HAVE SMARTPHONE, WILL TRAVEL
For better or for worse, selfies have become emblematic of today's high-tech, mobile modern culture. Self-portraits are nothing new, of course, but smartphones and tablets make it easier than ever to snap photos of yourself (and your friends) and display them to the world. Instagram feeds are full of smug faces in beautiful and exotic locations. But you don't have to travel far to find an amazing backdrop. Here are some of the best places to say "cheese" to yourself in all 50 states.
ALABAMA: NOCCALULA FALLS
Northern Alabama is filled with beautiful spots worthy of likes. Gadsden, known for its outdoor attractions, features a campground with one of the prettiest waterfalls in the country. Visit Noccalula Falls to picnic, pet farm animals, and selfie the day away for a very reasonable price: just $6 for adults.
ALASKA: MENDENHALL GLACIER
Alaska boasts some of the most impressive vistas anywhere in the world. For a memorable selfie that captures an awesome outdoor adventure, hike to the Mendenhall Glacier ice cave in Juneau. Inside, the ice gives everything a bluish hue. Selfies look electric, with no filter necessary. But be warned: The trek can be dangerous and requires at least six to eight hours.
ARIZONA: GRAND CANYON
Few places in the country match the majesty of the Grand Canyon, a bucket-list destination for many people. Easily accessible Grand Canyon National Park is now a haven of selfie sticks, so be sure to watch your back for other photographers and make sure you're not poking into anyone else's view. Timed correctly, a photo taken here could be a worthy profile pic.
ARKANSAS: HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK
Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas is a destination for hiking, waterfalls, and relaxation in hot-spring baths. With their natural beauty, the water features and trails create picture-perfect spots for snapping photos to post online.
CALIFORNIA: GRIFFITH OBSERVATORY
There's no shortage of fun things to do or places to be seen in Los Angeles. For a selfie that will stand out, head to the amazing Griffith Observatory, located in one of America’s best urban parks. Take a moment to enjoy the view, then turn around and get a photo of yourself with the skyline or the Hollywood sign in the background.
COLORADO: RED ROCKS AMPHITHEATRE
Colorado is a scenic state with thriving urban areas as well as fantastic recreation areas, mountains, and wilderness. Concertgoers love Red Rocks, an outdoor amphitheater carved into the foothills just outside Denver. It's a dramatic venue for a selfie, even when there is no band performing.
CONNECTICUT: GILLETTE CASTLE STATE PARK
Potential visitors to Connecticut may not be able to rattle off many photo ops in the Nutmeg State, but residents know plenty of sights worth exploring and photographing. One fascinating place for a selfie: Gillette Castle State Park. The historic mansion on the grounds resembles a medieval fortress.
DELAWARE: AIR MOBILITY AND COMMAND MUSEUM
The Air Mobility and Command Museum is one of the most popular and highly rated attractions in Dover. The museum is chock-full of vintage and antique planes, many from the Air Force. Admission is free, and on some tours you can hop in a cockpit for a picture.
FLORIDA: MOLASSES REEF
For selfies in Florida, be sure to bring a waterproof camera or case — some of the best spots are underwater. One is Molasses Reef in the Florida Keys, a magnet for diving and snorkeling. No need to fine-tune your expression while wearing a mask.
GEORGIA: ARABIA MOUNTAIN
Residents of Georgia and tourists staying in Atlanta can visit Arabia Mountain in Lithonia, just east of the city. The gorgeous landscape is tough to beat for hiking and photos, no matter the time of day.
HAWAII: NORTH SHORE OF OAHU
Hawaii is filled with breathtaking photo opportunities. Each of the islands is beautiful and unique, but if you must choose one place, make it the north shore of Oahu, where jagged rocks jut into crystal blue ocean. Just turn around, take the shot, and watch the likes roll in.
IDAHO: HELLS CANYON NATIONAL RECREATION AREA
The Hells Canyon National Recreation Area is home to a section of the Snake River where the rapids get wild enough to give adventure seekers impressive stories and amazing selfies. Just make sure to hold tight to your raft with one hand and use a waterproof camera or case.
ILLINOIS: CLOUD GATE ('THE BEAN')
You'd be hard-pressed to find a tourist who has been to Chicago in the past decade and doesn't have a photo of themselves with the famous Cloud Gate. Colloquially known as "the Bean," the sculpture in Millennium Park is a quintessential selfie location. With its giant, curved, mirrored surface, Cloud Gate reflects and distorts the figures in front of it.
INDIANA: INDIANA DUNES NATIONAL LAKESHORE
Nature lovers will appreciate Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore on the southern shore of Lake Michigan. The beautiful dunes sit near one of the state's industrial hubs, offering a stark contrast to the urban development just beyond the park's borders. Head to the lakefront at dawn, when the sun is coming up over the water, for a stunning selfie.
IOWA: GREATER DES MOINES BOTANICAL GARDEN
Iowa may be known for cornfields — not the most scintillating backdrop for a selfie — but there are plenty of other things to see in the Hawkeye State. One of the loveliest sights is the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, where gorgeous blooms are always on display either outdoors or inside the greenhouse. Strike a pose with tropical flowers when you're feeling beautiful.
KANSAS: JOHNNY KAW STATUE
Kansas has many roadside oddities, but few match the kitsch of Johnny Kaw, the state's answer to Paul Bunyan, the giant mythological lumberjack. Situated in City Park in Manhattan, Kansas, the 30-foot-tall concrete-and-steel statue of Kaw — who holds a scythe for harvesting wheat, rather than an ax like Bunyan — makes an awesome selfie companion.
KENTUCKY: CHURCHILL DOWNS
The best place for a selfie in Kentucky is arguably Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. The world-famous horse race is perhaps the only place you won't mind getting photo-bombed, because extra people add impressive hats to the picture. Saddle up with some buddies and see how many brims you can fit in a single selfie.
LOUISIANA: CHAUVIN SCULPTURE GARDEN
For a kooky selfie in the Pelican State, look no further than the Chauvin Sculpture Garden. It's filled with interesting and offbeat art that would make a fun backdrop for a photo. Spend the day outdoors cruising for your favorite sculpture.
MAINE: WEST QUODDY HEAD LIGHTHOUSE
Maine, famous for its jagged coastline and delicious lobster, is home to many historic lighthouses that are well worth visiting. All are beautiful, but the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse is particularly full of character. Any lighthouse lover would be happy to share the frame with this red-and-white-striped tower, which is more than 200 years old.
MARYLAND: BALTIMORE'S INNER HARBOR
The Inner Harbor is a scenic tourist destination. In spring and summer, the juxtaposition of high-rise buildings with boats on the water makes for a great photo, even without your smiling face in the center. This is one instance where you might want to break out a selfie stick to get as much of the city and harbor in the photo as possible.
MASSACHUSETTS: HISTORIC BOSTON COMMON
Boston Common dates back to 1634 and served as both a Revolutionary War muster location for the colonial militia and the site of an eight-year British camp. Today the park continues its prominent role as gathering place for locals and visitors. It has ball fields, a "tot lot," and a neighboring Public Garden with swan boat rides.
MICHIGAN: TURNIP ROCK
Nature lovers already know the Great Lakes State is filled with wonders. One striking destination for a selfie is Turnip Rock, just off the Lake Huron coast near the village of Port Austin. Kayaking is the best way for most adventurers to make their way to this wondrous land formation and snap a once-in-a-lifetime shot. It sure beats the same old "hot dogs or legs" beach photo.
MINNESOTA: MALL OF AMERICA
The mall is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the Gopher State. People come from all over the world to enjoy 4.3 miles of indoor shopping. An amusement park includes several roller coasters that range from mild to thrilling. Cellphones aren't allowed on rides, but the roller coasters make a fun backdrop for before and after photos.
MISSISSIPPI: NATCHEZ TRACE PARKWAY
Who knew that driving on a simple two-lane road could potentially produce such excellent photo-ops? The Natchez Trace Parkway, which begins in Mississippi, is overseen by the National Park Service. It provides too much natural eye candy to digest all at once, so best to snap a few selfies and preserve the views.
MISSOURI: GATEWAY ARCH
It's a bit cliché, but in the Show Me State, where better to pose for a selfie than in front of the preeminent Missouri icon, the Gateway Arch? Take a selfie from the ground or spring for a tram ride to the top and get a photo from above, with St. Louis and the Mississippi River in the background.
MONTANA: GRINNELL GLACIER
Glacier National Park in Montana is one of the most beautiful in the country, and now is the time to visit, as climate change continues to erode its namesake glaciers. The magnificent Grinnell Glacier is situated above a blue-green pool of ice-cold water. It's a majestic place to take a selfie, but only the brave dare take a dip.
NEBRASKA: CHIMNEY ROCK NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
Nebraska may not evoke thrills or visions of the perfect photo, but there is at least one awe-inspiring place for a selfie in the Cornhusker State. Chimney Rock National Historic Site in Bayard is a beautiful, soaring rock formation. Before snapping a smartphone photo, think of the reactions of early pioneers who passed by Chimney Rock heading west on the Oregon Trail.
NEVADA: THE FOUNTAINS AT THE BELLAGIO
Nevada's desert wilderness is beautiful and photo-worthy, but when it comes to getting comments on a selfie, Las Vegas is where it's at. One sure bet: the fountains at the Bellagio Hotel on the Strip. Especially at night, you can't go wrong with a selfie in front of the majestic dancing water and impressively lit hotel facade. It’s just one of many free things to do in Sin City.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: CANNON MOUNTAIN AERIAL TRAMWAY
In New Hampshire, hop on the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway to ride more than 4,000 feet up and take selfies along the way. Or wait till you reach the mountaintop, where the views extend to four states and Canada.
NEW JERSEY: ATLANTIC CITY
For a classic Garden State selfie, what better place than one of the Jersey Shore's top tourist destinations — Atlantic City? Cheese it up on the boardwalk or head for the bright lights of one of the city's half-dozen casinos.
NEW MEXICO: EARTHSHIPS
Taos is home to unique and eerily beautiful "biotecture" edifices called Earthships. The self-sustaining and built-by-hand structures are marked with impressive mosaics, stained-glass windows, and architecture unlike most anywhere else.
NEW YORK: BOWERY MURAL
New York City is home to as many selfie-worthy locales as it is people. One of the most colorful places to snap a photo is in front of the popular mural that's been painted at different times by artists like Cope2 and Banksy at the corner of Bowery and Houston streets in lower Manhattan.
NORTH CAROLINA: CLINGMANS DOME
Nature lovers hankering for another scenic selfie need look no further than breathtaking Clingmans Dome, the highest point in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which straddles North Carolina and Tennessee. Occasionally a black bear might appear in the mountains and foliage behind you.
NORTH DAKOTA: HERITAGE CENTER & STATE MUSEUM
The North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum in Bismarck features thousands of artifacts and specimens, as well as high-tech displays and interactive exhibits that make it an ideal destination for history or archeology buffs. The museum also features life-size skeleton casts of a Tyrannosaurus rex and a triceratops, among other recreations of prehistoric beings, any of which would attract plenty of likes as the backdrop for a selfie.
In the village of Marblehead, on a peninsula jutting into Lake Erie, sits the longest continuously operating lighthouse on the Great Lakes. On a clear day, take a boat out and get a photo of yourself with the lighthouse in the background.
OKLAHOMA: BRICKTOWN DISTRICT
Oklahoma City's lovely Bricktown Entertainment District is full of charm, brightly colored storefronts, and endless selfie appeal. Around the winter holidays, pose with the giant Christmas tree. Or hail a pedicab or horse-drawn carriage and snap away.
OREGON: CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK
This park in southern Oregon is billed as being "like no place else on earth," which may be reason enough to visit and, of course, take a selfie. The crystalline lake features an island — a dormant volcano — that rises 763 feet above the lake at its western end.
PENNSYLVANIA: MOUNT WASHINGTON
Pennsylvania is brimming with history (does the Liberty Bell, well, ring a bell?), but a scenic landscape might be the best setting for a selfie in the Keystone State. Set up a shot on Mount Washington, overlooking Pittsburgh. From this vantage point, you can put yourself in front of the city's skyline and surrounding natural beauty.
RHODE ISLAND: CRESCENT PARK LOOFF CAROUSEL
Built in 1895, the Crescent Park Looff Carousel in East Providence is the largest and most elaborate merry-go-round designed by Charles I.D. Looff, a well-known builder of carousels. Hop on one of the 62 hand-carved horses and selfie away — or take a video — as the ride goes round and round.
SOUTH CAROLINA: NEVER BUST CHAIN
A unique piece of public art in the Palmetto State, the Never Bust Chain in the state capital, Columbia, is a massive link of chain over an alley connecting two historic brick buildings. Get creative with angles to score an excellent selfie.
SOUTH DAKOTA: MAMMOTH SITE
The Mammoth Site in Hot Springs is too cool to pass up as a selfie location. As implied by the name, the largest concentration of mammoth remains in the world has been unearthed at this site. Check out the mammoth replicas and capture the moment you glimpse these giant fossils.
TENNESSEE: CRYSTAL SHRINE GROTTO
The Crystal Shrine Grotto in Memphis' Memorial Park Cemetery is the largest man-made crystal cavern in the world. It features re-creations of Biblical scenes using rock quartz crystal and semiprecious stones — an otherworldly backdrop for a selfie. What's more, it's free.
TEXAS: HAMILTON POOL PRESERVE
Outside Austin is a gorgeous natural wonder called the Hamilton Pool Preserve, which is astounding enough to warrant a roll of selfies. This wild and beautiful sight consists of a cave, a lovely lake, and a waterfall; it doesn't get much better than that. (Note: Reservations are required during the summer.)
UTAH: TEMPLE SQUARE
One of the most scenic places to behold in Utah is Temple Square. Although non-Mormons aren't permitted inside the Salt Lake Temple, the imposing building makes for an irresistible photo opportunity. The Tabernacle is home to the famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
VERMONT: BEN & JERRY'S FACTORY
Don't mess around in Vermont — just go straight to the Ben & Jerry's factory. Take a half-hour tour to see how the ice cream is made, and take a photo of yourself sampling some of your favorite flavors at the scoop shop.
VIRGINIA: VIRGINIA BEACH
With the beach, classic cars, and giant statues of the Roman sea god Neptune, Virginia Beach practically begs visitors to throw on a little sunscreen and smile wide for selfies. The backdrops are so varied, you could fool followers into thinking you're in a different place in each photo.
WASHINGTON: DR. JOSÉ RIZAL PARK
Ever see beautiful photos of the Seattle skyline and wonder how the photographer got the shot? Most likely it was from Dr. José Rizal Park. Head to the west side of Beacon Hill to run around with your dog, enjoy a picnic lunch, and, of course, take a selfie with the iconic cityscape.
WEST VIRGINIA: HARPERS FERRY
Harpers Ferry in West Virginia is picturesque in the truest sense. The small town is also a national park, surrounded by the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers and lush green trees. Anywhere you turn for 360 degrees can serve as a beautiful backdrop for a selfie.
WISCONSIN: THE DELLS OF THE WISCONSIN RIVER
To get a Wisconsin Dells selfie without the crowds of people in waterparks, go to the natural Dells of the Wisconsin River. The jagged rock features lining the shores of the river are a self-portraitist's dream backdrop.
WYOMING: OLD FAITHFUL
Yellowstone National Park is hyped as a camping, hiking, and recreational attraction for a reason: It's an absolutely stunning part of the country. A photo in front of Old Faithful is nothing to shake a selfie stick at. The famous geyser erupts every one to two hours, and a National Park Service geysers app estimates when visitors should be ready to pose.