USA in Pictures: 20 Beautiful Places to Photograph

Written by Lana Law
Updated Feb 6, 2020

The most beautiful places to photograph in the United States are undoubtedly the landscapes. The American Southwest is home to some of the country's most famous parks and natural areas, which are among the most inspiring destinations for photographers looking to create incredible pictures.

America's iconic buildings and monuments are also some of the most popular photography subjects in the country. On the East Coast, New York and Washington, D.C. hold some of the country's most recognizable structures.

Spread across the United States are other picturesque pockets. Some of these are well-known; others are less discovered. See our list of beautiful places to photograph in the USA to inspire your travel photography.

1. The Grand Canyon, AZ

Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

The Grand Canyon is one of the most popular places to visit in America for a reason. It's spectacular. Pictures of the Grand Canyon are everywhere, but if you are a photographer, you'll want to come here and try capturing the perfect image of it yourself. As always, early in the day or late afternoon are the best times.

You can tackle one of the hikes at the Grand Canyon for a little different perspective than the canyon rim. But the numerous stops on the drive along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon allow for a variety of different views.

2. Niagara Falls, NY

Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is estimated to have come into existence about 12,000 years ago, but for photographers, it never gets old. This is one of the top tourist attractiosn in the USA.

View it from the edge of the falls or in a tour boat below the falls for interesting pictures. It's a delight at any time of year, but in winter, the ice and snow make for fantastic photos.

For a different perspective, cross the border into Canada to see the falls from the Canadian side. Take a lift up the Skylon Tower for views over the entire area. You can even stay at one of the hotels in Niagara Falls, Canada and get some good night shots of the falls when they are lit up in different colors.

3. New York City

Brooklyn Bridge and the lights of New York
Brooklyn Bridge and the lights of New York

It's hard to know where to start when it comes to photographing New York. Most people head straight for the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, the flashing billboards of Times Square, and other iconic sights and attractions. But the endless parade of yellow taxis and the forest of glass skyscrapers creating endless mirror-like reflections can be equally exciting for photographers.

4. Yosemite National Park, CA

Yosemite Falls
Yosemite Falls | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

The dramatic black and white images created by Ansel Adams are some of the most famous pictures of the park, but the Yosemite Valley has captured the imagination of countless photographers over the decades. El Capitan, Half Dome, and Yosemite Falls are some of the most famous sights in Yosemite, but the photo possibilities are endless.

To get close up to some of the waterfalls and to see some of the famous sites from a different angle, take a walk along a couple of the popular hiking trails in Yosemite.

5. Washington, D.C.

Washington Monument in Washington, D.C.
Washington Monument in Washington, D.C.

The monuments in the nation's capitol make for some classic pictures of America's most famous structures. The United States Capitol, the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Monument are just the beginning. Visit in spring to see the cherry blossoms.

6. Zion National Park, UT

Zion National Park
Zion National Park

Utah has many awesome parks and places to photograph, but Zion National Park offers some of the greatest variety. Photograph the Virgin River, the dramatic cliff walls, and the waterfalls from the valley floor, or head to the lookouts high above for a bird's-eye view. Hit the hiking trails to get away from the crowds at the main viewpoints.

7. Kauai, HI

Na Pali Coast
Na Pali Coast

Go beyond the mainland of the USA to capture photos of the rugged, tropical landscape of Kauai. Take a tour of the Na Pali Coast to see the mountains, waterfalls, and beaches. Most of Kauai's top attractions are related to nature and the scenery.

8. Antelope Canyon, AZ

Anetlope Canyon
Anetlope Canyon

If you've always wanted to photograph a slot canyon, this is the place to visit. In the sculpted stone walls of Antelope Canyon, photographers can test their creativity. Shafts of light create shadows and illuminate areas of the walls, forming shapes and turning the stone to a glowing orange color.

Located near Page, Arizona, this spot is off the beaten path, but it's one of the top attractions in Arizona and worth the effort of getting here. Visitors must visit the canyon with a guide.

9. Yellowstone National Park, WY

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park
Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park

Another of the most famous parks in America, the geothermal attractions in Yellowstone National Park are some of the main things to photograph. See the geysers and natural pools, some of them displaying fantastic shades of yellow, orange, blue, and green. The mighty waterfalls along the Yellowstone River and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone are other must-see sights in the park. Walk some of the hiking trails in Yellowstone and explore the park on foot.

Yellowstone National Park is located in Wyoming, with sections also in Idaho and Montana.

10. Bryce Canyon National Park, UT

Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

Take time to enjoy one or more of the hiking trails in Bryce Canyon and walk among the stone spires that rise from the canyon floor. This natural amphitheater is most commonly photographed from the rim of the canyon, which shows the overall picture. But it's from the trails that you can really get creative.

11. Waterfalls in the North Carolina Mountains

White Water Falls
White Water Falls | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

The Appalachian Mountains are home to some fantastic waterfalls. The 810-foot Whitewater Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in North Carolina. Also interesting for photographers is Dry Falls, near the town of Highland. Here, you can walk behind the wall of water pouring off the ledge above.

Base yourself at some of North Carolina's lovely mountain towns and day trip to the waterfalls and other attractions in North Carolina.

12. Key West, FL

Sunrise over a dock in Key West
Sunrise over a dock in Key West

Key West is known for its colorful sunsets, but it's also of interest for the architecture and island vibe. Wander the Old Town to see beautiful mansions, many in pastel colors with ornate railings and trim. Many of the structures date to the late 1800s or early 1900s and have a distinctly Caribbean feel.

Other popular attractions in Key West worth photographing are Mallory Square, many places along Duval Street, and Fort Zachery Taylor State Park. Key West is the southernmost point in the continental USA and the marker itself has become a popular place for photos.

13. Big Bend National Park, TX

Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park
Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

Where a huge bend in the Rio Grande cuts through the Chihuahuan Desert is a land of canyons and mountains, and a place like nowhere else in America. One of the key highlights, especially for taking pictures, is Santa Elena Canyon. One of Big Bend's most popular hiking trails runs along one side of the canyon, on the edge of the river.

There are numerous things to do in Big Bend National Park and the areas surrounding the park. Be sure to stop at the ghost town of Terlingua, right outside the park.

14. Savannah, GA

Forsyth Park, Savannah
Forsyth Park, Savannah

Savannah is a delight for photographers looking to capture images of the South. Huge historic mansions, streets lined with moss-covered trees, and parks with beautiful fountains create a mood in this city like you won't find anywhere else.

15. White Sands National Monument, NM

White Sands National Monument
White Sands National Monument

The rolling, white sand dunes stretching into the distance make for some fabulous pictures. This is also one of the most popular places for tourists to visit in New Mexico. The tops of the dunes, molded by the wind, snake out, forming long s-curves. Photograph in the early morning or late afternoon, when the shadows create contrast.

16. Las Vegas, NV

Las Vegas sign
Las Vegas sign

Las Vegas has always been known for neon signs and bright lights, but these are still some of the best things to take pictures of in this city. When you've had your fill of photographing the Strip and Freemont Street, stop by the Neon Museum to see some of the city's oldest and most famous signs.

You can also find stunning areas within easy driving distance of Las Vegas, including parks and outdoor areas with some fabulous hiking trails.

17. Moab, UT

Canyonland, Island in the Sky
Canyonland, Island in the Sky | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

This small town is at the epicenter of some of the most dramatic and beautiful scenery in Utah. On the edge of town is Arches National Park, and just beyond is Canyonlands National Park. Both of these are outstanding areas, but there are numerous things to see and do in Moab.

Almost any road leading out of Moab will take you to great places to photograph. Head out on the Potash Road to Thelma and Louise Point or drive out past the famous Slickrock mountain biking trail. If you are fearless and a careful driver, you may even want to consider a nail-biting drive down the Shafer Trail Road (Shafer Canyon Road), from Canyonlands NP, Island in the Sky area. It joins with the White Rim Road.

18. Everglades National Park, FL

Alligators in the Everglades
Alligators in the Everglades

The Everglades offer a unique opportunity for wildlife photography. See alligators, turtles, and birds that reside in this one-of-a-kind ecosystem. You can easily explore the park on a day trip from Miami.

19. Death Valley, CA

Zabriskie Point
Zabriskie Point | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

The harsh conditions of Death Valley have created some fascinating sights and wonderful photo opportunities. It holds the title for lowest place and hottest temperatures in the United States. Some of the main highlights in Death Valley National Park are Badwater Basin, the Sand Dunes at Stovepipe Wells, Zabriskie Point, and Dantes View. A little more remote and hard to reach, but worth the effort, is the Race Track. And these are just a few of the places to photograph here.

Death Valley is a popular day trip from Las Vegas. You can reach the park in a couple of hours and tour some of the highlights in a day. However, if you want to capture some memorable images, stay in Death Valley National Park or closer to one of the entrances. Get up early and shoot in the early morning light.

20. The Adirondacks, NY

Canola field in the High Peaks region of the Adirondack Mountains
Canola field in the High Peaks region of the Adirondack Mountains

The mountains and lakes are the main attractions in this beautiful area of Upstate New York. Visit in late September or early October to capture the fall colors. In summer, see the canola fields in bloom in front of the mountains.