We're huge fans of international travel. London, Paris, Hong Kong, Rome, Rio, Tokyo, Tel Aviv… These are just some of the faraway destinations bursting with exciting adventures, rich histories, and striking landscapes. And while they'll forever have a place on our travel bucket lists (and in our hearts, once we make it there), today we're staying a little closer to home by highlighting the most beautiful cities in the U.S.
Indeed, America's cities are as diverse as the population and terrain, so the number of breathtaking and culturally fascinating and fun cities is pretty incredible. We have major metropolises and cosmopolitan hubs, smaller cities with fairytale charm, and midsized locales with close proximity to nature. So if you want to stick closer to home but also want to plan a trip—or if you're considering relocating to a new state—you have plenty of options. Whether you're an urbanite at heart or you prefer to keep your city slicking excursions within a weeklong visit, these are the 50 most beautiful cities in the U.S. to see. Get ready for a virtual tour of the country that'll take your breath away.
With its tall peaks, world-class skiing, and endless cultural excursions (breweries abound, so if you geek out over beer, get excited), Denver is the ideal destination for anyone who loves midsized cities surrounded by nature. It's super easy to navigate and explore, too. Make sure you visit the Denver Art Museum and then check out the breweries in the RiNo neighborhood.
Okay, wow. If you didn't already have this coastal southern city on your travel bucket list, the visual above is all the convincing you'll need. Where to begin? There are lovely, well-maintained parks, dramatic weeping willows, and Spanish moss, alluring cobblestone streets, and horse-drawn carriages, and hauntingly beautiful Gothic Revival architecture. In other words, it's probably the most picturesque city in the country.
As the home of the James Beard Award Foundation, it's no wonder this city is so famed for its culinary scene. Whether you're going for the deep dish pizza or buzzier restaurants, don't overlook all the other incredible attractions the Windy City has to offer. Tour some of Frank Lloyd Wright's architectural gems, take a boat tour, and look out at the city from the inimitable Chicago Skydeck.
Located on the south shore of the island of Oahu, Hawaii's largest city also happens to be paradise. And like most cities, Honolulu is brimming with incredible restaurants, a lively nightlife, and plenty of shopping, but the many palm trees, Waikiki Beach, and nearby Diamond Head crater set it apart from the rest. There are endless outdoor excursions to try, like hiking in the lush Waimea Valley or trekking to the Manoa Falls and, of course, surfing, swimming, and hanging out at one of the many beautiful beaches.
New York, New York
It doesn't get more city-ish than New York City. Everything about it offers a unique sort of beauty, from the energetic pace to the intermingling of the centuries-old and modern-day architecture, the many bridges and waterfront views of the Manhatten skyline, and so much more.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Brimming with personality and character, New Orleans is perhaps the most unique and culturally distinct city in the country. Enjoy delicious Creole cuisine and beignets, jazz performances, Disneyland-esque architecture in the French Quarter, and rich history around every corner.
Hot Springs, Arkansas
For a relaxing getaway, Hot Spring, Arkansas delivers. The city offers many naturally heated springs, most of which are found in Hot Springs National Park. You can also experience a rejuvenating thermal bath by paying a visit to Bathhouse Row, an area of the city containing multiple bathhouses dating back to the 19th and 20th centuries. Plus, the city offers beautiful views of Lake Hamilton from the many colorful houses that line the water. While Arkansas might not be the first place that comes to mind when you envision a spa vacation, don't discount this southern city.
Surrounded by water and mountains, this Pacific Northwest metropolis is a serious gem. What's not to love about Seattle? Though it's an urban setting, there are countless hikes, views, and outdoor excursions at your fingertips. And while it's the home to giants like Starbucks and Amazon, there's also a wonderful sense of local culture, from the charming boutiques, delicious eateries, and more.
Newport, Rhode Island
This New England city is part of Aquidneck Island, recognizable for its harbor where America's Cup—a sailing regatta—is held each year. It's home to striking mansions (many of which are now museums) like The Breakers, Marble House, and Rosecliff. Most were built in the 1800s and are as opulent as their names suggest. There's also plenty of coastline and beaches to explore, as well as shopping, spa activities, wineries, and exciting nightlife.
As both a tropical paradise and a multicultural metropolis, Miami is easily one of the most exciting and beautiful cities in the world. From world-class shopping to beachside lounging, colorful Art Deco architecture, authentic Cuban cuisine, and bustling art scene, there's no shortage of excitement and beauty in this Sunshine State locale. Make time for a trip to Style Mafia in Wynwood for affordable on-trend pieces, check out the art in the area, and head to Mandolin for delicious Greek food in a chic garden setting. In South Beach, go to the Webster, a gallery-like shop with expertly curated designer finds, and walk for miles along the boardwalk parallel to Collins Ave.
San Francisco, California
Ah, San Francisco. No matter how many times you visit this city or how long you live there, the views never fail to take your breath away. And get ready to be out of breath, thanks to the countless hills you'll climb, which always promise a gorgeous view, whether it looks out onto the bay, the bridge, the towers, the Victorian homes, or the Pacific ocean. And when it comes to food, it's pretty hard to find a city with as many delicious gourmet eateries as San Francisco, where the produce is fresh and the chefs are the best of the best.
San Antonio, Texas
As the second-largest city in Texas, San Antonio is a mecca of culture and history. It was founded as a Spanish mission in 1718. It has some of the most famous frontier and Spanish Colonial era missions in the country, including The Alamo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The picturesque River Walk is a must. While you're strolling along this riverfront pedestrian-only street, pop into the many boutiques and grab a bite to eat. Oh, and definitely catch a performance at the San Antonio River Theater, an outdoor arena with operas and music shows on the water.
Jackson, Wyoming is a prime example of the natural beauty found right here in the states and it certainly delivers on the wild wild west image the name likely puts in your head. The unassuming city located in Wyoming's Jackson Hole Valley is a destination for skiers and snowboarders during the winter thank to its mountain landscape. With lakes, forests, and a burgeoning arts and culture scene, it's definitely one of the most beautiful cities in the U.S.
As the capital of our country, Washington D.C. is a must-visit. But aside from going there because of patriotism, it's also one of the most exciting, interesting, and travel-friendly destinations in the world. In fact, there are almost too many things to see and do in one trip. There are the atmospheric and educational memorials throughout the city, endless museums, and political venues, and, when you want a break from the cultural and political experiences, there are plenty of charming neighborhoods to explore, like Georgetown and Adams Morgan and Dupont Circle.
Charleston, South Carolina
With its pastel-painted buildings and important history, Charleston is one of the most idyllic cities in the U.S. The city dates back to the Colonial era (hence the fusion of Southern American, British, French, and Afro-Caribbean cultural influences), so there's plenty to do and see. Start at the Gibbes Museum of Art and then walk around the Battery, a Civil War landmark. Or if you don't feel like walking, look into booking a horse-drawn carriage ride with a tour guide.
Portland: Home to some of the hippest specialty shops, eateries, and forward-thinking bike-riding citizens in the country. And all this is set against the backdrop of calming rivers, a snow-capped mountain, and quaint, tree-lined streets. This is the perfect city for anyone who wants to eat incredible food in a place that feels more laid-back and casual than some of the other major cities in the U.S.
When you visit the desert town of Sedona, Arizona, you'll be greeted with stunning red rock landscapes, surprisingly lush forests, and a thriving arts scene. Thought to be a place of physical and spiritual healing, the city is frequented by travelers ready to hit the spa or who have embarked on a wellness retreat. There are also plenty of opportunities to hike, bike, and experience the natural beauty of the city.
Nantucket is a dreamy, small town found on an island just off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Home to beaches, lighthouses, and historic buildings, it's the perfect spot for a summer getaway. Picture cobblestone streets, quaint shops, and delicious restaurants.
Carmel-by-the Sea, California
Few beach towns are as beautiful as Carmel-by-the-sea, California. Known to locals simply as Carmel, this city—located in Monterey County—offers stretches of gorgeous, rocky coastline and stunning beaches that feel secluded and private.
The capital city of Idaho, Boise is home to both nature and metropolis. In the city, you'll find art museums, sculpture gardens, and historic buildings all with a view of the mountains in the distance. Not far from the downtown area, you can explore nearby nature trails and parks. It's especially striking during the winter when snow covers the mountains and offers plenty of opportunities to partake in winter activities like skiing and snowboarding.
South Haven, Michigan
South Haven, Michigan offers beaches, wineries, and restaurants, all in a beautiful setting. This under-the-radar spot combines a small-town feel with the bustling energy of a beach vacation destination. Enjoy the water, the sunshine, the farmer's markets, and the surrounding nature.
This city is brimming with U.S. history. It's home to the iconic Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and more significant sites of the American Revolution. You can also spot the well-known stairs outside of the Philadelphia Museum of Art where Sylvester Stallone's character trains in the popular film Rocky. Imagine historic buildings, tree-lined streets, and energetic nightlife.
San Diego, California
Anyone who's been to San Diego can attest to its natural beauty, clean streets, and fun activities. This California city is known for its stunning beaches, (almost) perfect weather, parks, gardens, and art galleries. Formerly settled by the Spanish and later by Mexicans, the city has a rich, cultural history that you can still feel today in places like Old Town.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Known as a travel destination for its winter sports scene, Salt Lake City, Utah has so much to offer. It's surrounded by the Great Salt Lake and the Wasatch Range mountains, making it a great place to visit for those interested in an adventurous trip. Salt Lake City also has a bustling downtown area, combining nature with the city.
Lovers of music, nature, food, and antiques can all find something to enjoy in Nashville. The lively town offers a thriving nightlife scene where you can catch up-and-coming singers and musicians perform every night. There's also plenty of shopping at local vendors, delicious southern food, and recreational parks and lakes to experience.
Although Bozeman, Montana may not be at the top of your travel destinations bucket list, it should be. The mountainous city located in the southwest area of the state offers incredibly scenic views of nature and is the perfect spot to discover a new hiking or biking trail during the spring and summer, while the winter is ruled by skiing and snowboarding. Once here, you're also less than 100 miles from the popular Yellowstone National park.
Palm Springs, California
This desert town located about two hours outside of Los Angeles by car has become a hot spot (quite literally) for weekend getaways. Near Joshua Tree and Coachella Valley, it boasts rustic mountain ranges and streets lined with perennially green palm trees. You can get your outdoor fix hiking, biking, and horseback riding nearby, you can take in the culture at museums and shops, or you can kick back at one of the many kitschy resorts in the sunny area. Don't forget to pack the sunblock.
Austin, Texas has earned itself quite the reputation for being a millennial magnet. Its population is among the highest growing in the country with many of the city's new residents being young people. One look at the southern metropolis and it's clear to see why. The music, food, and nightlife scenes are booming in this city surrounded by lush greenery and vast lakes. It combines the best of city living with the best of nature.
Not to be confused with Portland, Oregon, Portland, Maine is located on a peninsula in Casco Bay. It's a waterfront town that offers everything you'd expect of an East Coast town, including lighthouses, lobsters, and fisherman wharves. Expect to find charming seaside haunts, as well as mountainous views and Victorian-era architecture.
Full of history, Atlanta, Georgia is a landmark for the Civil Rights movement and was home to the 1996 summer Olympics. With rolling green hills, lush trees, and an expansive city skyline, it's has earned the nickname "the city in a forest." Go for the history, but stay for the culture, natural landscape, and exciting attractions.
Whether you're there to shop at the famous Mall of America or to take a hike to a waterful in Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis is a beautiful city with plenty of activities for all. Along with St. Paul, Minnesota, Minneapolis makes up half of the "Twin Cities" that the state is known for. The state is home to large parks, lakes, and cultural landmarks, including the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Walker Art Center.
Charlotte, North Carolina
This modern city with a lot of history will change the way you think about North Carolina. While the state is home to its fair share of sleepy beach towns, Charlotte represents a quickly growing metropolis known for its whitewater rafting, live music, shopping, museums, and culinary experiences.
Ohio's capital city of Columbus is a Midwestern destination with a lot to offer. There's a mix of old and new architecture that includes an art deco judicial center and a Greek revival state capital building. While the winters are cold a dry, the spring and summer bring lush green trees to the city' many outdoor recreational areas. You can also expect to find small-town treasures like the state fair and art festival throughout the year.
Las Vegas, Nevada
If you think all there is to see in Las Vegas, Nevada is the Strip, think again. This desert city is also home to the stunning Red Rock Canyon, where locals and tourists visit for hiking, biking, and rock climbing. When it comes to nightlife, in addition to the popular strip of hotels, you can also check out the more hipster, art scene found downtown on Freemont Street.
If you're looking for sun, mountains, and golfing, look no further than Scottsdale, Arizona. It's known for its appeal to the retired community (and for good reason). The desert oasis offers beautiful, natural scenery of rocky mountains along with striking modern architecture (including Frank Lloyd Wright's former home and studio), relaxing resorts, and enough golf courses to entertain hoards of people with nothing but leisure time.
This unassuming midwestern city is a hidden gem. The largest city in Nebraska, Omaha is home to one of the biggest zoos in the world, along with multiple museums, and outdoor gardens. You can take a boat ride down the famous Missouri River, enjoy the local restaurant scene, and visit a beautiful arboretum. It's a quaint place with plenty to do.
If the name of this Oregon city immediately made you think of cheese, that's because it's home to the Tillamook cheese factory. However, that's not the only reason the city is on this list. It also happens to be a truly stunning place situated on the southeast end of Tillamook Bay where a lush coastline meets bright blue ocean waters. You can take a hike through a forest and be greeted with a vast ocean view on the other side. It's the perfect place for those who enjoy both the mountains and the sea.
Cornwall, Connecticut may be a small town, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in natural and manmade beauty. Picture streets lined with buildings that more closely resemble gingerbread houses than typical businesses. It's also become a destination for taking in views of fall foliage during autumn. The entire city is covered in a variety of orange, yellow, and red leaves.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
The capital city of Puerto Rico, San Juan is located on the Atlantic coast of the island. It's known for its beaches and nightlife as well as its historic Spanish colonial buildings and fortresses. You can see both 16th-century military forts and pristine beaches.
St. Augustine, Florida
While your mind might automatically jump to Miami when you think of cities in Florida, it's time to talk about St. Augustine. Often claimed to be the oldest city in the U.S., it features Spanish colonial architecture that gives it an entirely European feel. Of course, there's also beautiful stretches of white sand beaches and plenty of that Florida sunshine.
If you love wine, Sonoma, Calfornia should be on your list of cities to visit. The area is brimming with stunning wineries and vineyards that cover rolling hills as far as the eye can see. If you didn't know any better, you'd think you were enjoying a glass of wine in the Tuscan countryside, rather than northern California. It's also just a stone's throw from Napa, one of NorCal's other most famous wine regions.
Madison, Wisconsin is home to a vibrant arts and culture scene. The capital city of the state offers history, architecture, and nature in spades. Picture stunning buildings surrounded by nearby lakes Mendota and Monona and the work of Frank Lloyd Wright on display at the waterfront.
Just about every city in Hawaii is gorgeous, but Kauai is one of the most beautiful. An island known for its tropical rainforest and coastal cliffs, it's nicknamed "the Garden Isle" and has even made appearances in a few major films (think Jurassic World, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Avatar). With its otherworldly landscape, bright blue ocean coastline, and abundance of sunshine, there's not much to complain about here.
Perhaps the most famous sites to see in Montpelier, the Vermont State House and Hubbard Park display the best of what the city has to offer. The State House features a bold Greek Revival design and houses a myriad of art collections. As for Hubbard Park, it offers sprawling greenery and an observation tower made for taking in the scenic view. The city is full of history, beauty, and culture.
This U.S. city was actually once part of Russia back in the 1800s. Now, Sitka is a destination for experiencing an area of rugged wilderness in America. It's located at the foot of mountains carved by glaciers and is situated right in the middle of the Tongass National Forest. The only way to get there is by boat or by plane and once you do, you'll be greeted by striking natural landscapes and all the fishing, hiking, and wildlife sightings you could dream of.
Like so many East Coast cities, Annapolis, Maryland is best known for its many historic landmarks. Located on Chesapeake Bay, the city is lined with 18th-century brick houses, Roman churches, and monuments. It's also home to the U.S. Naval Academy and plenty of waterfront activities.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Think of Santa Fe, New Mexico as an art hub in the middle of the desert. The city is brimming with Pueblo-style buildings and homes, a nod to its time as a Spanish colony in the 1600s, and a major arts and crafts scene. Fans of Georgia O'Keeffe know that it's also home to a museum dedicated to the iconic artist (who owned a home in the city) and her work.
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
As the name suggests, Sioux Falls is home to several waterfalls created by the Big Sioux River as it rolls over the rocks of Falls Park. While the South Dakota location may conjure up images of midwestern stereotypes, the city has so much more to offer, including international cuisine, Japanese gardens, a bronze casting of Michelangelo's statue of David, and outdoor activities like rocking climbing and skiing in the Great Plains.
Los Angeles, California
And for the last stop on our virtual tour of America, we arrive in the glamorous city of Los Angeles, where it's always 70 degrees and sunny. Though it's known for being a huge sprawling city, every pocket of L.A. is drastically different in terms of the climate, culture, landscape, and more. For mountaintop lookout spots, Art Deco architecture, hip restaurants, edgy shopping, and exciting neighborhoods, head to the east side. And for waterfront sights and sports, beachy vibes, high-end shopping, and more head to the west side. There's also plenty to do in between (hello, Hollywood), so plan your drive accordingly.
Now that you've learned about the most beautiful cities in the U.S., take a look at some of the most breathtaking metropolises around the world.