you might even be the only tourist around – almost unheard of in Italy. Don’t miss the Tomb of the Diver in this fantastic hidden gem of Italy, which is the only example before the 4th century BC of large-scale Greek painting.

7. Siena

A gorgeous hilltop town in the Tuscany region, Siena is the perfect destination for a day trip from bustling Florence if you want to get off the beaten path in Italy. The Piazza del Campo exemplifies the Tuscan lifestyle at its finest, and you’ll find picturesque sights around every corner in this small Italian hidden gem.

8. Giardino dei Tarocchi, Garavicchio, Italy

Image by sinepax from Pixabay

This sculpture garden in Garavicchio is one of Italy’s hidden gems that is not to be missed. The larger than life sculptures represent the different cards in a Tarot deck. The French artist Niki de Saint Phalle spent the last 20 years of her life assembling the garden out of ceramics, mosaics, and glass. Spend a fanciful day off the beaten path in Italy, exploring the eclectic cartoon-like figures.

9. Umbria

Assisi in Umbria - one of Italy’s hidden gems

Image by evondue from Pixabay

Umbria has much of the same charm as its neighbor, Tuscany: gorgeous countryside, charming towns, and dreamy weather. However, it’s succeeded in remaining off the beaten path of Italy, which means you’ll encounter far fewer crowds. The hilltop towns of Trevi, Narni, and Montefalco are still relatively free from crowds of tourists. Not only is the countryside and architecture top-notch, but even Italians acknowledge that Umbria has some of the best food in the country.

10. Guggenheim Foundation and San Pietro in Volta Venice

If it’s your first trip to Italy, there’s no getting around the fact that you’ll have to visit Venice. Sadly, mass tourism has severely impacted the city, which can be a big disappointment for many first time visitors. To avoid the disillusionment, spend some of your time getting off the beaten path in Italy’s most crowded city. One of our favorite escapes is the Guggenheim Foundation Museum, it’s a bit more unknown but equally impressive as the Doge museum in Venice. Our other insider’s time is to visit the island of San Pietro in Volta. It’s one of many in the lagoon islands surrounding Venice, and you’ll be able to take a quick breather before braving the crowded narrow alleyways of larger Venice.

11. Bologna 

Another hidden gem in Italy is the medieval city of Bologna. Rivaling Prague in its beauty, Bologna impresses visitors from the outset, due to its red-hued buildings. An eclectic mix of Renaissance, medieval, and Baroque buildings, the city is also well-known among Italians for its food scene. While you’re there, pay a visit to Università di Bologna, the world’s oldest university founded in 1088.

12. Ostia Antica

Ostia Antica - one of Italy’s hidden gems

Image by neufal54 from Pixabay

Any trip to Italy isn’t complete without a visit to Rome. But just like Venice and Florence, your experience can be marred by the crowds of tourists. Ostia Antica, the old port, is one of Rome’s hidden gems. To get there, you can either take the Rome metro or a short cruise. The highlight in Ostia Antica is the Forum of the Corporations, a collection of ruins where original mosaics are still visible. You can also see examples of Roman warehouses, baths, an old pub, latrines, and countless temples, including a 2nd-century Synagogue. The best time to visit is late afternoon so that you can watch the sunset over the ocean, casting a gorgeous warm light on the ruins.

13. Ivrea’s Battle of Oranges

If you travel to Ivrea on Shrove Tuesday, you’ll encounter the Battle of Oranges, Italy’s version of the Spanish Tomatina festival. For four days, costumed people take to the normally-quiet streets of Ivrea to throw sweet oranges at each other. The festival commemorates a 12-century conflict between the townspeople and a local tyrant. Some townsfolk dress up as the oppressed villagers; some others play the part of the aristocracy. It’s impossible not to smile and join in at the absurdity of it all!

14. Puglia Region

Trulli houses in Alberobello, Puglia - one of Italy’s hidden gems

Image by Jacopo Cima from Pixabay

The ‘heel’ region of the country’s famous boot shape, the Puglia region is still relatively off the beaten path in Italy. Here, you’ll find stunning villages overlooking the Adriatic Sea like Trani, Molfetta, and Bari. Still, our favorite site is Alberobello, full of trulli – unique prehistoric dwellings with conical stone roofs. Within Puglia, visit the breathtaking city of Lecce, itself a hidden gem of Italy.

15. Via Francigena

This ancient road to Rome is Italy’s version of Spain’s Camino de Santiago. Officially, the ancient road stretches from Canterbury to Rome and has been a pilgrim’s route since AD 500. If you start north of the Italian border, the trek takes you through the Alps past the monastery that still breeds Saint Bernard rescue dogs. Walk the Roman basalt-paved roads and pass through medieval-era towns just like the pilgrims who have walked the path for centuries. When you finally arrive in Rome, you will have the quiet satisfaction of knowing that you reached this tourist mecca with your own two feet.


Are you thinking of taking a trip to Italy? Read our guide to backpacking Italy for tips on staying on budget, how to travel around, entry visas, and a handy Italian phrasebook.

Hidden gems in Italy – 15 places off the beaten path