We all know that the USA is an incredible place, and also a very diverse one. Some states are more famous for their natural beauty while others have amazing landmarks or urban centres. In this post, we have compiled a list of the most beautiful states in the US from bustling cities and quiet country towns to mountains and lakes!
We have included major destinations and sightseeing attractions that are worth adding to your USA bucket list, for each state recommendation below.
23 Most Beautiful States in the US for your bucket list
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One of the most populous states in the US, California is a place of great variety. You’ll find everything here – mountains, deserts, forests, beaches, and cities!
It’s also the birthplace of many innovative companies like Google and Apple.
Los Angeles is an amazing city that offers different opportunities to its visitors. If you are interested in Hollywood, then you can visit the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard.
The Santa Monica Pier is another popular tourist spot that offers food trucks and carnival activities.
You must visit SF to check off the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and the oldest Chinatown in all of North America.
Major attractions in California include Death Valley, Joshua Tree, Yosemite National Park, Sequoia National Park, Lake Tahoe, and more. Popular towns and coastal cities here are Big Sur, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Oakland, San Jose, Malibu, Palm Springs to name a few.
Sacramento is the capital city of California.
- Visit this state for : Variety of climatic zone (wine, deserts, parks), iconic landmarks, landscapes, beaches and activities.
- Be mindful of: Earthquakes and wildfires.
Arizona is a land of deserts with deep canyons, mountains, and forests. It is one of the most popular states for hiking enthusiasts because it has over 300 sunny days per year!
The Grand Canyon is an obvious choice but there are also many other locations to choose from.
Major attractions in Arizona include Grand Canyon National Park, Painted Desert, Lower Antelope Canyon, Chiricahua National Monument, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, and Saguaro National Park.
Pheonix is the capital city of Arizona. When in town, do visit the Arizona Capitol Museum to learn about the state’s history and its formation.
Other popular cities in the state of Arizona include – Scottsdale, Sedona (great for girl’s trip), and Tucscon. These destinations are perfect for relaxed getaways in a nice Airbnb or a resort with spa and pool facilities!
- Visit this state for : Mountain ranges, deserts, forests and national parks.
- Be mindful of: Dangers associated with desert hiking especially in summer months (thorny plants like cacti and rattlesnakes).
Alaska is known for its cold weather and snow-capped mountains, but it also has areas with beautiful green forests. It hosts the largest national park in the USA – Wrangell St Elias National Park. And is also home to the tallest mountain peak in North America – Denali (formerly known as Mt. McKinley).
Major attractions in Alaska include Denali National Park & Preserve, Mendenhall Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park, Glacier Bay National Park, Katmai National Park, Aniakchak National Monument, and Preserve.
Did you know that Alaska takes up over 1/5th of the entire country’s landmass? We really want to explore the glaciers on a cruise of Alaska – it is on our USA bucket list!
The capital city of Alaska is Juneau.
- Visit this state for : Snow-capped mountains, forests, glaciers.
- Be mindful of: Long winters with snow and cold weather.
Colorado is a very popular state, and for a good reason. The Southern Rocky Mountains influences the weather here a great deal, so there is a wide range of climates that you get to experience – from dry to snowy/rainy, depending on the area.
In the summer, it is very sunny and dry with average temperatures of about 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius). In the winter, stinging cold winds tend to make the temperature drop below zero!
Major attractions in Colorado include Rocky Mountain National Park, Maroon Bells–Snowmass Wilderness, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Mesa Verde National Park, White River National Forest, and many more.
Colorado is also a skier’s paradise. It is home to some of the finest ski resorts in North America, like Vail, Aspen, Breckenridge, Snowmass Village, and Keystone.
Denver is the capital of Colorado, and also the most populous city. Visit Denver for an amazing city break with craft beer, museums, and tons of sightseeing (along with quick access to the Rocky Mountains).
- Visit this state for : Rocky Mountains, forests, plains and sunny days.
- Be mindful of: Very cold winters with dips into negative temperatures – but it is great for skiing.
New York State
New York is one of the most populous states in the US. There are plenty of things to see and do here!
New York City is a popular city for tourists because it’s very rich in culture and has many attractions to offer – from skyscrapers to museums.
It’s also one of the most photographed cities in the world. The Empire State Building, Central Park, and Statue of Liberty are very popular attractions – pick your favorite spot to snap a picture!
Major attractions in New York include Niagara Falls, Adirondack Mountains, Fire Island National Seashore, Thousand Islands, and more.
New York City is the capital of New York.
- Visit this state for : Large cities, skyscrapers, museums and a particular “neverland” state of mind.
- Be mindful of: Crowds in busy touristy areas and attractions (so plan and book early).
Illinois is a state with lots of amazing things to see and do. It’s actually one of the most populous states in America so if you want an urban experience, this is it!
Chicago is the third largest city in the USA and it has everything – beaches, hilly suburbs, skyscrapers, shopping malls, clubs, restaurants, and more.
As far as history is concerned, Illinois has the French Jesuit Mission of the Mississippi built in the 1700s which is now a museum. You can also visit Abraham Lincoln’s home for some amazing insight into this famous US President!
Major destinations in Illinois include Chicago, Springfield, St. Louis, Lake Michigan, and more.
Springfield is the capital city of Illinois.
- Visit this state for : History, great cities and amazing food!
- Be mindful of: Cold winters (be prepared with lots of warm clothing).
Nevada is a state located in the western part of the USA and it’s famous for three things – Las Vegas, Area 51, and Hoover Dam.
Las Vegas is a city that offers entertainment for all types of people including gambling, shopping, shows, bars, and sightseeing. It constantly bustling with activities and has something going on – whether it is for a girl’s trip or a couple’s romantic getaway!
From Las Vegas, popular day trips include Grand Canyon National Park (south rim) via Route 66, Red Rock State Park (Canyon Conservation Area NV), and the Magic of Mountains site. These are all great options to explore more of the prettiest states in the US.
Area 51, located in Nevada is a secret military base. But it has become famous as a place where people believe the US government created and now stores aliens (that’s probably why there are rumors that you need to pass through several security checkpoints to get into this area).
Hoover Dam is one of the most amazing structures in America – its architecture is very distinctive. It has been considered an engineering miracle. You can add a road trip stop at the Hoover Dam from Las Vegas, while en route to Grand Canyon in Arizona. Read more west coast USA road trip ideas
Carson City is the capital of Nevada.
- Visit this state for : Entertainment, touristy sites and beautiful deserts!
- Be mindful of: The desert climate so bring sunscreen during summer months.
Wyoming is one of the most beautiful states in the US, known for its big open spaces and great outdoors. It has many historical sites but also natural beauty like Yellowstone National Park which is world-famous for its geothermal features (i.e. hot springs, mud pots, fumaroles).
Yellowstone National Park was the first national park in America and it has everything you could imagine from wildlife to stunning landscapes. On your trip, check out bears, wolves, elk, bison, and forests, whilst you admire the Grand Prismatic Spring and the Old Faithful geyser.
Other major destinations in Wyoming include Grand Teton National Park, picturesque Mormon Row in Teton County, Mammoth Hot Springs, Jackson Hole, Cheyenne (particularly Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum for rodeo history).
Cheyenne is the capital city of Wyoming.
- Visit this state for : Natural beauty, amazing historical sites and outdoor activities!
- Be mindful of: Winters are cold, so the best time to visit is during spring, summer, and fall for outdoorsy activities. For skiing you can head to the Hogadon Basin Ski Area in the winter.
Everyone knows that Hawaii is a tropical paradise! It’s also very expensive to visit because it is an island. It has beautiful beaches, clear blue waters, and warm weather all year round – you’ll love it here!
Hawaii is recognized by its eight main islands of Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, Kauai, Molokai, Lanai, Niihau, and Kahoolawe. Each island has a unique culture and landscape to offer to its visitors.
Major attractions include Waimea Canyon State Park, Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, Diamond Head, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Haleakala National Park, and more.
Volcanoes National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are many hiking trails in this national park for visitors to explore.
Honolulu is the capital city of Hawaii.
- Visit this state for : Tropical islands, beaches, blue water and warm temperature all year round.
- Be mindful of: High cost to visit the island (transportation, food).
If you’re into natural beauty then Washington state is the place for you! It has breathtakingly beautiful nature so if you love being outdoors, you will love it here.
Also, its cities are quite unique and have a lot of character!
Seattle is a very popular city for tourists because of its many attractions. A ride on the famous Space Needle is a must so be sure to look it up before going.
Seattle has famous art museums such as the Henry Art Gallery (which also houses an amazing view of the skyline), the Seattle Opera, and the Frye Art Museum which gives visitors a unique look at modern art scenes.
It’s also home to museums like the Chihuly Garden & Glass Exhibit which you’ll want to check out if you’re into stunning glass art.
Visit Washington state to experience its rich history and culture as well as amazing nature. The most popular park located here is Olympic National Park which is known for its climatic diversity. You will find rainforest, desert, tundra, and temperate rainforest – all in one park – so it is quite an amazing place to visit!
In the north-eastern section of Washington, you can find Mount Baker which is one of the most dominant features in this beautiful state. It borders the North Cascades National Park on the east and the Canadian border on the north.
Other places to explore in the Evergreen State include Tacoma, Spokane, San Juan Islands, and Mount Rainier National Park.
Olympia is the capital city of Washington.
- Visit this state for : Nature, charming cities and the perfect weather!
- Be mindful of: Earthquakes as well as wildfires in dry seasons.
Florida is one of those states that has a little bit of everything – from beaches to jungles to theme parks and more! If you love history, Florida has that too.
Of course, it’s the home to Disney World and Universal Studios so be sure to check out these theme parks while you’re there. Also, don’t forget to visit the Everglades National Park for an up-close look at these awe-inspiring swamps.
Tallahassee is the capital city of Florida. This state is perfect for warm winter getaways in the USA.
- Visit this state for : Theme parks, tropical jungles and beaches!
- Be mindful of: Hurricanes and high humidity (summer months).
North Carolina is one of the most beautiful states in the USA when it comes to tourism. It’s home to some amazing sites and attractions like the Outer Banks, Blue Ridge Mountains, and the Biltmore Estate.
This state is perfect for those seeking natural beauty as it’s full of gorgeous landscapes and views. You can visit this ‘Tar Heel State’ to see the Blue Ridge Mountains, Cherokee Indian Reservation, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
There are lots of historical sites in North Carolina too such as the Wright Brothers National Memorial (first flight), the U.S. Mint (where money is made), and of course the Outer Banks (a chain of barrier islands).
Blue Ridge Parkway is a popular route in NC that offers mesmerizing mountain and valley views, and it is perfect for fall colors. Also, don’t forget to visit some amazing North Carolina beaches while you’re there!
Major destinations in North Carolina include Asheville, Charlotte, Raleigh, Wilmington, and various beaches.
Raleigh is the capital city of North Carolina.
- Visit this state for : Natural beauty, great views and outdoor activities!
- Be mindful of: Hurricanes along the coast (especially in summer).
Massachusetts is one of the oldest states in America – it was actually one of the original 13 states. Naturally, there are lots of historical sites here for you to explore!
Boston is the capital city of Massachusetts and is a popular tourist spot for many visitors.
The Freedom Trail offers history buffs an opportunity to explore 16 historical sites in Boston.
These include the Paul Revere House (he made that famous midnight ride), Old South Meeting House, Old State House, and various other memorials dedicated to American Revolutionaries. It takes about 1.50 to 2 hours to complete the 2.5-mile trail.
You must visit Massachusetts in New England to experience its rich history and culture. Major attractions in Massachusetts include Cape Cod, Boston, Salem, Lexington/Concord, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, and Lowell National Historical Park.
This state is also perfect to chase fall foliage in the US.
- Visit this state for: Historical sites, culture and rich history!
- Be mindful of: High cost of living (rents are expensive).
Utah is one of the most scenic states in America – it’s practically oozing with natural beauty! It’s also home to Arches National Park and Zion National Park – one of the most beautiful parks in the USA.
If you love national parks then Utah should be your top destination because it has four of them: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, and Canyonlands.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is another must-visit in Utah. With spectacular geology and an incredible landscape, these ever-changing dunes areas are a fascinating natural landmark.
Utah also has lots of amazing historical sites to offer such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon Temple), Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
Other major destinations in Utah include Salt Lake City and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
Salt Lake City is the capital city of Utah.
- Visit this state for: Natural beauty, national parks and great outdoor activities!
- Be mindful of: Snow during winter months.
New Mexico is a state that has so much to offer – from deserts, mountains to amazing historical sites. It’s home to the famous White Sands National Monument which offers stunning views for miles around. It has an elevation of 1,300 m or 4300 ft.
Don’t forget to visit the Carlsbad Caverns National Park while you’re there! It’s a huge limestone cave with beautiful rock formations and fossils. Many people come here to see its Big Room which is over 55 m or 180 ft tall and has a 13.7 m or 45 ft high ceiling.
Major destinations in New Mexico include Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Carlsbad Caverns, and White Sands National Monument.
Santa Fe is the capital city of New Mexico.
- Visit this state for : Natural beauty, amazing views and outdoor activities!
- Be mindful of: High altitude which means thinner air so you might need to increase your water intake.
South Carolina is a state located in the southeastern part of the US. It has many coastal areas which are known for their long sandy beaches and warm ocean temperatures.
As far as historical sites go, South Carolina is home to Fort Sumter which was where the Civil War began when southern forces fired on the fort – it’s located in Charleston which is also a major city to visit.
South Carolina was named in honor of King Charles I of England, and it was one of the original Thirteen Colonies.
Charleston is the largest city in the state and it’s well known for its southern hospitality and delicious food! You will also find Civil War-related heritage sites here.
Other destinations worth visiting in South Carolina are Mrytle Beach (beaches and relaxation), Hilton Head Island (beaches) to name a few.
Columbia is the capital city of South Carolina.
- Visit this state for : Beautiful beaches, great historical sites and warm weather!
- Be mindful of: Hurricanes can happen from June through September so ensure you check local weather alerts before visiting. South Carolina is a southern state so summers can be very hot and humid.
West Virginia is a mountainous state that borders Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. This beautiful US state is known for its forests, great outdoors, and kind people.
Often called the ‘Mountain State’ due to its location within the Appalachian Region, West Virginia is also an amazing destination for history lovers.
This state is home to the Harpers Ferry town, where a famous Civil War–era raid took place. At the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, you can experience the town as it was in the 19th century, with many living-history museums.
If you’re looking to relax during your trip to West Virginia you can also check out the Greenbrier Resort which has an amazing luxury hotel with spa treatments, golf courses, and restaurants.
Other attractions in West Virginia include Lost World Caverns, Coopers Rock State Forest, New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, and skiing spots like the Canaan Valley Ski Resort and the Snowshoe Mountain Resort.
Charleston is the capital city of West Virginia.
- Visit this state for : Outdoor activities, great historical sites and beautiful forests!
- Be mindful of: Heavy snowfall during winter so if you plan on visiting during this time check the weather forecast before you go.
The smallest state in the USA, Rhode Island is located off the coast of MA and CT – it is one of the New England states. RI has a lot to offer to its visitors including beaches, historical sites, and some great cities!
Rhode Island state beaches are great to spend time with your family during the summer months. If you’re looking for a relaxing beach day make sure you visit Newport which is also home to many historical sites.
The city of Newport has mansions used by wealthy industrialists and merchants in the Gilded Age (late 19th and early 20th centuries). Some properties even boast lavish, elaborate designs including opulent seaside villas with their own boat docks.
These mansions have become a popular attraction for visitors and have been used as a filming location for many movies including ‘The Great Gatsby’.
Other attractions in Rhode Island include summer music festivals, wineries, lighthouses, and Providence which has the WaterFire Arts Festival.
Providence is the capital city of Rhode Island.
- Visit this state for : Beautiful beaches, colonial and related historical sites and overall relaxation.
- Be mindful of: Hurricanes can happen from June through September so ensure you check local weather alerts before visiting.
Maine is a USA state in the New England area and it’s known for its amazing coastline, friendliness, and seafood.
You can visit many historical sites and famous lighthouses during your trip here including the Farnsworth Art Museum, Ogunquit Museum of American Art, and Longfellow House (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s home).
Plus there is a lot of maritime history waiting for you to explore.
If you’re heading to the coastline this state is known for, make sure you visit Portland. The city has one of America’s best seafood restaurants and is a great location to go whale watching (Odyssey Whale Watch/ Peaks Island).
Maine has some beautiful coastal towns such as Bar Harbor, Kennebunkport (George H.W. Bush’s summer home), Freeport (famous for its L.L. Bean flagship store), and Cape Elizabeth which has a lighthouse that is open to the public.
Lighthouses such as Portland Head Light, Seguin Island Lighthouse, and West Quoddy Head Lighthouse are also scattered through this state.
Acadia National Park is located in the state of Maine, and it is known for its rocky coasts and views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Augusta is the capital city of Maine.
- Visit this state for : Amazing coastline, historical sites, friendliness and food!
- Be mindful of: Snowfall during winter so if you plan on visiting during this time check the weather forecast before you go.
Oregon is a USA state located in the Pacific Northwest and offers amazing natural beauty. It has a large coastline, an abundance of coastal towns to visit, and also offers vast mountain ranges.
Oregon claims some amazing natural beauty including Crater Lake National Park which is known for its blue color. The color comes from the water being highly dense meaning that it traps rays of light.
Other parks located in Oregon are the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, and Oregon Caves National Monument.
The iconic Multnomah Falls, located in the Columbia River Gorge is one of the prettiest sites in the country. This towering falls has an incredible 620 feet drop.
Make sure you visit Portland which is located in Oregon if you want to experience the very best that this state has to offer. A popular thing to do here is visiting the International Rose Test Garden which has more than 7,000 rose bushes!
Other attractions include the Lan Su Chinese Garden, Portland Art Museum, and Portland Vase.
Salem is the capital city of Oregon.
- Visit this state for : Natural beauty, parks, waterfalls, blue water, visit coastal towns and amazing cities.
- Be mindful of: Earthquakes are common so keep an eye on local weather updates before you visit just to be safe!
Idaho is located in the northwestern region of the USA and has a rugged landscape. The state’s name originates from the Native American Salish word “Idiwha” which means “the sun comes from the mountains”, or “the “gem of the mountains”.
You can find some epic outdoor adventure here such as white water rafting, caving, and zip-lining.
This state is known for its fantastic national parks and monuments. The most well-known park here is Yellowstone National Park which has: hot springs, geysers, and wildlife such as bison, bears, and wolves! It is a truly beautiful place to visit so make sure you check it out.
Another beautiful park located in Idaho is the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve which is known as a “lunar”-like landscape.
Not only does Idaho have some pretty epic landscapes, but it also has a vibrant city life too!
The capital city is Boise which offers you a taste of the Wild West with its wide streets and gold rush history.
- Visit this state for : Epic outdoors, cities, waterfalls, hot springs and natural beauty.
- Be mindful of: (Grizzly) Bears are common in the wild so make sure you don’t leave any odours/perfumes on your clothes as they can be attracted to those kinds of things!
Montana is located in the western region of the USA and has Glacier National Park which is one of the most visited national parks. It is the fourth-largest state by area but is also one of the lower-density populations in the country.
Being one of the Mountain States, the primary attraction of Montana is the Glacier National Park, which is home to over 700 miles of trails – you can find some pretty epic views here – guaranteed!
The incredible Going-to-the-Sun Road passes right through the middle of this park so make sure you drive it if you have the chance. This road is known for the Logan Pass which has some of the most breathtaking views in Montana!
Logan Pass is the highest point on Going-to-the-Sun Road at 6,646 feet. Do set aside at least 2 hours to complete this drive.
Also located in Glacier National Park are the Two Medicine, Cut Bank, and Many Glacier Valley – which are worth exploring.
Other beautiful places located in Montana are Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Big Horn Canyon National Recreation Area, and, of course, Big Sky Resort (for skiing).
Helena is the capital city of Montana.
- Visit this state for : Epic landscapes, national parks and monuments.
- Be mindful of: You may see wildlife such as: bears and big horned sheep so make sure you don’t leave any food out on picnic tables or in your car as they can be attracted to those kinds of things!
Michigan is located in the Midwestern region of the USA and is often referred to as the “Wolverine State”.
Being a peninsula, Michigan’s three main features are Lake Erie, Lake Huron, and Lake Michigan. These lakes have some pretty epic views, lighthouses, and beaches!
There are plenty of other activities to get up to in Michigan such as hiking, hunting, skiing, camping, and fishing. Michigan has the longest coastline in the United States and it is well known for fishing.
One of the must-visit sites in Michigan is the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore located in the Lower Peninsula. This park is known for its huge scalable dunes, as well as waters (beaches, lakes, and rivers).
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is another popular spot.
Other than the lake views, there are also some pretty amazing cities here which offer you a taste of what America has to offer. The capital city is Lansing which is known for its unique museums, art galleries, and shops.
- Visit this state for : Lakes, cities, historical sites (like the Henry Ford Museum), beaches, trails and epic landscapes.
- Be mindful of: If you are visiting Michigan in the winter months make sure you be careful on any frozen lakes or rivers as they can freeze over – which makes them very dangerous.
That’s a wrap!
With all of these prettiest states in the US, it’s hard to pick just one. But we hope this article has given you some ideas on which state is right for your next vacation.
Let us know which one is your favorite.