The Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon, the Golden Gate Bridge — the United States of America is synonymous with these iconic landmarks. But there are just as many spectacular scenes across the country that don’t receive the attention they deserve. In fact, you may have seen photos of such spots and not even realized they were in the USA, including the five featured below.
You won’t be able to resist taking a selfie in these U.S. destinations.
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
Sprawling across more than 71,000 hectares of southern New Mexico (about a 360-kilometer drive south of Albuquerque), White Sands National Monument looks as though it jumped off the pages of a luxury travel magazine’s beach issue — except there’s no ocean. Instead, the world’s largest gypsum sand dune field rolls on as far as the eye can see, with only the occasional tuft of grass or ground squirrel interrupting the landscape.
Skagit Valley Tulip Fields, Washington
Visit the northwestern corner of Washington state during the annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in April, and you might think you accidently traveled to the Netherlands. Each spring, millions of tulips bloom, forming rows upon rows of color set against the majestic North Cascade mountain range. You can go and explore the tulip fields, roughly 100 kilometers north of Seattle, for free every year (though it costs around $5 to park a car).
Bannerman Castle, New York
Bannerman Castle could easily be mistaken for a scene out of Gaelic lore. On Pollepel Island in New York state’s Hudson Valley (about 100 kilometers north of New York City) are the ruins of Bannerman Castle. Considering himself an amateur architect, businessman Francis Bannerman instructed the castle — the design inspired by the historic castles of Scotland — to be built without any right angles to make it appear larger than it actually is. The Bannerman Castle Trust offers guided walking and boat tours of Bannerman Island between May and October.
The Wave, Arizona
The Southwest region of the USA is famous for its otherworldly landscapes — and the Wave is one of them. Tucked away the northeast corner of Arizona’s Vermilion Cliffs National Monument (about 515 kilometers north of Phoenix and 250 kilometers north of the Grand Canyon), the Wave could easily be the setting for a sci-fi movie. The undulating sandstone bluffs that have formed over millions of years of erosion are extremely popular with hikers and nature photographers — so much so that the Bureau of Land Management allows only 20 people to enter the area each day to protect the sanctity of the landscape and the experience. Online and walk-in lotteries are used to select the lucky few.
Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
Surrounded by azure waters and flanked by white, sandy beaches, Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida conjures images of life on the high seas. Roughly 115 kilometers of the west coast of Key West, this group of seven small isles is fringed by a cornucopia of colorful coral reefs and a menagerie of marine life. But the star of this show is the hexagonal Fort Jefferson, a 19th-century fort constructed to protect trade routes in the Gulf of Mexico. Walk through the lofty stone archways for a glimpse of the USA’s rich maritime history.
Experience the beauty of the USA without leaving your seat!