Awesome Views in All 50 States


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From Florida to Washington state, the United States is full of beautiful views. Whether perched on a mountaintop looking out over the natural wonders of the land or sipping a cocktail from a chic rooftop lounge with a bustling city below, every state has a stunning vantage point to offer. Here are some of the best views from above that don't cost much to enjoy -- in fact, many are free.

(Editor's note: This story has been revised since publication.)

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Jackson Hole, WY

Experience Jackson Hole's scenic natural landscape from a tram rising 4,139 feet off the ground. There are special sightseeing prices for the “Big Red” tram or sightseeing gondola -- starting at $14 a person for the gondola.

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Jonesville, VT

Harrington's View is recognized by locals and visitors as the ideal place to view the state's best-known mountain, Mount Mansfield. The 6.6-mile trail that leads to the sweeping vista is easily accessible by car and free to hike year-round.

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Washington, DC

This stylish restaurant and club atop the capital city's W hotel offers clear views of Washington's national monuments with posh, modern ambiance. A night's stay may not be within most people's budgets, but views from POV can be enjoyed with an $8 beer or $11 glass of wine.

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Anchorage, AK

At Flattop Mountain, trails from 1.5 to 5.5 miles lead to the summit and overlooks with panoramic views. A viewpoint directly off a parking area offers up the panorama sans hiking. Access is free year-round.

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New Town, ND

This historic lookout point in a state recreation area outside New Town provides a sweeping vista of Lake Sakakawea from 2,086 feet above sea level that that has barely changed since the time of explorers Lewis and Clark. The park, open daily, is free to enter.

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Harney Peak, SD

This structure, built by hand from nearby river rocks in the 1930s, was used to watch for early signs of forest fires. These days it's free to the public for enjoyment of long-ranging views of the Black Hills -- but accessible only by foot or on horseback.

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Lewes, DE

Once used by military forces during World War II, this state park's observation tower offers clear views of the coastline and other landscapes in every direction. The daily entry fee is $5 for state-registered vehicles, or $10 for those from out of state.

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Whitefish, MT

The main hike on 6,817-foot Big Mountain is the Danny On trail, which leads to a renowned view of lush land all the way to Glacier National Park. Access to the 7-mile trail is free, but it goes through bear territory, so bringing bear spray and making a lot of noise is highly recommended.

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Providence, RI

This small park in the College Hill area is a local favorite for impressive views of the capital. The free park at the top of a moderately steep hill is open day and night, though it's most popular for one-of-a-kind sunsets.

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Sedgwick, ME

Caterpillar Hill is famous for its views of rolling hills reaching to Penobscot Bay and Camden, Isle au Haut, and Jericho Bay. There are also roadside lookout points to take advantage of; many say the best is on Route 15.

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Franconia, NH

An impressive aerial tram offers passengers 360-degree views over land spanning New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Maine, and part of Canada. It's $18 round-trip for adults, which includes a ride to and from the 4,080-foot summit of Cannon Mountain and its observation deck, cafe, bar, and walking paths.

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Oahu, HI

There is no shortage of places to catch a magical view in Hawaii. This local favorite is a windy stone terrace just a short car ride from downtown Honolulu. The view from more than 1,000 feet up looks out over mountains, the coast, and botanical gardens.

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Boise, ID

This moderately difficult trail provides a view of Boise for most of its 3.8 miles, making it a popular hike for people of all ages. Those who prefer to skip the walk can drive to the top of the trail and enjoy the view.

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Grandview, WV

The start of this trail offers a stunning vista of the New River and its dramatic valley. For those who wish to hike the trail, there is another view at the end, some 1,400 feet up. Entrance to the park is free.

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Gering, NE

Take a free 10-minute summit shuttle ride and hear stories and history of the area on the way to the view at the top of Scotts Bluff. Or do the drive in your own car, or hike 1.6 miles to enjoy the trip in solitude -- either way, you'll wind up 800 feet above the North Platte River. Entering the park costs $5 for a vehicle, or $3 for each person on foot or bicycle, both good for seven days.

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Santa Fe, NM

This craft pizza bar's al fresco views of the Jemez Mountains make it one of the hottest spots for catching a sunset. With pizzas starting at $14, it's a leisurely way to enjoy the view and the local flavor.

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Las Vegas, NV

This Las Vegas observation wheel offers the best view of a breathtaking cityscape. To avoid paying $37 for a ticket, buy online and ride in the daytime -- it takes the price down to $22.

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White Cloud, KS

This simple elevated platform in White Cloud promises views of four states at once -- Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and distant Iowa -- on clear days, and there's no missing the Missouri River below. The lookout, which dates to the 1930s, got a significant revamp and expansion in preparation for the 2004 bicentennial celebration of when Lewis and Clark floated by.

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Jasper, AR

This Jasper inn and restaurant is literally perched on the side of a cliff, offering diners incredible (if scary) views of the Arkansas Grand Canyon. With sausage biscuits for less than $2.50 and breakfast platters for $6, the views and homemade food come at an appealing price.

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Iuka, MS

The highest point in Mississippi, at 807 feet tall, Woodall Mountain provides sweeping views of the surrounding countryside. Some locals scoff at calling the mound a mountain, though. It's also known as Yow Hill.

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Bryce Canyon, UT

The mesmerizing views in Bryce Canyon are many, one seemingly greater than the next. Scenic Route 12 offers more than a dozen lookout points from which to see the shimmering, colorful rock formations known as the "Grand Staircase." Enter as a group in a car and pay $30 -- or buy an annual pass for $35.

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Lansing, IA

Reaching 450 feet over Lansing, the top of the bluff in this 104-acre park offers panoramic views of the mighty Mississippi River Valley. Entrance to the park and scenic road is free year-round.

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Cornwall, CT

Located in the Mohawk State Forest, the 1,683-foot summit of Mohawk Mountain provides bird's-eye views of the Berkshire, Taconic, and Catskill mountain regions. There is no charge to enter or park.

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Oklahoma City, OK

The luxe downtown Petroleum Club is known for views from its dining and event rooms. To enjoy the 36th-floor vistas without having to book a wedding or event, just stop in for a cocktail around sunset.

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Portland, OR

A four-minute ride offers spectacular views of the city on the way to an upper terminal, where there are parks, cafes, and recreation areas -- including the largest enclosed sky bridge in North America -- to enjoy before heading back to the base near the Ross Island Bridge. The round trip costs less than $5.

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Middlesboro, KY

This renowned overlook is in the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. Considered one of the highlights of the park, it features sprawling mountain views from a 2,440-foot vantage point. There are no entrance fees at the park.

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New Orleans, LA

The Westin offers some of the best views of the city. While booking a room is generally expensive, visiting the 11th-floor restaurant, River 127, for a cocktail, appetizer, or dessert is an inexpensive way to get access.

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Birmingham, AL

Zip-lining at Red Mountain Park is a unique and invigorating way to behold the landscape while reaching speeds up to 30 mph. Two 1,000-foot rides go for $29.

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Pickens County, SC

The high point in South Carolina is the top of Sassafras Mountain, reaching 3,533 feet. The free hiking area offers a moderate climb for those who love a challenge. There's a lookout deck off the parking area for those who just want the view.

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Montrose, CO

This picturesque trail looks like something out of a fairy tale, with clear blue lakes amid green, lush mountains. Located in Uncompahgre National Forest, which is free to enter, the 8.6-mile hike leads to a 11,720-foot peak and views of three major lakes. The view from the road to the trail is equally spectacular.

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Beaver Bay Township, MN

The Palisade Head, at mile 56 on the North Shore Scenic Drive, is an offshoot that leads to high ground with spectacular views. The view of a sheer cliff plunging into blue water is dramatic and accessible by car.

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Baraboo, WI

The 500-foot quartzite bluffs offer vantage points overlooking the park's 360-acre lake. There are trails and hikes throughout the park at different levels of difficulty. The entrance fee for each vehicle is $8 for a day with in-state license plates, $11 for a vehicle from out of state.

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Cumberland, MD

On Wills Mountain, off Route 40, is a spot -- in popular lore, thought to be where denied lovers leaped to their deaths -- from which to view the Cumberland Narrows rock formations at 1,652 feet. The view extends to Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

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Camdenton, MO

The Castle Trail in Ha Ha Tonka State Park is beloved for its view of Lake of the Ozarks (and its access to the ruins of a castle). The three scenic lookouts are reachable by a paved and handicapped-accessible trail from the parking lot. There are no fees for day use of the park.

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN

The view from 6,643 feet is worth a visit to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is free year-round. The highest point, known as Clingmans Dome, is reached by car and a half-mile summit trail traversible only by foot to an observation tower at the peak. On a rare clear day, there's a 100-mile view.

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Indianapolis, IN

Elevators and stairs allow guests to scale this 284-foot commemorative tower, where observation decks reveal panoramic views of Indianapolis and surrounding sculptures below. The stairs are free. An elevator ride is $1 for children and $2 for adults -- but free for veterans.

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Great Barrington, MA

Climb Monument Mountain to the 1,642-foot summit of Squaw Peak and look out over the Housatonic River Valley, including a sprawling river and rolling mountains virtually unchanged over hundreds of years. A view as far as Mount Greylock near Vermont and the Catskills of New York is well worth the $5-a-vehicle parking fee.

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Phoenix, AZ

Arizona is home to many must-see views, including the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam, but the incredible beauty from on high doesn't stop there. Defeat one of the Camelback Mountain trails to reach a summit of more than 2,704 feet for views of the Camelback Mountain Echo Canyon Recreation Area near Phoenix. Access and parking are free.

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LaCrosse, WA

The waterfall cascading from nearly 200 feet at Palouse Falls State Park, near Starbuck, is best appreciated from above -- a vantage point easily reached with a mere quarter-mile, handicapped-accessible trail. A day pass for access to the parking area, facilities, and trails leading to impressive views is $10, but there are free access days March 19, April 14, and April 22.

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Arlington, VA

This high-rise hotel and the floor-to-ceiling windows in its chic Skydome restaurant offer exceptional views of the nation's capital. With plenty of appetizers available for $14 or less, it makes for an ideal sunset viewing location.

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Hoboken, NJ

Located just across the river from New York City, this is one of the best places to see Manhattan from a distance. It is actually the highest point in Hoboken, and part of the Stevens Institute of Technology campus, which is free to enter.

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Detroit, MI

This restaurant and bar atop the Motor City Casino holds a guaranteed jackpot: spectacular views from the 16th floor. Enjoy a cocktail or appetizer and appreciate the fact that, with the Renaissance Center complex's 72nd-story Coach Insignia Detroit no longer serving lunch or dinner, 16 stories up is still pretty high.

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Spruce Pine, NC

At 2,972 feet up, near the Blue Ridge Parkway, this humble restaurant boasts a "million-dollar view" of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Most of the menu is $18 and under, with many lunch options available for less than $10.

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Atlanta, GA

This spot was a hidden gem until it became well known for social media selfies. The vantage point creates a stunning view (or background) during the night or day. The walk across the bridge -- and the photo -- are, of course, free.

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Lake Erie, OH

The Pier W restaurant is suspended over Lake Erie, providing unique views of the plunging waters below, as well as the Cleveland skyline. The brave can visit during daytime hours for lunch, which is also less expensive than the dinner menu.

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North Bend, PA

Hyner View State Park has easy access to overlooks of the Susquehanna River and is a popular hang-gliding spot, which makes for extra entertainment while enjoying the view. Entrance is free.

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Chicago, IL

This restaurant on the 12th story atop the Hotel Lincoln is one of the only local restaurants with a view that is not strictly white-tablecloth fine dining. The simple small-plates menu is inviting for groups who want to take in the sights over a snack, which range from $9 to $16.

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Lake George, NY

Move over Empire State Building: The lake- and mountain-studded panoramic view from the 1,756-foot summit of French Point Mountain is breathtaking, and free. The 8.8-mile round-trip hike is difficult but well worth the stunning views of the surrounding natural landscape.

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Miami, FL

This rooftop restaurant gives the feeling of looking down into one of Miami's infinite parties. Drinks are probably the least expensive way to enjoy Juvia's 360-degree views from the ninth story of a designer parking garage.

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Big Bend National Park, TX

A difficult 10.5-mile round-trip hike leads to the highest point of Big Bend National Park, with a grand view from 7,825 feet in every direction. The $25 entrance fee is good for vehicles with up to 15 people and up to seven days. Locals may want to consider a $50 yearly pass for extra savings.

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Death Valley National Park, CA

The views from this 713-foot elevation in Death Valley National Park, most popular at dawn and dusk, seem otherworldly but require just a short walk from a nearby parking area. The entrance fee is $25 a vehicle and good for seven days. participates in affiliate marketing programs, which means we may earn a commission if you choose to purchase a product through a link on our site. This helps support our work and does not influence editorial content.