Traveling to new, exotic places is always fun, but some of the most scenic places in the world may be right in your own backyard. So, pack your suitcases and jet set (or road trip!) to these top 7 scenic places in the United States. You’ll see sights from sea to shining sea, and everything in between.
But here’s a tip: Put away that camera, if only for a minute, and truly soak in each of these sights. You won’t want to see these breathtaking wonders through the filter of a camera lens, trust us! Afterwards, feel free to snap a picture for the photo album!
Hamilton, TX – The Wild Basin
What’s a trip to Texas without some good Texas-style barbecue? Head on over to the best barbecue place in Hamilton, Smoke House. Past diners love their delectable brisket and homemade hand pies. If you’re looking for a place to wind down after dinner, the Red Wing Dove Vineyard will provide a nice relaxing atmosphere paired with a lovely selection of wines. The real pièce de résistance of Hamilton, however, is the scenery. The most scenic place to be in Hamilton is in the Wild Basin, a wildlife preserve that houses beautiful creatures, such as the Golden-cheeked warbler. The basin itself is a must-see natural wonder.
Woodville, AL – Cathedral Caverns
Woodville is a small, slow-paced town in Alabama – the perfect hideaway for a natural wonder. Looking around the 6.7 square mile town, you won’t see much of anything, let alone many restaurants or attractions in the 6.7 square mile town. However, beneath the ground lies one of the most scenic places in the United States – the Cathedral Caverns. With around 2 miles of developed paths to explore, this cavern system holds many beautiful surprises within. A stunning stone “waterfall,” a “Goliath” of a stalagmite, and a “Mystery River,” are just a few of the sights you’ll see. There’s truly something exciting around every corner, but don’t just take our word for it – take the trip there and see for yourself!
Big Sur, CA – Santa Lucia Mountains
There’s so much to see and do in Big Sur, it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few highlights. But the cherry on top is definitely the Santa Lucia Mountains, especially if you brave a climb atop Cone Peak. At an elevation of 5,155 feet, you’ll be able to see for miles if you climb to the summit. Other spectacular views can be seen at the Scenic Byway, Los Padres National Forest, the beaches at Garrapata State Park, and Monterey Bay (located up the coastline an hour north).
If you can’t bear to take your eyes off the scenery, dine at Nepenthe, which features fantastic views of the Pacific. Order their famous Ambrosiaburger to give your taste buds a true delight. A stay at Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn should also be on your to-do list. Nestled into the surrounding coast, you’ll be delighted by the sights, such as a waterfall right on the property, as well as their rustically homey rooms.
Niagara Falls, NY and ON – Niagara Falls
This one may seem like a run of the mill addition to a list of the most scenic places in the United States, but let’s take a step back for a moment. Niagara Falls clocks in as the most powerful waterfall in the United States. A whopping 6 million cubic feet of water falls over the edge of the basin of the Horseshoe Falls portion every minute. Don a raincoat and take a ride on the Maid of the Mist – being at the very base of the falls, looking up at the towering water feature above will truly put it into perspective.
While you’re visiting Niagara Falls, be sure to visit as many of the restaurants and attractions as you possibly can. On the Canadian side, the bustling midway of Clifton Hill will delight young and old alike. Old Fort Niagara is a great place on the New York side of the Falls to learn a bit about the history of the area.
Garden Key, FL – Dry Tortugas National Park
Garden Key, Florida is a beautiful island off the coast of Key West. While small, the island, which is the home of Dry Tortugas National Park, is jam packed with gorgeous sights to see. It’s so beautiful, the island is said to have inspired authors such as Robert Louis Stevenson and William Faulkner.
To visit, you can most easily gain access of the island by ferry, catamaran, or other public boat transportation. You may choose to stay the night and camp on the island, or simply take a day trip. Either is a worthwhile experience.
The 19th century Fort Jefferson is one such sight. Built to protect the Gulf Coast from enemy ships, this fort was both practical and beautiful when it was still in operation. Today, it stands as a tourist attraction, where you can learn about the area’s history. You can also snorkel at the Fort, and see some of the natural inhabitants of the surrounding ocean.
Garden Key Light is another such landmark on the island. Back in the day, the lighthouse failed to prevent many shipwrecks, However, time after time, it was refitted to try to make it more visible to passing ships and make it safer. However, Garden Key Light was decommissioned in 1924. Now, the lighthouse is a ghostlike reminder of the island’s past. If you stay for the night on the island, be sure to catch a view of the lighthouse as the sun is setting for a truly breathtaking view.
East Haddam, CT – Gillette Castle
Connecticut in general is one of the most scenic states in the United States, but add in a castle, and the area becomes something straight out of a fairytale. But where can you find a castle in Connecticut? East Haddam, of course! Gillette Castle, now the site of a state park, was built in 1919 by the famous actor and playwright, William Gillette. Today, the castle is in a bit of disarray, but the views of the stone castle amongst the woods is truly a sight to behold.
Another beautiful spot is Devil’s Hopyard State Park. With rushing waterfalls amidst a backdrop of the gorgeous forests for which Connecticut is so famous combine for a picture-perfect setting. Just a short drive away from Devil’s Hopyard is Anderson’s Sugarhouse, where you can find the best maple syrup around. The area also boasts some of the best restaurants, inns, and attractions around. Don’t miss your chance to visit!
Cape Elizabeth, ME – Portland Head Light
Last, but certainly not least, is Cape Elizabeth, Maine. The famous Portland Head Light is perhaps the highlight of the town (pun intended). Sitting atop a craggy ridge, the lighthouse stands majestic against the backdrop of the Atlantic. As you walk the trails of Fort Williams Park approaching the lighthouse, be sure to take a break before you reach your destination to soak up your surroundings. Watch as the waves crash against the rocks and the sunlight hits the lighthouse lens just right that it reflects back at you. It’s a sight ready made for a portrait.
Can’t get enough of the views? Stay in the luxury resort, Inn by the Sea, so you won’t have to take your eyes off the coast for the rest of your trip. While you’re in town, don’t forget to savor the fresh seafood selection Maine has to offer. For truly scrumptious seafood, a dinner at Bite Into Maine is in order.
Make Time to Travel
Traveling is one of the most fulfilling activities you can do. You’ll get to experience new cultures, see new sites, and shake up your routine a bit. But remember, these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities aren’t possible without making the time to prioritize them. If you’re bogged down with endless chores or other obligations, you’ll never make time for enriching activities like traveling to the most scenic places in the United States. This coming year, be sure to prioritize the things that matter most to you.
We, here at LeafFilter, can even help you make a dent in that to-do list so you have time to travel. Call the LeafFilter pros to find out how we can eliminate one of the most time consuming chores – cleaning gutters – for life so you can get back to jet setting across the globe.