13 Great Offbeat Bucket List Destinations Around the World

Overlooked offbeat bucket destinations can deliver exciting rewards

Offbeat bucket list destinations are often overlooked, yet they hold some of the most unique and thrilling travel experiences. This blog post will take you on a journey to discover these hidden gems that can offer both serene natural beauty and pulsating urban excitement.

Let’s start by exploring Southeast Asia’s hidden gem – Borneo, with its ancient temples and stunning natural landscapes. Then we’ll ascend North America’s highest paved road at Mount Evans before immersing ourselves in the high desert landscape of Big Bend National Park.

The coastal charm of Florida’s Emerald Coast and the northern wilderness of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula offer a stark contrast but are equally rewarding off beat bucket list destinations. We also suggest two exciting American road trips: one through Jackson Hole and the other to Newport, Oregon for those who love to drive.

To round things off, we’ll explore untouched nature in Cook Islands & Zimbabwe versus urban thrill in Tokyo & Montreal, before delving into lesser-known attractions in one of world’s most popular cities – New York City.

offbeat bucket list destinations borneo
Image by Laurentiu from Pixabay

Table of Contents

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Borneo – Southeast Asia’s Hidden Gem

Often overlooked by travelers and considered quite exotic, Malaysia’s Borneo isn’t as frequently recognized, but offers many experiences to explore. This UNESCO-designated destination offers alluring discoveries from temples hanging from cliff sides to hidden caves waiting for exploration. Borneo would provide an unforgettable experience for travelers looking for the out-of-the-ordinary.

Check out things to do in Borneo.

Exploring the Temples and Caves of Borneo

The Gomantong Caves, located within one of Sabah’s largest limestone hills, are among the most popular attractions in Borneo. These caves house millions of bats and swiftlets whose nests are harvested for bird’s nest soup, a delicacy in Chinese cuisine.

In addition to these fascinating caves, there are numerous ancient temples scattered across the island worth visiting. The Puh Toh Tze Temple, with its ten traditional Buddhist deities statues standing tall at its entrance, is a sight you don’t want to miss.

Pu Tho Si Temple
Stefan Fussan, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Natural Beauty of Borneo

Beyond man-made wonders like temples and caves, nature itself has blessed this island with incredible beauty. The Kinabatangan River offers opportunities for wildlife spotting including proboscis monkeys and pygmy elephants while Mount Kinabalu invites adventurous climbers seeking breathtaking views from Malaysia’s highest peak.

  • Kinabatangan River: Known as one of Southeast Asia’s most remarkable wildlife habitats; here you can see orangutans swinging through trees or crocodiles basking by riverbanks.
  • Mount Kinabalu: Standing at 4,095 meters high making it Malaysia’s highest mountain offering stunning sunrise views over lush green landscapes below. (source)

“Unleash your inner explorer and add Borneo to your bucket list. From ancient temples to wildlife spotting, this hidden gem in Southeast Asia has it all. #travelgoals #offthebeatenpath ??” Click to Tweet

Find and book places to stay in Borneo:

Mount Evans & Big Bend National Park – Colorado’s Peaks and Texas Valleys

If you’re in search of an adventure that brings together adrenaline-pumping heights and tranquil desert scenes, Mount Evans and Big Bend National Park should be top priority. These two Colorado destinations offer a unique blend of terrains that will satisfy any outdoor enthusiast.

Driving Up North America’s Highest Paved Road

Mount Evans, located just 60 miles west of Denver, is home to North America’s highest paved road – the Mount Evans Scenic Byway. This spectacular drive takes you up to an elevation of over 14,000 feet where breathtaking views await at every turn.

The journey offers stunning panoramas of alpine lakes, ancient bristlecone pine trees, and if you’re lucky enough, some local wildlife such as mountain goats or bighorn sheep.

mount evans colorado
Image by Kimkopy from Pixabay

At the peak, you’ll be treated to an astonishing vista across the Rockies that will leave you in absolute wonder. But remember, altitude can affect people differently, so take it slow and enjoy the ride.

Find places to stay near Mount Evans:

Discovering Big Bend National Park’s High Desert Landscape

Moving from peaks to valleys, our next stop is Big Bend National Park. Situated along Texas’ southwestern border with Mexico, this park covers more than 800 thousand acres, making it one of America’s largest national parks. It offers diverse ecosystems ranging from riverine environments through Chihuahuan Desert up to Chisos Mountains.

  • You’ll find hundreds of bird species alongside numerous types of mammals, reptiles, and even amphibians within its boundaries.
  • Hiking enthusiasts will love exploring its extensive trail network, which includes paths leading down into deep limestone canyons or up onto rugged mountaintops.
  • Campers too have plenty of options, whether they prefer developed campgrounds or backcountry sites providing solitude amidst nature.
santa elena canyon big bend national park
Image by Yinan Chen from Pixabay

No matter your adventure preference, these two destinations offer a variety of experiences to satisfy all types of travelers.

Find places to stay near Big Bend National Park:

Key Takeaway: 

Mount Evans in Colorado and Big Bend National Park in Texas offer unique terrains that will satisfy any outdoor enthusiast. Mount Evans has North America’s highest paved road, while Big Bend offers diverse ecosystems ranging from riverine environments through the Chihuahuan Desert up into the Chisos Mountains. These destinations provide vastly different experiences for adventure seekers.

Florida’s Emerald Coast & Michigan’s Upper Peninsula – Coastal Charm Meets Northern Wilderness

If you’re a beach lover, skip the mountains and deserts and head straight to Florida’s Emerald Coast. This charming coastline is home to quaint towns that are perfect for any vacation bucket list. Or, if you’re in the mood for breathtaking views and great shopping, head north to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Experiencing the Charming Towns along Florida’s Emerald Coast

Florida’s coast is no secret, but the real treasure lies in its small and quaint towns. These places are brimming with southern charm and hospitality that can make anyone feel at home instantly.

See our related write-up on Florida’s Forgotten Coast, just south.

destin florida coastal view
Destin Vacation Boat Rentals, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Destin, Fort Walton Beach, and Okaloosa Island are renowned for their white sandy beaches and emerald green waters – a popular destination along the Florida coast. For those seeking an outdoor adventure, the area provides plenty of opportunities for fishing, golfing, boating and beach picnics.

Find a place to stay on Florida’s Emerald Coast:

Shopping Amidst Nature in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula offers a unique blend of natural beauty and urban amenities, making it an ideal destination for those who love both nature walks and city life. The peninsula is famous for its picturesque landscapes featuring waterfalls, lighthouses, and forests teeming with wildlife like moose and wolves, providing ample photo ops.

upper peninsula michigan shoreline of lake superior
Yinan Chen, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Apart from these natural wonders, there are also plenty of shopping opportunities available here ranging from local artisanal shops selling handmade crafts to high-end boutiques offering boho labels and jewelry, ensuring every shopper finds something they love. A visit here would not be complete without trying out some delicious pasties (traditional meat pies) which have become synonymous with this region over time due to their popularity among locals and tourists alike.

Find a place to stay in the Upper Peninsula:

In summary, whether you enjoy relaxing by the seaside or exploring uncharted territories amidst wild untouched nature, both destinations offer unique experiences worth adding to your travel bucket list today.

Key Takeaway: 

Florida’s Emerald Coast and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula are two off-beat bucket list destinations that offer unique experiences. Florida’s coast has charming towns with white sandy beaches, while Michigan’s Upper Peninsula offers a blend of natural beauty and visitor amenities, including picturesque landscapes featuring waterfalls, lighthouses, and forests teeming with wildlife. Both destinations provide ample opportunities for shopping and indulging in local cuisine.

Jackson Hole & Newport – Offbeat American Road Trip Destinations

For those seeking an unconventional yet captivating travel experience, consider adding Jackson Hole and Newport to your bucket list. These destinations offer unique attractions that will make your road trip unforgettable.

Taking the Scenic Route Through Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Jackson Hole, located in the heart of Wyoming, is known for its picturesque landscapes and popularity among celebrities. For those looking to explore the area, Jackson Hole provides a wealth of outdoor opportunities from hiking and fishing to skiing in winter. The Grand Teton National Park nearby boasts stunning mountain views that are perfect for photography enthusiasts.

  • Hiking: With numerous trails available, choose one according to your fitness level and desired scenery.
  • Fishing: The Snake River running through Jackson Hole is renowned for its fly-fishing opportunities.
  • Skiing: Come winter, the slopes here turn into a paradise for skiers with resorts catering to all skill levels.
tetons with buffalo
Image by Shepard Humphries from Pixabay

Find a place to stay in Jackson Hole:

Delving into Newport Oregon And Its Surroundings

If coastal charm is more up your alley, then head over to Newport. Located on Oregon’s rugged coastlines, this quaint city serves as an excellent base while exploring the state’s natural beauty. From lighthouses standing tall against crashing waves to seafood delicacies at local eateries – there’s something for everyone here.

  • Lighthouse Tour: The iconic Yaquina Head Lighthouse should be on top of any visitor’s itinerary when visiting Newport.
  • Culinary Delights: Newport offers fresh seafood dishes like clam chowder or Dungeness crab caught right from their waters. Don’t forget to try some locally brewed craft beers too.
oregon coast
Image by Kara Skye from Pixabay

Check out places to stay in Newport, Oregon:

Texas Hill Country – A Road Trip Outlier

In addition to these offbeat locations within United States borders, Texas Hill Country provides another great destination filled with rolling hills, wineries, and historical sites, making it worth considering if planning a cross-country drive anytime soon.

Use our interactive map to discover places to stay in the Texas Hill Country:

Key Takeaway: 

Jackson Hole and Newport, Oregon are two offbeat American road trip destinations that offer unique attractions for travelers seeking an unconventional yet captivating experience. Jackson Hole is known for its picturesque landscapes, outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, and skiing during winter months while Newport offers coastal charm with lighthouses, seafood delicacies at local eateries, and locally brewed craft beers. Texas Hill Country is another great destination filled with rolling hills, wineries, and historical sites worth considering if planning a cross-country drive anytime soon.

Cook Islands or Zimbabwe vs Tokyo or Montreal – Choosing Between Untouched Nature And Urban Excitement

Selecting a dream holiday spot can be challenging, but it is ultimately up to one’s individual preference. Do you prefer the serenity of untouched nature or the excitement of a bustling city? Let’s explore two options for each type of traveler.

Untouched Nature in the Cook Islands or Zimbabwe

The Cook Islands, situated in the South Pacific Ocean, present an ideal haven away from civilization with their untouched beaches and abundant vegetation. These islands remain relatively unspoiled by mass tourism, making them perfect for those seeking tranquility and adventure alike.

cook islands tropical beach
Image by Julius Silver from Pixabay

Over in Africa, Zimbabwe is a nature lover’s paradise. Home to Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, this country also boasts diverse wildlife found in national parks like Hwange and Mana Pools. Don’t miss the rich cultural heritage displayed at Great Zimbabwe National Monument.

elephants in zimbabwe
Image by Styx9 from Pixabay

Urban Excitement in Tokyo and Montreal

If you’re a city slicker, Tokyo is the place to be. This buzzing metropolis is filled with towering skyscrapers and neon lights, but traditional Japanese culture remains deeply ingrained within society. You can see this unique blend of old and new worlds through temples nestled amongst high rises or sushi bars next to cutting-edge robot restaurants.

shibuya crossing tokyo japan
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Montreal offers European vibes without needing to cross the Atlantic. This Canadian city charms visitors with its cobblestone streets lined with quaint boutiques and cafes. Don’t miss the stunning architecture of Notre-Dame Basilica, Saint Joseph Oratory, and Mount Royal Park, which offers panoramic views of the entire area. It’s definitely worthy of a spot on your bucket list.

“Ready to check off some unique destinations from your bucket list? Explore the untouched nature of Cook Islands and Zimbabwe or the urban excitement of Tokyo and Montreal. #travelgoals #offbeatdestinations ” Click to Tweet

New York City – A World Famous Destination With Hidden Gems

Despite being famous worldwide, New York City still manages to surprise visitors. Every visit could feel like your first time. This section will help uncover some less-known but equally exciting spots within NYC that deserve a spot on your bucket list.

Discovering Lesser Known Attractions Of New York City

If you’re looking for something off the beaten path in the Big Apple, consider these hidden gems:

  • The Cloisters: Located in Fort Tryon Park, the Cloisters branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art is dedicated to medieval Europe. It’s an oasis of tranquility amidst the city hustle.
  • Roosevelt Island Tramway: For a unique perspective of Manhattan skyline, take a ride on this aerial tramway connecting Roosevelt Island to Upper East Side.
  • The High Line: An elevated park built on former railroad tracks offers stunning views, greenery, and public art installations.

Besides these sites, there are neighborhoods worth exploring too. Venture into Brooklyn’s DUMBO district or check out Harlem’s vibrant culture scene.

If food is what draws you, head over to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, often referred to as the ‘real Little Italy’ for an authentic Italian cuisine experience away from tourist crowds at Manhattan’s Little Italy.

No matter how many times you’ve visited before or even if it’s your first trip ever; NYC always has something new up its sleeve making every visit feel fresh and exciting.

Find a place to stay in NYC:

nyc skyline
Image by Noel from Pixabay

Key Takeaway: 

Off-beat bucket list attractions and activities in New York City: The Cloisters, Roosevelt Island Tramway, local neighborhoods like Brooklyn’s DUMBO district, authentic Italian cuisine at Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. Add these new experiences to your travel bucket list when visiting NYC.

FAQs in Relation to Off Beat Bucket List Destinations

Unique and Off-Beat Bucket List Destinations

Explore Borneo’s temples, drive up Colorado’s Mount Evans, relax on Florida’s Emerald Coast, discover Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, visit Jackson Hole in Tennessee, experience Newport in Rhode Island, escape to the Cook Islands in the South Pacific, or go on a safari in Zimbabwe.

Discovering Hidden Gems for Your Bucket List

Research online on credible travel blogs, social media platforms like Instagram or Pinterest, or watch travel documentaries to find lesser-known, hidden gems.

Tips and Tricks for Finding Unusual Places to Add to Your Bucket List

Connect with locals by booking a tour to gain insider knowledge about spots that aren’t typically visited by tourists.

Interesting and Unexpected Activities for Your Bucket List Travels

Explore caves in Borneo, drive up North America’s highest paved road at Mount Evans, shop amidst nature in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, or go on a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia, Turkey.

Resources for Planning an Off-Beat Trip or Customized Itinerary

Don’t forget to check out TripAdvisor, and search PassingThru posts for comprehensive guides and tips on planning trips to unconventional destinations around the world.

Offbeat Bucket List Destinations Spice Up Your Travel Game

Ready to spice up your travel game? Check out these off beat bucket list destinations that offer unique experiences for adventurous travelers.

  • Explore exotic Borneo, where you can witness orangutans in their natural habitat.
  • Take an offbeat road trip through Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and discover the stunning natural beauty of the Grand Tetons.
  • Experience the coastal charm of Newport, Oregon, where you can indulge in Bayfront shopping and dine on fresh catch of the day.
  • Drive up North America’s highest paved road in Colorado and take in breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains.
  • Experience the untouched nature of Zimbabwe on a safari adventure.

Don’t settle for the same old tourist traps – these destinations offer a diverse range of amazing things to see and experiences that will leave you with unforgettable memories.

13 offbeat bucket list destinations

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