Why Experts Say You Should Choose Experiences Over Things
Buying material things can give you instant gratification, but what about long-term happiness? Experts say buying experiences, instead of things, is the key to happiness.Read the article
Put down your device and look around: Beauty waits beyond the filters and hashtags of your favorite social media app. In fact, splendor is more than a sight—or a site—for sore eyes. To take in the best a city or town has to offer, sometimes you’ve got to go off the grid, leave your things behind, and savor the experience. Listen to the sound of a creek rushing along a forest footpath, or inhale the scent of rain-soaked creosote bush in the desert. Feel the sun warm your skin like the earthen stones of an ancient civilization, or glide across the top of a glistening lake. You get the idea!
We’ve gathered a list of the most beautiful American cities and small towns, where you’ll get a taste of local landmarks, secret sweet spots, and spectacular wide-open spaces—no gadgets required.
Coeur d’Alene is one of the most beautiful cities to visit and loved by celebrities, luxury travelers, and outdoor adventurers alike, because it’s just so stunning in every season. To witness one of the city’s finest moments, paddleboard to the center of Coeur d’Alene Lake at sunrise or sunset and watch the water turn deep orange and purple. Do you hear that? Yeah, that’s peace and quiet.
Deadwood is a historical destination in the rugged Black Hills National Forest. Don’t miss the autumn foliage splashing the hills with gold! For the best views, cycle along George S. Mickelson Trail, which follows the now-defunct railroad branch line between Edgemont and Deadwood and includes four tunnels and more than 100 former train bridges. After the spectacular trek, relax on the rooftop patio at the legendary Saloon #10.
Encircled in cozy coves and beautiful bays, Bristol is a stunner. Find any street, then stand and stare, and you’re set. But if you want to add garden flora to Atlantic vistas, wander the grounds at Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum. Located within walking distance of the downtown waterfront, the gardens at Blithewold took shape during the 1890s when the Van Wickle family put their home in the hands of landscape architect John DeWolf. Stop to smell the roses…and salty sea air.
In northwest Connecticut, waterfalls await. Located on Falls Brook, the cascades in Kent Falls State Park aren’t just pretty to look at—they’re fun, too! Hike the trails, visit history at the covered bridge, and wade into the water. Many of the falls have a calm enough pool where you can splash around on a warm day. Standing in the cool mist is like hitting “refresh” on your whole day, but you don’t have to wait for a page to reload. Just breathe it in.
Northern New Mexico is a painting waiting to happen. No wonder this region has attracted some of the most influential American artists of this century, including Georgia O’Keefe. Find your inspiration in the mountainside resort village of Angel Fire. During the warm seasons, kayak across Monte Verde Lake or hike one of the many scenic trails. Come winter, ski the slopes—or just ride the gondola—for a breathtaking glimpse of the mountains and the endless New Mexico sky.
When you’re in Crescent City, you face a conundrum. This Northern California destination boasts an idyllic Pacific coastline for a front yard and a lush redwoods forest for a backyard—which should you see first? For an unforgettable day, start with a hearty breakfast at local favorite Vita Cucina Bakery & Gourmet Foods, and wander through the ancient trees and glossy leaves of the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. Before sunset, go from land to sea and watch the horizon from Crescent Beach.
In southwest Colorado, near the meeting place of Four Corners, Native American civilizations can still be explored in the cave dwellings and mountain pueblos near Cortez. With Mesa Verde National Park to the south and Canyons of the Ancients National Monument to the west, Cortez is definitely in the running of the most beautiful U.S. cities. Drive 27 miles northwest and you’ll stand where ancient Ute peoples built their homes in the cliffs and established complex structures. Lowry Pueblo is an earthen ghost town today, but it was a bustling village during the 11th century.
In northwestern Arkansas, the exquisite landscape of Bella Vista is a blend of natural wonder and human innovation—and the name literally means “Beautiful View.” Pristinely kept lakes give way to the wild forestlands of the Ozarks. And hidden in the trees, you’ll find the Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel, unlike any chapel you’ve ever seen before. Built in honor of its beloved namesake and designed by E. Fay Jones and Maurice Jennings, the chapel boasts an open, arched structure with natural light flooding through glass and open steelwork. Come for meditation, quiet reflection, and to sit in the presence of unique beauty.
Not only is northern Minnesota rich with iron ore, but the night sky is also downright stunning. Much of the multi-county region is quite rural, which is to thank for the minimal light pollution, and the town of Virginia makes a lovely home base for any late-night celestial excursions. Although this area experiences aurora borealis sightings year-round, autumn and winter are prime lights-peeping season, so bundle up and stay out late. It’s totally worth it.
Whether you’re a wildflower enthusiast or an avid spelunker—or both—you’ve got to visit Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in Borrego Springs. Heavy winter rains bring this SoCal destination a super bloom you do not want to miss. Gorgeous goldenrod poppies turn their faces toward towering cacti and you can smell the fantastic flora even as you hike the rugged mud caves. The park is usually open all year and San Diego County’s signature weather means anytime is a good time to stand in the center of this astounding landscape.
There you have it, our list of the most beautiful cities in the U.S. you have to experience in person. There are many deserving destinations we could talk about, but to be honest, we’re itching to step away from this device and see what’s out there!