From Maine to Alaska, the American coast features plenty of beautiful landscapes, many of which seem almost otherworldly. Sandy beaches, towering mountain peaks and ancient forest meet ocean water in a spectacular display worthy of a cross-country trip. When you’re ready to hit the road, start with our list of the most dramatic shoreline in the country.
Known for grand mansions and historic ports, this seaside city is also home to some beautiful coastline, which is dotted with old lighthouses to protect passing ships. Visitors can tour some of these sea beacons, but the Castle Hill Lighthouse (pictured) is closed to the public.
The five islands off the coast of California that make up Channel Islands National Park are just an hour-long boat ride away, but those who visit say it feels like a different world. The rugged coastlines and undeveloped beaches take visitors back in time and reconnect them with the natural world.
The tenth most visited national park in the country and one of the places you absolutely need to see before it’s changed forever, Glacier Bay National Park is home to some of the most incredible coastal mountains in the world. Best seen from a boat or kayak, take to the water and see glaciers peeking through the towering mountains.
Set off the southern coast of Florida, the keys are an archipelago with a tropical savanna climate. This unique setting and environment make for stunning, varied coastline. From soft sand beaches to mangrove forests dipping right into the water, the Florida Keys coastline is stunning.
This incredibly popular national park is best known for its dramatic rocky coastline, which has become the subject of many beautiful photos. Some visitors are drawn by the hikes, some visit for the scenic drives, but one of the best ways to see the coastline is from the water—consider kayaking Acadia for the very best vantage points.
One of the top attractions on the Island of Kauai, the 4,000-foot tall cliffs along the Napali coastline bring sightseers, hikers and paddlers from around the world. Visit the state park and hike rugged, but beautiful Kalalau Trail, the hike may be tough, but you’ll never forget those views.
From snow-capped mountain peaks to sea stacks on the Pacific coast, the vast expanse of protected land known as Olympic National Park has a lot to offer visitors. One such treasure can be found along the 73 miles of coastline, three mile hike will take you to Shi Shi Beach (pictured) where you’ll find sea stacks and some of the most beautiful tide pools in the world.
The 363 miles of coastline in Oregon are some of the most beautiful on earth and, thanks to the Oregon Beach Bill, the entire length of the coast is open to everyone at no cost. Explore old growth forest, sandboard the dunes to the south or scan the horizon for breaching whales—there is no shortage of outdoor adventures on the Oregon Coast.