Where to Find the Best View in Every State
It should come as no surprise that wild wonders, including the Grand Canyon, Mount Washington, and the Grand Tetons, have earned spots on this list. After all, our national parks and mountain ranges are home to some of the highest points in the country — and some of the most dramatic views, surrounded by everything from red rock gorges to snowy, alpine slopes.
You don’t have to venture into the wilderness to score an amazing view. Our cities offer unique vistas of their own: best enjoyed on towering observation decks or with a cocktail in hand at a sky-high, rooftop bar.
In New York City, for example, the can’t-miss view is from the top of the One World Trade Center in Manhattan. On the observation deck perched 100 floors above the ground, visitors can see everything from the Empire State Building to helicopters hovering far below.
The best views in the country aren’t always from the top, either. In Rhode Island, head to Prospect Terrace, a steep hillside that offers visitors and locals excellent views of downtown Providence. Come here in the morning, sit at the base of the Roger Williams statue, and watch the sun rise over the city.
Whether you’re from out of town and want to orient yourself or are looking for incredible snapshots closer to home, this list highlights some of the very best places in every state for #Travelgram-worthy views. While an easy elevator ride or moderate hike can take you to many of these precipices, we’ve added a few bucket-list challenges for the mountaineers among us. How high would you climb for the best perspective of the world?
Alabama from the Vulcan Statue
Birmingham, Alabama, is watched over by the Roman God of fire and blacksmithing—Vulcan. As a nod to the city’s history as a major producer of the nation’s steel and iron, the Vulcan statue (the largest cast-iron statue in the world) was erected in 1904 for the World's Fair and moved to Birmingham, where he presided over the 1906 Alabama State Fair. Now the 56-foot-tall Vulcan looms over the city. From the observation deck at the base, people can enjoy an impressive view more than 120 feet above the city.
Alaska from Denali
The highest peak in North America—known as Mount McKinley until this past August—towers 20,310 feet over Alaska. And while experienced mountaineers can reach the summit, views of the mountain itself can be appreciated from as far away as Anchorage. One of the most unique ways to experience Denali is by ski-equipped airplane. Talk about a view!
Arizona from Point Imperial at the Grand Canyon
Let’s be honest: there’s no bad place to get a view of the Grand Canyon—one of the most spectacular features in Arizona. But the North Rim receives 90 percent fewer tourists than the rest of the Grand Canyon, and is home to Point Imperial. Here, at the highest point on this side of the canyon (8,803 feet), you can see out over the Painted Desert without crowds blocking the spectacular view.
Arkansas from the Hot Springs Mountain Tower
Towering 216 feet over the countryside, with 360-degree views of Hot Springs National Park and the Ouachita Mountains, is an impressive, lattice steel tower. Best of all? The tower is wheelchair accessible. Afterward, unwind in one of the natural, 100-degree baths.
California from Griffith Observatory
For a great view of the stars, you don’t have to be an A-list celeb. Just head to the Griffith Observatory, on Mount Hollywood, and you’ll see everything from constellations and the moon to the Hollywood Sign. Admire outer space through the public telescopes, including a coelostat, or solar telescope, and make time for a presentation at the planetarium.
Colorado from Mount Elbert
This isn’t just the highest point in Colorado. Mount Elbert also has the distinction of being the highest peak in the Rockies and only the second highest in the continental U.S. But it’s not just its status that makes it one of the best views in the country. In terms of hiking, Mount Elbert has relatively moderate terrain, and can be summited in a day. Get an early enough start, and you can be up, back down, and with a pint in your hand before night falls.
Connecticut from the Travelers Tower
Hartford, the state's capital, is home to one of the best views in Connecticut, thanks to the observation deck at Travelers Tower, its namesake insurance company. From here, visitors can admire sweeping views of the historic downtown and the Connecticut River. You can once again enter the neoclassical, pink granite building (it was the seventh tallest tower in the world when it was constructed in 1919) for the viewpoint free-of-charge, as it has just completed a $30 million facelift.
Delaware from the WWII Tower at Cape Henlopen State Park
Cape Henlopen State Park is all rolling white sand dunes and World War II history. Scattered across the Delaware coast and up to Cape May are abandoned observation towers, some as tall as 75 feet. At Cape Henlopen, the tower has been restored, allowing visitors to ascend for views of the Atlantic. Afterward, bike along the three-mile paved trail that loops around the state park.
Florida from the Viceroy Miami
The Four Seasons, which towers over Miami at a staggering 789 feet high, may overshadow the Viceroy, but this Brickell Avenue hotel still wins best view, thanks to its Philippe Starck-designed rooftop Water Lounge. From the 50th floor, guests and locals can admire an east-to-west vista of Biscayne Bay and the Everglades. It’s always a party here, with a roster of top DJs and a 300-foot-long pool complex (including an 80-person hot tub).
Georgia From the Brasstown Bald
Georgia’s highest mountain is a steep but pleasant 1.2-mile hike from the parking lot to the summit. Take your time admiring the rhododendron and laurel-lined trail. While views of the surrounding mountains are always worth the trek, this destination is especially beautiful in late October, when the hardwood forests are ignited with vibrant oranges, reds, and yellows. Brasstown Bald also offers an accessible shuttle service to the top.
Hawaii from Mauna Kea
This dormant volcano is the highest point on the island of Hawaii—but when measured from its underwater base to its peak, the mountain surpasses even Everest in height. Though hikers comfortable with the high altitude can reach the summit by foot, travelers are encouraged to use four-wheel-drive vehicles. Come during the winter months, and you can even go skiing. In Hawaii.
Idaho from the Shoshone Falls Observation Deck
Rising 45 feet higher than Niagara Falls, Shoshone Falls (aptly nicknamed the Niagara Falls of the West) plunges over a 1,000-foot-wide ledge of the Snake River. The observation deck provides a perfect outlook over the waterfall, which is best seen in spring or early summer.
Illinois from the Skydeck at Willis Tower
Head to Skydeck Chicago for urban views even higher than those achieved at One World Trade in New York City. On the 103rd floor of Willis Tower is an observation deck with glass ledges suspended 1,353 feet above Chicago. On a cloudless day, you can peer into three other states—Michigan, Wisconsin, and Indiana—and watch the ceaseless air traffic entering and exiting O’Hare and Midway. But maybe the best view is the one straight down, beneath your feet.
Indiana From the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument
Built of local limestone and rising from the center of downtown Indianapolis is the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument. You can enjoy the views of Monument Circle from the stone terraces at the base of the statue, or climb the 331 steps to the observation deck. If that sounds like a literal pain, there’s an interior elevator that takes you almost all of the way there, to step 290.
Iowa from Hawkeye Point
Iowa, in general, is pretty flat. And though it seems like a stretch to call Hawkeye Point “high,” it happens to be less flat—rising about 20 feet above the surrounding farmland. When you arrive, you’ll find a highpoint marker and uninterrupted views of the surrounding flatness.
Kansas from the Chalk Pyramids
The best views in Kansas are most definitely in the Badlands, a region of seemingly endless prairies punctuated by incredible formations known locally as Chalk Pyramids, which can tower as high as 70 feet over the landscape. The most iconic monuments include Keyhole Arch and the tall limestone pillar Castle Rock. Please note that while the views of these national landmarks are brilliant, views on them are strictly prohibited, as the spires are incredibly fragile and easily damaged.
Kentucky from Black Mountain
It’s not well known that you can hike to the top of Black Mountain—the highest point in the state—but you can. A winding mountain road, largely utilized by coal miners, can also be used to achieve your mountain views.
Louisiana from Omni Royal Orleans
Enjoy New Orleans by kicking back at the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel, which boasts one of the best rooftop scenes in the Big Easy. From La Riviera, the bar flanking the heated, saltwater rooftop pool and observation deck, you can admire the famous Spanish, French, and Creole architecture of the French Quarter and look out over the Mississippi River. La Riviera is open from the spring until early fall, and serves cocktails until dusk.
Maine from Mount Katahdin
It’s a strenuous hike to Baxter Peak, the top of Maine’s highest mountain but you’ll be rewarded for your efforts with panoramic views of Baxter State Park. Katahdin, which means "the Greatest Mountain," was named by Penobscot Indians. A number of trails work their way up the mountain face: take the Dudley Trail for a prime photo op on Pinnacle Rock.
Maryland from the Baltimore World Trade Center
The Top of the World observation deck on the 27th floor of the Baltimore World Trade Center grants visitors 360-degree views of the city, the Chesapeake Bay, and the harbor. In addition to the main exhibit (those sweeping views of Baltimore), the observation floor hosts regular photography and multi-media shows.
Massachusetts from the Prudential Skywalk Observatory
Fifty stories above downtown Boston, inside the Prudential Center, is the Skywalk Observatory. Take a bird’s-eye-view tour of the city (Fenway Park, the Boston Common, the Charles River, Harvard University) with a helpful audio guide—there’s one specifically for children—before going up to the 52nd floor for dinner at the Top of the Hub. Enjoy live jazz music and native seafood (try the lobster with asparagus and blood orange hollandaise) when the stars appear over the city.
Michigan from Coach Insignia Restaurant
On the 71st and 72nd floors of the GM Renaissance Center in Detroit is the Coach Insignia restaurant—a perfect place to get an overlook of the skyline. Book a table by the windows just before sunset and enjoy a signature cocktail. From your vantage point 700 feet above the city, try The Summit: Magellan gin, green chartreuse, and St. Germaine.
Minnesota from Eagle Mountain
Hike through thick woodlands and cross bridge-covered bogs to reach the highest point in Minnesota, Eagle Mountain, at 2,301 feet. You won’t likely be able to spot any canoers paddling through the 1,000-plus lakes of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, but you can enjoy the hardwood forests and Whale Lake below. Just remember to pack a picnic lunch.
Mississippi from Beau Rivage Casino Hotel
The Roman baths—inspired rooftop pool is the best place for views of Biloxi and the Gulf Coast nearby. The sun deck extends out over the Mississippi Sound and is the perfect perch for tropical slushie sipping and sunbathing. We recommended booking a private cabana.
Missouri from the City Hall of Kansas City
Head to the observation deck on the 30th floor of City Hall, one of the tallest city halls in the United States. The al fresco deck, which wraps around the perimeter of the Beaux Arts-designed building, is open on weekdays, weather permitting; we recommend reserving a rooftop tour in advance.
Montana from Granite Peak
Climbing Granite Peak, one of the most difficult summits in the country, is not for novices, as it requires navigating rocky, narrow ridges and scaling sheer rock faces. The rewards of such a treacherous climb, of course, are many: mountain goats at the Princess Lake camp site, the view of the surrounding Beartooth Mountains, and valleys filled with wildflowers. Go with a guide, or consider making the trip out to one of the mountain’s campsites.
Nebraska from the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge
So it’s technically in two states—Nebraska and Iowa—but it’s here you’ll get the best views of Omaha. The 3,000-foot-long, S-curved pedestrian bridge is the first to connect two states. Cross the Missouri River by bike or by foot, straddle Iowa and Nebraska, and watch Omaha Plaza (with its jet-spray fountain and swaying Fiber Wave sculpture) come into view.
Nevada from the Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower
Like Vegas itself, everything at the Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower is bigger (or at least higher) and more extreme than any other high points in the city. Gain a new perspective from the 1,149-foot-high observation area, an indoor-outdoor space hovering over Sin City. Then partake in adrenaline-inducing activities like the controlled free-fall SkyJump, an 829-foot leap from the tower, or less extreme fun at the SkyLounge on the 107th floor. Recover from an afternoon of astronomical heights with the Cosmic Cucumber cocktail: cucumber vodka, triple sec, simple syrup, fresh lime, and cranberry juice.
New Hampshire from Mount Washington
You’ll want to ascend the highest point in the Northeast by the historic cog railway, which dates back to 1869. These coal-fired locomotives can, in only three hours, bring you to the 6,288-foot summit of Mount Washington. From here, you can appreciate the vast expanse below: New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, and all the way north into Canada.
New Jersey from High Point Monument
Located in the Skylands Region, this obelisk-style monument towers over the Pocono and Catskill mountains, as well as the Wallkill River Valley. The 220-feet-high New Hampshire granite and local quartzite structure, which honors the state’s war veterans, can be reached via branches of the Appalachian Trail or by car.
New Mexico from Apothecary Lounge, Hotel Parq Central
Grab a drink at the Apothecary Lounge, a chic rooftop bar and patio at Hotel Parq Central, in downtown Albuquerque. There are few better places in the city to watch the sun sink behind the mountains—especially when you consider the Apothecary’s menu of seasonal, Prohibition-era cocktails. Hotel Parq Central has also been known to host morning yoga classes on the roof. We can get downward dog with that.
New York From the One World Trade
The latest addition to the New York City skyline just debuted its observation deck in 2015. You’ll ascend One World Trade to the 100th-floor observation deck (not even the highest point on the building) for sweeping views of Manhattan, New Jersey, Ellis Island, and, on clear days, the curve of the horizon. Even on the way down, back into the bowels of New York City bedrock, there's a sight to behold: the elevators simulate the experience of a helicopter ride.
North Carolina from The Durham Hotel
The recently opened Durham Hotel is crowned with a rooftop bar from which imbibers can enjoy views of Duke University, the American Tobacco Campus, and the hills of Rougemont. Squint, lean in the right direction, and you can even see Chapel Hill in the distance. Vinyasa yoga classes (free for guests, $10 for locals) by LaVita Yoga are held five days a week on the rooftop, too.
North Dakota from White Butte
It’s an easy 1.3-mile walk to the top of White Butte, a mud and claystone formation in the heart of the nation’s largest grasslands. An unmarked gravel road leads to an equally nondescript dirt road, before the road becomes something akin to a trailhead. The vast, seemingly endless views are easy to gain, though the butte sits on private property: visitors are encouraged to leave a donation in the metal mailbox on the way.
Ohio from Terminal Tower
You can’t miss Ohio’s Terminal Tower, which pierces the Cleveland skyline at just over 700 feet. The neoclassical façade is limestone and granite, and inside, the iconic landmark boasts cherry wood and marble. Head in and take the elevator to the 42nd-story observation deck. You’ll see as many as 30 miles beyond Cleveland to Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River.
Oklahoma from Devon Energy Center
The striking Devon Energy Center skyscraper is an unmistakable fixture in the Oklahoma City skyline. Schedule a tour (a 90-minute introduction to the building held twice a day on Thursdays) to receive access to the top of the tower, 50 stories above downtown.
Oregon from Pittock Mansion
For more than 100 years, Pittock Mansion has presided over Portland from a 46-acre estate at least 1,000 feet above the city. The French Renaissance—style house is not unlike a palace, with its main marble staircase, turreted bathroom, and servants' quarters. Now a museum, Pittock Mansion is a charming destination that boasts views of Portland, Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens, and more.
Pennsylvania from One Liberty Plaza
There's a new, 360-degree observation deck on Market Street, offering views of the Ben Franklin Bridge, City Hall, and the suburbs of the City of Brotherly Love from 883 feet up. Interactive boards help visitors locate and learn about major landmarks in Philly.
Rhode Island from Prospect Terrace
This steep, somewhat scruffy park offers great views of downtown Providence, shadowed only by the 15-foot-tall granite monument to the city’s founder, Roger Williams. Unfortunately, it’s Williams who, from the bow of his canoe, has the best view of all.
South Carolina from Sassafras Mountain
From the wooden platform jutting out from the edge of Sassafras Mountain—at 3553 feet, it’s the highest point in the state—you can see into neighboring North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. There are additional outlooks on the recently cleared summit, which can be reached by foot or by car, but exciting plans are underway for a more permanent, stone viewing platform and an observation tower. The view from here is already great, but it’s about to get even better.
South Dakota from the Crazy Horse Memorial
Sculpted directly into the 5,527-foot granite Thunderhead Mountain in the Black Hills is the world’s largest in-progress mountain carving. The monument depicts Crazy Horse, an Oglala Lakota warrior, and honors all of the country’s Native Americans. Schedule a time in advance to make the trip to the top of the sculpture and out onto Crazy Horse’s outstretched hand. When complete, Crazy Horse will be 563 feet high and 641 feet long.
Tennessee from Clingmans Dome Observation Tower
High above the spruce-fir forests of the Great Smoky Mountains is Clingmans Dome. At 6,643 feet, it’s the highest point in the national park and in Tennessee. On clear days, travelers can get views more than 100 miles in any direction from the top of the observation tower, located at the end of a paved trail and also reachable by standard hiking trails.
Texas from the San Jacinto Museum of History
You can see tens of thousands of manuscripts, relics, photographs, and miscellany at the San Jacinto Museum, which pays tribute to the Lone Star State’s history. But the one thing you have to see is the view at the end of a nearly 500-foot elevator ride to the observation deck, just below the star crowning the San Jacinto Monument. From here, you’ll have sweeping panoramas of historic battlefields, the Houston ship channel (and the Battleship Texas) and surrounding marshlands.
Utah from Angels Landing
There’s no bad view in Zion National Park, but the one from the top of Angels Landing is perhaps the most spectacular of all. Though Angel’s Landing is just uner 6,000 feet high, the trail is carved straight into the solid rock, and there are chains bolted into the stone for extra support. From this protruding sandstone formation, you can admire many of Zion’s other iconic features, including the Great White Throne and the Virgin River wrapping itself around The Organ rock formation.
Vermont from Lincoln Peak
Vermont has no shortage of beautiful mountain outlooks: the Green Mountain National Forest spans almost 400,000 acres of the state. But Lincoln Peak, which reaches an elevation of 3,975 feet, is topped with an observation deck and is also a part of Sugarbush ski area—meaning you can ascend the snowy slopes by chairlift. The only thing better than the 360-degree views is enjoying the ride down the 72 alpine trails.
Virginia from Libby Hill Park
In the 18th century, Libby Hill’s founder, William Byrd II, looked out over the James River, which curved beneath the steep hills of the town, and named it Richmond (for the village in London it reminded him of). Head to the top of Libby Hill Park, in the Church Hill neighborhood, to admire what’s now known as “The View That Named Richmond” and take a picnic lunch with you: this quiet green space is a perfect place to spend a leisurely afternoon in Virginia.
Washington from Mount Rainier
Consider this an aspirational viewpoint. Mount Rainier, at 14,410 feet, has near-vertical cliff faces, glaciers, and all the makings of the world’s most difficult Alaskan or Andean climbs. But you can reach the summit. A number of expeditions help guide visitors without any major mountaineering experience to the top of Rainier. Even a trip to Mount Rainier National Park rewards visitors uninterested in any serious hiking. You can drive as high as Sunrise (6,400 feet) and from mid-July through early August, all of the area’s meadows are blanketed in wildflower blooms.
District of Columbia from Washington Monument
View the nation’s capital from one of the country’s most iconic monuments. Washington Monument (a 555-foot-high obelisk honoring the first president of the United States, George Washington) can be ascended by elevator in 70 seconds. The final stop is an observation deck, topped by the ornamental pyramid, that grants visitors views from all four cardinal directions. From this vantage point, you can see the White House, the Potomac River, and all the commuters heading back to Virginia.
West Virginia from Spruce Knob
The state’s high point is a dramatic, isolated peak in the Monongahela National Forest. Its summit (4,863 feet) can be attained by a scenic drive on forested roads or by hiking along Huckleberry Trail. From the public observation tower that rises from the top of the mountain you can admire the unusual talus slopes and verdant valleys below. Autumn hikes are made sweeter by ripe blackberry fields flanking the High Meadows Trail.
Wisconsin from the Wisconsin State Capitol Observation Deck
Madison’s domed capitol building boasts a series of observation decks, each one offering greater, more uninterrupted views of this favorite college football town and the surrounding isthmus than the one before. During the summer, tours take visitors to the first observation deck—92 feet over the city—though people undeterred by spiral staircases could at one time ascend to the outdoor observation deck that sits at 236 feet.
Wyoming from the Cathedral Group at Grand Teton
Eight of the ten highest summits in the Teton Range can be found in this section of the park, including Grand Teton (13,770 feet). The views from the top, whether you’re an advanced alpinist or backcountry skier, are as miraculous as the views ofthe pyramidal peaks themselves, or their glimmering reflections in Jenny Lake.