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 14 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.
While you're there, visit the Bishop Museum and the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.
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, Dislandland-esque architecture in the French Quarter, and rich history around every corner.
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.
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.
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.
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.