12 Gorgeous Vacation Spots That Are Seriously Underrated 0 14

Vacations to big cities, popular national parks, or famous resort towns can be a lot of fun, but sometimes it can be just as rewarding to visit a lesser-known spot.

Here is a look at some of the most underrated vacation spots around the United States, and a few abroad as well.

Sedona, Arizona


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The Grand Canyon gets most of the attention in northern Arizona, but Sedona, a couple hours south, has scenery that’s just as impressive. Beautiful red sandstone rock formations surround the city and hiking, biking, and mountain climbing opportunities are easy to find nearby.

Denali National Park, Alaska


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Alaska has an abundance of untouched wilderness, and this is especially true of Denali National Park, a six million acre expanse of solitude and tranquility.

Taos, New Mexico


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Santa Fe usually takes the spotlight in New Mexico, but further north in Taos is a city that offers a more authentic, less expensive, and far less commercial vacation. The town offers a number of historic landmarks, and is known for its nearby ski slopes during the winter.

Asheville, North Carolina


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Asheville, North Carolina has long been host to a vibrant live music scene, with the city’s downtown offering a combination of Southern charm and hippie creativity. The scenic town is also a major hub of whitewater recreation, and is surrounded by numerous mountains, trails, and swimming holes.

Belfast, Northern Ireland


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Belfast has long been avoided by tourists in Ireland due to its legacy of IRA bombings and urban slums, but the Northern Ireland capital has seen a transformation in recent years. The city has seen an economic revival thanks to the technology sector, and has regained its reputation as a center for the arts, higher education, business, and law.

Glacier National Park, Montana


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Montana’s Glacier National Park is often overshadowed by some of the other national parks, but it merits attention. The park encompasses over 1 million acres, parts of two mountain ranges, over 130 named lakes, more than 1,000 different species of plants, and hundreds of species of animals. The pristine ecosystem is the centerpiece of what has been referred to as the “Crown of the Continent Ecosystem,” a region of protected land encompassing 16,000 square miles.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


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Philadelphia is often overshadowed by nearby New York and Washington, D.C., but the city is home to a number of historic landmarks, including Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed, and Elfreth’s Alley Historic District, the country’s oldest residential neighborhood in continuous use.

Mackinac Island, Michigan


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Mackinac Island, Michigan is a lesser-known retreat in the state, and a peaceful one, as due to a local ordinance, motor vehicles aren’t allowed. The Grand Hotel offers amazing views of Lake Huron as well, and the island is famed for its fudge.

Adelaide, Australia


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Adelaide is often overlooked for other cities like Sydney or Melbourne in Australia, but the city delivers a unique personality as a vacation spot. Adelaide is well known for its art scene and collection of museums, and features a culturally diverse mix of restaurants.

Puebla, Mexico


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Puebla is one of the less popular tourist destinations in Mexico, as it lacks the pristine beaches of resort towns like Cancun, but the city is one of the country’s most historic Spanish colonial cities, and is famous for its ancient Mayan ruins, as well as being the site of the famous battle that spurred the Cinco de Mayo celebrations today. Puebla is also considered by many to be the food capital of Mexico, as it offers cuisine influenced heavily by ancient Mayan recipes.

The Apostle Islands, Wisconsin


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The Apostle Islands on Lake Superior in Wisconsin are known for the numerous caves and rocky cliffs visitors can explore by kayak, as well as its scenic lighthouses overlooking the lake.

St. Augustine, Florida


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St. Augustine is one of the oldest continuously occupied European settlements in the United States, and features beautiful white sand beaches and a host of historic landmarks.

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Throughout History, People Have Been Convinced That Hell Is Accessible At These Places 0 93

Lyra Radford

 Religious teachings may vary, but a common concept embraced by many is that the souls of those who committed terrible acts in life will be forced to suffer in the afterlife. Hell, Hades, Guinee—the names are different but they all describe an underworld that many believe can be accessed from Earth through gateways across the globe.

The Masaya Volcano

Verses.comWhile the native people of Masaya believed the volcano contained a sorceress and was quite possible a god, Spanish explorers came over and deduced that the volcano was in fact, a gateway to hell.

It was believed so strongly to have demonic connections that in 1529, a friar by the name of Francisco de Bobadilla decided an exorcism of the fire-breathing mountain was in order. He hiked up to its “hell mouth” with a large cross to rid it of all evil.

Fengdu, China: The Ghost City

China Photos/Getty Images News/Getty ImagesFengdu China is known as The City of Ghosts because it is rich with souls on their way to Naraka, which is the underworld in Chinese mythology. The streets are adorned with elaborate statues of ghosts, demons, and mythical beings that reside in the underworld, waiting to torture the wicked. There are life-sized dioramas depicting hellish torment.

According to legend, the recently dead must cross the Bridges of Helplessness to accept judgment. Then they must confront the Mirror of Retribution before being reincarnated or begin the journey of torture necessary to make their souls fit for the Wheel of Rebirth.

St. Patrick’s Purgatory, Lough Derg, Ireland

mapio.comSt. Patrick’s Purgatory is a monastery on Station Island that was founded in the 15th century. It’s said that when St. Patrick visited the island, he was sent visions from Jesus of hellish torments during his time on the island. He was led to a cave, containing a pit to purgatory. St. Patrick was bombarded by visions of the punishment of souls prior to being allowed entry into heaven, as well as visions of those carried off to hell for eternal torment.

Since the 12th century, Station Island has attracted Catholic pilgrims that would pray and fast for days before subjecting themselves to a full day shut inside of the cave. The justices of Ireland had the cave closed in 1632, but this didn’t stop these devoted Catholics from praying near the site. Today, three-day pilgrimages are permitted on the island.

The Mayan Cenotes

Patryk Kosmider/iStock/Getty ImagesThese breathtaking underground waterways flowing throughout Central America and Mexico are believed to be portals to the ancient Maya underworld, called Xibalba. Caves were often thought to be portals for many cultures because they literally transition from the bright, outside world of the living to a deep, dark abyss.

Vast chambers with temples, scattered pottery, and even human remains have been found throughout these caves. It is believed anyone suspected of witchcraft was tossed into this hell-gate, as were those with physical ailments.

One of the most famous skeletons recovered from this site is the Crystal Maiden. These remains belong to a girl about 18 years old, believed to have been a ritual sacrifice to please the gods of death and the underworld. Her bones have calcified over the last thousand years, creating a shimmering effect, hence the name Crystal Maiden.

The Acheron, Greece

Make My Trip.comThe Acheron, prominently depicted in classical mythology, is an actual river that flows through northwest Greece and is known as the River of Woe. The ancient Greeks believed there were several entrances into hades, one of which was at the Necromanteion of Ephyra on the Acheron.

In Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus must travel to the underworld, locating the point when Acheron meets with the Pyriphlegethon. In Dante’s Inferno, the river serves as an eternal waiting room of sorts. Those who were indecisive, remaining neutral between good and evil during their lifetime, were left to sit on the banks of the Acheron.

Iceland’s Mount Hekla

Halldor Kolbeins/AFP/Getty ImagesHekla sits in Iceland’s southern mountains and has been believed to be a gateway to hell since the 12th century. In 1341, claims of large birds flying in and around Hekla’s fiery pits were published in the manuscript “Flatey Book Annal.” These birds were thought to be the souls of the damned. The monk Benedict penned a poem about the 1120 voyage of Saint Brendan, and in it, he described Hekla as the “eternal prison of Judas” after his betrayal of Jesus.

The Cave of Sibyl

Wikimedia CommonsOne of the oldest known alleged gateways to the underworld is the cave of Sibyl. Two thousand years ago the Romans began writing about this diabolical doorway. In Virgil’s classic work “The Aeneid,” he tells of the cave where Aeneas encounters the 700-year old oracle and priestess, Sibyl who serves as his guide, her voice endlessly echoing off the caverns, as he descends into hell.

The Hell Pond of Beppu City, Japan

Louis Rodriguez, Ritebook.comBuddhist texts dating back to 700 A.D. have mentioned the nine hot springs within the Beppu City. One of these naturally occurring bodies of water is strikingly red, gurgles mud, and is named Chinoike Jigoku, or the Bloody Hell Pond. The 78-degree pond was believed to be a bubbling portal to hell and was used to torture prisoners. Now, the pond is surrounded by a spa and its hell slime is bottled and sold as a skin cream.

Pluto’s Gate Denizli Province, Turkey

Wikimedia CommonsPluto’s Gate was believed to be another entranceway into the underworld by the ancient Greeks and Romans. The reason this small cave near Apollo’s Temple was so widely feared is because the tunnels below it contained toxic fumes. These fumes would seep out through the cave and cause hallucinations in anyone who inhaled them. These vapors also killed birds and other small animals nearby, which completely freaked people out because they didn’t understand what was happening so the land developed a reputation for being demonic in origin.

The Houska Castle

Mostly Ghostly.comNorth of Prague in the Czech Republic is the Houska Castle, which is said to be built over a pit that leads to hell. According to legend, in the 13th century King Ottokar II was so curious about what was within its depths that he was willing to pardon any prisoner who agreed to be lowered into it and tell him what was down there.

Apparently within seconds of lowering the first volunteer, screams of panic erupted through the pit and they quickly pulled him back up. The man’s hair had turned white from fear and they could barely understand the gibberish pouring out of his mouth. Eventually, they gathered that vile, winged, somewhat humanoid creatures were the pits inhabitants.

After this discovery, the castle was built over it; a castle without a kitchen, or a source of water, or any real resources for defense against outside intruders. This is because the castle isn’t meant for humans to inhabit, it’s meant to contain the demons beneath it. The current owners have decided to capitalize on the castle’s dark history and have turned it into a haunted attraction for tourists.

The Most Extreme Body Modifications Throughout History 0 116

Lyra Radford

 From foot binding to neck stretching, from skull elongating to teeth sharpening, various cultures have endured long and painful processes in order to mold themselves into the shapes they believe appeases their gods and cultural standards.

Kayan Neck Stretching

Wikimedia CommonsThe practice of neck stretching begins at the young age of five for the female population of this northern Thai tribe. They start the process with four-pound coils around their necks, which is gradually increased up to 25 coils. The idea is to stretch the neck out and that’s what the coils appear to do, however, the weight of the coils is actually pushing the collarbone and shoulders down.

The Kayan women say it feels as though the coils are just another part of their body. The possible reasons for this practice vary. One reason is that women with longer and slimmer necks are more desirable in this culture. Another is that it makes the women appear more dragon-like and these mythical creatures are very important throughout Kayan folklore.

Teeth Sharpening

Farandulaya.comVarious cultures take part in the tooth sharpening practice. Mayans would sharpen and carve designs in their teeth, distinguishing them as members of the higher class. The Mentawai people, who live in Indonesia, believe sharpened teeth are a standard of beauty. The sharper and more narrow the teeth, the more desirable the woman is.

It is not mandatory in their culture, but many Mentawai teenage girls go through the painful process of having their teeth chiseled to attract the opposite sex. It’s considered a rite of passage.

Scarification

WikiMedia CommonsThough many cultures are embarrassed by scarring and go through procedures to reduce their appearance, some cultures actually scar themselves on purpose and consider them something to wear proudly. Many African tribes participate in scarification as a rite of passage.

The Dinka tribe of South Sudan practice facial scarring, etching patterns into girls for beauty and three lines across the faces of boys to represent manhood. The Sepik River Tribes in Papua New Guinea spend weeks performing scarification rituals. The elders slice the pattern of alligator scales into the backs of young men. They believe the alligator devours boyhood, leaving behind only a man capable of protecting his tribe.

Ear Stretching

PinterestEar stretching is an old custom still practiced in modern day all across the globe as a statement. Tribal cultures have used ear stretching not only as a symbol of beauty and a rite of passage, it also has religious meaning, and was believed to ward off witchcraft and various forms of evil.

Mursi Lip Plating

Wikimedia CommonsLip plating or lip stretching is one of the oldest body modification practices. It can be traced back to 8700 B.C. It’s been practiced throughout various parts of the world, like Africa, South America, and Europe, but it’s the people of the Mursi tribe in Ethiopia that still practice it today.

Prior to marriage, as young as 13 years old, the females of the tribe get a lip piercing and fill the hole with a small stick. Then they spend anywhere from six months to a full year adding clay plates in the hole. Each time the plate gets bigger and heavier, stretching the lip out as far as it will go.

Nose Plugs

Wikimedia CommonsThe original goal of nose plugs for the women of the Apatani tribe in India was to become unattractive. They did this as a form of protection, believing if they were undesired by the men of other tribes, they wouldn’t be kidnapped or sexually assaulted.

Feet Binding

The Sun.co.ukFor almost a thousand years, the little girls of China would have their feet tightly wrapped in bandages in hopes of stopping the foot’s growth. This caused their toes to curl and the feet to shrivel in on themselves and creating the illusion of petite and more attractive feet, when they were actually just causing deformities and crippling themselves and their children.

Feet measuring no longer than three inches and crescent in shape were the most desired. In addition to being a symbol of beauty, smaller feet reflected a higher social status and wealth. After all, women who didn’t need their feet to work must have wealthy families. Foot binding was banned from China in the 20th century but there are still elderly women alive today, suffering withdisabilities because of this painful, old custom.

Victorian Corsets And Tight Lacing

PinterestThe most well-known body modification tool is the corset. The Victorian-era corset was basically the same concept as foot binding, just on a larger part of the body. Women would tightly bind their entire torso, just to squeeze their waists and create an hourglass figure. This practice altered the shape of the rib cage, it constricted airflow and put women at risk for liver displacement and heart and lung damage. Tight lacing techniques and corsets still exist in modern society, they just aren’t as widely used as they once were.

Breast Ironing in Cameroon

Veronique De Viguerie/Getty Images News/Getty ImagesBreast ironing is a mortifying technique used to stop a young woman’s breasts from growing. Women in Cameroon will use hot spatulas and pestles on their daughters’ chest in hopes of melting the fat and flattening the breasts.

Prior to puberty, around the age of eight or nine, girls are tightly bandaged, keeping their chests flat. Anything that grows later in life gets treated. This is to make women more undesirable to men and so they can focus on school. Not only does this technique not stop breast growth, it actually causes severe physiological damage and can lead to health issues like cysts, breast cancer, and trouble breastfeeding.

Skull Elongation

Wikimedia CommonsThe act of skull elongation can be traced back as far as 45,000 years ago and was practiced by several ancient cultures. Skulls have been excavated from Iraq, Egypt, and Peru and evidence suggests they started in infancy when the skull is still soft and not fully formed. They would wrap cloth and sometimes use boards for support to direct the head up and backwards into an elongated shape.

It’s believed to be a sign of higher ranking in social status and is directly tied the images of their gods. These findings have led to numerous theories centered on the possibility of ancient alien contact.

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