How many of these most beautiful places in the US have you been to? (And which ones will you add to your bucket list?)
I’m lucky to have traveled throughout the US quite often. A cross-country train ride, family members spread across the nation, and an overall love for seeing new places has allowed me to experience how huge, varied, and beautiful our country is. I’ve personally visited these most beautiful places in the US (at least once, some of them many more times). I have chosen these destinations because of their natural beauty, or the combination of the city buildings, setting, and even historical charm.
1. Glacier National Park
Getting to Glacier National Park in Northern Montana reveals the beauty of this expansive state, so that travel is part of the fun! Visit the park in the summertime, even July or August, to make sure the Going To The Sun Road isn’t closed. This beautiful park highway reveals many of the highlights as you wind along the edge of the huge mountains. Stop along the many overlooks to catch some great views of the valleys way down below, or the many mountain peaks in the distance. During July or August, the park isn’t freezing. Instead, you’ll likely wear shorts and a t-shirt while you hike on the snow at the top of these mountains.
The backpacking and hiking options are seemingly endless. It’s just not possible to pick a bad hike here. The setting is breathtakingly gorgeous in every direction: meadows of wildflowers lead down to the glacier-blue lakes. Tall mountain peaks with snow caps are visible everywhere, even through the forests of tall, old, evergreen trees. Lastly, Glacier National Park once had about 150 glaciers, but now it’s down to 25. There’s an extra reason to visit this most beautiful place in the US before it’ll become simply “Mountains National Park.” Check out more great hikes in Glacier National Park here.
2. Charleston, South Carolina
The beauty here in this South Carolina city lies in the nicely restored historic buildings. The Georgian-style houses along Rainbow Row are pastel-colored houses with bold shutters and flowers overflowing in window boxes. The gorgeous Waterfront Park features intricate water fountains, beautiful landscaping, and lovely walking paths along the ocean. The eight-acre park also includes some nice shaded benches, to relax without the South Carolina sun beating on you. Here in Charleston, the setting is beautiful; it’s a peninsula with lots of water views. However, it’s also the charm and history of the colorful buildings that give this city its personality and beauty. The old mansions and their gardens, painted brick houses with balconies and porches are well-kept and just lovely to stroll past.
3. Shenandoah National Park
This national park in Virginia offers a pretty impressive mountain scene, especially for its decent proximity to some big cities on the east coast (it’s about 75 miles from DC and an hour or two from Richmond). Here, you can begin by driving on the beautiful Skyline Drive and stopping at any of the overlooks to gaze at the valley below. Shenandoah National Park is in the Blue Ridge Mountains, but it’s cool because you can also see the Appalachian Mountains that run parallel, leaving the Shenandoah Valley in the middle.
If you want to get into the woods a bit more than the Skyline Drive, you can stop at the many trailheads or campsites along the way. Bearfence is one of the best hikes in Shenandoah National Park; it’s a short hike with a rock scramble along the top ridge, with 360-degree views. Big Meadows is a popular campground with a lodge too. Nearby is the Dark Hollow Falls; a perfect summertime hike because of its cool streams, waterfall, and shaded route. White Oak Canyon and South River Falls offer some great waterfall hikes, too, while Hawksbill or Hightop Mountain offers some great views.
4. Miami, Florida
Even with its reputation as a great party scene, Miami’s a beautiful place! In fact, it’s one of the most beautiful places in the US, both for its beaches, parks, buildings, and art deco district. South Beach Miami, specifically is a lovely stretch of beach. The water’s turquoise blue, with gradient blues off into the deeper waters. South Pointe Park features a nice pier to walk out on, and you can even look for the fish below. The towering palm trees and lush landscaping along the nicely paved path make for a great morning stroll or bike ride. The colorful buildings and mosaics offer pretty little artistic surprises while you’re walking through neighborhoods. Additionally, the beaches are clean, and the hotel fronts are aesthetically pleasing. Check out these things to do in Miami while you're there!
5. Zion National Park
Zion National Park, in Southwest Utah, features some out-of-this-world beautiful scenery. Drive along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive and you’ll get to see much of the towering, red, brown and orange mountains rising from the valley below. A tunnel along this route literally takes you through a mountain, and you’ll wind along the edges of these cliffs. The colors and drastic cliff edges make this national park one of the most beautiful places in the US. Hints of evergreen trees dot the mountainside, and you’ll likely see some bighorn sheep. Angel’s Landing is an incredible hike (if you dare!) with narrow, steep pathways and some chains to hold on to for the ascent to the very top. There's a new photo opportunity around every bend here in Zion National Park!
6. Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia National Park, located on the southern shore of Maine is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the US. The park is actually located on Maine’s Mount Desert Island, with the quaint seaside town of Bar Harbor nearby. This whole area captures the beautiful essence of New England, and the national park is stunning. Ride a boat along the rocky coast, weaving in and out of mini islands. You might get to see a bald eagle flying overhead or a seal among the rocks.
Hike the Precipice Trail if you dare, along the steep, narrow cliff of the mountain. Or stroll around the Jordan Pond Loop and stop in at the delicious Jordan Pond House afterward. Some trails involve steel-rung ladders to help you climb up big boulders and get to your incredible view for a real adventure. Acadia National Park, one of the most beautiful places in the US should make your bucket list. While you’re there, watch the sunrise at Cadillac Mountain.
7. Sedona, Arizona
Sedona, Arizona is one of the most beautiful places in the US thanks to the red sandstone mountains. Surrounding the little town are tall red, orange and brown striped mountains, dotted with evergreen trees throughout. You won’t even really have to leave town to be right on a trailhead; some trail options emerge right from the pavement. One of these is called the Brins Mesa Trail, which will lead you to a picturesque spot on a red rock cliff, and a nice meadow on the other side. The town of Sedona is cute, too. The fronts of buildings remind you that you’re out west, and there are plenty of places to buy T-shirts, gems, or local art. The town makes for a fun place to stroll at night, after hiking around in the beauty of Sedona. Check out these other great hikes in Arizona.
8. Aspen, Colorado (and Maroon Bells)
Aspen, Colorado is about a three-four hour drive from Denver, depending on the weather. This western Colorado town is smack in the middle of the Rockies and makes a beautiful destination both in the winter and summer. The ski resorts in the Aspen area are teeming during the winter. The constant base of snow keeps everything sparkling and serene. The ski towns offer warmth and comfort, glowing at the base of these towering snow-covered mountains. Summertime is a whole different version of this most beautiful place in the US. wildflowers grow in the meadows of these mountains, and the hiking reveals some incredible views of various peaks and lakes. Maroon Bells is about 10 miles west from Aspen. The two mountain peaks at this scenic spot reflect in the tranquil Maroon Lake and plenty of wildflowers grow in the summer months. It’s a popular and beautiful setting.
9. Nantucket, Massachusetts
Nantucket’s coastline and quaint town make this Massachusetts town one of the most beautiful places in the US. You’ll need to take a ferry out to this small island. Summertime is the best time to visit when you can ride bikes or stroll around. The sand dunes line the beaches. There are many great sandy beaches, as opposed to the typical New England rocky shoreline. The cobblestoned downtown streets have great markets, restaurants, and high-end shops. They are all donned in gray cedar-shingled exteriors, with the occasional church steeple adding to the town’s decor. Beautiful homes and manicured gardens stretch along the coast, too.
10. Portland, Oregon
Credit: Jeff Hintzman
The city of Portland and its surrounding area is one of the most beautiful places in the US. As is typical in the Pacific Northwest, the huge trees are impressively beautiful, and the surrounding forests of Portland are enchanting. Portland itself, the city of Roses, features a beautiful Rose Garden. The Willamette River flows through Portland, and then into the Columbia River, too. Cute neighborhoods and mountainous parks within the city (like Mount Tabor) add to the whole city’s awe. Catch glimpses of the snow-capped Mount Hood at various places throughout the city. Drive up to Rocky Butte Park, in eastern Portland, and climb the stairs and stonework to catch the sunset. Portland, a lovely city placed amidst some incredible natural scenery, is a lovely destination.
Add these most beautiful places in the US to your bucket list!
The cool thing about the geography of the United States is its incredibly varied terrain; coastlines, mountains, deserts, deep woods and open spaces. I have personally been amazed when visiting all of these beautiful places in the US. And still, I continue to add to my list of places yet to go. Between the cute cities full of character, or the natural settings preserved as parks, there is so much beautiful scenery to see. And of course, there's beauty everywhere, so let us know what you find to be one of the prettiest places in the US: maybe that's your hometown! And lastly, add these to your bucket list if you haven’t been to the most beautiful places in the US featured here.
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