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Last week, US President Barack Obama visited upstate New York’s Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in an effort to highlight some of the United States’ most-loved destinations and increase international tourism.  

“When it comes to tourism, we have a great product to sell,” he said. “Nothing says ‘Made in America’ better than the Empire State Building or the Hoover Dam.”

According to the Associated Press, a record 70 million international visitors travelled to the US in 2013. But that was still only 13% of the world’s travelers – a smaller market share than the 17% that visited the United States in 2000.

Beyond the country’s iconic locations ­– which travellers know all too well – the US is home to an array of charming, quirky and fascinating sights that often fly under the radar, from the world’s longest cave system to a city sprawled with a mosaic masterpiece. Here are some of our favourites:

The wild woodlands of the Great Smoky Mountains
One of the oldest mountain ranges in the world, this tranquil national park, which stretches across the Tennessee-North Carolina border, has a rich biodiversity that’s rivalled by few other places on the planet.

Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee, North Carolina, national parks
Great Smoky Mountains National Park. (Michael Melford/National Geographic Stock)

Texas: Home to the world’s largest bat colony
Take nature watching to the extreme in the Lone Star State, where 1.5 million nocturnal dwellers take flight over Austin every summer night. 

Texas, bats, Austin, bat migration
Congress Avenue Bridge, Austin. (Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau)

Idyllic beach towns — without the crowds
Hidden away from the hordes of summer travellers, these five little beach towns offer prime surf spots, scenic views and Victorian charm.

Sunset Beach, Hawaii
Sunset Beach, Hawaii. (David Ball/Alamy)

Philadelphia’s mosaic masterpiece       
The city’s downtown offers a one-of-a-kind artistic exploration, with 50,000sqft of tunnels, caves and walls covered in a vibrant and eccentric display of glass tiles, poetry and toys.

Philadelphia, Magic Gardens, mosaic, Isaiah Zagar, art
Magic Gardens art installation, Philadelphia. (Nic Barlow)

Kentucky: An adventure haven
This state has one of the most adrenaline-packed environments in the country, featuring both a rock climbing mecca and the world’s longest known cave system.

Kentucky, nature, Daniel Boone National Forest, national forests
Daniel Boone National Forest, Kentucky. (Panoramic Images/Getty)

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