North America - 35 min read

50 Most Beautiful Places in the US (Natural Beauty & Lots of History!)

Kaylee Giacomini

Kaylee Giacomini, Updated September 5, 2022

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The United States of America is one of the most beautiful nations on the planet. This is due in part to the immense ecological and geographical diversity. The country includes almost every single climate on Earth and has a range of natural phenomena. There are few other nations where you can visit both jagged, snowcapped tundras and tropical islands.

Certain landmarks in the United States are simply iconic. From bustling metropolises like Manhattan to breathtaking natural parks like Yellowstone, the United States is magnificently beautiful. Beyond natural and manmade beauty, the United States is also one of the most culturally rich places in the world. The nation is home to communities from every single country on Earth. 

All of the 50 states have something unique to offer. Choosing one single place in each as the most beautiful is a complicated (and controversial!) task. The locations on this list were chosen based on natural beauty, historic and cultural significance, and authenticity. 

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50 Most Beautiful Places in America (Natural beauty, culture, & history)

Alabama: Mobile

Credit: bluevoter / TripAdvisor

Mobile is a port city in Alabama steeped in history and draped in a veil of Spanish moss. The state of Alabama is an unexpectedly beautiful place in general. It has a rich history of civil rights and some of the kindest people in America. Southern hospitality reigns true down here.

Mobile is the most beautiful destination in the state for numerous reasons, one of which is the bay. Gorgeous cottages and mansions line the coast. Some of them even date back to the city’s founding in 1702 by French settlers. 

Historic Mobile is a quaint city to explore with unique places to shop and dine around every corner. Come ready to experience southern charm and snap a few photos of the colorful architecture. 

Google Map location: Mobile, AL
More info: City of Mobile

Alaska: Glacier Bay National Park

Credit: May F / TripAdvisor

It’s fitting that Alaska naturally falls so high on this alphabetical list. It is possibly the most stunning state in this country. With thousands of miles of uncharted wilderness, Alaska is undefeated when it comes to natural beauty. Choosing one single place as the most beautiful in Alaska is difficult. 

Glacier Bay National Park is one of the most beautiful spots in the United States. The Fairweather Mountain Range was first spotted by a Russian explorer in 1741. The rough Alaskan tundra made it difficult to map. However, the remarkable beauty drew explorers in. 

Alaska wasn’t purchased by the United States until 1867 and didn’t gain statehood until 1958. Therefore, Glacier Bay wasn’t even recognized as a national park until 1980. With more visitor traction and recognition, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992

Today, Glacier Bay is a remarkable beauty due to its unique ice features, stunning marine scapes, and Fairweather Mountain range. It is difficult to get to, but well worth the trek. One of the easiest ways to visit is by boat. 

Google Map location: Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve
More info: National Park Service

Arizona: Grand Canyon National Park

Credit: John Koenig / Flickr

The Grand Canyon is one of the most recognizable beauties in the United States. Scientists believe that it was formed 5 to 6 million years ago by the Colorado River slicing its way through. Some historians believe the formation first started over 2 billion years ago due to an imperfection in the Earth’s crust. 

No matter how the Grand Canyon came about, we are lucky to have it. With nearly 2,000 square miles of land, there is plenty to explore. 

The Grand Canyon is also a designated dark sky zone. If you can draw your eyes away from the formations on the ground, look upward. The Grand Canyon has some of the best views of the galaxy on the continent. 

Google Map location: Grand Canyon Village
More info: National Park Service

Arkansas: The Buffalo National River

Credit: alsimages1 / Flickr

The Buffalo River was the first river in the United States to earn the status of National River. This happened in 1972

Today, it is home to plenty of beauty and outdoor recreation. Towns along the body of the river provide culture and entertainment to the area. 

The river winds its way past hills, cliffs, and valleys. Hike along the breathtaking waterway or visit by boat. Kayaking, canoeing, and rafting are all popular activities here. 

Google Map location: Buffalo National River
More info: National Park Service

California: Yosemite National Park

Credit: Bernard Spragg / Flickr

Yosemite is one of the nation’s greatest national parks. California is home to quite a few, so it was difficult to decide the best. Yosemite, however, is one of the most famous national park in the United States. 

With geographic features that seem otherworldly, Yosemite is a unique place to explore. It is a designated World Heritage site with impressive geysers, granite cliffs, crystal waters, and Sequoia trees. 

Yosemite is an active volcanic site. Although it is unlikely that “the big one” will erupt anytime soon, there has always been some excitement around this theory. 

Don’t worry too much about a Vesuvius-level eruption when you visit. Just enjoy the volcanic activity in the form of geysers, hot springs, and lava fields. 

Google Map location: Yosemite National Park
More info: National Park Service

Colorado: Great Sand Dunes National Park

Credit: Doc Gibson / Flickr

Few states match the rugged beauty of Colorado. Choosing the most breathtaking destination here was difficult. However, the underrated Great Sand Dunes National Park reigns supreme due to its geographic diversity. 

Great Sand Dunes National Park is home to the tallest sand dunes in the country backing to the jagged San Juan Mountains. It is a phenomenal contrast that everyone should witness in their lifetimes. 

The national park is also a designated Dark Sky Zone. This means that nighttime illumination is limited to preserve the sprawling views of the galaxy. It is an excellent place to explore by day and stargaze by night.

Google Map location: Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
More info: Best Time to Visit Great Sand Dunes National Park (Amazing Views!)

Connecticut: Yale University

Credit: Nora Kaszuba / Flickr

The United States is home to some of the best universities in the world. The institutions are lauded for their academic rigor and notable alumni. The Connecticut Ivy League, Yale University, stands out among the pack for having one of the most gorgeous campuses in the world. 

The University, dating back to the 1640s, is the most stunning place to visit in Connecticut. The college town of New Haven is nearly as old as the University and is a great place to see colonial architecture. 

Yale was modeled after similarly outstanding Universities in the United Kingdom – Cambridge and Oxford. The collegiate, brick buildings of Yale mimic this famous architecture. Visit campus to witness the true beauty of this historic institution. 

Google Map location: Yale University
More info: Yale University

Delaware: Lewes

Credit: Jim / Flickr

Delaware is an extremely underrated state. With 381 miles of coastline and numerous historic towns, the “First State” should be added to anyone’s bucket list. 

Lewes, Delaware is known as the “first town in the first state.” This bayside oasis dates back to 1631 when it was settled by the Dutch. Today, it is an old-fashioned town filled with historic, seaside architecture and a small community dedicated to preserving their town’s history. 

Stroll historic Second Street lined with delicious seafood restaurants and shops. Grab a beach lounger and claim a spot on the pristine bay. You can even try out some aquatic sports here like kayaking and parasailing. 

Don’t miss one of the bayside sunsets – the Delaware coast has some of the best on the Atlantic seaboard. 

Google Map location: Lewes, DE
More info: 12 Best Family-Friendly Beaches in Delaware (With Fun Activities)

Florida: St. Augustine

Credit: faun070 / Flickr

St. Augustine is lauded as one of the most “European” cities in the United States. It is also the nation’s oldest city. The historic skyline is dotted with cafes, historic architecture, and cathedrals. 

St. Augustine is one of the best places in the United States to see colonial architecture. With a city dating back to the 1500s, there is rich history around each corner. Original cobblestone pathways line the route.

The city is also home to 43 miles of pristine coastline. In Florida’s humid climate, this is more than welcome. Take a break from exploring the gorgeous old town to lounge by the Atlantic. 

Google Map location: St. Augustine, FL
More info: 20 Best Family-Friendly Beaches in Florida (Fun Activities For All)

Georgia: Providence Canyon State Park

Credit: Ken’s Photographic World / Flickr

Providence Canyon State Park has over 1,000 acres of gorgeous land. It is known as Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon” for a reason. This stunning park is home to white cliffs, lush topography, and gorgeous little canyons to explore among the mountains. 

If you visit in the autumn, you will be confronted by lush fall foliage. It is a stunning site with white cliffs in the background. 

Google Map location: Providence Canyon State Park
More info: GA State Parks

Hawaii: Nā Pali Coast State Wilderness Park

Credit: monkeyonagazebo / Flickr

Hawaii is another one of the most gorgeous states in America. Nā Pali Coast State Wilderness Park ranks as the most beautiful destination in Hawaii for numerous reasons. This mountainous terrain located in Kauai has some of the most breathtaking scenery in the entire state. 

Nā Pali Coast is home to lush greenery, jagged cliffs, and sprawling views of the Pacific. It looks like something from the Jurassic Park franchise. Rest assured, prehistoric pterodactyls are saved for the movies. 

Hike around Nā Pali Coast for some authentic, Hawaiian views. The mountain range includes five popular valleys and beaches. This includes the famous Hanakoa Valley. 

Google Map location: Nā Pali Coast State Wilderness Park
More info: Division of Land and Natural Resources of Hawaii

Idaho: Craters of the Moon National Monument

Credit: Bureau of Land Management / Flickr

Craters of the Moon National Monument is one of the most otherworldly destinations on this list. The Idaho landmark got its name due to its crater-like rock formations. 

The crater formations were created by geologic activity in the area. It arose during eight eruptive periods in the planet’s history.

Today, visitors can walk the moon here without leaving the planet. Astronomers say that this location is the closest earthly destination to what the moon’s surface feels like. Craters and all. 

This extraterrestrial design is also incredibly gorgeous. Go on a clear day to see the dark craters with the magnificent blue sky above. 

Google Map location: Crater of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
More info: National Park Service

Illinois: Chicago

Credit: Tristan Pan / Flickr

Chicago is a notorious American city. It is rich in culture and historic architecture. Some of the skyscrapers even date back to the 1800s. Architecture buffs particularly love this city for the unique juxtaposition of old and new against lake Michigan. 

The Chicago river cuts its way through downtown before winding westward. Bridges line the historic city filled with a level of allure that can only be found in American metropolises. 

Part of the beauty of Chicago comes from its culture. The city has a welcoming spirit, iconic American sporting events, and great food. Some of the most influential settlers of the city were Italian and Irish immigrants. Excellent people and a better culinary scene prevail. 

Google Map location: Chicago, IL
More info: Best Time to Visit Chicago (Weekend Getaway or a Family Vacation)

Indiana: Lake Michigan

Credit: Paintedladys / Flickr

Coastline probably doesn’t come to mind for most when you think about the state of Indiana. However, this landlocked destination has one of the most gorgeous views of the great Lake Michigan. 

Some of the best Lake Michigan beaches in Indiana to explore include Porter Beach, Dunbar Beach, and Central Avenue Beach. Visiting any of these is reminiscent of the ocean, yet you can see it without leaving the midwest. 

Google Map location: Lake Michigan
More info: Indiana Dunes Travel

Iowa: The High Trestle Trail Bridge

Credit: Carol VanHook / Flickr

It is difficult to rank a bridge among the most beautiful places in the United States. Especially on a list beside national parks and grand cities. However, The High Trestle Trail Bridge in Iowa stands out in the pack. 

The High Trestle Trail Bridge is on the list of the top 10 most beautiful pedestrian bridges in the world. It has unique, squared archways that glow at night and stunning scenery around it. 

Google Map location: The High Trestle Bridge
More info: Travel Iowa

Kansas: Kansas Lavender Fields, Topeka

Credit: Helen Flynn / Flickr

The prairie is one of the most recognizable places in the United States. But did you know that the ecological diversity of this region allows for lavender crops? You don’t need to visit Provence, France, to see some of the most stunning lavender fields in the world. 

The Kansas Lavender Fields outside of the Capitol, Topeka, is the most gorgeous destination in the state. Visit in June and July to see the rolling hills light up with rich, purple hues. A few farms in the region even let visitors pick their own lavender. 

Visit a farm shop to purchase fresh lavender products. Some of the most popular include soaps, honey, and perfume. 

Google Map location: Prairie Lavender Farm
More info: Prairie Lavender Farm

Kentucky: Pinnacles of Berea

Credit: Ulrich Burkhalter / Flickr

The Pinnacles of Berea is the most beautiful destination in Kentucky. It was voted the most beautiful hike in the state according to Outside Magazine. The wilderness here stands out as a jewel of the region. 

With stunning overlooks and rocky mountain ways, there is no better place to explore in Kentucky. The trail system encompasses over 9,000 acres of land. There is something here for all skill levels. 

Google Map location: West Pinnacle
More info: Visit Berea

Louisiana: French Quarter, New Orleans

Credit: Stefano B. / Trip Advisor

The entire city of New Orleans is a stunning destination in Louisiana. However, the French Quarter stands out among the neighborhoods. 

I could go on about the historic French architecture, outstanding food (it is undoubtedly the best in the country), and the beauty of Bayou country. However, there is so much more to New Orleans. 

New Orleans is one of those unique places whose way of life is fueled by the understanding of mortality. With the threat of hurricanes and flooding always on the radar, it is hard to believe the pure resilience and spirit of the city. 

There are a handful of quintessential things you must do in the gorgeous French Quarter. Stroll the art galleries along Royal Street, visit the piano bar in Pat O’Briens, and indulge in mint juleps and creole cuisine at one of the many historic restaurants. 

Google Map location: French Quarter, New Orleans
More info: Best Time to Visit New Orleans (Month by Month Tips)

Maine: Acadia National Park

Credit: kds4850 / Flickr

Maine is possibly the most gorgeous state on the Eastern Seaboard. It borders The United States’ Northern Neighbor, Canada, and has a rugged Atlantic coastline. Acadia National Park is the best place in Maine to see the mountains and the coast. 

Acadia encompasses 48,000 acres of land in Maine. There is beauty in every season. During the winter, Acadia is one of the best places on the East Coast for snow recreation. You can do everything from dog sledding to ice climbing. 

The spring and summer are excellent times to explore the many wilderness paths and campgrounds. Autumn is potentially the most gorgeous time to visit. Fall foliage paints the mountainsides in shades of orange and red. It is an absolutely magnificent site. 

Google Map location: Acadia National Park
More info: Best Time to Visit Acadia National Park (For Outdoor Recreation)

Maryland: Annapolis

Credit: Ken Lund / Flickr

Maryland is yet another underrated state on the Eastern seaboard. The curved coastline features plenty of ocean and bayside beaches. Many are pristinely tucked away from much civilization and make for excellent places to swim, boat, and fish. 

The most gorgeous place in Maryland is on this coast – the historic city of Annapolis. Annapolis dates back to 1649

Among the cobbled streets and famed architecture is the prestigious US Naval Academy. This stunning institution is just one of the things that set the city of Annapolis apart. The arts and culture flourish in Annapolis.

Google Map location: Annapolis, MD
More info: Annapolis

Massachusetts: Nantucket

Credit: Massachusetts Office of Tourism / Flickr

Cape Cod is an incredible destination that could be considered the most beautiful place in Massachusetts. However, the neighboring island of Nantucket stands out on the coast. 

Nantucket is a stunning island located around 30 miles East of the Cape’s port town, Hyannis. Take the ferry over for the most breathtaking views of the New England coast. If you time it well, you may even witness a sunset. 

The island of Nantucket was first settled in 1641 by the English. Today, visitors can expect attractive colonial homes among newer mansions populated by some of America’s most wealthy. The Atlantic views, colorful gardens, and seaside design touches are deeply woven into the charm of Nantucket. 

When you visit, explore the coast and the marina. Some of the best restaurants on the Eastern seaboard are concentrated on this small island. End the day with a hot lobster roll and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc on the water. 

Google Map location: Nantucket, MA
More info: Nantucket

Michigan: Mackinac Island

Credit: Stefan Presslein / Flickr

There are few places in the US where automobiles are banned. On Mackinac island, this has been the case since 1901. Mackinac island visitors can get around by bike, horse, or foot. This in itself makes it an entirely unique destination. 

The first European settlers arrived on Mackinac Island in the 1600s. Homes from this era still populate the island. However, the most popular architectural stying here is Victorian. With few storms and arctic winters, the original town designs are remarkably preserved. 

Mackinac island is a charming coastal destination nowhere near the ocean. The Great Lakes provide some magnificent beaches, islands, and coastal charm. Mackinac island is one of the many products of this located in Michigan. 

Google Map location: Mackinac Island, MI
More info: Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau

Minnesota: North Shore, Lake Superior

Credit: Wild Bill in MN / Flickr

The coast of the Great Lakes rivals some of the seaside destinations in America. Minnesota’s North Shore is home to stunning lakeside communities with plenty of coastal flare. 

The North Shore of Lake Superior is one of the treasures of the United States. Expect jagged freshwater cliffs, clear tides, and historic lighthouses. You can even swim and boat here. 

Some of the stunning lakeside cliffs resemble the famous Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. It is the perfect destination for Americans looking to appreciate the sheer beauty of this country. The North Shore is an underrated jewel of the United States.

Google Map location: Duluth, MN
More info: North Shore Visitor

Mississippi: Bay St. Louis

Credit: haint_blue / Flickr

Part of the beauty of the Gulf Coast comes from the resilience of its inhabitants. Bay St. Louis is a small, coastal destination that has been ravaged by storms. In 2005, the largest natural disaster to hit modern America nearly wiped Bay St. Louis from the map. 

Hurricane Katrina left towns like Bay St. Louis with two options. Move elsewhere, or rebuild. Today, Bay St. Louis’ choice to rebuild was obviously a good one. The coastal town is the most stunning village in Mississippi. 

Bay St. Louis was rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina with longevity in mind. With a nearly clean slate of land, structures were erected to resist hurricanes. Coastal homes here are often on high stilts to withstand flooding and feature hurricane-proof glass. They are absolutely gorgeous, modern homes. 

The little town of Bay St. Louis is filled with charm and seaside touches. Since it is less than an hour outside the gastronomic paradise of New Orleans, the food is also great.

Google Map location: Bay St. Louis, MS
More info: City of Bay St. Louis

Missouri: Onondaga Cave State Park

Credit: Jaci Starkey / Flickr

Onondaga Cave State Park is a 1,300-acre park in Missouri. It is most famous for its remarkable cave system. 

The cave is a national landmark filled with stalactites, stalagmites, and streams. Take a guided cave tour to immerse yourself in the wonder of it. 

The park is also home to a system of above-ground trails if caves aren’t your thing. It is a beautiful part of Missouri worth exploring. 

Google Map location: Onondaga Cave State Park
More info: Missouri State Parks

Montana: Glacier National Park

Credit: Holly Campbell / Flickr

Montana is a stunning destination for nature lovers. Glacier National Park is one of the most beautiful places on the North American continent. It is constantly ranked among the best national parks in the United States. 

Glacier National Park encompasses almost 1,600 square miles of wilderness. This includes mountains, valleys, rivers, and lakes. It got its name as the park was formed by glaciers melting during the last ice age. Today, visitors can expect mountains carved from ancient glaciers among the Canadian border. 

Hike in the picturesque mountains, kayak the crystal clear waters, and explore the valley trails. 

Google Map location: Glacier National Park
More info: 18 Best Camping Spots in Glacier National Park (Improved & Backcountry)

Nebraska: Toadstool Geologic Park

Credit: Management / TripAdvisor

Toadstool is one of the most unique geographic destinations on this list. It is home to ancient rock formations that are perfect to climb and explore. The park is named after the strange rock formations that populate it. They closely resemble toadstools. 

This geologic park is among the Badlands of Nebraska. The Badlands are a desert space with unique stretches of land perfect for exploring. It is known to resemble a moonscape due to its rather barren nature.

Toadstool is listed among the most unusual places for a picnic in the United States. Take a basket of food there on a cool day to experience dining among the rocks. Stay for one of the most magnificent sunsets in the midwest. 

Google Map location: Toadstool Geological Park and Campground
More info: Visit Nebraska

Nevada: Sierra Nevada Mountains

Credit: Larry Myhre / Flickr

The Sierra Nevada Mountains is one of the most iconic ranges in the United States. It is known as the backbone of the Americas due to its central geographic location on the North American Continent. 

The granite mountain range is the perfect place to go hiking. Just be sure to watch the weather – snowy conditions can be treacherous. 

The Carson Range is the most famous Nevada portion of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This section is known for the Carson Pass and the Truckee River. It stretches for around 50 miles in Nevada before crossing the border into California. 

Google Map location: Sierra Nevada
More info: World Atlas

New Hampshire: Portsmouth

Credit: Management / TripAdvisor

Portsmouth is a historic port city located in the basin of the Piscataqua River. Before the river reaches the sea, it stops along the town. 

Portsmouth is a quaint coastal town known for its 17th-century architecture and charm. Expect traditional craft stores and plenty of seafood. While here, take some time to explore. It has gorgeous streets that help to make it one of the most beautiful destinations in the state. 

Google Map location: Portsmouth, NH
More info: City of Portsmouth

New Jersey: Cape May

Credit: Bruce / Flickr

Cape May, New Jersey has long been hallmarked the quintessential American beach town. New Jersey has some great beaches, but none compare to charming Cape May. 

The seaside town was first settled in the 1630s. Cape May’s architectural design reflects the famously Victorian style of colonial America. Expect gingerbread trim, whimsical finishings, and muted color. Especially in the historic district. 

The coast here is also clean and gorgeous. Take a swim, go boating, or try your hand at ocean fishing. While in town, check out some of the historic landmarks. 

Google Map location: Cape May, NJ
More info: Cape May

New Mexico: Bandelier National Monument

Credit: Frank Lynch / Flickr

The Bandelier National Monument is one of the most unique places in the United States. The monument preserves the ancestral homes of the ancient Puebloans and their indigenous marks on the land. 

Visit to see ancient structures carved into the side of cliffs and over 33,000 acres of stunning, albeit rugged, land. 

Google Map location: Bandelier National Monument
More info: National Park Service

New York: Manhattan

Credit:  ChemnitzPuffin / TripAdvisor

Few metropolises in the world compare to Manhattan. This essential destination is the melting pot, the great American city, and the land of dreams. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. 

Upstate New York is stunning, and choosing Manhattan as the most gorgeous place in New York is probably controversial. However, some of the destinations on this list were not only ranked based on their natural beauty. There are few places in the country with history, culture, and architecture that rival Manhattan. 

To truly appreciate the overwhelming beauty of Manhattan, get up high. Ride up to the top of one of their many skyscrapers and look out on the city. The architecture is astounding. 

Appreciate the skyline, and when you get back to street level take some time to check out the surroundings. New York City features almost every single world culture. 

Google Map location: Manhattan New York, NY
More info: NYC: The Official Guide

North Carolina: the Outer Banks

Credit: WabbyTwaxx / Flickr

North Carolina is a beautiful state that is growing in popularity from the mountains out West to the coast. Choosing the Outer Baks as the most beautiful destination was tricky. However, this barrier island is constantly ranked among the best beach destinations on the Eastern seaboard. 

The Outer Banks has beaches to please everyone. In the North, the near desolate Corolla Beach is popular among nature enthusiasts trying to spend some time away from civilization. Kitty Hawk, a town in the middle of the barrier island, is popular among history buffs for its involvement in the world’s first flight. 

Across the entire Outer Banks, visitors can expect stunning beaches, coastal architecture, and historic lighthouses. The inland nature is also gorgeous. 

Google Map location: Outer Banks
More info: Best Time to Visit North Carolina (Coastal Fun & Epic Adventures!)

North Dakota: Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Credit: Taytay / TripAdvisor

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a section of western North Dakota where the Badlands meet the Great Plains. 

The park is an excellent place to see wildlife native to the prairie. Bison move through here as well as prairie dogs, elk, and other creatures. When you visit, choose between a range of trails covering multiple topographies. 

Google Map location: Theodore Roosevelt National Park
More info: National Park Service

Ohio: Hocking Hills

Credit: mark burkhardt / Flickr

Hocking Hills state park is home to over 25 miles of trails, waterfalls, caves, and impressive rock formations. 

The state park is the perfect place to see waterfalls in Ohio. Some of the cascades measure over 100 feet. The most beautiful is Cedar Falls. 

Google Map location: Hocking Hills State Park
More info: Hocking Hills

Oklahoma: The Wichita Mountains

Credit: Birddawg / TripAdvisor

Oklahoma is known for its rolling plains. However, one of the most gorgeous portions of the state is a mountain range out West. The Wichita Mountains stand out against the prairie and are a magnificent spectacle. 

The mountain range encompasses nearly 60,000 acres of grasslands, granite mountains, and sprawling lakes. It is an excellent place for outdoor recreation and wildlife watching. 

The area is known for birdwatching, wildlife photography, and fishing. It is also a great place for hiking, camping, and picnicking. 

Historically, the Wichita Mountains were believed to house gold. Although not much of this element was located, dated gold rush towns can still be found in the mountains. 

Google Map location: Wichita Mountains
More info: US Fish and Wildlife Service

Oregon: Multnomah Falls

Credit: Cheyzan Rivas / Flickr

If you visit one waterfall in the United States, make it this one. The Pacific Northwest is home to plenty of fairytale-esque waterfalls. None are as great as Multnomah. 

Multnomah Falls is a 620 Foot cascade among the lush mountains of Oregon. It is one of the top places for outdoor recreation in the entire state. It is so popular, that it attracts more visitors than any other destination in the entire Pacific Northwest. 

When you are not busy absorbing the magnificence of your surroundings, spend some time exploring the area. Hike the mountainside and check out the clear waters fed from mountain springs. 

Google Map location: Multnomah Falls
More info: USDA Forest Service

Pennsylvania: Brandywine River Valley

Credit: Management / TripAdvisor

Pennsylvania has a lot to love. Central PA is home to the Appalachian Mountain range, Amish country, and Germanic influence. In the West, you can find Pittsburgh and the Finger Lakes. However, Eastern PA rivals them all with the gorgeous (and culturally significant) Brandywine River Valley. 

The Brandywine River Valley is located near the borders of Delaware and Maryland. It is also right outside Pennsylvania’s biggest city – Philadelphia. This part of Pennsylvania has colonial architecture, rolling green hills, and one of the most famous botanical gardens in the United States. 

Longwood Gardens is a level of beauty above the rest of the state. The property was originally owned by the wealthy DuPont family, and today is one of the top destinations in all of Pennsylvania. The 1,100-acre park features a multi-climate greenhouse, historic architecture, and miles of stunning gardens. 

Google Map location: Chester County’s Brandywine Valley
More info: Chester County’s Brandywine Valley

Rhode Island: Block Island

Credit: Management / TripAdvisor

Block Island is right off the coast of Rhode Island. It features dramatic New England Cliffs, miles of coastline, and historic architecture. One of the top sites on the island is a red brick lighthouse constructed in the 1800s to ward sailors away from the rocky shore. 

Rest assured, there are gorgeous, sandy beaches to relax on and swim. It is not all rocks. Block Island has a small, year-round population of only 1,000 people. The rest of the population is comprised of seasonal vacationers and those coming in for long weekends. 

Visit Block Island in the summer for the best weather. 

Google Map location: Block Island
More info: Block Island Information

South Carolina: Charleston

Credit: dogman5 / Flickr

Charleston is one of the most stunning destinations on the Eastern seaboard. With a picturesque old town and miles of shoreline, there is a lot to love about the South Carolina destination.

Founded in 1670, Charleston is South Carolina’s main port city. Some of its beauty spawns from its romanticization of the past. There are few other places in the United States where you’ll still find cobbled streets, horse-drawn carriage rides, and antebellum homes.

Charleston is thought by many to be reminiscent of New Orleans’ historic French Quarter. Some say it’s even better. Visit this historic destination for yourself to find out what makes Charleston so charming. 

Google Map location: Charleston, SC
More info: Best Time to Visit Charleston (Delicious Food & Fun Festivals)

South Dakota: Badlands National Park

Credit: Management / TripAdvisor

South Dakota is yet another nature lovers’ paradise. Badlands National Park is one of those perfect American destinations that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetimes. It has some of the most unique topography in the country.

Layered rock formations, treacherous canyons, and peaked spires make up this unusual landscape. Hike around the badlands on a cool day for the optimal experience. 

Famed American songwriter Bruce Springsteen sang of the Badlands in his anthem of the same name. Other artists have used the space as their own muse. Visit for yourself to see what exactly is so awe-inspiring about this desolate part of South Dakota. 

Google Map location: Badlands National Park
More info: National Park Service

Tennessee: The Great Smoky Mountains

Credit: Management / TripAdvisor

I never realized how the Great Smoky Mountains got their name until I drove through them early one summer morning. The blue-green range had a film of mist against the ridges, giving them a smoky look. It is an absolutely stunning site. 

The Great Smoky Mountains straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. It is one of the most quintessential destinations in the United States. Not to mention one of the most beautiful mountain ranges East of the Mississippi. 

To get one of the best views of the mountains, drive. There are plenty of scenic roads through the range. The mountains also have excellent hiking and storybook small towns to check out. 

Google Map location: Great Smoky Mountains
More info: Best Time to Visit Smoky Mountains (Explore the Great Outdoors!)

Texas: Big Bend National Park

Credit: OhWowMan / TripAdvisor

Most probably don’t think of varied topography when Texas comes to mind. Big Bend National Park proves these critics wrong and is one of the most stunning national parks in the United States. 

Big Bend National Park encompasses the glorious Chisos Mountain Range and the Chihuahuan Desert. Explore trails on flat ground and the highlands when you visit. 

There is also a river that runs through the park. It is a great mode of transportation for those hoping to see everything that the breathtaking park has to offer. 

Google Map location: Big Bend National Park
More info: National Park Service

Utah: Zion National Park

Credit: ELKW / TripAdvisor

Zion National Park consistently ranks among the top ten national parks in the United States. Its location in one of the most naturally beautiful states in the nation certainly helps this rank. 

With nearly 230 square miles of land, there is plenty to love about Zion. It is known for its dramatic red cliffs and the Virgin River. The river connects to numerous crystal clear pools available for swimming during the summer. 

Hike around the Canyons and cliffs. Gorgeous views can be found all over the park. It is an especially popular destination for photographers. Bing along a camera and see for yourself why this is one of the most photogenic spots in America. 

Google Map location: Zion National Park
More info: Best Time to Visit Zion National Park (Monthly Guide by a Local!)

Vermont: The Northeast Kingdom

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Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom is a special place. This vast, open wilderness has some of the best fall foliage in the nation and stunning scenery year round. Rolling green hills, mountains, and misty valleys make up the dramatic topography. 

The Northeast Kingdom encompasses three rural counties of Essex, Orleans, and Caldonia. A few small towns are woven into the greenery, but aside from them, it is all wilderness. 

Even if you don’t visit in time for the autumn colors, you are in for a treat here. The pace of life in the Northeast Kingdom is slower. Culture is defined by the mountain way of life. The industry is based on small communities deep in the woods. 

Some of the things that make this slice of Vermont so unique are nature, agriculture, and people. Be ready to welcome all three on a trip to the Northeast Kingdom. 

Google Map location: Northeast Kingdom
More info: Northeast Kingdom

Virginia: Shenandoah Valley

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Shenandoah is home to misty mountains, bustling rivers, and rustic mountain towns. It is located in the Western half of Virginia. It borders the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Appalachian range, the Potomac River, and the James River. 

This unique range is more than geography. It also encompasses a unique cultural region of the United States. This part of Western Virginia was one of the originators of Bluegrass music, which would later become country. The people here are friendly and have a wealth of Southern Hospitality.

Life is slower in the mountains, so when you visit, leave behind work stress. Enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning overlooking mountain views. Slow down and enjoy. 

Google Map location: Shenandoah National Park
More info: 10 Best Waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park

Washington: Olympic National Park

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Olympic is yet another of America’s great National Parks. Located on a slice of land in the idyllic Pacific Northwest, Olympic has a lot to offer in its 1,442 square miles

The park has a vast range of topographies from the coastline to glaciated mountains. It is an excellent place to go to experience numerous ecosystems at once. 

Olympic is not only a national park. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is home to some of the most unique species of trees in the United States. Expect to see the Sitka spruce, Western hemlock, and red cedar trees. 

Google Map location: Olympic National Park, Wilderness Information Center
More info: 15 Best Campgrounds in Olympic National Park

West Virginia: The Appalachian Mountains

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West Virginia can have a bad reputation. However, this overlooks the sheer natural beauty of the state and the spirit of its residents. West Virginia is most famously known for the Appalachian Mountain range. 

American singer, John Denver was so inspired by the views, that he famously wrote his anthem “Take Me Home, Country Roads” about West Virginia’s Appalachians. If you take the time to visit you too will find this “almost heaven” that Denver sings about. 

Hike some of the trails and visit the cute mountain towns. One of the best is Harper’s Ferry. Harper’s Ferry is a step back in time. This town is especially popular for hikers and features dated architecture common in this part of the state. 

Google Map location: Harper’s Ferry, WV
More info: Appalachian Trail 2022: State-by-State Guide

Wisconsin: The Apostle Islands

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The Apostle Islands is a national lakeshore with various islands, lighthouses, and beaches. It is an excellent place to see by boat. 

The lake Superior archipelago is composed of six islands. Over 240 migrant birds call it home as well as other wildlife. 

Google Map location: Apostle Islands
More info: National Park Service

Wyoming: Yellowstone National Park

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Yellowstone is possibly the most famous National Park in the United States. It certainly deserves this title. 

The park encompasses over 2.2 billion acres of land. Not only is it one of the nation’s most famous national parks, but it is also the world’s first national park. It was inaugurated into the park system back in 1872

Yellowstone encompasses three states, with the largest portion in Wyoming. It is so big, that it exceeds the size of two different US states. 

Visit Yellowstone to see natural wonders like geysers, hot springs, and mountains. It is a stunning destination in an equally beautiful state. 

Google Map location: Yellowstone National Park
More info: Best Time to Visit Yellowstone National Park (Monthly Guide by a WY Native!)

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