Looking at the visual grandeur of America's vacation destinations
From the vineyard-studded hills of Napa Valley to New York’s glittering skyline, the United States is nothing but beautiful views from coast to coast. After all, the country does have 23 UNESCO-listed sites and 59 national parks—and that’s just the official stuff. It may be impossible to chronicle all of the US’s gorgeous destinations, given the sheer diversity of natural and manmade wonders that cover the 50 states, but if you’re looking to get inspired on your next vacation, these are some solid places to start.
Chicago, IL: With a skyline that ranks among the best in the world, Chicago is studded with innovative structures that make it one of the country's most visually striking cities. The Windy City is full of spots designed specifically for relishing the view, including the John Hancock Center's 360-degree observation deck, which sits 1,000 feet (304 m) in the air. To go even higher, step aboard one of Chicago Helicopter Experience's aerial tours and see the sights during the day or night. Get a different perspective of the city with a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago as well, where you can take in the skyline from the Modern Wing. For a meal with a view, dine at the rooftop restaurant Cindy's, or sip on cocktails at The Signature Room 95, atop the John Hancock Center.
Napa Valley, CA: Home to more than 400 wineries, a smattering of lavish resorts, and quaint bed and breakfasts in between, Napa Valley both looks and tastes exquisite. Immerse yourself in the richness of wine country with an expert-led tour through lush green vineyards with the Sommelier Company, or pedal past the picture-perfect rows of grapes on a bike ride led by the pros at Gears & Grapes Getaways. For a taste that complements the view, head to Baldacci Family Vineyards near Yountville to experience wines crafted from carefully nourished vines, or visit Elizabeth Spencer Wines and enjoy an inventive project wine that pushes the limits of conventional flavor. Take time between your winery stops to venture out to Muir Woods, where you can witness the towering, old-growth redwoods the forest is known for—some of the tallest in the world.
Sedona, AZ: Below boundless azure skies, towering crimson canyons give way to dusty stretches of green-spotted terrain in this breathtaking part of the country. Visiting Sedona is a near-spiritual experience, and not just for the famous vortex sites that are easily accessible with experts like One Tribe Tours. There are a number of ways to soak in Sedona's amazing wilderness, including guided walks through the shady sandstone Antelope Canyon, off-road drives along the Diamondback trail, and inspiring flights over the enchanting red rocks. In the desert city itself, grab a bite of Southwestern goodness with breakfast at Red Rock Café, or treat yourself to a meal and an unbeatable view at The Hudson.
New York, NY: An iconic skyline, the Statue of Liberty, and the Brooklyn Bridge are just a sampling of the sights that make New York a hotspot for incredible vistas. Head up to the Empire State Building's observatory for a view that spans Central Park, Ellis Island, and the Chrysler Building—if you visit again at night, you're treated to a new sight of glittering lights stretching toward the horizon. For a different perspective, rent a bike from the pedal experts at Central Park Sightseeing and make the mile-long ride across the Brooklyn Bridge to see its unique metal construction reaching into the skyline itself. Complete your checklist by hopping aboard a Circle Line Sightseeing cruise and catching sight of the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan's skyline from the water. If you're feeling peckish, New York has no shortage of amazing food options, but Salvation Taco serves up both tempting tacos and an excellent city view from their rooftop terrace. For something fancier, grab a drink at Gallow Green and enjoy vistas of the West Side from their romantic rooftop garden.
Anchorage, AK: Alaska has more than its fair share of sights that can't be found anywhere else. Anchorage, perched at the tip of the Cook Inlet with the Chugach Mountain Range at its back, is a gateway to Alaska's untamed wilderness and beautiful in its own right. While in town, go for a bike ride along the coast to see the city's skyline eclipsed by snow-capped mountains, and then hit up Beartooth Theaterpub for beer, bites, and a movie. Outside the city, head to Alyeska Resort and climb into the sky aboard their aerial tram, which offers you sweeping vistas of the Chugach Mountains surrounded by endless forested landscapes. The Pros at Alpine Air Alaska can also take you on a breathtaking helicopter journey to touch down on a glacier or glide through the stunning Twentymile River valley.
Kauai, HI: The scenery is postcard-worthy no matter where you stay in Hawaii, but the island of Kauai really takes cake when it comes to vistas that blow us away. With a significantly smaller population than its neighbor Oahu, Kauai has an abundance of natural wonders for you to explore in a variety of ways. Immerse yourself in beauty by ziplining over stretches of vibrant green rainforest, or pull back and get a stunning overview of the mountainous island from a helicopter or biplane. As scenic as the views are, they're even better on a full stomach—head to Rob's Good Times Grill for a filling loco moco plate and a relaxed atmosphere, or get a real taste of local fare with fresh taro poi from Hanalei Taro and Juice Co.
Where will you stop to take in the view?
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