10Best: The Best View in Town

Here's where to go in 10 major cities to enjoy the best scenery

Whether you're traveling for business or pleasure, you should never leave a city without exploring it's most breathtaking locales or best spots for photo ops.  Here are the best views in 10 cities across North America; add these to your bucket list.

San Francisco

Sunset from Twin Peaks — Photo courtesy of Nicki Dugan Pogue

Built on seven hills, San Francisco was made for glorious views of mountains, ocean and bay. Mount Davidson is the tallest of the hills at 900 feet, but its central location and eucalyptus flanked sides prohibit many grand views of the area. And despite its name, Buena Vista offers one fine view, but just from the tippy-top. 

Other than Angel Island's mesmerizing 360-degree view, the best view in San Francisco still goes to the ever-popular Twin Peaks. If you have a rental car, there's ample parking up top, and Muni and sightseeing buses also bring visitors by. Even with the crowds, there's still room to stand on the edge and watch the sun drop into the Pacific, a perfect ending to a perfect San Francisco day.


 Unparalleled views from the ledge — Photo courtesy of Skydeck Chicago

With skyscrapers on one side and Lake Michigan on the other, Chicago's 18-mile lakefront path offers the city's best views on foot or bike. For a view from 103 stories up, bravely step out onto the Skydeck hanging off top of the Willis Tower, just a block from the downtown Metra and Amtrak train stations.
For a cocktail with your view, cab it to one of the city's swanky hotel bars and wander out onto the stylish patios at Roof on theWit or The Terrace at Trump.

Los Angeles

View from Runyon Canyon Park in Los Angeles — Photo courtesy of Tommi Virtanen

For a spectacular view in Los Angeles, head to Runyon Canyon Park, located north of the west end of Hollywood Boulevard. Runyon Canyon Park has a series of scenic trails that lead up a high hill. For the best views, hike Runyon Canyon Park right after sunrise and watch the hazy glow of the sun ascend over LA.

The other benefit of going in the early morning is that it's generally cooler; the park trails have little shade and can get extremely hot in the afternoon hours. Take the loop past Clouds Rest and Inspiration Point from the south entrance, which will last about 90 minutes. Find street parking around the south entrance to the park. 


Discovery Park in Seattle — Photo courtesy of Discovery Park ELC

Seattle is certainly not lacking for gorgeous vantage points from which to soak in those unbeatable West Coast sunsets. Both Discovery Park (in Magnolia) and the Olympic Sculpture Park provide idyllic views of Elliott Bay and the majestic Olympic Mountains looming in the backdrop. Parking for both is doable, although the latter downtown option might be a bit trickier at busy times of day.

Also consider climbing atop the Queen Anne Hill to relish the city skyline from Kerry Park. Here, street parking should be easy, and even the most amateur photographer will capture the quintessential Seattle postcard shot. Prepare to be stunned.


View of Vancouver from Grouse Mountain — Photo courtesy of colink.

In Vancouver, for a view that goes on for miles, take the gondola up Grouse Mountain and let the sprawling sights soak in. From way up here, you can see the Pacific Ocean, all of Vancouver and, on a clear day, Mount Washington. If you want to work for your view, challenge yourself to the Grouse Grind instead of taking the gondola up.  Parking is available at the bottom of the mountain and buses from downtown stop close to Grouse.

Beautiful views can also be found closer to sea level at Jericho or Locarno beach. Head there in the late afternoon for spectacular views of the city, mountains and ocean and enjoy the changing colors as the sun begins to set beyond the mountains. There’s parking all along the beach, and buses stop a short walk away.


View of Baltimore's Tide Point — Photo courtesy of Sean Naber

The name may be a little silly, but the Tiki Barge offers one of the best vantage points to drink in the breadth of the Baltimore waterfront. Sitting on the top deck, you're able to scan from Federal Hill through the Inner Harbor, over to Harbor East and Fell's Point (all while sipping on an Orange Crush).

Aim for the "magic hour" to get the dwindling sun playing between the buildings and water, and make sure to stick around to see the famed Domino Sugar sign come to life; its neon glow is charged by solar panels.

The Tiki Barge is a just a short walk to the end of the Harborview marina pier, which is accessible by the free Charm City Circulator Banner Route. Metered parking is also available along Key Highway.


Downtown Atlanta, as seen from the Sun Dial at the Westin — Photo courtesy of Doc Searls

Atlanta is well known for its unique mix of Southern hospitality and big-city attitude, and equally as unique is the city’s mix of fantastic vistas.

Downtown Terminus has the Westin Hotel at Peachtree Plaza, with an excellent view of the city, including the Georgia Tech campus via the Sun Dial Restaurant and Bar, which sits atop the cylindrical Westin skyscraper. During the sunset hours, the entire circular restaurant rotates gently around the bar in the center, giving patrons a one-of-a-kind view of Atlanta. Public transportation is probably your best bet for making it to the Westin, as it's an easy stop for Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority trains.

However, if your tastes are more for natural views, Stone Mountain offers some of the most beautiful sunset vantage points anywhere in the Southeast. You can hike to the summit, or take a gondola if you’re pressed for time. At night, don’t miss the laser show displayed on the side of the mountain. Getting to Stone Mountain is as easy as the parking, but public transportation doesn't make it out this far.


Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. — Photo courtesy of Washington National Cathedral

The best view in Washington, D.C. is from the Pilgrim Observation Gallery at the Washington National Cathedral. The cathedral sits on one of the highest points in the city and offers a 360-degree view of the district from the observation gallery, as well as a unique vantage point for admiring the building's architecture.

The cathedral sustained damage during the 2011 earthquake but is still open to visitors during its restoration. The Pilgrim Observation Gallery is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday; and 1-4 p.m. on Sunday.  During the summer, the cathedral is open until 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Parking is available at the underground garage, ranging from $6 to $22. The cathedral is also accessible via the Red Line and bus. The suggested contribution for your visit is $10.


The Boston skyline from the Blue Hills — Photo courtesy of Friends of the Blue Hills

Take a hike to one of Boston's best views.  Moments outside of Boston's center, in Milton, Mass., you'll come across the urban oasis that is the Blue Hills. Complete with hiking trails for all abilities, you don't have to be an expert to catch a glimpse of Boston's most beautiful landscapes.

To take it all in, utilize the most popular trail (Great Blue Hill) that brings you all the way to the top, where you'll find the Blue Hill Observatory and Science Center, currently active for providing the Boston area with an outlook on the weather and, more importantly, one of the most stunning views of Boston's skyline.  

New York

From the Manhattan Bridge in New York City — Photo courtesy of Lucy Walters

Walk across the Manhattan Bridge for one of the best views in New York. Go early morning, sunset or late at night to capture the lights downtown. But don't worry; if you can't make those times, this view is amazing 24 hours a day.

This incredible view showcases the sprawling section of downtown Manhattan, showing off the massive skyscrapers that create the famed financial district. From the Manhattan Bridge, you also get a great view of the stunning Brooklyn Bridge, whose incredible architecture will be sure to take your breath away.

On the Brooklyn side, take the F train to Jay Street and walk down to the opening of the bridge. On the Manhattan side, take the N, Q, B or D trains to Canal Street and head down to the opening on the Bowery.

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