Quick: close your eyes and picture a beautiful view.
Where do you put yourself? Looking out over tall, gleaming urban spires? Mammoth snowcapped peaks? Vast gashes in the earth?
Fortunately, no matter what your vision might be, you can probably find a view to match it somewhere in the U.S. Inspiring vistas are ubiquitous and easy to find—they stretch from Hawaii to Maine.
Still, in our search for America’s best views, it was only natural to draw heavily from beautiful sites in the National Park system. Of course, we’re not alone in our desire to experience and celebrate views inside these protected areas: in 2015, more than 305 million people sought inspiration in America’s national parks, including some 15 million who witnessed the iconic views in California’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
But the best views in America don't only showcase national parks—they incorporate the magic twinkle of city skylines, the fortitude of rocky coastlines, and breathtaking discoveries found on easy walks, rugged hikes, and scenic drives across the nation. Anyone who’s experienced the dramatic drops around Big Sur, CA, or basked in the glimmer of New York City’s skyline will certainly agree.
And uplifting views don’t necessarily start with tall buildings or plunging cliffs. Just ask anyone who’s witnessed the 360-degree panorama of nighttime lights on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Fortunately, the best views in America aren’t going anywhere. From canyons and coastlines to peaks and parks, Americans have a proud history of preserving their special places for future generations.
But that doesn’t mean you should wait to see them. Put these gorgeous spots on your bucket list and start making travel plans.