- New York
The USA is home to hundreds of unparalleled treasures, both natural and man-made.
There's one of the deepest, most pristine lakes in the world; the world’s largest volcano and iconic skylines and monuments recognized the world over. Read more about the handful of places unlike any others on the planet that you can see here in the USA.
1. The Grand Prismatic Spring
The Grand Prismatic Spring in Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park is not only the largest hot spring in the USA, but also one of the country’s most colorful natural wonders. The coloring is as vivid as pictured, with the unexpected reds, yellows and oranges caused by bacteria that thrive on the mineral-rich waters. For a bird’s-eye view of the pool, take a helicopter ride or put on your hiking shoes and climb the Fairy Falls Trail to the Grand Prismatic Overlook Trail.
The bright hues of Grand Prismatic Spring
2. The New York City Skyline
New York City, New York’s skyline is one of the most iconic in the world. Part of what makes the skyline so spectacular is the lofty number of skyscrapers that comprise it. Since 1890, 11 structures in New York have held the title of the world’s tallest building. Many tourists journey to the top of the Empire State Building for panoramic views, but a quick trip over the East River to Brooklyn Bridge Park offers a less chaotic and more scenic experience. Brooklyn Bridge Park also features several sports fields and plenty of places to enjoy a relaxing picnic.
Nighttime views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the New York City skyline
3. The Grand Canyon
Not even the highest definition photographs can truly capture the power and majesty of the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona. The Colorado River and its tributaries have been slowly carved the 446-kilometer-long and up to 29-kilometer-wide canyon for 6 million years, creating stunning panoramas. Grand Canyon National Park is about a four-hour drive from Las Vegas, Nevada, and a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Phoenix, Arizona. Most of the nearly 5,000-square-kilometer park is maintained as wilderness and beautiful views can be found all over.
Sunrise views of Toroweap Overlook at the western end of Grand Canyon National Park
4. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the perfect place to see Mother Nature in action. The park, located on the southeast coast of Hawaii’s Big Island, is a hotbed of steam vents, craters, calderas, lava tubes and two active volcanoes. Mauna Loa is the world’s largest volcano, and both Kilauea and Mauna Loa are among the most active volcanoes in the world.
5. Gateway Arch
Missouri’s Gateway Arch is a striking piece of minimalist architecture. Stretching across the skyline of St. Louis, the centerpiece of Gateway Arch National Park makes the city instantly recognizable in photographs. The 192-meter-tall arch was built to commemorate President Thomas Jefferson, who bought the Louisiana Territory and made possible westward expansion in the USA. You can ride a tram to the top of the stainless steel structure, where you can see up to 50 kilometers in either direction, giving bird’s-eye views of the city’s downtown and the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.
The Gateway Arch and the St. Louis skyline
6. Oak Alley Plantation
Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana, is a great place to slow down and take in some Southern charm. A one-hour drive from New Orleans and a stone’s throw from the Mississippi River, the old mansion recalls a bygone era. Valcour Aime, known as the “Louis the XIV of Louisiana,” built the sugar plantation, “Le Petit Versailles,” in the 1830s. Gnarled 300-year-old oak trees line the 240-meter path leading to the Mississippi River. You can explore the mansion and the gardens, which make a nice spot for an afternoon picnic.
The oak-lined pathway leading to Oak Alley Plantation
7. The Washington Monument
A trip to Washington, D.C., wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Washington Monument. Made of white marble, granite and blue gneiss, the elegant obelisk proudly commemorates the first president of the USA, George Washington. Rising 169 meters from the center of the National Mall, the monument is the tallest obelisk in the world. Tickets to the top are free and can be reserved in advance. There is an observation deck at 152 meters, with sweeping views of the city, and a museum at 149 meters.
The Washington Monument framed by cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin
8. Crater Lake
The centerpiece of Crater Lake National Park, located roughly 430 kilometers south of Portland, Oregon, Crater Lake is a picturesque landscape of crystal-blue waters and sheer cliffs. Formed after a volcanic explosion about 7,700 years ago, it is one of the most pristine lakes in the world. At 592 meters deep, it is also the deepest lake in the USA and among the deepest in the world, fed almost entirely by snow and rain. You can take a boat tour across the lake’s placid waters or simply hike around the rim – either way you are in for a visual treat.
Wizard Island, located at the west end of Crater Lake's deep blue waters
9. The Hollywood Sign
It’s hard to imagine Los Angeles, California, without the Hollywood sign. Erected in 1923 as an advertisement for a suburban housing development, the sign, which originally read “Hollywoodland,” was supposed to be temporary. However, it remains a permanent fixture of the Los Angeles hillside. As you explore the USA's most storied entertainment hub, you’ll often see the sign in the distance, acting as a reminder of the area’s grand history and also the perfect background for a selfie. For stunning views of the sign, head to the Griffith Park Observatory.