‘America the beautiful’ isn’t just a patriotic song. It’s the truth. In every state, big or small, there are amazing things to see. But which are the best?
We’ve got you covered. Let’s take a look at the prettiest place in each U.S. state. Of course, prettiness is subjective. Still, we think you’ll agree: you don’t want to miss these 50 attractions. Some are natural, while others are manmade. But each one deserves a spot on your domestic travel bucket list.
Little River Canyon National Preserve
The Little River flows down lookout mountain. It’s among the largest mountain rivers in America. This 15,000-hectare national preserve was created to protect it.
Glacier Bay National Park
This enormous national park is located near Juneau. It protects not only glaciers, but the rock formations they left behind them. America the beautiful indeed.
You may be surprised we didn’t pick the Grand Canyon. How can we discuss America the beautiful without it?
You’ll be pleased to know that Havasu Falls is part of the Canyon. In fact, it’s inside it. How could we pass on a waterfall inside the world’s most famous hole in the ground?
This became America’s first National River in 1972. This was done to stop the Army Corps of Engineers from damming it. If you ask us, it was worth it.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite defines the phrase ‘America the beautiful.’ The park’s beauty is surpassing and surreal. The biggest attraction is the pictured Yosemite valley. More than 4 million guests visit the park every year. Not hard to see why!
These two mountains — Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak — are close neighbors. Both rise to more than 14,000 feet. The view is breathtaking, and attracts many avid hikers.
The Thimble Islands
The Thimble Islands are, as the name suggests, small. But mighty. This archipelago is strung out in the Long Island Sound off Branford, CT. The islets are mostly made from pink granite left over from the Ice Age.
Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge
This 25 square mile preserve is a birder’s paradise. Migrating birds stop here in enormous numbers. If you’re lucky, you’ll even spot some endangered bald eagles.
Clearwater is 2.5 miles of white sand on the Gulf Coast. What makes it special? Well, in a state full of beaches, Clearwater consistently stands out. Time after time, it’s ranked as the best beach in Florida. That should give you pause.
Savannah was the original British capital of Georgia, founded in 1733. It also played a major role in both the Revolution and the Civil War. As you can imagine, the city is ripe with history. America the beautiful and American the historical meet in this great old town.
The Nā Pali Coast State Park
Choosing the most beautiful place in Hawaii is tough. Vulcanism has granted this string of islands a surfeit of beauty.
But Nā Pali Coast State Park stands out. It’s 16 miles of unique coastline on the island of Kaua’i. The ridged cliffs that rise out of the sea reach heights up to 4,000 feet. Truly humbling and epic.
The Palouse is one of the most underrated regions in America. It covers parts of Idaho and Washington state. The Palouse is characterized by fertile, rippling hills. Unsurprisingly, it’s a major agricultural bread basket.
Starved Rock State Park
This is Illinois’ most popular state park. Starved Rock is noteworthy for its many stony canyons and waterfalls.
Brown County State Park
Meet Indiana’s most popular state park. Visitors flock here in the fall. When the trees change colors, the views from the hilltops are stunning. America the beautiful is most often discovered in simplicity.
Maquoketa Caves State Park
If you like hiking and spelunking, this is the place for you. This park has more caves an caverns than any other in Iowa. Conveniently, they’re all connected by hiking paths.
These chalk mountains are a major source of fossils. Their age is estimated at 80 million years. The formations rise as tall as 70 feet, and were formed when this region was part of a vast Cretaceous inland sea.
Mammoth Cave National Park
Mammoth Cave is the largest cave system on earth. Or, at least, that we know of. It has more than 400 miles of passageways that have been mapped. Goodness knows how much else may be waiting to be discovered.
The Atchafalaya Basin is a vast wetland. You’ll find it where the Mississippi river deltas and the Gulf of Mexico meet. It’s home to a proliferation of wildlife. Both flora and fauna thrive here in untouched wetlands.
Acadia National Park
This national park protects a number of rocky islands off the Maine coasts. You’ll find deciduous and coniferous forests here. And if you’re lucky, you’ll find a lighthouse or two as well! Definitely Maine’s take on ‘America the beautiful.’
This sandy island is famous for its wild horses. It gives the place a feeling of true freedom — and undeniable beauty. But be careful with these ponies: they’re feral. However, they’re thought to be descended from domesticated horses. So, you know… not totally wild.
Aquinnah Cliffs, Martha’s Vineyard
The island of Martha’s Vineyard is one of America’s most famous getaways. It’s known as a playground for the rich and famous. But its most famous feature is the Aquinnah Cliffs. You can see for yourself why so many people come to hike here.
Porcupine Mountains State Park
This small mountains are nicknamed ‘the Porkies.’ They were named by the Ojibwa people. The shoulders of the mountains supposedly reminded them of porcupines. Today, they’re home to a uniquely old forest.
Split Rock Lighthouse State Park
The Split Rock Lighthouse is one of America’s most famous. People come from far and wide to photograph it. Originally built in 1910, it has since been restored.
Natchez Trace Parkway
This is a modern parkway. However, it’s built over a very old forest path that went by the same name. You can still appreciate much of Mississippi’s natural beauty by taking it today.
Missouri Botanical Garden
St. Louis has one of America’s best gardens. The Missouri Botanical Garden is home to the largest Japanese garden in North America. It also has 6.6 million preserved plant species. America the beautiful is America the green.
Glacier National Park
Montana is yet another state with a wealth of natural beauty.
Glacier National Park covers more than 1,500 square miles. it contains parts of the Rocky Mountains and more than 100 lakes. But the real kicker here is the thriving and unique ecosystem.
Toadstool Geologic Park
The name comes from the strange rock formations, which resemble toadstools. This is Nebraska’s badlands. Fossils, including very large specimens, are commonly found here. However, you won’t be allowed to remove them.
America the beautiful brings us to America’s favorite lake. Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America, and the deepest after Crater Lake. (More on that later.) Tourists flock here by the millions to enjoy some freshwater fun.
22. New Hampshire
The White Mountains
They don’t look white in the fall, do they? The White Mountains cover about a quarter of the state. They include many impressive peaks, including Mount Washington.
21. New Jersey
Cape May was one of America’s original resort towns. That’s why it’s home to so much Victorian architecture. It remains a popular summer getaway, attracting more than ten times its permanent population in tourists.
20. New Mexico
White Sands National Monument
This is the most visited national site in New Mexico. But we still feel White Sands is underrated. This field of white gypsum sand sits about 4,000 feet above sea level. It’s the largest such feature on earth, covering more than 200 square miles.
19. New York
The Adirondacks are strange as mountain ranges go. Created by retreating glaciers, they form almost a perfect circle.
18. North Carolina
Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of America the beautiful’s finest roads. It’s 469 miles long. Best of all, it connects two other entries on this list. (Spoiler alert: we’re talking about Shenandoah National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains.)
17. North Dakota
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
This 110 square mile national park was named after one of the most active presidents. It was named for him because he fell in love with North Dakota after coming here to hunt Bison.
The Hocking Hills stand out in the Ohio landscape. It’s a region of gorges, waterfalls, and rocky ravines in the middle of a plateau. For the bold hiker, there’s a ton to discover here.
Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
America the beautiful means taking steps to protect nature. Many forms of life are protected in the Wichita Mountains. More than 800 plant species, and hundreds of animal species as well. Most famously, you can still see bison here.
This brilliant blue lake wasn’t formed by a meteor impact. It was formed in the collapse of a prehistoric volcano. From great violence, great beauty. That’s the miracle of our planet.
Ricketts Glen State Park
There are 24 official waterfalls in Ricketts Glen. Goodness knows how many others there are that haven’t been named. This state park also encompasses an ancient forest that you’ll enjoy hiking.
12. Rhode Island
Newport Cliff Walk
This natural recreation trail skirts the shore of Newport. It’s a 3.5-mile walk along the steep shoreline. Short enough to be doable for almost anyone, and well worth the effort.
11. South Carolina
Charleston is one of America’s most amazing cities. It was founded in 1670, an retains a distinct historical flair. This is where the Civil War started. What more can we say? If you’re a history buff, this is bucket list stuff.
10. South Dakota
Badlands National Park
This most beautiful national park covers 379 square miles. In that space, you’ll find unusual rock formations with lines of stark coloration. Bizarrely, the land isn’t all that “bad” here. You’ll also find pristine grasslands on the premises.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
This is the most visited national park, so how could we possibly leave it off the list? The Great Smoky Mountains are part of the Appalachian range. The name comes from the mist that naturally clings to its peaks.
Located just outside Austin, Hamilton Pool is a popular swimming hole. It’s fed by a waterfall. For a backdrop, you get slabs of limestone with stalactites. Who wants to go for a dip?
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon may be the most impressive site in America period. It’s actually not a canyon, though. It’s a vast collection of natural amphitheaters. The strange formations with their vivid colors were created by frost and water erosion.
The Northeast Kingdom
“The Northeast Kingdom” is the name given to the corner of Vermont. It’s mostly pristine, rural, and lush. Perfect for a city break.
Shenandoah National Park
This pretty park is long and narrow, following the path of the Shenandoah river and its valley. It also includes the Blue Ridge Mountains and its foothills.
Olympic National Park
At more than 1,400 square miles, Olympic Park is its own little world waiting to be discovered. It packs a ton of diversity into that space. The park includes a rugged costline, an alpine region, a rainforest, and dry forests. Four parks for the price of one!
3. West Virginia
Blackwater Falls State Park
This state park is aptly named for its focal point. That would be the picturesque 62-foot waterfall seen above. But there are also plenty of trails to hike. For nature-lovers visiting West Virginia, this is a must-see.
Apostle Islands Ice Caves
These caves are open to the sea. In the winter, that makes for spectacular scenes. Frozen icicles form stalactites in the caves, creating a breathtaking illusion. You won’t want to leave your camera at home.
Finally, we come to the most famous manifestation of America the beautiful. The Grant Prismatic is the centerpiece of Yellowstone Park. The famous colors — oranges, reds, greens — come from microbial life.