The Most Beautiful Places in America You Should See Before You Die, Revealed
When you think of your bucket list, you probably envision yourself hopping on an international flight or circumnavigating the globe. But if you live in the United States, you don’t even need to dust off your passport to see some of the most beautiful places that we’d recommend everybody puts on their bucket list.
Below, check out the most beautiful places in America that you should see before you die.
1. Antelope Canyon
- Location: Arizona
According to Condé Nast Traveler, Antelope Canyon in Arizona numbers among the most beautiful places in the United States. This gorgeous slot canyon has winding sandstone walls and a remarkable wave-like structure. It’s the product of millions of years of water erosion and lies within the LeChee Chapter of the Navajo Nation. You have to take a guided tour to explore the canyon, but the sights you’ll see are well worth the planning.
Next: You can explore 21 islands and 12 miles of shoreline in this Midwestern region.
2. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
- Location: Wisconsin
Condé Nast Traveler puts Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands National Lakeshore on the list of the most beautiful places in America. The area consists of 21 islands and 12 miles of shoreline, with sandstone sea caves, old-growth forests, and historic lighthouses to explore. More than 240 species of birds breed in or migrate through the archipelago. And you can hike, paddle, sail, or cruise to see the islands, rock formations, and even shipwrecks.
Next: Visit this region to see the largest swamp in America.
3. Atchafalaya Basin
- Location: Louisiana
As the biggest wetland and swamp in the United States, the Atchafalaya Basin also makes the list of the most beautiful places in the nation. The basin contains almost a million acres of hardwoods, swamps, bayous, and backwater lakes. It’s bound by natural ridges formed by levee-building along both active and abandoned courses of the Mississippi River, which has changed its path several times over the past 10,000 years.
Next: Drive along this parkway for unbelievable views and access to multiple national parks.
4. Blue Ridge Parkway
- Location: North Carolina and Virginia
Next on the list? The Blue Ridge Parkway. Condé Nast Traveler puts this section of the Appalachian Mountain range on the list of the most beautiful places in America thanks to the gorgeous overlooks and unbelievable vistas you’ll see along the way. The 469-mile parkway stretches from Virginia to North Carolina, and there are two gateway national parks at either end of it: Shenandoah National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Next: Check out incredible geological formations in this park.
5. Bryce Canyon National Park
- Location: Utah
Condé Nast Traveler nominates Bryce Canyon National Park as one of the most beautiful places in America. This park features a breathtaking landscape of hoodoos, rock formations that came about thanks to the forces of erosion. FiveThirtyEight reports that national parks have never been more popular than they are today. But Bryce, while not underrated by every traveler, still gets a small enough number of annual visitors that crowds won’t get in your way.
Next: Enjoy the views at this Pacific Northwestern beach.
6. Cannon Beach
- Location: Oregon
Next on the list? Oregon’s Cannon Beach, which Condé Nast Traveler counts among the most beautiful places in the United States. Most people know this beach for Haystack Rock, which rises above the shoreline. But you can also see waterfalls at Hug Point, spot marine life at low tide, stay at oceanside resorts, go surfing, or take in the panoramic views from the beach.
Next: Head to Florida to see this underrated national park.
7. Dry Tortugas National Park
- Location: Florida
According to Condé Nast Traveler, Dry Tortugas National Park also makes the list of the most gorgeous places you can visit in America. This park is located on the southwestern tip of the Florida Keys and is accessible only by boat or by plane. It might not be the most popular destination, especially because the park doesn’t provide any specialized facilities for camping or recreational activities. But if you come prepared, you can enjoy the island’s gorgeous views and sights, including Fort Jefferson.
Next: See the remnants of maritime and military history in this New England park.
8. Fort Williams Park
- Location: Maine
Condé Nast Traveler adds Maine’s Fort Williams Park to the list of the most beautiful places in the United States. The park consists of 90 acres on Casco Bay, where you can see the Portland Head Light and Museum, take in amazing ocean views, wander a variety of natural environments, and even discover ruins that will teach you about the area’s long maritime and military history.
Next: Add this amazing landmark to your bucket list.
9. Grand Canyon
- Location: Arizona
A list of the most beautiful places in America wouldn’t be complete without an entry for the Grand Canyon, one of the most famous landmarks in the nation. The Grand Canyon features layered bands of red rock that create stunning views from every angle, whether you want to enjoy the vistas from the rim, hike down into the canyon, or take a helicopter ride above the iconic geological formation. Whatever route you choose, you could spend days exploring the canyon and the many iconic viewpoints within and around it.
Next: Check out this iconic thermal feature.
10. Grand Prismatic Spring
- Location: Wyoming
Buzzfeed puts Grand Prismatic Spring on the list of the most surreal places in America. The spring, located at Yellowstone’s Midway Geyser Basin, ranks as the most photographed thermal feature within the national park thanks to its bright colors and eye-popping size. The spring is deeper than a 10-story building, and extremely hot water travels up through that depth from a crack in the earth. The multi-colored layers of the spring get their hues from the different species of bacteria that live in the progressively cooler water around the spring.
Next: Enjoy the views from this California state park.
11. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
- Location: Big Sur, California
Condé Nast Traveler also recommends that travelers put Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in California on their bucket lists. This state park stretches from the Big Sur coastline into 3,000-foot mountains. You can see redwoods, tan oaks, madrones, and chaparrals. You can also take in the sights at an 80-foot waterfall that drops into the ocean. And from the trails along higher elevations, you can see a panoramic view of the coastline.
Next: Hike an icefield in this Alaskan park.
12. Kenai Fjords
- Location: Alaska
Next on the list? Kenai Fjords, according to Condé Nast Traveler. This national park encompasses the Harding Icefield as well as numerous fjords carved by glaciers as they made their way down to the icefield. You can hike the icefield, kayak in the fjords, take a boat tour into the park, or explore Exit Glacier (the only part of the park accessible by roads). But wherever you go, you’ll see incredible sights at every turn.
Next: Visit California or Nevada to see one of the oldest lakes in the world.
13. Lake Tahoe
- Location: California and Nevada
Lake Tahoe also numbers among the most surreal and beautiful places in the United States, according to Buzzfeed. This freshwater lake, which borders California and Nevada, is about 2 million years old and therefore one of the oldest lakes in the world. It’s also the largest alpine lake in North America, and millions of people visit each year to take in the views, go hiking, try skiing, or kick back on the lake’s beaches.
Next: Head to Alaska to see this quickly-changing landscape.
14. Mendenhall Glacier Caves
- Location: Alaska
Buzzfeed nominates the Mendenhall Glacier Caves as one of the most surreal sights you can see in America. As Atlas Obscura explains, the Mendenhall Glacier is a 12-mile-long glacier. You have to kayak — and then ice climb — to the caves inside the glacier. Global warming has caused the glacier to retreat. And as Atlas Obscura notes, “The caves are in part a function of this increased glacial melting. Images of the caves circulate the internet with such captions as ‘otherworldly’ and ‘surreal,’ but ‘melting’ and ‘fleeting’ could be used as well, as this glacier creates incredible new landscapes while we watch it melt away.”
Next: Enjoy the breathtaking vistas in this Navajo tribal park.
15. Monument Valley
- Location: Arizona
Next on the list of the most beautiful places in the United States? Monument Valley in Arizona. This Navajo tribal park encompasses surreal sandstone towers and gorgeous red hues which make every vista even more dramatic. You can show yourself around the park or hire a Navajo guide to take you on a Jeep excursion. You can see the steep Mittens buttes from a variety of vantage points, including from the road or scenic overlooks.
Next: Visit this waterfall the next time you’re in the Pacific Northwest.
16. Multnomah Falls at the Columbia River Gorge
- Location: Oregon
Condé Nast Traveler reports that you can’t miss the Multnomah Falls at Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge if you want to see the most beautiful places in the United States. The waterfall ranks as the most visited national recreation site in the Pacific Northwest, with more than 2 million visitors stopping by each year. Underground springs from Larch Mountain feed the falls. And the area offers the perfect location to view geology exposed by floods.
Next: Time your visit precisely to see this Washington sight.
17. Skagit Valley Tulip Fields
- Location: Washington
Condé Nast Traveler recommends Washington’s Skagit Valley tulip fields as one of the most beautiful places in America while Buzzfeed recommends it as one of the most surreal. During the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, hundreds of thousands of visitors travel to Washington to see the tulips in bloom. As Buzzfeed notes, “The festival is designed as a driving tour since there is no one designated ‘site.'”
Next: This New York park looks like something out of a movie.
18. Watkins Glen State Park
- Location: New York
Buzzfeed refers to Watkins Glen State Park as one of the most surreal — and most beautiful — places in America. The park encompasses 19 waterfalls. According to Buzzfeed, visiting the park “will make you feel like you’re in Lord of the Rings.” A gorge winds over and under the waterfalls and through the spray of Cavern Cascade. And you can walk rim trails that overlook the gorge for otherworldly views.
Next: Enjoy incredible views from this California point.
19. Zabriskie Point in Death Valley
- Location: California
Condé Nast Traveler refers to Zabriskie Point in Death Valley, California, as one of the most beautiful places in America. Erosion formed this dramatic landscape in the Amargosa Range. In fact, it came into existence out of the sediments of Furnace Creek Lake, which dried up long before Death Valley was formed. From this point, you can see the flat salt plains of the valley floor as well as the gullies and mud hills at the edge of the Black Mountains.
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