From sea to shining sea, the USA is teeming with iconic and creative photo ops. Arguably, each state has its own unique sights, some of which may appeal to one set of photographers while snubbed by others.
The list below, in no particular order, is not comprehensive, but rather just a selection of ten eye-catching locations that should make your list.
- McWay Falls, Big Sur, CA
- Cloud Gate, Chicago, IL
- Red Rocks, Sedona, AZ
- Times Square, New York City, NY
- Avenue of the Giants, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, C
- Kailua Beach, Oahu, HI
- Mt. Rushmore, Keystone, SD
- Riverwalk, San Antonio, TX
- Reflecting Pool, Washington DC
- Kancamagus Highway, White Mountains, NH
- About the Author
McWay Falls, Big Sur, CA
Getting there is part of the experience – a dramatic, twisting drive on Highway One along craggy cliffs that plunge into almost neon aquamarine Pacific waters. Stop at Julia Pfeifer State Park and take the short walk to the scenic overlook of McWay Falls, an 80-foot waterfall that crashes onto the protected beach cove below.
Cloud Gate, Chicago, IL
A.k.a. “The Bean,” this polished stainless steel sculpture by Anish Kapoor, is the highlight of Chicago’s Millennium Park. The gleaming surface of the sculpture reflects (and distorts) both the skyline in the distance and visitors who can walk around and under the form.
Red Rocks, Sedona, AZ
Wherever you look in Sedona, you’ll likely find yourself immersed in panoramic views of the red rock buttes and formations in any direction. Hiking and jeep tours are available, or you can simply take in the vibrant vista from most of the hotels and many of the restaurants.
Times Square, New York City, NY
Dubbed by Travel + Leisure magazine as the most visited tourist attraction in the world, be prepared for excitement and sensory overload, particularly at night. This neon hub is home to the city’s theater district, myriad restaurants, and herds of pedestrian foot traffic.
Avenue of the Giants, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, C
This 31-mile drive on old Highway 101 runs through Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Beyond impressive, these towering giants are said to be the oldest trees in the world and here’s where you can see the largest remnant. Don’t miss the 950-year old Immortal Tree and the Drive-Through Tree. To get a proper scale of the monolithic growths, be sure to place a human in some of the photos.
Kailua Beach, Oahu, HI
Arguably the most beautiful beach in the U.S.A. Kailua is 2.5 miles long on Oahu’s windward coast. It boasts shimmering turquoise water, sugary beach sand, and light breezes. Unlike its sister Lanikai Beach to the east, Kailua provides parking, facilities, and easy access.
Mt. Rushmore, Keystone, SD
What American hasn’t longed to see these 60-foot high presidential faces carved into a granite mountain? Sculpted by Gutzon and Lincoln Borglum, Mount Rushmore stands 5,725 feet above sea level. Along with the iconic photos, try a fun alternative by positioning your own head next to Lincoln’s, shooting in black and white.
Riverwalk, San Antonio, TX
One story beneath downtown San Antonio, the Riverwalk is a network of walkways hosting restaurants, bars, and shops along the banks of the San Antonio River. The popular pedestrian walkway winds under bridges where it connects some of the city’s major tourist attractions and also provides stops for water taxis and dinner boat excursions.
Reflecting Pool, Washington DC
Located on the National Mall, the rectangular Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool is the largest in DC. Lined by trees on both sides and more than 2000 feet long, it dramatically reflects either the Washington Monument or the Lincoln Memorial, depending on which end you’re standing.
Kancamagus Highway, White Mountains, NH
This 34.5-mile scenic drive along NH’s north country is considered one of the best viewing areas for fall foliage in the country and attracts thousands of visitors each year to leaf peep at the brilliant spectrum of colors while driving through the 3,000 ft. vistas of the White Mountains.
About the Author
Patti Morrow is a freelance travel writer and founder of the award-winning blog Luggage and Lipstick. TripAdvisor called her one of “20 Baby Boomer Travel Bloggers Having More Fun Than Millennials.” Patti is the author of the book “Girls Go Solo: Tips for Women Traveling Alone,” and has over 150 bylines in 40 print and online publications, including The Huffington Post, International Living Magazine, Washington Post Sunday Travel, Travel Girl, Travel Play Live Magazine, and Ladies Home Journal.
Read more about Patti Morrow.