The United States is a remarkable country, offering a wealth of natural beauty, from captivating coastlines to enchanting national parks. While it’s impossible to highlight the absolute best destinations in each state, we’ve curated a diverse list of 50 awe-inspiring sights to explore as you traverse all 50 states.
1. Cheaha, State Park, Alabama
Stroll through the gorgeous changing foliage of the Cheaha State Park in fall as a beautiful, strong-rooted tree holds itself, capture a breathtaking sunset in the company of in the spring, go for a swim in the lake in the summer, and ingest the enthralling snow-capped scenery in the winter. For adrenaline chasers, spring off a cliffside pool into a deep, blue swimming hole.
2. Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
This was my absolute favorite part of Alaska. Peering out of a tiny cruise ship as otters float on their backs beside the boat and massive glaciers boast their spectacular bodies for the public. Kenai Fjords is near Seward, Alaska, a dazzling seaside town with delicious food and an incredible aquarium.
3. Antelope Canyon, Arizona
Antelope Canyon in Arizona is one of the most profound, mysterious canyons on the Western side of America. The red rock reflects sunlight onto the red sand in a fashion only described as otherworldly. The West Coast of the United States excels in hikes and caves, whereas the East Coast excels in beaches. Between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., you have a higher possibility of witnessing the antelope canyon light beams.
4. Whitaker Point, Arkansas
Solid rock protrudes over an endless expanse of greenery in this Arkansas landmark. Stand at the edge of the boulder and ingest the stunning. Watch the sunset or sunrise from the sturdy rock to achieve an elevated sense of grounding with the Earth. For those thinking about tying the knot, you can’t beat a proposal atop this scenic backdrop.
5. Joshua Tree, California
Joshua Tree represents a common thread throughout humanity and wildlife: resilience. The desert trees stand firm at 2,700 feet above sea level as sheep, mountain lions, and snakes prowl and slither through the sand. Joshua trees are unique specimens that house hundreds of birds and provide shelter for lizards.
6. Red Rocks Amphitheater, Colorado
This one is for live music enthusiasts. Red Rocks is a famous concert venue in Morrison where music appreciators camp out in an open-air stadium surrounded by towering crimson rocks—the hottest names in music head to red rocks each year for riveting and unforgettable performances. Every live music attendee has a show at Red Rocks on their bucket list.
7. Gillette Castle Park, Connecticut
Sherlock Holmes, anyone? William Gillette, the actor who gained notoriety for his on-stage portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, built this astounding castle between East Haddam and Lyme. The monument proudly stands above the Connecticut River and invites tourists to transport back into history through Gillette’s mind.
8. Delaware River, Delaware
History buffs relay the Delaware River to the sight where George Washington crossed in 1776 with the Continental Army during the American Revolution. The bright blue water runs over 200 miles through New York and Pennsylvania before meeting Delaware Bay.
9. Ichetucknee Springs, Florida
Ichetucknee Springs possesses the best blue hole in Florida. The six-mile spring leads to a mesmerizing cobalt blue recess 40 feet deep. Visitors can snorkel through the blue hole, tube through the springs, and enjoy a relaxing swim with otters, beavers, and softshell turtles.
10. Jekyll Island, Georgia
The Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island is a bucket list item for any beach lover or nature aficionado. Throughout Jekyll Island, eroded driftwood dots the island, launching sightseers into another world. Catching a sunset through the bare branches of driftwood beach is a sight you want to take advantage of.
11. Road to Hana, Hawaii
Although the Road to Hana is the scariest part of traveling in Hawaii, as the road is a narrow street full of sharp turns and high winds aside a cliff, the view is spectacular. The 64-mile path winds through Kahului to East Maui, but even though the distance seems like a quick drive, many trekkers allow one to two days to appreciate all the views.
12. Yellowstone National Park, Idaho
Yellowstone sprawls between Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho, but the Idahoan side has the Pines at Island Park, a one-of-a-kind cabin close to Yellowstone. Residents may spot black bears walking near the cabins, foxes trotting through the snow, or buffalo roaming through the plains.
13. Anderson Japanese Gardens, Illinois
Cutesy flower gardens decorate this special spot in Rockford, Illinois. Guests weave through 12 acres of Japanese Gardens with stone, pagodas, lanterns, water basins, and ever-changing greenery. The creator of this garden, Hoichi Kurisu, has designed dozens of gardens and projects worldwide, staying true to the Japanese Garden idea of humility, grace, and awareness.
14. Shades State Park, Indiana
Instead of throwing shade, hikers and canoeists collide for a peaceful outing at the state park. The trees in the hiking trails at Shades State Park cast cool shadows over the hikers, making this park perfect for those who love hiking but despise unbearable heat.
15. Grotto of the Redemption, Iowa
For religious artifact appreciators, the Grotto of the Redemption is a must-see. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Sioux City shrine portrays nine scenes in Jesus’ life. Even if you don’t partake in religion, the stones and minerals petrified in the sculptures are worth a visit.
16. Mushroom Rock, Kansas
Kansas’ smallest state park is Kansas’ best state park. The rock formations resemble mushrooms, perfect for day-trippers to climb on and pose for pics atop the portobello. The sandstone creations date back 100 million years, and witnessing history from that age is humbling.
17. Mammoth Cave, Kentucky
Descend a few hundred stairs into the world’s longest cave system. Explorers have wandered through 400 miles of Mammoth Cave, opening up the cavern to the public and providing guided tours. Stalactites dangle from the ceiling, and stalagmites stagger up from the ground, entrancing anyone lucky enough to witness Mammoth Cave in person.
18. French Quarter, Louisiana
When you think of Louisiana, what comes to mind? Is it the most famous city in the southern state, New Orleans? Within New Orleans is the famous French Quarter, a section of the town where St. Louis’ cathedral, a haunted, historic church, resides, street performers lend their skills, and the scent of fresh beignets permeates the somewhat dirty streets. The French Quarter is notably haunted by spirits like the Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau and Delphine LaLaurie.
19. York, Maine
This seaside town comes straight out of a postcard. The red and white Nubble Lighthouse settles on a cliff overlooking the chilly Atlantic Ocean. York homes the world’s smallest suspension bridge, aptly named Wiggly Bride. After braving the walk across the platform, head to the Wiggly Bridge Distillery Barn.
20. Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland
Yearning to camp with horses? Add Assateague Island National Seashore to your next vacation plan. The two-mile beach expands off the coast of Maryland and travels the Atlantic down to Virginia. The wild ponies strut through white sand beaches, unbothered by human company.
21. Nantucket, Massachusetts
This mini island off the Coast of Cape Cod hosts thousands of summer getaways and beach vacations yearly. Nantucket’s rich history launches guests back in time to its 19th-century roots, what with cobblestone streets and Greek Revival Architecture. Anglers rejoice in Nantucket’s atmosphere as the water is rich with albacore, bluefish, and striped bass.
22. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan
This superior lakeshore envelops Lake Superior’s coastline with multicolored rock cliffs and shipwreck memories scattered throughout the premises. The cerulean water invites summer swimmers and boaters to delight in Lake Superior, and hikers trail through twelve miles of a white birch beach.
23. Split Rock Lighthouse, Minnesota
In 1969, the U.S. Coast Guard retired the Split Rock Lighthouse, singing it over to the Minnesota Historical Society. Yet, the lighthouse includes several original features like the fog signal building, the original tower, and keepers’ houses.
24. Windsor Ruins, Mississippi
Aside from beauteous national parks and stunning beaches, another great sight to see throughout the states is the historic Windsor Ruins in Mississippi. The large Antebellum mansion on a former plantation burned down in 1890, resulting in 23 remaining Corinthian columns. Today, Mississippi guests explore the pillars where two movies were filmed, Raintree County (1957) and Ghosts of Mississippi (1996).
25. Elephant Rock State Park, Missouri
What do you get when a rock meets an elephant? Elephant Rock State Park! The geologic reserve contains several elephant-like boulders that resemble circus creatures. The hiking trail is rather short, it clocks in at about one mile, but the endless picture opportunities throughout the park will fill your itinerary for a few hours.
26. Bozeman, Montana
Bozeman, Montana, earns its reputation as the most livable location in the United States for a few reasons. The delightful backcountry serves as the perfect backdrop to this mountain town; secondly, active individuals fill their days with fly fishing, hiking, backpacking, skiing, or rock climbing to start. Lastly, Yellowstone is a short drive from the city.
27. Chimney Rock National Historic Site, Nebraska
The infamous Chimney Rock earned its title. The rock’s mountainous base expands over mountainous rock, and the whole landmark reaches 2,280 feet above sea level. The mountain whittles into a narrow peak, similar to a chimney, that soars 120 feet into the sky.
28. Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
Valley of Fire State Park has to be the prettiest hike I’ve ever journeyed on. The rocks range from rich red sandstone to tan and green limestone from 11,000 years ago. My friend refers to this State Park as the Star Trek rock, considering a large portion of Star Trek was filmed within the fiery valley.
29. The White Mountains, New Hampshire
Tourists flock to The White Mountains each fall to witness the autumn foliage. Gaze over the thousands of shifting leaves as the sun makes its final journey during sunset, or hop aboard a sky ride to witness the spellbinding magic of nature in New England.
30. Baps Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu Temple, New Jersey
The Baps Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu Temple is a gorgeous Hindu temple, as well as one of the largest, in the U.S. Guided educational tours lead participants through the history and religion while witnessing enchanting artwork and exceptional architecture. Plus, the temple is free!
31. Dark Skies, New Mexico
If you haven’t yet stargazed, you’re missing out. Nothing beats pulling over on a dark night to watch the galaxy introduce the universe to burning gas that is as mesmerizing as it is hot. New Mexico has six various dark sky spots to catch the universe’s gift to humanity. If you’re feeling anxious, look up at the sky, and you’ll realize you’re only a tiny part of the world powered by unexplainable floating objects.
32. New York City Skyline, New York
Yes, New York has the Catskills and fabulous ski resorts, but I think the skyline is one of the most important and beautiful sights to look at. The NYC skyline contains the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty (depending on where you look from), and other iconic spots, such as the Manhattan Bridge. To me, the skyline symbolizes hope and perseverance, and who doesn’t want to remember that?
33. Nags Head, North Carolina
Does anyone watch Outer Banks (2020)? The popular Netflix show features a group of teens on an island in the Outer Banks. One of the most toured regions of the Outer Banks is Nags Head, a beach town offering sand dunes, salt marshes, a lighthouse, and loads of walking trails near the marshes.
34. International Peace Gardens, North Dakota
North Dakota is my least favorite state, but the International Peace Gardens is worth an excursion. If you’ve played Mario Kart, the gardens strike a similar appearance to the Peach Garden trail, with expertly curated flowers and decorative plants aligned in a flawless fashion. The gardens lay on the Canadian border, emphasizing the 1932 pledge between Canada and the U.S. to refrain from war.
35. Columbus, Ohio
Ohio’s capital, Columbus, proffers eclectic neighborhoods, including metro parks, sober bars, and coffee trails. A unique aspect of Columbus is its compact location. As opposed to California or New York City, every establishment in Columbus is near each other, prioritizing the citizen’s accessibility over the money grab of widespread transportation.
36. Little Niagara Falls, Oklahoma
Have you ever seen a miniature version of a landmark and squealed over the cuteness? London has Big Ben, and its cousin Little Ben, New York has Niagara Falls, while Oklahoma has Little Niagara Falls. The teeny waterfall in Sulphur, Oklahoma, permits explorers and swimmers to revel in the shrunken-down version of the New York/Canadian wonder of the world.
37. The Hood River Lavender Farm, Oregon
There are too many Taylor Swift references in here for me to stop myself. If you aren’t a Taylor Swift fan, forgive me. Traipse through the enchanting Lavender Haze on the Hood River Lavender Farm in Oregon. The lavender farms blossom with miles of the purply plant, emitting ambrosial scents. These farms are far from sweet nothing.
38. Pine Creek Gorge, Pennsylvania
Something about staring into the middle of a gorge humbles you. The Pine Creek Gorge in Pennsylvania stretches 1,000 feet deep and runs over 50 miles long in the middle of the Allegheny Plateau. One hundred sixty-five thousand acres of lush forest surround the ravine, creating charming scenery for a hike or trek through the plateau.
39. Newport, Rhode Island
Searching for a quaint coastal town? Look no further than Newport, Rhode Island. Yachts, regattas, mansions, and museums fill up this coastal must-see. Opt for a delectable lobster roll before paying a stop at The Breakers Mansion Historical Museum. Newport accommodates Gilded Age buildings for architecture connoisseurs, and for sports aficionados, the seaside city flaunts the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
40. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Hilton Head appeals to families searching for a relaxing vacation without the stress of planning too many activities. While in Hilton Head, lounge at any of the beaches, pick up a golf club, and head to a course, tour the lighthouse, or appreciate the critters chilling in the salt marsh along this 12-mile island.
41. The Badlands, South Dakota
Red rocks, steep spires, and canyons ornament this national park in the superior of the Dakotas. Prairie dogs, rattlesnakes, bison, and bighorn sheep frequent the rock climbers’ paradise, famous for its fossil findings and arrowheads.
42. Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee
If you can go to Tennessee, book a cabin ten miles outside of Gatlinburg that is nestled in the crook of the Rocky Mountains. Waking up to a black bear prowling the wilderness near your temporary home and watching snow gather in your backyard awakens your inner child. When nature gets too quiet, head into Gatlinburg for great food and a Skyride tourist attraction that suspends you above the ceaseless mountains.
43. South Padre Beach, Texas
The winner of the cleanest beach in Texas goes to South Padre. Twelve miles seems to be a common denominator for the best destinations throughout the U.S., and South Padre is no different. The island expands for 12 miles and allows swimming year-round as the water temperature rarely dips below 62 degrees. In addition to having clean beaches, the water is some of the clearest in all 50 states.
44. Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Utah
Live out your Dune dreams with a visit to Utah’s coral-pink sand dunes. Due to the erosion of the Navajo Sandstone, these sand dunes earn a pink hue as opposed to the sister sand dunes of golden shades. Hike, bike, ATV, or sandboard on the dunes on the salmon-colored sand. Oh, wait! How could I forget the best part? Try searching for bigfoot at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes.
45. Sunset Ridge Trail at Mount Mansfield, Vermont
This trail is for seasoned hikers, but the payoff is well worth the difficult trudge. Before embarking on the three-mile trail, check the weather for rain or heavy winds. Once cleared for travel, ascend the highest peak in Vermont. The final moments of the walk show off a panoramic glimpse of miles upon miles of Vermont and New York.
46. Luray Caverns, Virginia
Previously named Luray Cave, the Luray Caverns are a series of caverns packed with stalactites, stalagmites, mudflows, and a 47-foot double column, or a conjunction of stalactites and stalagmites that doubles as the prettiest tourist attraction in Virginia. Another impressive feature of the caverns is the organ inside the grotto.
The Great Stalacpipe Organ covers 3.5 acres (the largest instrument in the world) of the underground and operates with an automated machine. However, the instrument can be played by a human musician.
47. Palouse, Washington
Everyone enjoys learning different things during their globe-trotting experience, and in Palouse, wanderers learn everything they’ll ever need to know about crops, especially barley, lentils, and chickpeas. Palouse’s Steptoe Butte bears no resemblance to any other landscape I’ve seen.
In the day, the land appears green with rich, brown soil accents, but at night, the terrain gloats a gorgeous purple and blue hue. In addition, Palouse runs the Roy Chatters Newspaper Museum for newspaper readers, which delves into printing’s history.
48. Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia
If you’re constantly looking for the next best ski resort to check out, jot down Snowshoe Mountain. During the winter, skiers, snowboarders, and snow tubers enjoy over 250 acres of terrain across all skill levels. During the Summer, guests can paddle board, mountain bike, or hike in this Snowshoe, West Virginia resort.
49. Door County, Wisconsin
My best friend travels to Door County yearly for a family reunion and never tires of the environment. The peninsula surrounds Lake Michigan and Green Bay. It presents countless miles of shoreline, lighthouses, beaches, and state parks, more than any other county in Wisconsin. Door County also appeases those looking for adrenaline-packed activities such as adventure rafting and cliff jumping.
50. Cody, Wyoming
Straight out of a Western, Cody, Wyoming, is one of the remaining cowboy towns in America. Cody’s citizens do dress in cowboy boots strapped with spurs. Immerse yourself in cowboy culture at a rodeo, peruse through the Old Trail Museum, or head to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, a collection of historical and educational museums and artifacts to educate the public about the old west.
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