The Hidden Gems Report

Published by: BouncePosted

With the rise of review sites and social media, ‘undiscovered’ treasures of the world are fast becoming uncovered. 

But where in the UK & the USA is home to the highest number of ‘hidden gems’? And what are the real hidden gems of each country? 

The travel experts at Bounce have done the legwork to reveal the best hidden gem attractions worldwide, from Washington D.C. to London, investigating TripAdvisor reviews and Google search data.

The US States with the most hidden gems

1. Colorado - 10.51% of attractions are hidden gems

Colorado has the most significant percentage of hidden gems of all US states, at 10.51%. There are 9,481 attractions on TripAdvisor, 996 of which are classified as hidden gems. Colorado's most searched-for hidden attraction is the Garden Of The Gods, which saw 2,973,000 searches over 2023. 

The Garden Of The Gods is an 862-acre national park in Colorado Springs. Known for exceptional hiking and rock climbing routes, the Garden Of The Gods is a geological wonder for fans of the outdoors. 

2. Alaska - 9.97% of attractions are hidden gems

Alaska has the second-largest percentage of hidden gems of all 50 US states. There are 3,151 attractions on TripAdvisor in Alaska, 314 of which are hidden gems, taking Alaska’s hidden gem percentage to 9.97%. The highest-rated hidden gem in Alaska is the Alaska Native Heritage Center. 

The Alaska Native Heritage Center is an educational center presenting Alaskan native culture through storytelling, dancing, and craft-making. The center features simulated, life-sized villages representing the five main indigenous groups.

3. Wyoming - 6.88% of attractions are hidden gems

Wyoming has the third-largest percentage of hidden gems at 6.88%. Of the 1,745 attractions in Wyoming, 120 of them are hidden gems. Wyoming's highest-rated hidden gem on TripAdvisor is the Devil's Tower National Monument, an 870-foot stone monument. 

Thought to have been created from the remains of a volcano, the Devil's Tower National Monument is the center of many native Indian religious ceremonies. The monument is a spectacular sight, and the drive to reach it has some fantastic views. 

The UK cities with the most hidden gems

1. Coventry - 9.84% of attractions are hidden gems

Coventry has the highest percentage of attractions in UK cities, at 9.84%. Coventry is home to 193 attractions, 19 of which are classed as hidden gems on TripAdvisor. The highest-rated hidden gem attraction in Coventry is the Coventry Music Museum.

The Coventry Music Museum celebrates music from Coventry and Warwickshire in all its forms, going back to the Roman occupation. The most famous bands from Coventry include The Specials and The Selecter.

2. Belfast - 6.13% of attractions are hidden gems

In Belfast, 45 of the 734 attractions in the city are considered hidden gems. This means Belfast’s hidden gem percentage is 6.13%, the second highest of all UK cities. The most popular hidden gem in Belfast is Streamvale Open Farm. 

At this farm, children can get real hands-on experience with farm animals, handling and feeding them with the farm’s staff. There are also many different play areas for kids to have as much fun as possible.

3. Edinburgh - 5.33% of attractions are hidden gems

The Scottish capital of Edinburgh has the third highest percentage of hidden gem attractions at 5.33%. Of the 1,838 attractions in Edinburgh, 98 are considered hidden gems. The highest-rated hidden gem attraction in Edinburgh is the Edinburgh Gin Distillery.

According to TripAdvisor, the Edinburgh Gin Distillery also ranks among the UK’s top 10 highest-rated hidden gems. The Edinburgh Gin Distillery offers a unique distillery experience, including everything from tours to tasting and gin-making. 

The most popular hidden gems in the US

1. Sedona, Arizona - 4,662,000 global Google searches

The most popular hidden gem in the USA over 2023 was Sedona, Arizona, which received a whopping 4.7 million searches on Google over the year. Sedona is a desert town near Flagstaff that is most known for being surrounded by red-rock buttes, steep canyon walls, and pine forests. 

Sedona’s unique location and views make it a sight to behold as you gaze up at the high buttles and canyons surrounding the town. Sedona is also noted for having a mild climate and vibrant arts community. 

2. Mackinac Island, Michigan - 4,017,000 global Google searches

With just over 500 people, the small town of Mackinac Island, Michigan, is the US's second most popular hidden gem. This gem received a massive 4 million searches on Google over 2023. 

The town is known for a unique law prohibiting using motor vehicles on the island. The exceptions to this rule are snowmobiles in the winter and emergency vehicles. The most common means of travel on Mackinac Island is by foot, bicycle, or horse or horse-drawn carriage. Roller skates and rollerblades are also popular. 

3. Chattanooga, Tennessee - 3,892,000 global Google searches

Chattanooga, a city in Tennessee, is the third most searched-for hidden gem in the USA, recording almost 4 million Google searches over 2023. Chattanooga is set along the Tennessee River in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The city features sweeping views, sandstone formations, and gardens. 

Chattanooga played an essential role during the American Civil War. Many attractions center around the USA’s Civil War history, including numerous battlefield parks in and around the city. 

The most popular hidden gems in the UK

1. Bangor - 1,585,000 global Google searches

Bangor is the oldest city in Wales and the most popular hidden gem in the UK. The city pulled in 1.5 million Google searches over 2023, over 300,000 more searches than the runner-up on this list. 

Bangor is home to heritage sites such as Bangor Cathedral, which has been used for Christian worship since the 6th century and is full of gothic columns and stained glass windows, and Penrhyn Castle and coastal footpath, featuring extensive gardens that are ideal for kids to explore among the backdrop of mountains. 

2. Dartmoor - 1,181,500 global Google searches

Dartmoor ranks as the second most popular hidden gem in the UK, reaching 1.2 million Google searches over the last year. Dartmoor National Park is a vast moorland in southwest England. Defined by forests, rivers, wetlands, and exciting rock formations, Dartmoor is a great place for an outdoor adventure.

Areas of Dartmoor have been used as military firing ranges for over 200 years. The public has restricted access to the firing ranges alongside vast access to the rest of the park. You may even spot the Dartmoor ponies that roam Dartmoor’s craggy landscape. 

3. Ludlow - 987,000 global Google searches

Ludlow is the UK’s third most searched-for hidden gem, seeing just shy of 1 million searches over 2023. Ludlow is a quaint market town in Shropshire, England, packed with architecture from the Medieval, Tudor, and Georgian periods. In fact, Ludlow has over 500 listed buildings.

There is a thriving town center market that takes place multiple times a week and a busy livestock market that takes place year-round. Check out the architecture, visit the markets, or enjoy some refreshments in the many historic inns and taverns dotted around the town. 

TripAdvisor’s best hidden gem attractions in the US

1. Louisville Mega Cavern, Louisville, KY - 94.95% excellent and very good reviews

The Louisville Mega Cavern, once a former limestone mine, now offers many underground adventures, including tram-guided tours, ziplines, a ropes course, and a mountain bike park. The cavern stretches under parts of the Watterson Expressway and the Louisville Zoo. There is also a Mega Tram tour where you can learn all about the geology and history of this man-made cavern. 

2. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Mountain Springs, NV - 96.10% excellent and very good reviews

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is an area of worldwide geologic interest, attracting amateur and professional geologists worldwide. Lying in Nevada’s Mojave Desert, it’s most known for its stunning geological features, including towering red sandstone peaks and the Keystone Thrust Fault. You can also find Native American petroglyphs (rock carvings).

3. Parrot Mountain & Gardens, Pigeon Forge, TN - 95.77% excellent and very good reviews

The aptly named Parrot Mountain and Gardens is a 4-acre landscaped garden home to hundreds of birds from all over the world. Approximately 70 birds sit on open perches that you can watch fly above you or even feed them seed from your hand. Visitors also have the opportunity to purchase their very own baby parrot to return home with them. 

TripAdvisor’s best hidden gem attractions in the UK

1. Birmingham Back to Backs, Birmingham - 98.06%

Once home to the sprawling industrial population of Birmingham in the 19th century, the Birmingham Back to Backs is now operated as a historic house museum by the National Trust. People from around the world came to live and work side-by-side in these tiny terraced houses, which today offer a unique insight into the history of the working classes.

2. Victoria Tunnel, Newcastle upon Tyne - 98.49%

The Victoria Tunnel is a subterranean wagonway that runs under Newcastle upon Tyne. The tunnel runs all the way from the Town Moor down to the River Tyne. Once used to transport coal for export, the tunnel was later repurposed as an air-raid shelter at the start of the Second World War. Today, you can enjoy guided tours through the Victoria Tunnel and learn about Newcastle’s history.

3. National Coal Mining Museum, Wakefield - 98.02%

The National Coal Mining Museum, located in Wakefield, England, is the place to experience the fascinating world of coal mining as you take a guided 140m underground tour to discover 180 years of mining history. Investigate the miners' working conditions and see the tools and machines they used as the industry developed.

Methodology

Using numerous online articles, we built a list of over 180 hidden gem attractions and landmarks across the USA and over 80 across the UK.

For each, we then found the number of global Google searches between January and December 2023 from Google Keywords Planner.

The total number of hidden gems and attractions was taken from TripAdvisor for each US state and 20 of the UK’s largest cities. The percentage of hidden gem attractions was then calculated. The top US and UK hidden gems were taken from TripAdvisor. 

All data is correct as of January 23, 2024. 

TripAdvisor’s ranking system favors newer reviews over old and outdated ones. This means that businesses with regular quality ratings will rank higher than ones that have a mix of both good and poor reviews or those with only good but old reviews.

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