It’s easy to feel a sense of wanderlust when you see all of the amazing places people are visiting around the world on social media. Natural turquoise waters, gurgling hot springs, cool indy music venues, nearly untouched wilderness… there’s a never-ending carousel of wonder out there. But these glimpses into faraway lands can sometimes make us forget the awe-inspiring experiences in our own backyards. Like natural turquoise waters, gurgling hot springs, cool indy music venues, and nearly untouched wilderness.
This human tendency to focus on the far away and forget about the beauty hiding in your own backyard is why we spent the past month seeking out those slightly less known treasures near major cities in the U.S. From coast to coast, we hunted down the underground experiences that you need to know about. Here are some of our favorite finds in the American south.
Try a swimming hole in Austin, Texas
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#JacobsWell has become a well worn spot on the #InstagramTrail — and no wonder, the look is almost disorienting. Check this adventure and more in @allisonnoelle957’s “Guide to Austin adventures beyond #sxsw2019” on @uproxxtravel! •• Photos by @matheusramoskc, @alayamanzella, @carleigh.a.hall, and @therealshantel
Austin, Texas may be known more for its cool festivals like South By Southwest or its delicious barbecue, but one of our favorite things to do in Austin is exploring its swimming holes. Because, really, who doesn’t love a natural swimming hole?
Austin has almost an embarrassment of riches when it comes to swimming holes. Seriously, if all you did on your Austin trip was go from swimming hole to swimming hole, pausing only occasionally to grab a taco in between, we’d think it was a fantastic way to spend a weekend. And whether you hit the classics like Barton Springs Pool, swim naked at Hippie Hollow, or leap into the depths of Jacob’s Well, you’ll totally feel like you connected to Austin far past the tourist traps.
Head to the Dry Tortugas in Florida
One of our favorite adventurers, Emily Hart, recently headed to Dry Tortugas National Park. And while the island is only 70 miles west of Key West, it’s a place many have never been. Dry Tortugas is a challenge to get to, but 0nce you do, it’s spectacular.
Dry Tortugas contains the largest masonry fort in the U.S. — made with over 16 million bricks (never totally finished). But though it has an interesting history, its real draw is found in the wild spaces — turquoise water, pristine snorkeling, and few other people. It’s a national park that feels special, sacred, and very untouched.
Read a book at The Wild Detectives in Houston
Could you imagine anything better than a cozy little house transformed into a reader’s paradise with a bookstore, coffee shop, and full bar all wrapped up in one? We literally cannot. Wild Detectives opened in Dallas in 2014, but it feels so much a part of the fabric of the city that it’s strange to think it wasn’t there forever. With cozy nooks and a welcoming backyard for daytime sunning and reading or nights spent watching performances under twinkling strings of lights, Wild Detectives is a place to disappear for hours… or days.
You know, until your family hires a private detective to track you down.
Play some streetball at Rubert Bell in Winston Salem, NC
Uproxx writer Mike Botticello loves outdoor basketball courts, so we enlisted him to tell us some of his favorite places for streetball in the country. One of his favs? Rupert Bell Rec in Winston-Salem.
“North Carolina has had a deep and passionate love for basketball that spans across generations,” he says. “With blue blood college programs like Duke and North Carolina (along with North Carolina State and Wake Forest) cultivating a bevy of wildly athletic, masterfully skilled players like David Thompson, Chris Paul and yes, the GOAT himself, Jordan, the game is in the region’s DNA.”
It’s an amazing place to catch a game that gets to the heart of basketball — with pure competition and fun (and none of the high ticket prices or hassles).
Listen to emerging musicians at The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, Tennessee
Music writer Chloe Gilke has been to hundreds of music venues across the country, but one of her favorites is
the Bluebird. This teeny tiny venue in Nashville, Tennessee hosts low key acoustic sets, but even so, has played host to some of the biggest country and folk stars in the world.
“Bluebird’s open mic nights are a great place for discovery,” she says. “Whether you’re a songwriter or industry professional looking for the next big thing or just an enthusiast ready to hear some great country.”
Skate freely in Jack Malmgren Skate Park in Sedona, Arizona
It would be hard to find a skatepark that has a more beautiful backdrop than Jack Malmgren in Sedona, Arizona, with its stunning canyon views. The juxtaposition of stark concrete with the colorful sheets of ancient red, orange, and green rock is just incredible.
There’s no better skatepark to ride in while reflecting in nature.
Groove by the beach at the Hangout Music Festival in Gulf Shores, Alabama
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And on the third day, @hangoutfest made a teal school bus that perfectly matched my #VacayAllDay swimsuit 🙌🏼 📷: @shell_osborne • • • #hangoutfest #hangoutfest2017 #hangoutfestival #hangoutmusicfestival #festivalstyle #aeriereal #beachgetaway #tanlegs #festivaloutfit #palmtrees🌴 #exploretocreate #beautifulplaces #beautifuldestinations #wonderfulplaces #travelawesome #gtlLove #passionpassport #dametraveler #wearetravelgirls #darlingescapes #sidewalkerdaily #travellushes #sheisnotlost #girlslovetravel #jetsettingchicks #girlsvglobe #bikinibod #festylife earetravelgirls #darlingescapes #sidewalkerdaily #travellushes #sheisnotlost #girlslovetravel #jetsettingchicks
Where will you be May 16th to 19th this year? Well, if the answer isn’t going to the Hangout Music Festival in Gulf Shores, Alabama, you might need to reevaluate. Teal water, white sand, and some of the coolest musical acts in the world make this festival incredibly epic.
So what are you waiting for?