Marissa blogs at It’s The Little Things, which is all about her travel adventures and appreciating the little things in life. Her blog began as a way to share her experiences when she studied abroad in the United Kingdom, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. She is currently based in Colorado where she searches for any experiences to temporarily cure her wanderlust in between traveling the world. When she is not writing or traveling, Marissa likes to go hiking, biking, or running. You can connect with her via social media on Twitter or Facebook
1) What hidden gems of the country (s) you visited could you share with someone who has never been there?
The United States has an enormous amount of destinations to visit, and narrowing it down can be a challenge. If you decide on the colourful state of Colorado, you must explore the hidden gem of Nederland, Colorado. It’s a small town only 17 miles southwest from Boulder and about 45 miles from Denver. Nederland was previously a mining town, but after the mining boom ended there was an inflow of hippies into the town that introduced the vibrant culture that still exists in Nederland today.
2) Any places you would recommend that visitors may not find in a guidebook?
There’s plenty of hiking to take advantage of in Nederland, but one of my favourites is Mud Lake. It’s an easy hike, and is less than two miles if you cover all the trails. My favourite thing about it is the peacefulness of the trail. You may see a few other pedestrians here and there, but for the most part it’s just you and nature (and maybe a hiking partner or two). Hidden in the trail is the beautiful Mud Lake, which is preserved for the wildlife so you won’t see any swimmers or boaters out there. This is a great way to enjoy the serenity of the outdoors thanks to an “off the beaten path” location.
3) What is your favourite place you have visited and why is it your favourite that’s not considered off the beaten path. For example, Paris would not be considered off the beaten path but you stumbled upon something hidden there that you weren’t expecting to find, whether it was a walking trail or place where the locals hang out?
I’m going to jump to San Diego, California for this one. This is a popular tourist destination, especially since San Diego is known for their great weather. The last time I visited the city, on one of my last few days I ventured into San Diego’s Little Italy (which really was a hidden gem in itself). There was this small Italian restaurant there that had some of the most delicious food I have ever had. It’s called Buon Appetito, and it is worth a visit if you are ever in the area. They use fresh ingredients, they make their own homemade pasta, and the waiter even spoke some Italian while serving us! It’s also a great way to get away from the more touristy Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego and experience more of the cultural side instead.
4) Can you share some local haunts you have found in your travels that the locals themselves have shared with you?
Right in the heart of Nederland there is a mining museum that was suggested by one of the locals I met during my visit there. Although it’s small, it is a great way to learn about the history of the town and what shaped Nederland into the place it is today.
5) Now that you have seen some of these ‘off the beaten path’s and hidden gems, would you consider trying to find more of these places when traveling or would you stick to the usual tourist places to visit? For example, many people visit Paris to see the Eiffel Tower and Rome for the Coliseum but there is more to these places than what we have seen.
I LOVE the “off the beaten path” places, especially when I unexpectedly stumble across them in my travels. When I visit a new place, I usually try and ask locals for suggestions whenever I have the chance. I do enjoy seeing the popular, touristy places, but I think I travel more for the hidden gems. Those are usually what makes a trip the most memorable.