Most Beautiful States in the U.S.

America is a large land with many beautiful places. Because so many features qualify a state as "beautiful," it's all but impossible to rate which states are the most beautiful. And, as in the quotation, beauty is subjective, or "in the eye of the beholder," so what is beautiful to one person may not be to someone else. However, certain states exemplify certain features and stand out among other states as a result. A handful of states are among the most beautiful based upon the elements many travelers seek when on the road.

  1. History: South Carolina

    • South Carolina dates to a time before the establishment of the 13 colonies, when Spanish explorers built a fort at Port Royal. South Carolina's low country is rich with stories of America's history, from the famous ports of Charleston, to Beaufort, where nearly all the buildings downtown are on the National Register of Historic Places. Though many historic states exist throughout the U.S., South Carolina is one-of-a-kind in the extent to which it has gone to preserve history, both in its stories and its buildings.

    Mountains: Utah

    • Although many mountain states provide a wide range of geographic features, Utah's scenery is among the most diverse. Not only does Utah's topography contain the same Rocky Mountain range that goes through the surrounding states of Idaho and Colorado, but its landscape also provides unique desert-like features in the rock arches of Arches National Park, or the canyons at Canyonlands National Park. U.S. News and World Report named Salt Lake City one of "top 10 affordable mountain towns for retirement" in 2010.

    Coastal Experience: California

    • Only California provides the right combination of warmer climate (particularly in the south), large waves and strong beach culture to enjoy the reputation as the best coastal state. Due to many factors, including the rotation of the earth and prevailing winds, the Pacific Ocean provides more of the iconic "crashing" waves than most of the East Coast. This factor, plus warmer weather, has created a strong surfing culture that feeds into iconic beach-side towns such as Long Beach, and Malibu. Finally, the west-facing coast is conducive to the romantic cliche of watching the sun set over the ocean.

    Wildlife: Alaska

    • Although Alaska encompasses many of the qualities of the best states, its most beautiful and carefully protected feature is its wildlife. Nowhere in the U.S. can visitors regularly see moose drinking in a lake or massive salmon migrations. In addition, predators such as wolves and bears are a more common feature in Alaska than in any other state. Along the coast, visitors can watch whales and seal migrations. Alaska's diverse wildlife is a unique combination of limited human intrusion and concerted government efforts.

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