America the beautiful
Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Monument Valley, Arizona and Utah
White Sands National Park, New Mexico
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, California
Fly Geyser, Nevada
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina
The Palouse, Washington
At first glance you might mistake these gently rolling hills and valleys for bucolic Tuscany in Italy – but they actually take up a swathe of southeastern Washington. Covered with flaxen wheat fields and peppered with neat farmhouses, trees and waterfalls, the Palouse is one of the most scenic agricultural regions in the United States. Discover more places you won’t believe are in the USA here.
Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur, California
Raw, rugged and incredibly beautiful, Big Sur is a storied stretch of California’s Central Coast. Plenty of natural wonders punctuate this portion of the Golden State, but Pfeiffer Beach is among the most magical. The strand is known for its purple sand, tinged by manganese garnet from the surrounding crags, and its hulking arch-like rock formation.
Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park, Washington
Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
Mendenhall Ice Caves, near Juneau, Alaska
These sparkling ice caves might look more at home in Iceland than the United States, but they actually exist in America’s “Last Frontier” – the vast state of Alaska. Undulating walls of glowing blue characterize the caves, which lie about 12 miles (19km) from Juneau. Unfortunately this glittering natural wonder is a victim of climate change and is reportedly retreating at a rapid rate. These are more of the world’s landmarks at risk from climate change.
Savannah Historic District, Savannah, Georgia
Ice castles, various states
These stunning ice castles pop up seasonally in Utah, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Colorado. They’re actually man-made, conjured up from thousands of icicles, then illuminated with LED lights. The result is a series of sparkling ice palaces, complete with glowing tunnels, archways, caverns and even thrones. Discover more stunning images of snow and ice festivals across the world here.
Antelope Canyon, Arizona
Oneonta Gorge, Oregon
Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada
Cobalt Lake Tahoe is nestled within the Sierra Nevada mountains, its waters spreading across two western states. The region is beautiful year-round: in winter, the lake’s surrounding firs and sugar pines are dusted with snow, while in summer the canopy is a striking sea of green. The lake itself plunges to 1,640 feet (500m) at its deepest point. Find more of America’s most gorgeous lakes here.
Wild horses, Assateague Island, Maryland and Virginia
Two herds of feral horses (the wild descendants of domestic animals) thrive on Assateague Island, one managed by the National Park System and one by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company. The creatures found fame in Marguerite Henry’s 1947 children’s novel Misty of Chincoteague, although they’re all the more majestic in real life. They’re hardy too, weathering the conditions of this rugged barrier island with its strong winds, searing heat and regular storms.
Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
Haleakalā National Park, Hawaii
Skagit Valley, Washington
Hearst Castle, San Simeon, California
Hearst Castle was the vision of William Randolph Hearst who, along with architect Julia Morgan, created this fairy-tale estate, known as La Cuesta Encantada or Enchanted Hill. It remained unfinished upon Hearst’s death, but is a dazzling property even so with tranquil gardens, glittering swimming pools and vast rooms filled with portraits and antique furniture. Find more spectacular American castles you never knew existed here.
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Antelope Island, Utah
Cumberland Falls, Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, Kentucky
Punaluʻu Beach, Hawaii
Devils Tower, Wyoming
Badwater Basin, Death Valley, California
The lunar expanse of Death Valley’s Badwater Basin represents the lowest point on the North American continent. An enormous area of salt flats, it sinks to some 282 feet (86m) below sea level, an intricate tapestry of interlocking polygons. It’s also periodically flooded, leaving a mirror-like sheet of water across its flat surface for a short time. Find more of America’s most stunning natural wonders here.
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California
Grizzly bears, Denali National Park, Alaska
The Everglades, Florida
Green sea turtles (honu), Laniakea Beach, Oahu, Hawaii
Rock Harbor Lighthouse, Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
Floating in the waters of Lake Superior – one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world – Isle Royale National Park protects a tranquil archipelago covered with forests and bustling with wildlife. Its man-made wonders include the striking Rock Harbor Lighthouse – perched on its namesake, Rock Harbor, the landmark dates back to the 1850s. Discover more of America’s amazing lighthouses.
Niagara Falls, New York
The famed Niagara Falls are made up of not one, but three waterfalls straddling the US-Canadian border: Horseshoe Falls, American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. The largest of the three is Horseshoe Falls, with a whopping drop of 167 feet (51m) and a curved crest line spreading out to 2,700 feet (823m). Collectively, they make up one of the largest cascades in the world. These are more of the most beautiful waterfalls on Earth.
Hoodoos, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Northern Lights, Minnesota and others
On clear nights, in the far northern reaches of the USA, the aurora borealis paint great sweeps of fuchsia, green and purple across the sky. The Northern Lights are caused when charged particles from the sun collide with atoms within the Earth’s atmosphere, and when the conditions are right they dance above Voyageurs National Park, in remote northeastern Minnesota. Find more stunning photos of the Northern Lights here.
Street art, Detroit, Michigan
Empire State Building, New York City, New York
Biltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina
Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah
The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida
Founded just before the turn of the century, The Breakers remains one of America’s most storied and luxurious resorts. Well-heeled holidaymakers were attracted to the beautiful shores of the Palm Beaches in the 1890s, and wealthy industrialist Henry M. Flagler responded by building upmarket waterside hotels, including The Breakers. Fires have ravaged the property over the years but each time it has come back bigger and better than before.
Moose, Baxter State Park, Maine
Newport Mansions, Rhode Island
Angel Oak, Johns Island, South Carolina
One of the largest live oak trees in the States, the fabled Angel Oak is a beautiful sight. It’s situated on Johns Island, around 12 miles (19km) southwest of Charleston, and is thought to be at least 300 years-old – possibly even up to 400. The focal point of leafy Angel Oak Park, the tree is a mighty 65 feet (20m) high and has a circumference of 28 feet (8.5m). Take a look at more photos of awe-inspiring trees around the world.
Johns Hopkins Glacier, Glacier Bay, Alaska
Garden of the Gods, Colorado
Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island, Georgia
Havasu Falls, Supai, Arizona
Byodo-In Temple, Oahu, Hawaii
A surprising sight in the Aloha State, Hawaii’s Byodo-In Temple sits within the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park on Oahu’s eastern coast. The landmark, with its curved roof and crimson façade, is a replica of the eponymous Byodo-In Temple in Uji, Japan, and is home to a towering nine-foot (3m) buddha. Outside, peacocks strut around tranquil grounds, complete with koi-filled ponds and waterfalls.
Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, St Louis, Missouri
The mammoth Gateway Arch may be St Louis’ most famous attraction, but the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis is probably its most beautiful. This sumptuous church was completed in 1914, with its walls, domes and Shrine of the Heart decorated in kaleidoscopic mosaics. A striking stainless steel statue of a winged angel stands outside the basilica. Discover more of the world’s most stunning cathedrals here.
Chicago skyline, Chicago, Illinois
Painted Ladies, San Francisco, California
You might recognize this elegant string of houses from the silver screen – they’ve had cameo roles in hit movies like Mrs Doubtfire (starring Robin Williams) and 1990s comedy Junior. Fronted by Alamo Square and with the city’s boxy skyscrapers rising in the background, these Victorian and Edwardian homes were brightly painted in order to accentuate their architectural details. Take a look at more historic and beautiful streets around the world here.
Chapel of the Holy Cross, Sedona, Arizona
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
General Sherman Tree, Sequoia National Park, California
French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana
Wrought-iron balconies, iron lamps and pink-hued buildings make NOLA’s French Quarter (or the Vieux Carré) one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the United States. The most historic swathe of the Big Easy, it was laid out by the French in the 18th century. Today swinging Bourbon Street and Jackson Square, presided over by St Louis Cathedral, are at the heart of the district.
Haystack rock, Cannon Beach, Oregon
Acorn Street, Boston, Massachusetts
Whales, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, Idaho
Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Washington DC
Iolani Palace, Honolulu, Hawaii
American bison, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, Acadia National Park, Maine
Brooklyn Bridge, New York City, New York
Joining up the Big Apple boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan, this cable-stayed suspension bridge was finished in 1883. Now a National Historic Landmark, the bridge was designed by master engineer John Augustus Roebling, who sadly died in an accident before he ever saw the bridge materialize. Its hulking towers and mighty span are today one of the most famous images of New York City.
Adirondack Mountains, New York
Elfreth’s Alley, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Wildflowers, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Charleston Historic District, Charleston, South Carolina
One of the States’ most beautiful downtown areas, Charleston’s entire Historic District is protected as a National Historic Landmark. With roots in the 17th century, it’s an area dripping in history, with streets lined with antebellum mansions, churches and neat rows of pastel-hued townhouses. The 19th-century Charleston City Market takes up four of the city’s historic blocks too. Take a look at more of America’s most charming historic downtowns here.
Belvedere Castle, New York City, New York
Siesta Key Beach, Siesta Key, Florida
Wailua Falls, Kauai, Hawaii
Crashing down in two thundering cascades, Wailua Falls is cloaked by emerald forest in the east of the Garden Isle, not far from the town of Lihue. Its striking beauty earned it a place in the opening credits of Fantasy Island, a long-running TV series originally aired on ABC – and made it rightfully famous.
United States Capitol, Washington DC
The mother of all Washington DC’s landmarks, the US Capitol Building dominates Capitol Hill and stands watch from the eastern reach of the National Mall. The cornerstone was first laid in 1793, but the majestic building that exists today is the result of much tinkering over the centuries. Its defining feature is a mighty cast-iron dome, which was completed in the middle of the 19th century.
The Wave, Coyote Buttes, Arizona
Taos Pueblo, Taos, New Mexico
Ca d’Zan, Sarasota, Florida
Bluebonnets, Texas Hill Country, Texas
Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico
Fountains of Bellagio, Las Vegas, Nevada
Sin City, with its bright lights and over-the-top hotels, might not be known for its elegant landmarks or natural wonders – but it has plenty of beautiful sights all the same. Best of all are the Fountains of Bellagio. The illuminated waters whirl, sway and spray to music before the sleek façade of the Bellagio resort.
Monticello, Charlottesville, Virginia
Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida Keys, Florida
Seen here from the sky, Fort Jefferson is a brooding landmark in Dry Tortugas National Park, in the Florida Keys. Nicknamed the Guardian of the Gulf, the fort dates to the 19th century, and was used as a prison for Union deserters during the Civil War. It has been defunct since the Second World War, now merely guarding the marine life that frolics in the national park waters.
Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Cape Hatteras, North Carolina
El Capitan, Yosemite National Park, California
The grande dame of Yosemite National Park (along with Half Dome to the east), El Capitan rises proudly from the western side of Yosemite Valley. Its granite face appears near vertical and the peak tops out at an eye-watering 3,000 feet (914m). El Capitan, meaning “the captain”, is a fitting name for the monolith. Now take a look at stunning photos of Europe’s best national parks.
Zion Canyon, Zion National Park, Utah
Mount Magazine, Mount Magazine State Park, Arkansas
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Lower Broadway, Nashville, Tennessee
It doesn’t boast the same elegance as some downtown areas across America, but Nashville’s Lower Broadway has a charm all of its own. This glittering gulch – with its winking neon signs in rainbow colors – has a loud, proud, unapologetic kind of beauty that you’ll not find anywhere else in the States.
Ice caves, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin
Hamilton Pool Preserve, Texas
Protecting a beautiful natural pool, Hamilton Pool Preserve is in south-central Texas, a stone’s throw from the capital, Austin. The pretty pool is fed by Hamilton Creek, which crashes some 50 feet (15m) over craggy limestone rocks to form a waterfall. Many birds favor the preserve, including the golden-cheeked warbler, native to the Lone Star State.
Statue of Liberty, New York City, New York
Gifted to America by France in the 19th century, Lady Liberty has come to be a symbol of the USA. Crowning Liberty Island, the statue, whose full name is Liberty Enlightening the World, towers to 305 feet (93m) – the torch in her right hand alone is a colossal 29 feet (6m). In her left hand, Lady Liberty clutches a tablet inscribed with the date on which the Declaration of Independence was adopted. Now tour some of Europe’s most beautiful cities without leaving home.
Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, California
A glorious mix of Greek Revival, Beaux-Arts and Art Deco design, Griffith Observatory stands proud on Mount Hollywood in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park. It was finished in the 1930s and has since starred in films from James Cameron’s The Terminator to hit 2016 musical La La Land. Its glowing white façade looks best framed against the night sky, high above the twinkling lights of Tinseltown.
Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
Fall leaves, Franconia Notch State Park, New Hampshire
New River Gorge Bridge, West Virginia
This enormous steel-arch bridge has spanned West Virginia’s New River Gorge since the 1970s. It’s among the longest bridges of its kind in the world, and its height is dizzying: it soars about 876 feet (267m) above the waters below. The mammoth feat of engineering sits in stark contrast to the lush scenery all around. Now take a look at more impressive bridges in the USA.
Joshua Tree National Park, California
Caddo Lake, Texas and Louisiana
Caddo Lake unfurls across the Louisiana-Texas border, spreading out for an incredible 25,400 acres. This glorious wetland area is best known for being home to an enormous Spanish moss-drenched cypress forest, tipped as the largest in the world. American alligators lurk beneath the canopy too, usually on the hunt for fish. Discover more of the world’s stunning natural wonders here.
Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park, Montana
“Crown of the Continent” is a fitting nickname for this national park in the very northern reaches of the United States. Here, snow-dusted peaks form perfect triangles against the sky, reflecting in lakes and giving way to meadows studded with wildflowers. The largest of all the lakes here is Lake McDonald – it was carved out by glaciers and its glossy expanse stretches across more than 10 miles (16km). Now take a look at America’s 50 most important landmarks.
Horseshoe Bend, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Arizona
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