12 Breathtaking Views You Need in Your Life: No Passport Required

Sep 21, 2016
You know the views -- those that (literally) take your breath away and that you need to take a picture of so they’ll last longer? Yeah, those.

There are just some views that remind you at once of all the beauty in the world -- or in this case, in the country.

From a natural river bend in the Grand Canyon to a cliffside coastline in Kauai, read on to discover 12 domestic vistas you need in your life right now, no passport required.

Horseshoe Bend

A natural, horseshoe-shaped bend in the Colorado River, the almost-too-appropriately-named Horseshoe Bend supplies one of the most striking views in the Grand Canyon -- even against the tough competition from the famously stunning landmark.

How to get there: Horseshoe Bend is located near Page, Arizona, and is accessible via a dirt road and parking lot off Highway 89.

Pro tip: If you want to catch the ideal snapshot of this natural landmark, visit early in the morning around sunrise -- when the lighting is best and the crowds are thin.

Where to stay: After checking out Horseshoe Bend, get the full Lake Powell experience with this three-day houseboat rental.

Mallory Square Sunset Celebration

To celebrate the magic of Key West's unforgettable sunsets, Mallory Square hosts a nightly festival of sideshows, food vendors, and, of course, lots of people ready to see the red, orange, and yellow hues dance across the sky.

How to get there: The waterfront Mallory Square is on the west side of Key West, alongside some of the island's most popular attractions, hotels, and restaurants.

Pro tip: The festival begins two hours before sunset each day -- get there early to peruse the vendors, get some food, and stake out the perfect sunset-viewing spot.

Where to stay: Conveniently located just steps from Mallory Square, Ocean Key Resort & Spa is the ideal destination for visitors looking to lay out by the beach during the day and experience the sunset celebration at night. Travelzoo members get complimentary valet parking and a waived daily resort fee at the AAA 4-Diamond resort.

Skagit Valley Tulip Fields

Every April, Washington State’s Skagit Valley opens its sprawling, vibrant tulip fields -- reminiscent of those in Holland -- to visitors for the annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. A delight for children and adults alike, the event draws crowds hoping to experience this magical floral phenomenon up close -- and get back in touch with their inner nature lover.

How to get there: The Skagit Valley fields are spread between La Conner and Mount Vernon, located about 60 miles north of Seattle and 70 miles south of Vancouver, adjacent to the 5 freeway. The festival is best explored by car, as there is not one central area but many spread across the valley.

Pro tip: The full festival brochure is unveiled annually in January; sign up online to be one of the first to get the 411 on next year’s event.

High Roller Las Vegas

The world’s largest Ferris wheel -- yes, that means higher than both the London Eye and Singapore Flyer -- Las Vegas’ High Roller offers sweeping views of glitzy Sin City. Each 30-minute ride will make visitors wish that what happens in Vegas didn’t have to stay there.

How to get there: The High Roller is located across from Caesars Palace within the LINQ shopping, dining, hotel and entertainment complex.

Pro tip: Guests can snag discounted tickets (up to $7 off per ticket) buy pre-purchasing online.

Where to stay: For the ultimate High Roller experience, stay at the LINQ Hotel.

Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks

Appropriately named, the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway offers motorists magnificent views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Stretching from Virginia to North Carolina, the road boasts a series of overlooks -- you can’t go wrong with any, but three of the best offer vistas of the Cowee Mountains, Graybeard Mountain and Big Witch.

How to get there: The Blue Ridge Parkway reaches from near Waynesboro, Va., in the north to near Cherokee, N.C., in the south.

Pro tip: The most popular overlooks are mostly located between the 300- and 500-mile markers: Cowee Mountain Parking Overlook is at mile 430.7, Graybeard Mountain Parking Overlook at mile 363.4, and Big Witch Parking Overlook at mile 461.9.

McWay Falls

A rare tidefall running into the Pacific Ocean in Big Sur, McWay Falls is best viewed from one of the trails above the intimate cove. The combination of the natural geology of the waterfall and rock formations coupled with the vibrant aquamarine waters makes for one of the most gorgeous views along the California coast.

How to get there: Just off Highway 1, McWay Falls is tucked within the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. It can be viewed from lookout points along the scenic drive or from a hike along the McWay Falls Overlook Trail.

Pro tip: Though the falls may look difficult to get to, the McWay Falls Overlook Trail isn’t overly strenuous and should be accessible to a range of climbing levelsq

Where to stay: Visitors can extend their visit to this coastal town at Big Sur’s adults-only Ventana Inn & Spa, a Joie de Vivre Hotel.

Na Pali Coast

The Na Pali Coast State Park is an iconic coastline of cliffs and natural reserves stretching across more than 15 miles along the northwest side of Kauai.

How to get there: Visitors can access the Na Pali Coast either via a series of challenging hiking trails or by boat. Local tour operators offer a variety of excursions to the area.

Pro tip: The uber-adventurous looking to get a front-row seat to the cliffs and greenery can apply for a special permit to camp on the Na Pali Coast.

Where to stay: Explore Kauai with a deal at the 4-star Koloa Landing at Poipu Beach -- home to new studios and one-bedroom villas that were completed in July. The deal includes breakfast and a rental car, bringing the savings to 35%.

St. Mary Lake

This Glacier National Park lake is in Montana and renowned for its teal color -- a telltale sign of melted glacier waters -- one-of-a-kind vistas and unspoiled natural beauty. While admiring the lake, visitors can also take in the snowcapped mountains, vast blue sky and local flora and fauna.

How to get there: St. Mary Lake, like most of Glacier National Park, is easily accessible via car. The lake itself is positioned right off the main Going-to-the-Sun Road and offers a series of turnouts and lookout areas.

Pro tip: Visitors to the lake can get out on the water by taking the St. Mary Lake at Rising Sun tour, offered by Glacier Park Boat Company, or get a fully immersive experience by camping at the local public site. For those just hoping to snap a photo of the surpassingly beautiful waters and surrounding cliffs, head to Wild Goose Island, an oasis in the middle of the lake located just off Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Brooklyn Bridge Park

Perched along Brooklyn’s East River waterfront, Brooklyn Bridge Park offers one-of-a-kind views of lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge. The expansive, 85-acre green area features bike paths, picnic lawns and riverfront promenades ideal for taking in the cityscape vistas.

How to get there: Like everything else in NYC, Brooklyn Bridge Park is best accessed via public transportation, bike or foot; visitors can enter the park at Pier 1 or the southern end.

Pro tip: Check the full online calendar to plan your visit around one of the park’s free tours, fitness classes, cleanups or kayaking excursions.

Where to stay: Walking distance to the park, the Wyndham Garden Brooklyn Sunset Park is a budget-friendly option offering Travelzoo members welcome cocktails and a Brooklyn gift, a 10% discount at the on-site restaurant, early check-in, late checkout and a room upgrade.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Located in southern Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park is home to the largest collection of hoodoos -- unique, spire-shaped rock formations -- in the world. The park features a variety of hiking trails as well as Bryce Amphitheater, a canyon-like depression filled with hoodoos, and Thor’s Hammer, a large hoodoo that stands above the rest.

How to get there: Most visiting Bryce Canyon National Park fly into one of the nearest airports, including Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. However, each is still about 270 miles from the park, so the destination is most commonly reached by car.

Pro tip: The National Park Service offers a complimentary (with entry fee) shuttle around the park, which stops at major lookouts, campgrounds and lodging.

Northern Lights in Alaska

Photo from Flickr by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Sure, Iceland may be the best-known spot for viewing the aurora borealis. But you don’t have to leave the U.S. to get a glimpse of this natural phenomenon -- Fairbanks and Anchorage, Alaska, both offer opportunities to catch the northern lights up close and in person.

How to get there: As far as the northern lights go, your best bet for a sighting is in Fairbanks, located north and inland under the “aurora oval.” Guests can either embark on their own viewing expedition in the area or tour with a local operator.

Pro tip: Grab your heaviest coat, because the best time to catch the northern lights in Alaska is during the depths of winter.

Marin Headlands

Just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco lie the Marin Headlands -- and some of the best views of the iconic bridge, bay and cityscape.

How to get there: After crossing the bridge, you can easily reach the Marin Headlands overlook by car from the 101 freeway.

Pro tip: It’s a bit of a crapshoot to find a day -- and time -- when the bridge won’t be completely obscured by Karl the Fog, so be prepared to post up for a while to nail that perfect picture.

Where to stay: The Marin Headlands aren’t the only spot in Marin County to take in vistas of the bay, the bridge and the city -- the views continue at Cavallo Point Lodge, where Travelzoo members get exclusive perks including daily full breakfast, a $50 daily resort credit and a room upgrade.

Ready to go? Travelzoo's new hotel search helps you find exclusive deals at thousands of hotels on the dates you want to travel. You'll also find hotels with member-only perks like free breakfast or room upgrades.

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