City Guide

The 17 Most Beautiful States in the U.S.A. to Explore

By Landing | Aug 26, 2022
Glacier National Park in Montana, one of the most beautiful states in the U.S.

From sandy beaches to unique rock formations, there’s beauty in every U.S. state — yes, every one.

The U.S. has a wealth of mountain ranges, deserts, and forests, meaning no matter where you go, you’ll find breathtaking scenery.

So, what are you waiting for? Hop in the car or jump on a flight and start appreciating the country’s natural wonders. Here’s a guide to the most beautiful states in the U.S. to help you plan your trip, organized by what sights you’ll see.

The Most Beautiful States in the U.S. For Mountain Views


Hiker in glacier national park enjoying the view of Grinnell lake

While Eastern Montana is mostly flat farm and prairie land, the western part of the state is home to spectacular mountains. “Big Sky” country is famous for its wide-open spaces set against majestic peaks.

Postcard-worthy mountain views can be found within the glacier-carved (and aptly named) Glacier National Park. Enjoy snow-capped mountains and crystal-clear waters, like Bowman Lake, and a drive down Going-to-the-Sun Road. Just keep in mind that, thanks to heavy snowfall, this road — like many of the park’s trails — is only accessible from around June to September.

Stay in Kalispell or Whitefish, two small towns near the park that are well-prepared to accommodate visitors.


A single shaft of golden dawn sunlight illuminates autumnal ridges and valleys in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the country’s most visited national park — and for good reason. The mountains are stunning, and there are many activities, such as hiking, biking, camping, and kayaking. This park has over 800 miles of trails to explore, meaning it won’t be too hard to find a quiet corner of the mountains for yourself — though if you’re not big on crowds, arrive early, visit on weekdays, and avoid the busiest months from May to October.

The park straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, making for an easy three-and-a-half-hour drive from Nashville, Tennessee, or even Atlanta, Georgia. If you love the mountains but want to be close to the water, consider making the longer drive from a stay in Charleston, South Carolina, which is five hours from the park.

You’ll also find pretty nature on the Appalachian Trail, which hikers of any skill level can enjoy. Walk for an afternoon or plan a more extended trip to traverse the entire trail, which takes you through Tennessee and 13 other states, including:

  • Maine
  • New Hampshire
  • Vermont
  • Massachusetts
  • Connecticut
  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • Maryland
  • West Virginia
  • Virginia
  • North Carolina 
  • Georgia


Sunrise at Maroon bells lake

Colorado is one of the U.S.’s most mountainous states — the Rocky Mountains cut right through it. Whether you’re seeking remote wilderness or more accessible peaks, the state of Colorado has something for you.

Fort Collins and Colorado Springs are great cities to visit because they give you easy access to the mountains. You can climb, camp, and hike through the landscape or drive up to a scenic view to enjoy a sunset picnic. If you stay in the city of Denver, you’ll also have big-city amenities and easy access to the Red Rocks, a one-of-a-kind amphitheater nestled among natural geological formations. 


Thanks to its mountainous terrain, Wyoming is one of the prettiest states in the U.S. at any time of year. From the snow-capped Teton Range to the grassy Wyoming Range or the high-altitude Wind River Range, there’s something for every hard-core backpacker, day hiker, and skier to enjoy. 

If you prefer the luxuries of city life, head to Jackson Hole, known for its high-end hotels, ski resorts, and restaurants. The town also has a unique and photo-worthy Wild West feel.

The Most Beautiful States in the U.S. For Rock Formations

You don’t have to be a geology expert to appreciate these jaw-dropping natural formations. Plan a trip to the following pretty states and take in the otherworldly landscapes:


Sunrise at Partition Arch, in Arches National Park.

Utah’s Arches National Park is home to some of North America’s most famed rock formations. A desert sea of natural wonders, the park features uniquely shaped rocks that you can appreciate on an easy walk or simply from your car window. You can take longer hikes here, but be sure to bring plenty of water as there are no fountains or restrooms. The park is open year-round, but summer temperatures often exceed 100 degrees, so plan accordingly if you want to visit between June and August.

Use Moab, which is four hours from Salt Lake City, as your home base, and you’ll be 10 minutes from Arches National Park and 45 minutes from the mesas of Canyonlands National Park.


Beach view to the North of Cape Kiwanda, Pacific City, Oregon

The best way to see Oregon’s gorgeous geological formations is to drive the coastal 101 highway, framed with picture-perfect sea stacks, intertidal rocks, and rugged shores. About 1,800 of these formations comprise the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, a protected area providing a safe habitat for all kinds of creatures — from birds to sea lions.

For a city experience, consider staying in quirky, vibrant Portland and taking a long drive along the 101 as a day trip.

The Most Beautiful States in the U.S. For Forests and Wilderness

Calling all tree-huggers, birders, and hikers who love the shade — some of the U.S.’s most beautiful states to visit are home to sprawling forests and a rich variety of wildlife. Add the following spots to your list:


Alaska Denali National Park

Alaska is the largest and most remote state in the U.S., and all that open space lends to loads of national parks. While California technically has the most national parks of any state with nine, Alaska’s eight national parks occupy more land overall, including both forested and arctic regions.

The city of Anchorage makes an excellent home base, and there are daily direct flights from Seattle — so it’s not as remote as you think. Then, you can drive, take the train, or fly to the city of Fairbanks. From either city, you can quickly get to the mountains, visit stunning Denali National Park, and witness the awe-inspiring spectacle of aurora borealis (also known as the Northern Lights).

And don’t shy away from Alaska in the winter. While it’s cold — and some snowy ranges are too dangerous to climb this time of year — it’s an excellent season for snowshoeing, sledding, and spotting the aurora borealis.


USA, Idaho. McGown Peak Sawtooth Mountains.

Idaho’s landscapes lend to all sorts of activities — like mountain biking, kayaking, camping, and skiing. There are hot springs and “dark-sky preserves,” where there’s no light pollution so the stars shine brighter. The state is also known for some of the best whitewater rafting in the country, where you can cascade along the Lochsa, Salmon, Snake, and Selway Rivers.

Whether you plan to raft or hike, you’ll have your pick from wilderness areas. Idaho has seven protected national forests, including:

  • Payette
  • Sawtooth
  • Caribou-Targhee
  • Boise
  • Salmon-Challis
  • Panhandle
  • Nez Perce-Clearwater

The Most Beautiful States in the U.S. For Ocean Views

Whether you like to catch rays, catch waves, or simply take in sea views, the following states have everything you need:


Beautiful Sunset at La Jolla cove beach, San Diego, Southern California, USA

The California coastline is long and varied, with diverse landscapes, beaches, and local vibes. Even if you stay in a large city like Los Angeles or San Francisco, you can still access beautiful beaches by foot or car. 

San Diego is an especially great place if you’re looking for water adventures, as you can sail, canoe, take out a speed boat, fish — you name it. But don’t forget to plan time to travel up to the Northern regions of California, either, which are home to temperate, rock-flanked beaches and gorgeous scenery.


View of the Maine coastline at Acadia National park.

While Maine may conjure images of cold, it’s actually one of the prettiest states to live in or visit if you love the shore. Acadia National Park, the state’s crown jewel, is a picturesque paradise known for its lighthouses and vibrant leaf colors alongside its sapphire shores. It’s only 10 minutes from small-town Bar Harbor and a three-hour drive from “big-city” Portland. 

If you’re traveling with a car, continue your North Eastern beach tour into Massachusetts and Rhode Island, where quaint towns like Cape Cod and Block Island (respectively) charm visitors with seafood shacks and more historic lighthouses.

The best time to visit Maine is between April and November, with October being the prime fall leaf-peeping season. Continue your fall adventure into Vermont and New Hampshire, where forests also boast splendid colors this season.


Hawaii is one of the most stunning U.S. states, where volcanic rock formations and rainforests meet surreal blue beaches. There are endless activities in this tropical paradise — especially for people who love the water. And if your idea of a watersport is watching from the shore, Hawaii has gorgeous views wherever you put your beach chair. 

If you’re craving crystalline waters but Hawaii is just too far, check out Southern Florida, known for its picturesque keys and dreamy beaches. The vibes are different but still incredible.

The Most Beautiful States in the U.S. For Desert Views

Desert landscapes feature unique plant and animal life, sweeping views, and incomparable sunsets. Pack your hiking shoes and head to New Mexico and Arizona to experience the best of the U.S. desert:

New Mexico

Girls on hiking trip on the mountain desert, Blue sky with clouds in the background. Plants and shrubs growing on sand dunes. White Sands National Monument, New Mexico, USA

New Mexico may be known for hatch chiles, hot air balloons, and UFO culture, but it’s also home to White Sands National Park. As the name implies, the park is completely blanketed with pristine white sand. You can hike in and around dunes or walk along several boardwalk trails if you’re not keen on digging in your heels. You can even sled down the sand.

The park is a 45-minute drive from Las Cruces, which is where most visitors spend the night. It’s also only 90 minutes from El Paso, Texas, and three-and-a-half hours from Albuquerque, New Mexico — two great bases for exploring the Southwest.


Desert lovers can’t miss Arizona’s Monument Valley, a red-sand expanse on the Utah border famous for its sandstone buttes. You don’t have to be outdoorsy to enjoy the area — there’s a 17-mile driving loop with stunning views of the rock formations from your car window. 

There are a couple of inns in the region, but Flagstaff makes a great home base at about three hours south of the park. And if you’re the outdoorsy type, Flagstaff will suit you well, with evergreen forests that invite climbing, hiking, and camping when you aren’t exploring sand dunes. 

The Most Beautiful States in the U.S. For Lakes

If you’re a fan of life on the water, don’t miss out on these states with some of the country’s biggest lakes:


Nevada boasts Lake Tahoe, a massive freshwater lake that attracts snow and water skiers alike. And those who visit for the view won’t be disappointed — this lake has a unique Carribean-blue hue with evergreen mountains and snowcaps all around it. 

Nevada is also home to the popular Lake Mead and the placid Lake Topaz, so if you’re an adventurous traveler, hop in the car for a trip from shore to shore. And while Lake Tahoe has lots going on — from resorts to casinos to delicious eateries — a stop in Las Vegas for even more action might make it on your map. 


Michigan touches four of five Great Lakes, so it’s a must-stop state for swimmers, fishers, and sunbathers. These lakes boast jade-like waters, interesting rock formations, and lush forests perfect for relaxing days by the shore or action-packed watersports. You can also pop into the many quaint towns dotting these bodies of water, like Grand Haven and Holland.

The Most Beautiful States in the U.S. For Visiting National Parks

Most U.S. states have national parks — and all of them are worth seeing. But if you’re trying to pack several into one trip, head to the states with the most parks: 


California earns its reputation as one of the most scenic states thanks to its nine national parks. Among the Golden State’s most popular attractions are Yosemite National Park and Joshua Tree — and much like Californians themselves, these natural wonders have very different vibes. 

Yosemite, in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, boasts massive sequoia trees, cliffs, and waterfalls, along with a village with shops and lodging. Joshua Tree is a rugged stretch of desert that’s perfect for hiking and camping underneath the stars. There’s even an annual music festival to check out.

If you’re drawn to the water, head to Big Sur. While it isn’t technically a national park, it’s home to several state parks, and it’s worth a visit for its sweeping views of the ocean, teal inlets, and evergreen-lined hikes. You can also drive there from Pinnacles National Park, which is also worth a visit for its alluring rock formations.


Washington is home to the snowy North Cascades National Park, the massive active Mt. Rainier and St. Helens volcanoes, and the waterfall-lined Columbia River Gorge — so no matter what you’re looking for, this state has it. Plus, there are the aptly named Enchantments, which are mirror-like alpine lakes surrounded by mountains. 

So, What’s the Most Beautiful State in the U.S.?

Beauty’s in the eye of the beholder, so the most beautiful state is the one that you connect with most — and the only way to find that out is to explore. 

Get the flexibility you need for long-term travel with home bases in different states. Book an apartment wherever your wanderlust takes you with Landing, which offers fully furnished, lease-flexible apartments for travelers or digital nomads in over 375 cities. It’s time to explore on your terms.