One of the most beautifully diverse countries in the world, the sprawling – and extraordinary – United States of America is a place where literally everything is bigger and better, from their towering skyscrapers and endless roads and to their jaw-dropping national parks and even their food portions! It’s a place that’s not easy to some up it’s most picturesque spots as such a list could easily go into the hundreds, but we’ve given it a go! From all our team’s numerous visits over the years, here are 15 of the most beautiful places to visit in the USA…
When you fly to the USA – and make sure you don’t forget your ESTA visa before you head off – this should be one of the first places on your list! It’s truly one of the most beautiful places to visit in the USA, if not the world! Big Sur got its name from the Spanish “el sur grande”, meaning “the big south”. This rugged mountainous terrain stretches for 90 miles along the coast of central California from Carmel in the north to San Simeon in the south. The southern border of Big Sur, the Santa Lucia Range, majestically towers above the Pacific coast. Its summit Cone Peak (5,155 ft) is the highest coastal peak of the continental United States.
You’ll find high cliffs rising above the ocean coast, mountains covered with emerald grass and dense forest, mighty rocks and extraordinary houses which mixed together create a truly wonderful offbeat Californian landscape.
Yosemite is one of the oldest and most attractive national parks in the USA. Located on the western slopes of Sierra Nevada, it is blessed with truly fabulous landscapes. Majestic granite cliffs, breathtaking waterfalls, lakes with crystal clear water, and forests housing giant sequoias are the main highlights of this place.
Due to the impressive elevation difference (2,000 to 13,123 feet above sea level), the park boasts divergent types of vegetation: from the alpine zone high in the mountains to shrubbery wastelands on the lower slopes of the Sierra Nevada. About 3.7 million tourists flock to Yosemite annually to check out the giant sequoias in the Mariposa Grove, mesmerizing Yosemite Falls, as well as sublime El Capitan granite massif. Approximately 1250 miles of hiking trails and paved roads will help you explore every nook and cranny of this wondrous park.
Thanks to bizarre shapes carved by the Colorado River in red-orange rocks, this phenomenal nature’s wonder is enthralling even for the most worldly-wise travellers. The Grand Canyon is the irresistible catnip of the eponymous national park in northern Arizona. The most breathtaking sights lie in wait for you in the South Rim. This part of the canyon features observation platforms and numerous hiking trails. Here, you can spend hours exploring awe-inspiring gorges and crevices or rafting along the rough waters of the Colorado River. Wildlife enthusiasts won’t be disappointed either – thanks to landscape change at different heights, the canyon is bristling with diverse species of mammals, reptiles, insects, and birds.
Antelope Canyon, Arizona
Antelope Canyon is a magical and mysterious place created by the fanciful fantasy of nature. These amazing rocky crevices got their name due to the riot of red hues similar to the fur of noble antelopes. In fact, there are two Antelope canyons – the Upper and Lower ones. Both gigantic gaps in the sandy rocks resulted from wind and rain erosion. Once every few years, heavy rains flood the canyons. Carrying grains of sand, they carve magical patterns in the mighty rocks. The best time to visit Antelope Canyon is from March to April and at the end of autumn. It is during these months that the sun rays penetrate to the very bottom of the canyon, surprisingly illuminating it from the inside.
Kenai Fjords, Alaska
Despite the lack of sun and severe winds, it is impossible to deny the charm of the arctic nature. If you are one of those who are hypnotized by its rigorous beauty, Kenai Fjords is one of the few places in the United States to enjoy it to the fullest. Kenai Fjords stretch along the south coast of central Alaska. It received the status of a national park in 1980 with the goal to protect the Arctic nature from the negative impact of human activity. More than half of the park’s total area of 1,250 square miles is covered with snow and ice. Glaciers, frozen mountain gorges, ice-bound sea bays, and icebergs create a dramatic Nordic landscape. Here and there, the eye can catch the indigenous inhabitants of this area – polar bears, seals, walruses, and whales. The best way to enjoy all this beauty is to set off on the ice cruise departing from the town of Seward.
The bewitching beauty of nature, amazing geology features, and the best spots to observe the wild animals of North America – these are just a few reasons to visit Yellowstone. Spanning across several states (Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana) and divided into 5 main hubs, the park covers a huge area of almost 3,500 square miles. Among the Yellowstone’ major highlights are impressive geysers, waterfalls, rocky mountains, gurgling mud cauldrons, as well as lakes nestling in the vent of Caldera’s supervolcano. The local flora and fauna are represented by several thousand species of plants, animals, and birds. Thanks to about 1,000 miles of hiking trails, you can come in contact with all this splendour.
Montana’s Glacier National Park
The Glacier National Park is located off the Canadian border at the northern tip of the Rockies. The park covers an area of approximately 1,580 square miles. Its sublime mountain ranges, countless lakes, massive glaciers born thousands of years ago, and velvet green meadows will leave you speechless. Thanks to the Alpine-esque terrain, the park is often called Little Switzerland. These picture-postcard landscapes were formed largely due to the movements of huge glaciers. Unfortunately, today there are just over thirty of them left; this is about a fifth of what we had in the mid-19th century.
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Bryce Canyon National Park is located in northeastern Utah. In fact, this is not a canyon at all, but a giant amphitheatre of the sharpest rocky peaks of all shades of orange. Bryce is less popular than its neighbours, the Grand Canyon and Zion National Parks, due to its remoteness. Nevertheless, tourists often visit the three parks on the same trip. The height of Bryce Canyon varies from 7,870 to 8,860 feet. The best time to enjoy the views is sunrise or sunset when the light dramatically enhances the colours and turns the canyon into Martian landscapes. The trip to Bryce Canyon is not complete without visiting astronomy and night-sky programs as well as walks under the full moon. In general, there is something to do here year-round. In the warmer months, you can go hiking or snowshoeing and skiing are the sought-after pastimes in winter.
The second deepest in the United States, Lake Tahoe is situated on the border of California and Nevada, in the very south of Sierra Nevada. The mere is a real natural treasure extending 21 miles long and 12 miles wide. In summer, people come here to take a dip in the clear, slightly bluish water, sunbathe on numerous beaches, and wander along the shady trails. In winter, the Tahoe surroundings turn into a popular ski resort. Tahoe is a grand destination for weekends and holidays. It is a true paradise for beachgoers rowers, divers, and hikers.
White Sands National Monument New Mexico
An impressive creation of Mother Nature, a snow-white desert White Sands dwells in the south of New Mexico. Due to the content of gypsum crystals, the sand here is truly white as snow. The snowdrift-like sand dunes create amazing contrasts with the blue sky and the dark strip of San Andres and Sacramento mountains looming on the horizon. Despite the fact that the White Sands National Monument is located in the desert, it is never sweltering here. It is all because of the white sand reflecting the sun’s rays and absorbing moisture. Every year, in the third week of September, the reserve holds the White Sands Balloon Invitational aeronautics festival. During this two-day holiday, guests can fly up to the sky in balloons, observe the work of balloonists, and admire dozens of colourful Montgolfiers.
The oldest city of Georgia, Savannah was founded in 1733. During the Civil War, Savannah was a strategically important port as well as a large industrial centre. When Sherman’s troops approached the city in 1864, the mayor allowed them to occupy Savannah in exchange for a guarantee of the inviolability. As a result, Savannah has become one of the few large southern cities whose historical charm and old architecture have remained untouched.
The historical part of the city measuring approximately 1.0 x 1.0 mile is bounded by the Savannah River on one side and the beautiful Forsyth Park on the other. The city’s north-western corner accommodates the city market. Today it is a multifunctional space dripping with restaurants, shops, and urban artist studious. Right next door, west of the market, there is the historic Ellis Square famous for an interactive fountain.
The main wine-growing region of the United States, the picturesque and fertile Napa Valley stretches across the vastness of Northern California. Totally, there are 14 thousand hectares of vineyards, several dozen large and four hundred small wineries. Fragrant and full-bodied wines of California are popular not only in the US but also far beyond its borders.
The architecture of wineries as well as their products are the main tourist attractions in Napa. The local wineries range from giant medieval castles to small charming chalets. Along with that, the fantastically beautiful landscapes will send shivers down your spine, too. Among other interesting things, there are a whole bunch of gourmet restaurants and spa centres.
Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, California
The world-renowned Sequoia National Park is set in the south of the Sierra Nevada. In fact, together with the Kings Canyon National Park, it forms a single national reserve. The main landmark of this place is humongous sequoias (including the legendary General Sherman). Scenic mountains, deep lakes, swift rivers, and miles of picturesque hiking trails encompass these mighty giants.
The park is divided into several zones connected by roads No. 198 and 180. The most popular attractions sit either directly along the tracks or at a short distance. The rest of the Sequoia Park can be explored on foot. The most magnetizing areas of the park are Foothills steeped in lowlands, sonorous streams, and lavish flora and Mineral King, a spruce-covered valley known for picturesque granite and slate landscapes. The main tourist-magnet, however, is the Giant Forest, home to gigantesque sequoia trees.
Crater Lake, Oregon
The Crater Lake occurred in the crater of the extinct Mazama volcano, the last eruption of which happened about 7,700 ago. It sits high in the mountains – the edge of the caldera is located at an altitude of up to 8,000 feet. The width of the lake is up to 6 miles, and its depth is 1,949 ft. It is the deepest lake in the USA!
The lake lures tourists from all over the world thanks to its clear water with a bright blue tint. The water surface is torn by a pair of volcanic islets. The bigger one called Wizard Island is all smothered with forest. Its little brother, the Phantom Ship Island, is mostly rocky. The lake is famous for another mysterious attraction, the Old Man of the Lake. This is a 30 feet tree stump vertically drifting in the water for more than a century. Coated with white a bloom, it resembles the head of a grey-haired old man.
Palouse Falls, Washington
One of the most beautiful waterfalls in America is nestled in the eponymous canyon. Thickets of coniferous forests and the steep cliffs driving the water into a round lake resemble the harsh yet magnificent landscapes of Iceland and Scandinavia. Palouse Falls is 200 feet high, which is, by the way, 26 ft higher than Niagara Falls.
The waterfall together with its environs is part of the Palouse Falls State Park. In addition to breathtaking views, the park boasts a large number of bears and other species of flora and fauna. The stunning nature is not the only reason why tourists come here from all over the United States. After Tyler Bardt flew down the Palouse Fall in his kayak and remained unharmed, thousands of thrill-seekers dream of repeating his escapade.
Travelling to the USA
A foreign national travelling to the United States will need prior authorization to enter the country and the visa can be applied for quickly online. The Electronic System for Travel Authorisation or ESTA as it’s mostly known as must be completed in order to visit the USA (or transit through the USA) and US Immigration may well refuse you entry at border control if you haven’t successfully applied for it before your trip.