Best scenic lookout in every state

Written by:
September 13, 2018
Theodore Roosevelt National Park -- Zak Zeinert // Shutterstock

Best scenic lookout in every state

Natural viewpoints can inspire, thrill, and motivate, so it’s no surprise that travelers flock to observation decks and lookouts when exploring a new locale. Whether you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of a bustling city from 70 floors above or watch a roaring waterfall in the Rocky Mountains, Stacker has rounded up the best scenic lookout in each state.

The team used data from Foursquare to create a list of famous vistas, taking into account the number of check-ins, rating signals, category matches, tips, and photo trends in order to determine the top-ranked lookout for every state.

Have you been to the best scenic lookout in your state?

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Alabama: Vulcan Park and Museum

Address: 1701 Valley View Dr. (at Valley Ave.), Birmingham, Alabama

Rating: 9.1

This unassuming statue sits atop Birmingham’s Red Mountain, a tribute to the city’s industrial heritage. Red Mountain also features a park and museum.


Alaska: Mendenhall Glacier

Address: Juneau Ranger District, 8510 Mendenhall Loop Rd., Juneau, Alaska

Rating: 9.2

This 13-mile long wall of ice sits 12 miles outside of Juneau. In addition to views of the glacier itself, there are hiking trails, waterfalls, and an interactive visitor center.


Arizona: Desert View Watchtower

Address: Desert View, E. Rim Rd. (at Grand Canyon National Park), Grand Canyon, Arizona

Rating: 9.6

This unusual tower was built in the 1930s by architect Mary Colter. Designed in the style of ancient Puebloan towers, it affords mesmerizing views overlooking the Grand Canyon.


Arkansas: Pea Ridge National Military Park

Address: 15930 E. Highway 62, Garfield, Arkansas

Rating: 8.8

The Pea Ridge National Military Park commemorates the Battle of Pea Ridge, fought on this site in March 1862. Today, the 4,300-acre battlefield is a great way to take in some untouched scenery.


California: Newport Back Bay

Address: East Bluff, Newport Beach, California

Rating: 9.6

Newport Beach’s Back Bay is an inland delta with stunning views and a wetland preserve. The area is popular among walkers, joggers, and cyclists, thanks to many accessible trails.


Colorado: Rainbow Curve

Address: Rocky Mountain National Park, Rocky Mountains, Colorado

Rating: 9.5

The Rainbow Curve overlook in the Rocky Mountain National Park lets visitors take in views of 10 different mountains at once, with a scenic valley down below. Hagues Peak, standing 13,560 feet, is the tallest in view.


Connecticut: Castle Craig

Address: 1 Peak Dr., Meriden, Connecticut

Rating: 8.9

This unique trap rock observation tower was dedicated to the town in 1900. You can access the observation deck at the top by climbing a metal interior staircase.


Delaware: South End of Boardwalk

Address: Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Rating: 7.8

Rehoboth Beach’s mile-long boardwalk is both scenic and quaint. There are few better places to take a walk along the ocean.


Florida: Tampa Riverwalk

Address: Riverwalk, Tampa, Florida

Rating: 7.9

This 2.6-mile path runs alongside the Hillsborough River in Tampa. The trail connects the city’s Arts District with other attractions, like the Channelside District and convention center, all with views of the water.


Georgia: Rock City Gardens

Address: 1400 Patten Rd. (Rock City Trail), Lookout Mountain, Georgia

Rating: 9.4

This cluster of ancient rock formations is visited by nearly 500,000 people each year. Along the 4,100-foot trail, you’ll see flowers, caves, and a stunning overlook of the Chattanooga Valley.

Hawaii: Laie Point

Address: 55-43 Naupaka St., Lā‘ie, Hawaii

Rating: 9.4

It’s worth making a detour to see this stunning view of Hawaii’s rugged coast. In addition to an offshore rock arch, Lā‘ie Point is also an offshore seabird sanctuary.


Idaho: Table Rock

Address: Boise, Idaho

Rating: 9.0

This mountain pillar hovers more than 900 feet over Boise down below. It’s among the area’s most popular hikes.


Illinois: 360 CHICAGO

Address: 875 North Michigan Ave., Floor 94, Chicago, Illinois

Rating: 9.2

Formerly known as the John Hancock Observatory, visitors here can take in views of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile from more than a thousand feet in the air. Those who are super-adventurous can try the tilting experience, which gives you a face-first view of 94 stories below.


Indiana: Canal Walk

Address: White River State Park & Canal Walk Cultural District, Indianapolis, Indiana

Rating: 9.5

This three-mile loop in downtown Indianapolis has always been a destination for the city’s fitness buffs, who love running and working out along the trail. You can also rent a paddle boat to take out on the water.


Iowa: Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge

Address: Riverfront Drive, Omaha, Nebraska

Rating: 9.0

The only scenic outlook to span two states, the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge opened in 2008 and connects Council Bluffs, Iowa, to Omaha, Nebraska. The bridge offers great views of the Missouri River.


Kansas: Campanile

Address: Memorial Drive, Lawrence, Kansas

Rating: 8.4

The University of Kansas’ Campanile is a World War II monument that sits on the campus hill above Potter’s Lake. It contains 53 bells that chime every 15 minutes throughout the day.


Kentucky: Drees Pavilion

Address: 700-772 Park Ln., Covington, Kentucky

Rating: 8.4

Set on the highest overlook in Covington’s Devou Park, Drees Pavilion is among the city’s most popular destinations for wedding and other events. The $2-million pavilion was built in 2003.


Louisiana: Woldenberg Riverfront Park

Address: 1 Canal St., New Orleans, Louisiana

Rating: 9.0

This 16-acre span of green space sits along the Mississippi Riverfront. In addition to walking and jogging trails, the park has easy access to New Orleans’ great food and shopping.


Maine: Fort Allen Park

Address: Eastern Promenade (between Vesper & Walnut St.), Portland, Maine

Rating: 9.1

A city landmark, Portland’s Fort Allen Park is part of the city’s Eastern Promenade. The public park has some of the city’s best views of the Casco Bay.


Maryland: Washington Monument State Park

Address: 6620 Zittlestown Road, Middletown, Maryland

Rating: 8.9

This Maryland park preserves the original 40-foot Washington Monument, built to honor the United States’ first president. The stone structure sits near the summit of Monument Knob, a 1,540-foot peak on South Mountain.


Massachusetts: Gay Head Cliffs

Address: State Rd., Town of Aquinnah, Massachusetts

Rating: 9.1

This stunning stretch of beach is rarely visited, thanks to its remote location. The adjacent Gay Head lighthouse is open seasonally for tours.


Michigan: Silver Lake Sand Dunes

Address: 1951 N. 24th Ave., Mears, Michigan

Rating: 9.0

You can explore more than 2,000 acres of sand dunes in Mears, Michigan. The ultra-adventurous will appreciate the opportunity to go off-roading in a special area of the park.


Minnesota: Endless Bridge

Address: Minneapolis

Rating: 8.9

This gravity-defying Jean Nouvel structure isn’t endless, nor is it actually a bridge, but rather an observation. But it’s still a unique attraction overlooking the river.


Mississippi: Natchez Bluff

Address: Natchez, Mississippi

Rating: 8.4

This bluff offers some of the best views of the Mississippi River. On a clear day, you can see 20 miles up or down the river, as well as across the river into neighboring Louisiana.

Missouri: World's Fair Pavilion

Address: Forest Park, St. Louis, Missouri

Rating: 8.6

This open-air shelter was constructed in 1909, using proceeds from the World’s Fair held five years before. Today, it offers superior views of Forest Park below.


Montana: The Gates of the Mountains

Address: I-15, Helena

Rating: 8.0

The Gates of the Mountains consist of striking limestone cliffs that tower over the Missouri River. They are best viewed from a boat tour.


Nebraska: Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge

Address: Riverfront Dr. (off 10th and Capital), Omaha, Nebraska

Rating: 9.0

Just like Iowa, Nebraska ranked the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge as its best scenic lookout. You can visit the bridge and go “bobbing”—standing with one foot within each state line.


Nevada: High Point Overlook

Address: Las Vegas, Nevada

Rating: 9.3

In a city best-known for flashing lights and gaming tables, High Point Overlook is a breath of fresh air. From an elevation of 4,000 feet, visitors to the overlook get a bird’s eye view of the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area below.


New Hampshire: Cathedral Ledge

Address: North Conway, New Hampshire

Rating: 9.0

Part of New Hampshire’s Echo Lake State Park, Cathedral Ledge is a sheer granite face that offers beautiful views as well as some of the state’s best rock-climbing for adventurous visitors. If climbing isn’t your thing, you can drive up to the top of the ledge.


New Jersey: Hudson River Waterfront Walkway

Address: Frank Sinatra Drive, Hoboken, New Jersey

Rating: 9.4

Some of the best New York City views are actually seen from New Jersey. The Hudson River Waterfront Walkway covers 18.5 miles from Bayonne, New Jersey, all the way up to the George Washington Bridge.


New Mexico: Capulin Volcano National Monument

Address: Capulin, New Mexico

Rating: 8.3

Capulin is an extinct cinder-cone volcano in northeastern New Mexico. It’s encircled by hiking trails, including some trails that go down into the volcano’s mouth itself.


New York: Top of the Rock Observation Deck

Address: 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, New York

Rating: 9.6

Skip the Empire State Building in favor of 30 Rockefeller Center’s observation deck, where you can see the Empire State Building along with the rest of Manhattan’s glittering sprawl. The observation deck spans the building’s 67th, 69th, and 70th floors.


North Carolina: Newfound Gap

Address: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina

Rating: 9.3

Newfound Gap is the lowest drivable pass in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at just 5,046 feet. Despite being the lowest, it’s also one of the park’s most breathtaking overlooks.


North Dakota: Painted Canyon

Address: Interstate 94, Belfield, North Dakota

Rating: 8.8

Painted Canyon is a particularly mesmerizing section of North Dakota’s Badlands, part of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. In addition to an overlook, trails, and wildlife, there’s also a visitor’s center with displays where visitors can learn more about the park.


Ohio: Brandywine Falls

Address: 8200 Brandywine Rd., Sagamore Hills, Ohio

Rating: 9.1

This 65-foot waterfall rushes into the gorge below, making it a popular scenic stop. You can view the rush from two viewing platforms, and it’s especially beautiful during the fall, owing to the multi-colored foliage.


Oklahoma: Boomer Lake Park

Address: Lakeview Rd., Stillwater, Oklahoma

Rating: 8.7

This waterfront park surrounds Boomer Lake, which was built in 1925. Today, the lake can be used for various watersports and the park is home to various trails, picnic areas, and a disc golf course.


Oregon: Crown Point Vista House

Address: 40700 E. Historic Columbia River Highway, Corbett, Oregon

Rating: 9.4

The Vista House is considered the crown jewel of the Columbia River Gorge, and it’s not hard to see why. Built in 1917, the house, which has been converted into a small museum, serves as a memorial to Oregon’s pioneers.


Pennsylvania: Thomas J. Gallagher Overlook

Address: Grandview Ave., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Rating: 9.6

This overlook showcases Pittsburgh’s glittering skyline. Not surprisingly, it’s one of the city’s most popular destinations for watching Fourth of July fireworks—get there early to stake out your spot!


Rhode Island: 40 Steps

Address: End of Narragansett St., Newport, Rhode Island

Rating: 9.1

This three-and-a-half-mile walkway runs adjacent to Newport’s famous Breakers and many of the area’s other historic mansions. It can be incredibly crowded during the summer, so go during the off-season if you want to avoid mobs of people.


South Carolina: The Battery

Address: East Battery (Murray Blvd.), Charleston, South Carolina

Rating: 9.6

Once home to an actual Civil War-era artillery, today Charleston’s Battery is a beautiful promenade for strolling and sightseeing. It’s lined with some of the city’s historic antebellum-era homes.


South Dakota: Falls Park Observation Tower

Address: 300 N. Phillips Ave. (Falls Park), Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Rating: 8.9

This observation tower has a 360-degree, five-story viewing deck. From it, you can see Sioux Falls and the surrounding city.

Tennessee: Gatlinburg Overlook

Address: Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Rating: 9.4

If you want to soak in the Great Smoky Mountains, there are few better places to do so than Gatlinburg’s scenic overlook. A visit here is especially timely in wake of the town’s devastating fires a couple of years ago.

Texas: 360 Bridge

Address: 5000 Plaza on the Lake, Austin, Texas

Rating: 9.5

This famous through-arch bridge in Austin is one of the best places to watch the sunset. Climb to the top of the bridge’s adjacent hill and you’ll be rewarded with expansive views of downtown Austin and the Texas hill country.


Utah: Inspiration Point

Address: Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Rating: 9.5

Located in Bryce Canyon National Park, Inspiration Point is one of the best viewpoints for seeing the park’s famous hoodoos. There are three different levels from which you can view the site.


Vermont: Quechee Gorge

Address: Quechee, Vermont

Rating: 9.0

At 165-feet deep, Quechee Gorge is Vermont’s deepest gorge, and can be viewed from Route 4 or nearby hiking trails. Some call it the state’s “Little Grand Canyon.”


Virginia: Church Hill Lookout

Address: Richmond, Virginia

Rating: 9.2

Part of Richmond’s historic Church Hill neighborhood, the eponymous lookout offers views of downtown Richmond and beyond. Fans of the site recommend it as a spot to watch the sunset.


Washington: Alki Point

Address: Harbor and Alki, Seattle, Washington

Rating: 9.2

Seattle’s westernmost spot, Alki Point is lined with beaches and has a cool, beach-town vibe that’s unique to the area. Jutting into the Puget Sound, it’s a great place to catch a sunset.


West Virginia: New River Gorge Overlook

Address: 162 Visitor Center Rd. (at U.S. 19), Lansing, West Virginia

Rating: 9.4

The New River Gorge Overlook holds the distinction of being the longest steel span in the Western hemisphere, and the third-highest in the United States. It’s also one of the most photographed spots in the state.


Wisconsin: Cave Point County Park

Address: Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

Rating: 9.1

Divers and photographers flock to Cave Point, a series of limestone cliffs and underwater caves set along Lake Michigan. The park’s bluffs are part of the Niagara Escarpment, the same geological feature that created Niagara Falls.


Wyoming: Artist Point

Address: South Rim Dr., Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Rating: 9.4

This overlook is part of Yellowstone National Parks, and draws in thousands of visitors each year. The stone lookout offers views of the gushing falls below and is believed to have inspired numerous paintings, photographs, and other works of art—hence the name.


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