Summer is here, which means it’s time for road trips, beach breaks, and family vacations. Some may have the time to trek across the country to scope out impressive coastlines, forests, or mountain ranges, but not everyone can leave their state to travel—only 62% of Americans reported taking a vacation away from home in 2017. Thankfully, taking in a beautiful backdrop doesn’t have to mean traveling far and wide.
While a majority of Americans say they’d prefer to do absolutely nothing on vacation, most still want a change of scenery. For those used to city living, taking in some nature may offer a much needed boost of stress relief. To find the most breathtaking sights across America, Stacker searched through National Park Service and state tourism websites. Whether heading out on the open road or sticking close to home, click through to see the best views in the United States.
Practically anywhere in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park offers a stunning view, but the lake and peaks of Maroon Bells are particularly photogenic. The site is located 10 miles west of Aspen in a glacial valley. There is restricted access to the area during the summer and fall, and visiting mid-week will offer the most privacy. Visitors can take a public bus to Maroon Bells from mid-June through early October.
Visitors can hike a quarter-mile trail alongside the water at Kent Falls State Park in Kent, Conn. During the summer, the park is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.—get there early to get a parking spot.
There’s nothing like a serene walk on the beach. Located on the west coast of Florida, Anna Maria Island features the Gulf Coast’s signature white sand beaches and picturesque sunsets.
Guests can explore the rocks and waterfalls at Starved Rock State Park in Oglesby, Ill. Located about 90 miles southwest of Chicago, the destination is a draw for city dwellers who want to explore nature—whether that’s venturing through its 13 miles of hiking trails, or boating and fishing in the Illinois River.
The High Trestle Trail Bridge, which extends over the Des Moines River Valley between Woodward and Madrid, Iowa, is illuminated with LED lights at night. The High Trestle Trail—which spans 25 miles and runs through five towns and four counties—includes this half-mile, 13-story bridge sponsored by the Iowa National Heritage Foundation.
Windsor Ruins, which are all that remains of the Windsor Plantation built in 1861, are a designated landmark in Port Gibson, Miss. Visitors can see these towering columns every day from dusk till dawn at no cost.
Roaring River State Park is located in the southwest Ozark hills in Cassville, Mo. Visitors can fish for rainbow trout, hike, swim, or camp overnight.
Sand dunes abound at Death Valley National Park, where temperatures can reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. Most visitors tour the park by car, but whether driving or traveling on foot, make sure to bring plenty of water.
The sun sets in front of Kancamagus Pass in the White Mountain National Forest. The forest is located in eastern New Hampshire—and western Maine. Activities vary by season, but visitors can hike, bike, boat, and ski.
The Barnegat Lighthouse sits on the northern tip of Long Beach Island in New Jersey. The Barnegat Lighthouse State Park is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; visitors can enter the lighthouse from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Visit White Sands National Monument to see a large gypsum sand dunefield in the northern Chihuahuan Desert in New Mexico. Visitors can explore the sands on foot along five trails, but the park recommends not setting out for a hike if temperatures are above 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Check conditions before heading out.
Go for a swim and take in the waterfalls at Robert H. Treman State Park in Ithaca, N.Y. To enjoy the park out of the water, get on a bike, hike, or go camping.
Sun shines through the trees on Old Man’s Cave at Hocking Hills State Park in Logan, Ohio. Hikers and nature lovers can stroll through 2,356-acres of cliffs, waterfalls, and gorges.
Fog rises on the Mountain Fork River in Beavers Bend State Park in Broken Bow, Okla. Summer visitors can cool off by water skiing, canoeing, or taking a float trip down the river.
The Pine Creek Gorge, also known as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, is almost 50 miles long and over 1,000 feet deep. Visit in October to get the best views of fall foliage.
The Castle Hill Lighthouse, built in the late 1800s, stands on Narragansett Bay in Newport, R.I. Visitors can’t explore the inside of the lighthouse, but the grounds adjacent to the Castle Hill Inn and Resort are open to the public.
The Palouse River runs through a narrow cataract and drops 200 feet at Palouse Falls State Park in Starbuck, Wash. The highest viewpoint of the falls is at the Fryxell Overlook. Palouse Falls was named Washington’s state waterfall in 2014, when the state legislature passed a bill written by local schoolchildren.