Whether you’re a city person looking to get lost in some breathtaking natural beauty, or a wide-open spaces kind of traveler looking for new surroundings, you definitely want to go somewhere beautiful. New York and LA are nice but the Hollywood sign and Times Square can’t even begin to compete with the snow-topped mountains of Vail, the sun-streaked bluffs of Sedona, or the Spanish Moss-draped porches of Savannah.
The Daily Meal knows beauty is subjective, but we took to the internet to see which cities and towns in each state have a reputation based on their looks. In addition to coverage by travel blogs and publications, we also consulted our own past reporting by staff and contributors regarding the country’s best weekend getaways, as well as spots known for their romance to see which ones were notable for their majestic scenery.
We have included towns, cities, and villages from Hawaii to Rhode Island that are more than just pretty. These beautiful places are full of overwhelming natural beauty, long histories, and picturesque communities from cabin-dotted mountains to beachside resorts. Some have inspired songs, the backdrop for films, and various artists’ renderings of the jaw-dropping scenery.
Asheville is home to the most complete collection of Art Deco structures in the U.S, which look stunning in all four distinct seasons that drift through this North Carolina town. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, this stunning part of North Carolina runs rampant with wildflowers, greenery, neat little neighborhoods and a vibrant arts scene, plus all the hiking, camping, and fishing you can take.
The beautiful town of Beaufort is located on a South Carolina coastal sea island full of antebellum mansions. Beaufort provides a stunning backdrop for tons of boating, fishing, and biplane tours. Visitors traipsing through Beaufort’s Cypress Wetlands can experience gorgeous native red maples, willows, and buttonbush.
A stunning snowy landscape awaits you in Breckenridge. The snowflake-topped Colorado mountains have long attracted those looking to ski and snowboard their way through trails among the mighty pines. Less physically inclined visitors can appreciate the beauty of the snowy banks from the Breckenridge Riverwalk, a pleasant walking path that offers gorgeous views of the town and its surrounding nature.
Camden, Maine, has plenty of local shops and restaurants to keep visitors busy, but there are also the Camden Hills to explore. Hit the water and go sailing, or go mountain biking in the hills for an exciting Camden experience. The picturesque Curtis Island Lighthouse marks the entrance to the town’s harbor.
The entire city of Cape May, New Jersey, was declared a national landmark in 1976. Referred to as “the Queen of Seaside Resorts” by many outlets, this beautiful town is known for its Victorian architecture, fantastic beach, and iconic lighthouse. Water sports abound in Cape May with many opportunities to jet ski, parasail, kayak, surf, swim, and fish. Dinner cruises are also a popular activity for those who visit this gorgeous town.
Carmel-by-the-Sea, or as Californians refer to it, Carmel — is a picturesque town in Monterey Bay. Chockablock with art galleries, cafés, inns, and restaurants including famed chef Justin Cogley’s Aubergine. This small town is a true California gem. You can enjoy the pretty houses and beach views by foot or by car. Visitors who take the 17-Mile Drive through Carmel and its surrounding areas can see one of California’s most prestigious neighborhoods (next to 90210) by paying a fee of $9.50 to get through its gates.
Like something out of a Nicholas Sparks novel, Charleston is full of centuries-old homes, historic streets, beautiful gardens, and Revolutionary and Civil War-era sites. A height restriction ordinance has kept the skyline low in South Carolina’s largest city, and so it is populated with the city’s many churches, as well as the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. The nation’s history of slavery is particularly apparent here, and one can visit the sites of old slave markets as well as former slave plantations.
Idaho may be considered by many a “flyover” state, but those who fly over are totally missing out on one of the most beautiful towns in America. Couer d’Alene is home to such natural beauty as Lake Couer d’Alene, a stunning placid blue lake, where people can take boat rides and practice all manner of water sports, as well as the dense, woodsy, gorgeous Coeur d’Alene National Forest.
This city in the Ozarks is best known for its preserved Victorian buildings in the Eureka Springs Historic District, its breathtaking wood and glass Thorncrown Chapel, the natural wonder that is its Onyx Cave, and the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge Center. This absolute jewel of an Arkansas town is also surrounded by scenic rivers and lakes that inspire the many artists who flock to this haven.
Friday Harbor, a town of a little over 2,000 people, is located just off the coast of Washington state. With its Mediterranean climate, and scenic views of sparkling ocean and towering mountains, this town is the perfect getaway for all who want to enjoy boating, kayaking, and other water sports while taking in the beauty that is the Pacific Ocean in the Pacific Northwest.
Hana means “heaven” in Hawaiian, and that’s exactly what this little town is a slice of. Not yet overrun by tourists, locals enjoy hiking along the cliffs of Wai’anapanapa State Park and spending time on the black sand beaches. If you’re looking for a more luxurious vacation, Travassa Hana is one of the best all-inclusive resorts in the world.
If you’re not blown away by this Georgia mountain town’s beautiful Bavarian-style buildings, perhaps Helen’s two waterfalls (Anna Ruby Falls and Raven Cliff Falls) will take your breath away. Better yet, Helen has gorgeous local vineyards, a museum furnished with Gone With the Wind collectible items and an impressive annual Oktoberfest that takes place in all this scenic beauty.
With its iconic Big Red Lighthouse, lakefront Holland State Park, and famous centuries-old windmill it’s no wonder that Holland, Michigan, is one of the most beautiful towns in America. Definitely try to come during the town’s Tulip Time Festival, where visitors can take in millions of brightly colored tulips across the city’s parks, downtown, tulip lanes, Windmill Island Gardens, and more!
Just four short hours outside of New York City, Ithaca’s natural beauty rivals that of the Big Apple skyline. The millions of trees turn gorgeously green in the spring and summer seasons and red, yellow, and orange in the breathtaking fall. It’s also a big university town, with an energetic youth culture that brings tons of art and music to Ithaca.
As if the name didn’t say it all, Lake Placid is as serene, gentle, and beautiful as the town around it. Located in the Adirondacks, this town is upstate New York at its most picturesque. With high peaks for camping and hiking, cozy cabins, a main street full of food and fun, plus the beautiful aforementioned lake, Lake Placid.
Alpine-style buildings cover this Bavarian-inspired town in Washington’s Cascade Mountains. The Pacific Northwestern town of Leavenworth sits in between a gorgeous mountain range and has buildings and houses that will make you feel as though you have been transported to a little German town. Plus, Leavenworth is a prime place to go horseback riding and see some of the town’s ethereal landscape of rivers, lakes, mountains, and forests.
If there are things Mackinac Island is known for, it’s their fudge, lack of cars, abundant horses, and stunning scenery. The Victorian-era architecture of the shops and homes make every walk through this town a historically beautiful one. Mackinac is also big on biking, hiking, horse-riding, and paddling making it an ideal weekend outdoor trip destination.
This central Florida town on the shores of Lake Dora is over 100 years old. Known for its quaint bed and breakfast inns, tons of food, music and art festivals, and the famous Dora Canals (aka “the most well-known waterway in Lake County”). Mount Dora is a must-see whether you’re taking a walking tour through the picturesque town’s unique architecture or watching the sunset at the iconic Mount Dora Lighthouse.
Tiny Nantucket is so dazzling it has stolen the hearts of celebrities like Taylor Swift and the Kennedys. Only 3.5 miles wide by 14 miles long, this scenic piece of New England is idyllic for sailing and beachside chilling. The Nantucket Conservation Foundation is largely responsible for keeping this Massachusetts town gorgeous by preserving 36 percent of the island, providing habitats for local wildlife.
The seaside town of Newport, Rhode Island, is famous for some of the most beautiful views of the Eastern Seaboard. Newport’s must-see sights include: their stunning cliff walk; a three-and-a-half-mile public walkway with views of the water; and their beautiful and historic mansions. Have a car? Drive the 10-mile stretch of Ocean Drive and you’ll be able to see some of Newport’s best sights from the comfort of your sedan.
Ojai is where LA locals go to get away from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. Ojai, pronounced: “Oh- Hi,” is bursting with stunning natural views such as shimmering Lake Casitas, the wetland Ojai Meadows Preserve, adorable boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts, excellent restaurants serving farm-to-table food, wellness spas and some quirky shops. Plus, it’s only about two hours outside of Los Angeles, making it the perfect weekend spot to visit.
On Maui’s stunning North Shore rests the gorgeous town of Paia. Full of hippies, trinkets, yoga classes, and galleries, the town of Paia is easily the most bohemian town in Maui. When locals aren’t catching waves in the crystal blue waters of Ho’okipa Beach Park, many can be found showing reverence at The Great Paia Lha Bab Peace Stupa at the Maui Dharma Center. A memorial to the legacy of Lama Tenzin, this Paia landmark is a gorgeous 27-foot-high structure with hand-painted murals and a large Manu prayer wheel inside.
North of Los Angeles is the absolutely stunning town of Santa Barbara. Celebrities like Rob Lowe moved to Santa Barbara to enjoy its dazzling ocean views, jaw-dropping mountains, and orderly white stucco and red roof buildings full of some of the finest dining in Southern California. Guests to this California jewel can stay in such high-end hotels as The Biltmore and enjoy their pools or rent Airbnbs downtown and take horseback rides on the beach. Currently a popular way to get to Santa Barbara is via the Amtrak train up the California coast because it is such a scenic ride. But if you’re anything like Rob Lowe and need to get to LA ASAP, it’s a fairly straight-ahead drive.
Santa Fe is glowing with good energy. Located in the sun-streaked Sangre de Cristo foothills and known as a haven for artists including famous ones such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Santa Fe delights and inspires all of its visitors. With its Indian pueblos, literary landmarks, and fantastic culinary finds, plus tons of outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, a river rafting, this New Mexico town has been voted by several outlets as one of the best places for food and culture in the U.S.
Best known for the Saratoga Race Course, Saratoga Springs is a quaint upstate New York town with a historic past, scenic orchards, abundant farms, and tons of hiking paths. In summer, locals love to rent cottages on the shores of Saratoga Lake and kick back and relax while enjoying the natural beauty of the Adirondacks.
Not too far from the glitz and glamour that is Atlanta, Savannah is a lesson in Southern elegance. Filled with romantic Southern live oaks and antebellum buildings draped in Spanish moss, it’s hard not to fall in love with this city. Georgia’s history of racism, slavery, and resistance to progress on civil rights are also prevalent here and can be learned about through walking tours and museums.
Sedona is Arizona’s spiritual hub. Covered in deep red rocks and nestled under jaw-dropping mountains and pine forests, Sedona is full of high vibrational energy — literally. There are purported to be several concentrated energy vortexes in Sedona where people have reported feeling ranges of sensation across their skin. Many of the crystals and rocks found in the natural Sedona landscape contain the same buzzy energy from those vortexes so you can take a piece of those good vibes home. Sedona is also not far from the Grand Canyon. People staying in Sedona often take day trips to this stunning natural wonder.
Sitka sits between Alaska’s Three Sisters Mountains and the Gulf of Alaska. This remote town is a gorgeous destination for any outdoor adventurer who loves to hike, boat, kayak, or even climb — and we can’t forget about the various fishing opportunities as well.
California wine country is deservedly known as one of the most beautiful places in America, with Sonoma leading the pack. After a devastating wildfire last year that damaged a lot of the town, it’s more important now than ever to visit wine country and give back to a formerly thriving and gorgeous vineyard community that deserves to be brought to its full potential again. Just a little north of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge is the city of beautiful Sonoma. Full of over 400 wineries, redwood forests, and a historic mission, this iconic California town is dotted with charming inns, hotels, and some of the best fine dining experiences in America. Truly, Sonoma will take your breath away.
Step outside of everything you thought you knew about Florida in St. Augustine. One of the top destinations in the state that aren’t Disneyworld, and the oldest city in the U.S. founded by European settlers, St. Augustine is shrouded in Spanish influence from its architecture to its food. The Lightner Museum is a cool antique museum inside of a hotel from the 1800s! Castillo de San Marcos has a seventeenth-century drawbridge that leads to a fortress. Visitors can enjoy the shops and tasty restaurants on George Street, or take in some nature in Anastasia State Park.
Stowe is so dedicated to skiing that it even houses the Vermont Ski Museum. This little Vermont town has much more to offer, however, with the Trapp Family Lodge drawing fans of The Sound of Music, who come to enjoy skiing as well as concerts in the summertime. Stowe is also not far from the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory, the Cold Hollow Cider Mill, or the Cabot Cheese Outlet. Stowe’s natural beauty not only makes outdoor recreation more enjoyable, but it also makes for great scenic walks and drives, particularly in the fall. Its food scene is also quite vast and adventurous, and you won’t feel the need to go far for a good meal.
Two hours from Santa Fe, you can discover the lesser-known destination of Taos, a fantastic destination in New Mexico that’s great for an affordable family summer vacation. You can go any time of year, however; Taos is great for skiing and art, and the Taos Ski Valley is a must for anyone wanting to try out the Southwestern slopes. You can also make a trip to visit the Taos Pueblo, a Native American community just north of town that’s open to visitors as long as you’re respectful. The Rio Grande also means plenty of available river adventures, and the Enchanted Circle is a self-guided driving tour taken by many visitors through the scenic surroundings of Taos.
This Colorado town is the perfect place to ski, snowboard, golf, hike, and fly fish. Known mainly for Vail Ski Resort, one of the most famous ski destinations in the world, the alpine village of Vail is as naturally beautiful as the celebrities who come to visit its 350,000 acres of national forest. After hitting the slopes many Vail residents and visitors like to indulge in aprés-ski activities such as drinks, dancing, and enjoying delicious meals at some of Vail’s fine restaurants.
In the heart of the Green Mountains lies Woodstock, Vermont. Beautiful hemlock groves in the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park and the Ottauquechee River are scenic standouts in this pleasant New England town. Get lost walking through streets of restored Georgian, Federal-style and Greek revival homes and taste the freshest maple syrup imaginable at Woodstock’s Sugarbush Farm. Looking for other goodies and treats besides maple syrup and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream? Check out the best food and drink in Vermont.