Palouse Falls in LaCrosse, WA
Palouse Falls in LaCrosse, WA

Say 'High'

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. 

Related: 50 Most Beautiful Highway Drives in America

Red Mountain Park Mega Zip
Red Mountain Park/

Alabama | Red Mountain Park Mega Zip

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.

Flattop Mountain in Anchorage, AK
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Alaska | Flattop Mountain

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.

Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, AZ

Arizona | Camelback Mountain

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.

Cliff House Restaurant in Jasper, AR

Arkansas | Cliff House Restaurant

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 $3 and breakfast platters for $7, the views and homemade food come at an appealing price.

Zabriskie Point in Death Valley National Park, CA
Gary C. Tognoni/shutterstock

California | Zabriskie Point

Death Valley National Park  
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 $30 a vehicle and good for seven days.

Blue Lakes Colorado

Colorado | Blue Lakes

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.

Mohawk Mountain
Alexander Farnsworth/istockphoto

Connecticut | Mohawk Mountain

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.

Observation Tower At Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes, DE
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Delaware | Observation Tower at Cape Henlopen State Park

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.

POV Rooftop
POV Rooftop/

POV Rooftop | District of Columbia

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. 

Related: Destinations 23 Free or Cheap Things to Do in Washington, D.C.

Juvia in Miami, FL
Sabrina D./

Florida | Juvia

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. 

Related: The Best Things to Do in Miami

IMG_5011 by Elle Jaye Dee (CC BY-NC-ND)
Nuuanu Pali Lookout in Oahu, HI

Hawaii | Nuuanu Pali Lookout

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.

Related: 20 Tips for Visiting Hawaii on a Budget

Table Rock Trail in Boise, ID

Idaho | Table Rock Trail

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.

The J. Parker in Chicago, IL
Brett F./

Illinois | The J. Parker

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.

Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument IMG_4888
Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument IMG_4888 by OZinOH (CC BY-NC)

Indiana | Soldiers & Sailors Monument

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.

Mount Hosmer City Park in Lansing, IA
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Iowa | Mount Hosmer City Park

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.

4-state lookout, White Cloud, Kansas
4-state lookout, White Cloud, Kansas by RubyT (I come here for cameraderie!) (CC BY-NC-ND)

Kansas | Four-State Lookout

White Cloud 
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.

Pinnacle Overlook in Middlesboro, KY
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Kentucky | Pinnacle Overlook

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.

Westin New Orleans
The Westin New Orleans Canal Place/
View from Caterpillar Hill, Maine
Caterpillar Hill Initiative/

Maine | Caterpillar Hill

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.

Precipice by fishfoot (CC BY-NC)

Maryland | Lovers' Leap

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.

Monument Mountain in Great Barrington, MA

Massachusetts | Monument Mountain

Great Barrington
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.

Iridescence in Detroit, MI

Michigan | Iridescence

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 reopening of a restaurant on the Renaissance Center complex's 72nd-story floor still a ways off, 16 stories up is still pretty high.

Palisade Head in Beaver Bay Township, MN
AMB-MD Photography/shutterstock

Minnesota | Palisade Head

Beaver Bay Township
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.

Woodall Mountain
Woodall Mountain by Jimmy Emerson, DVM (CC BY-NC-ND)

Mississippi | Woodall Mountain

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.

Castle Trail in Camdenton, MO
Sharon Day/shutterstock

Missouri | Castle Trail

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.

Big Mountain in Whitefish, MT
Christopher Jackson/shutterstock

Montana | Big Mountain

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.

Scotts Bluff Summit in Gering, NE
Zack Frank/shutterstock

Nebraska | Scotts Bluff Summit

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. Admission to the park is free.

High Roller Las Vegas
High Roller Vegas/
Aerial Tram in Franconia, NH
Nancy Kennedy/shutterstock

New Hampshire | Aerial Tram

An impressive aerial tram offers passengers 360-degree views over land spanning New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Maine, and part of Canada. It's $19 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.

Castle Point in Hoboken, NJ
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New Jersey | Castle Point

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.

Rooftop Pizza in Santa Fe, NM
Chris C./

New Mexico | Rooftop Pizza

Santa Fe
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 $10, it's a leisurely way to enjoy the view and the local flavor.

French Point Mountain in Lake George, NY

New York | French Point Mountain

Lake George
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. 

Related: 52 Free or Cheap Things to Do in New York City

Mountain View Restaurant in Spruce Pine, NC
Karen R./

North Carolina | Mountain View Restaurant

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 under $20, with many lunch options available for less than $10.

The old Four Bears Bridge spanning Lake Sakakawea/Missouri River
The old Four Bears Bridge spanning Lake Sakakawea/Missouri River by Naawada2016 (CC BY-SA)

North Dakota | Crow Flies High State Park

New Town
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 has barely changed since the time of explorers Lewis and Clark. The park, open daily, is free to enter.

Pier W in Lake Erie, OH

Ohio | Pier W

Lake Erie 
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.

Petroleum Club in Oklahoma City, OK
Sofia L./

Oklahoma | Petroleum Club

Oklahoma City
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.

Portland Tram
Source: Portland Aerial Tram

Oregon | Portland Tram

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 $5.10.

Hyner View State Park (2)
Hyner View State Park (2) by Nicholas A. Tonelli (CC BY)

Pennsylvania | Hyner View

North Bend
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. Entry is free.

Prospect Terrace Park in Providence, RI
Richard Cavalleri/shutterstock

Rhode Island | Prospect Terrace Park

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.

Sassafras Mtn View, Lakes Hartwell and Jocasse
Sassafras Mtn View, Lakes Hartwell and Jocasse by Stephen Taylor (CC BY-NC)

South Carolina | Sassafras Mountain

Pickens County
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.

Harney Peak Fire Tower in Harney Peak, SD

South Dakota | Harney Peak Fire Tower

Harney Peak 
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.

Clingmans Dome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN
Henryk Sadura/shutterstock

Tennessee | Clingmans Dome

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
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 traversable only by foot to an observation tower at the peak. On a rare clear day, there's a 100-mile view.

Emory Peak
Emory Peak by Becky Lai (CC BY-NC-ND)

Texas | Emory Peak

Big Bend National Park
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 $30 entrance fee is good for vehicles with up to 15 people and up to seven days. Locals may want to consider a $55 yearly pass for extra savings.

Bryce Canyon National Park in Bryce Canyon, UT

Utah | Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon
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 $35.

Harrington's View in Jonesville, VT
Joyce Vincent/shutterstock

Vermont | Harrington's View

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. 

Related: 21 Epic Hiking Trails Around the World

Double Tree Hilton in Arlington, VA
DoubleTree Hotel Washington DC-Crystal City/

Virginia | Double Tree Hilton

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 under $16, it makes for an ideal sunset viewing location.

Palouse Falls in LaCrosse, WA

Washington | Palouse Falls

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 Aug. 25, Sept. 28, and Nov. 11.

Grandview Rim Trail in Grandview, WV
Steve Heap/shutterstock

West Virginia | Grandview Rim Trail

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.

Devil's Lake State Park in Baraboo, WI
Kris Wiktor/shutterstock

Wisconsin | Devil's Lake State Park

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.

Jackson Hole Summer Tram
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort/

Wyoming | Jackson Hole Summer Tram

Jackson Hole
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 $15 a person for the gondola.