From the pristine coastline of California to the fascinating geological formations in Yellowstone National Park, the United States is home to some of the most stunning and diverse landscapes in the world.
But with so many beautiful places to explore spread out throughout 50 states, how do you know where to begin? Here is your guide to 15 of the most beautiful places in the US to consider for your next getaway.
15 of the Most Beautiful Places in the US
Whether you want to relax under a waterfall or enjoy sweeping views from the top of a strenuous hike, here are 15 of the most beautiful places to visit in the US.
Every year, over 4 million visitors flock to Yellowstone National Park, the United State’s first national park. With over 2 million acres across Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana to explore, this park offers every visitor an exciting and unique outdoor experience.
Yellowstone National Park sits on top of a dormant volcano, creating countless stunning geological wonders. In addition, the park has thousands of hydrothermal features, including hot springs, geysers, and mud pots.
During the warm summer season, hiking and biking provide some of the best panoramic views of this beautiful landscape.
You can stroll through the meadows to Cascade Lake, enjoy the scenery from the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, stop by the iconic Old Faithful Geyser, or see the bright, colorful hues of the Grand Prismatic Spring.
With a huge range of year-round activities, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Visitors can also:
- Look for bears, Bison, moose, and more on a guided wildlife tour
- Explore the park on horseback
- Go snowmobiling, skiing, or snowshoeing in the winter
- Spend the night in one of the 12 established campgrounds
No matter how you choose to spend your time in Yellowstone National Park, you’ll be surrounded by some of the world’s most incredible views and scenic canyons.
Read Next: Best Time to Visit Yellowstone
To discover even more natural wonders, you can head north to Niagara Falls, New York. Located just along the Canadian border, the scenic Niagara Falls State Park offers an up-close view of the breathtaking falls and guarantees an unforgettable adventure at one of the most beautiful places in the country.
The park’s most iconic attraction is the Maid of the Mist boat tour through the Niagara Gorge. This journey will take you around the roaring water of the falls and into the waters of American and Horseshoe Falls.
There is also a wide variety of hiking trails throughout the park, ranging from beginner to advanced, so visitors of all skill levels can enjoy the park’s gorgeous overlooks. You can also cool off under the falls with a guided tour of the Cave of the Winds.
With so much to discover throughout Niagara Falls’ 400 acres of land, it can be overwhelming to know where to go first. To make the most of your time in the park, hop on the Niagara Scenic Trolley for an overview of the park with an experienced onboard tour guide.
Read Next: Best Time to Visit Niagara Falls
Arizona is home to some of the most incredible desert scenery in the United States. If you’re planning a visit to this stunning state, you won’t want to miss a visit to Monument Valley in Navajo County, AZ.
Situated along the Arizona-Utah border, this tribal park is known for its large sandstone buttes and crimson mesas throughout its pristine and remote desert landscape.
One of the best ways to see the rock formations is a self-guided tour through Monument Valley’s scenic loop road. Valley Drive is a 17-mile dirt loop, a fantastic option for seeing all of the iconic colorful rock formations.
Visitors can also walk through the famous Mitten Buttes and Merrick Buttes or take a guided tour to access the valley’s more rugged, isolated locations.
For an up-close view of the tallest sand dunes in North America, plan a visit to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Southern Colorado.
Over millions of years, the unique wind pattern in the San Luis Valley created 30 square miles of sand dunes, the tallest of which stands at an impressive 750 feet. One of the most popular activities is sandboarding or sand sledding down the tracks in these soft sandy peaks.
Sled and sandboard rentals are available for rental in several nearby stores. There are also countless other ways to explore the Great Sand Dunes. Other popular activities include:
- Relaxing or cooling off in the water at Medano Creek
- Hiking to Mosca Pass or through other designated trails throughout the dunes
- Backpacking and camping
If you decide to stay overnight, be sure to take some time to gaze into the dark night sky. Because the area has no light pollution, Great Sand Dunes National Park offers some of the most magical views of stars and galaxies in the entire country.
Any traveler planning a trip down south should consider visiting Hamilton Pool in Dripping Springs, Texas. Located west of Austin, Hamilton Pool Preserve is an emerald-green natural pool that pours over limestone outcroppings into a 50-foot waterfall and deep canyon.
Along with offering some of the most beautiful views in the state, this historic pool has plenty of exciting recreational activities.
You can enjoy a short quarter-mile hike to the pool, splash around in the cool water, or look for the park’s diverse bird and wildlife species. If you’re hungry after a day of outdoor exploring, you can enjoy a picnic lunch with awe-inspiring views of the waterfall and pool.
Hamilton Pool Preserve is open year-round, so you can enjoy this peaceful, secluded natural pool during any season. However, a visit to this preserve does require a reservation, so be sure to plan ahead to guarantee a spot.
If you’re looking for a scenic drive with unforgettable views, Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the best options in the US.
Stretching for 469 miles along the Blue Ridge Mountains, this parkway is one of the best ways to explore natural wonders from the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
There are countless overlooks, walking trails, picnic spots, and so much more to discover along this scenic drive. Main attractions along the Blue Ridge Parkway include:
- Incredible rock formations at Craggy Gardens Pinnacle
- A mountain-to-sea trail at Craven Gap
- A picnic spot with panoramic views at Pisgah National Forest
- Eight developed campgrounds and three backcountry campgrounds
- Traditional Blue Ridge music and interactive exhibits at the Blue Ridge Music Center
This slow and relaxing drive is the ideal opportunity to try new outdoor experiences while meandering through some of the most incredible scenery in the United States.
And with no admission fee, Blue Ridge Parkway is also an excellent choice for an affordable travel destination.
Located along the northern coast of Kauai, Hawai’i, this scenic coastline is considered one of the most beautiful destinations in the entire world.
With colorful towering cliffs, sandy beaches, and impressive waterfalls, there’s so much to discover throughout this breathtaking park. Adventurous visitors can take in the views from the challenging 11-mile Kalalau Trail.
While this rugged, treacherous trail is not for inexperienced hikers, the stunning ocean views and surrounding dramatic cliffs are worth the challenge. Luckily, there are plenty of other easier ways to enjoy the beautiful panoramic views in Napali Coast State Wilderness Park.
For example, visitors can hike to Hanakapiai Beach and Hanakapiai Falls, take a scenic drive to Ke’e Beach, or kayak from Haena to Polihale Beach.
You can also explore all this amazing park has to offer by sea. Hop on a guided boat tour for an up-close view of the park’s waterfalls and sea caves. And be sure to keep an eye out for the dolphins and whales known to frequent the area.
Read Next: Best Time to Visit Kauai in 2023
Located just off the Pacific Coast Highway in California is Big Sur, a rugged region known for its dramatic cliffs, soaring Redwoods, and unforgettable coastline.
Pristine, unspoiled beaches such as Garrapata State Park Beach and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park Beach are the perfect place to relax on the sand, take in the unparalleled Big Sur views, and cool off in tide pools.
Along the coast, you can also keep an eye out for local wildlife such as sea otters, seals, and even whales. For some of the best hiking trails in the area, stop by Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.
From easy nature trails to strenuous hikes, this park’s diverse hiking trails allow you to walk under towering Redwoods, stroll through colorful open meadows, and discover one-of-a-kind ocean views.
The coast is also home to a huge range of public and private campgrounds, so you can stay overnight and enjoy the sunrise and sunset over the surrounding mountains and ocean.
Read Next: Where to Stay in Big Sur
All the way on the opposite coast, you can find Watkins Glen State Park, a 778-acre park in New York’s Finger Lakes Region. The main draw of Watkins Glen State Park is the abundance of picturesque waterfalls and gorges.
The Glen Creek Gorge Trail takes you past 19 of these stunning waterfalls to Rainbow Falls, the park’s most famous and unforgettable natural phenomenon.
While this 1.5-mile trail might be the park’s main attraction, there’s plenty more to explore throughout Watkins Glen State Park. Other activities include:
- Cross country skiing
If you’re looking for more information about the history and topography of this breathtaking park, there are also several guided tours.
And while many of the locations on this list are in rugged, isolated locations, Watkins Glen State Park has the added convenience of a nearby village full of shops, restaurants, lodging options, and more.
With over 3.5 million acres of wilderness land, Montana boasts some of the most incredible scenery in the world. For a true backcountry experience in Big Sky Country, be sure to stop by Glacier National Park in the Rocky Mountains.
This one million-acre park is perfect for any traveler who loves the outdoors. Here, you can explore 25 glaciers, 200 lakes, 700 miles of trails, an abundance of waterfalls, towering forests, vistas, and so much more.
You can see the diverse terrain of Glacier National Park on the Going-To-The-Sun Road. This 50-mile highway spans the entire park and features spectacular views from several scenic lookouts along the road.
If you’re looking for even more outdoor adventures, you’ll have plenty of options during your visit to Glacier National Park.
You can hike the countless trails, explore the glaciers by bike, spend a beach day at Lake McDonald, or take a backpacking adventure to one of the campgrounds to sleep under the stars.
Rad Next: Best Time to Visit Glacier National Park
Just east of Portland, Oregon, is the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. This deep canyon is known for its dramatic vistas, magnificent cliffs, and endless natural wonders to discover.
As the largest scenic area in the United States, this nature preserve is full of stunning hidden gems. Visitors can stroll through fields of wildflowers, hike up the Dog Mountain Trail, or enjoy a bike ride with an incredible backdrop of the nearby Cascade Mountain Range.
Then, stop by the Crown Point Vista House observatory and museum for a panoramic view of the gorge.
The Columbia River Gorge is known as the windsurfing capital of the world, so you won’t want to miss out on this thrilling experience during your visit.
Whether you’re a beginner or advanced windsurfer, this scenic area offers some of the best windsurfing spots in the country. While there’s so much to explore throughout the gorge, make sure to find time to visit the famous Multnomah Falls.
This magnificent 620-foot cascade is Oregon’s tallest waterfall and one of the most memorable and beautiful views in the entire Pacific Northwest.
From the sprawling canyons to the eroded buttes, Badlands National Park’s diverse landscape is a must-see destination. Situated on 244,000 acres in Southwestern South Dakota, a visit to this rugged National Park is truly a one-of-a-kind experience.
Head to the Big Badlands Overlook for an unforgettable panoramic view of the colorful spires and pinnacles. Or, to enjoy the views from the comfort of your car, drive the Badlands Loop Road and stop at trailheads and scenic overlooks along the way.
While driving or walking through the park, keep an eye out for the park’s incredible wildlife. You can usually spot Bison, sheep, and prairie dogs during visits to Badlands National Park.
There are also two established campgrounds where visitors can sleep under the stars and take in the park’s spectacular sunrise and sunsets.
Millions of years of wind and water erosion created Antelope Canyon, a stunning natural Sandstone slot canyon in Page, Arizona.
Antelope Canyon is located on private Navajo land, so booking a guided tour is required. You’ll have two slot canyons to choose from – Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon.
The more popular Upper Canyon has sunbeams that shine through the walls and light up the canyon floor, while the less crowded Lower Canyon offers a peaceful, quiet setting to enjoy the stunning landscape.
While nature photography is the most common activity at Antelope Canyon, several hikes are available that offer sweeping views of Glen Canyon Dam, Lake Powell, and other impressive nearby rock formations.
Crater Lake National Park in Southern Oregon is the perfect place for visitors to completely immerse themselves in natural wonders. Crater Lake, one of the deepest lakes in the world, is known for its incredible views and crystal clear blue water.
The lake is surrounded by epic cliffs, mountains, and evergreen forests. With such a diverse landscape, this park offers many ways to explore and enjoy the outdoors.
Popular activities include:
- A tranquil boat tour across the lake
- Hiking the Cleetwood Cove Trail
- Exploring overlooks on the scenic 33-mile Rim Drive
- Fishing in the lake
- Backcountry camping
With impressive views and countless recreational activities, you’ll never get bored during a visit to this remarkable park.
Alaska offers some of the most stunning and unique outdoor adventures in the United States. One of the most enchanting places you can visit in the state is the Mendenhall Ice Caves near Juneau.
When you step inside the passageway inside this ice formation, you’ll be surrounded by otherworldly glowing bright-blue walls as the water swirls through the ice and rocks.
While you can explore the area on your own, locals recommend a guided tour to make the most out of your experience. And if you’re looking for other nearby adventures, you can hike on the surrounding trails or Kayak on Mendenhall Lake.
Things to Consider
Here are some key things to keep in mind when planning your visit to one of these stunning locations.
Because these destinations are spread out throughout the country, the best time to visit will be largely dependent on the region you’re visiting. Some of the places on this list, like the Great Sand Dunes, are open year-round.
So there’s plenty to enjoy no matter when you go. But if you’re planning to visit Glacier National Park or the Hamilton Pool Preserve, make sure to plan for any extreme weather conditions.
For the most part, the places on this list have thrilling activities for all experience levels. Whether you’re traveling with a group of avid hikers or with family, there’s always something to enjoy.
However, some locations have fewer options for beginner-friendly activities. For example, while Napali Coast State Wilderness Park has some easier climbs, most hiking, backpacking, and camping options are more treacherous.
When you’re planning a trip to one of the most beautiful places in the US, budgeting for your visit is essential. Luckily, most of these scenic spots are relatively affordable and can suit a wide range of budgets.
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, scenic drives such as the Blue Ridge Parkway are a great choice.
While national and state parks are generally affordable, there’s often an entrance fee, so check out the park’s website when planning for your trip.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most commonly asked questions about the most beautiful places to visit within the United States.
Where are the most beautiful places in the US?
While some areas of the country, such as the Pacific Northwest and Mountainous regions, are known for their picturesque views, there isn’t one specific state or region that is the most beautiful in the US.
From the East to the West coast, there are hidden gems to find throughout the entire country. Where you choose to go will depend on which beautiful location suits your preferences and needs.
How do I prepare for travel?
Before heading out to these gorgeous US locations, here are some things you can do to prepare:
- Check the weather conditions and specific packing necessities for your trip
- Make reservations for campsites or other lodging options
- Book guided tours and activities
- Check your destination’s website for any fees or requirements before arriving
What should I bring when visiting these locations?
While your actual packing list will depend on where you’re going, bring weather-appropriate clothes, comfortable shoes, water, and anything else you might need. Take a look at your travel destination’s website for more specific information about what to bring.
What’s the easiest way to get to these locations?
Your travel plans will also largely differ based on where you choose to go. However, most of the destinations on this list are easily accessible by car or airplane. Some locations may also require a short hike to popular waterfalls, canyons, or other features.
Do I need experience with outdoor activities?
While experience is needed for some activities, most of the beautiful locations in the US will have scenic overlooks and views that anyone can enjoy. There are also plenty of options for guided hikes and beginner nature trails designed for visitors of all experience levels.
So, What’s the Most Beautiful Place in the US?
If you’re looking for one-of-a-kind unforgettable beauty in the United States, you can’t go wrong with a trip to the world-famous Yellowstone National Park.
But no matter where you decide to go, these incredible getaway destinations are guaranteed to provide a memorable experience full of incredible, awe-inspiring scenery and unforgettable adventures.