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Best City Skylines in the United States and How to See Them

Last Updated on April 20, 2022

Looking for the best city skylines in the United States? Read on to find out!


The United States is full of beautiful cities worth visiting! But ever wonder which ones have the best city skyline? With the help of expert travel bloggers, we’ve put together this awesome list of the best city skylines in the United States! Whenever we visit a new city, we love to get the best view of the skylines, so we’ve included how to see all these awesome skylines in the US!

Which of these famous skylines in the United States will you add to your bucket list?

The Most Beautiful Skylines in the United States

Boston

Contributed by Tegan + Alex of Why Not Walk. Read more about Boston off the beaten path!

There are several places to see Boston’s beautiful skyline, ranging from the air as you touch down at Boston Logan to the rooftop of the Kendall Square Rooftop Garden across the river in Cambridge, one of the Boston area’s best-kept secrets. You can also scope it out from ground level in the Seaport area as you walk across the Northern Avenue Bridge over the Fort Point Channel, as well as from the water itself, walking along the Charles River Esplanade or kayaking or sailing on the river. The views from the Cambridge side of the Esplanade are especially perfect for those who would like to include the golden-domed Massachusetts State House in their photos.

Boston City Skyline

However, the best place for a combined view of the skyline, the ocean, and the boats bobbing along is definitely at Piers Park in East Boston (pictured.) The water is such a crystalline blue, and the buildings sparkle from across the inner harbor.

There are lots of viewpoints from which to see the skyline, whether from a picnic table in the grassy area or up close to the pavilion, which juts out into the water. Additionally, this area remains quite a well-kept secret, popular with East Boston’s residents and families, and is a less-crowded place for photos and enjoying the view.

Miami

Contributed by Victoria Heinz of Guide Your Travel

Because of its location by the water Miami has a unique city skyline which is one of the most recognizable and the United States. The city’s skyscrapers are spread out on the nearby islands and of course, Miami Beach which makes the city feel even larger. You won’t find the highest buildings in Miami and the skyline lacks a distinct landmark but it is quite sizable considering Miami is actually not a very large city. At just over 450.000 people it only comes in 42nd in the US in terms of population. Still, the skyline is more than impressive and the perfect subject for taking impressive photos.

Miami City Skyline

Miami is a city of rooftop bars, restaurants, and lounges. Head to Juvia or Area 31 for incredible food and even better views. Both these establishments are quite laid back and the perfect spot for a lunch break or drinks in the evening. While the menu is quite pricey the views of the skyline more than make up for it. For a more lively atmosphere head to Terras which is a lounge during the day but more of a bar at night. Located in Little Havana, this bar has unusually good views considering there aren’t too many high-rise buildings around. This is the perfect spot to head for sunset or at night to see the beautiful Miami skyline lit up

Waikiki

Contributed by Chris of Aquarius Traveler

When you think of the best city skylines, what could be better than a panoramic view in Hawaii? The Diamond Head Mountain erupted 300,000 years ago on the mainland island of Oahu. During the early 1900s, a hiking trail was formed as a viewpoint for military defense. While today, it’s used as a tourist attraction, for exercise, and providing stunning skyline views over the Island.

Diamond Head’s trail starting point is one-hour walking distance from Waikiki Beach, although most find their own transportation. This could be either by Bus, Taxi or hiring your own vehicle. Entrance in the park for tourists is only $1US or $5US per car and payable when you arrive.

Waikiki City Skyline with the ocean

The hike itself starts out on a cement path but quickly turns into a steep, elevated hike with lots of stairs. Now although it can be steep, it’s rather short at 1.6 miles return and only requires a moderate level of fitness to complete. Expect it to take 1.5 to 2 hours to complete, depending on how long to stay up at the viewpoint. While you’re there, you can learn about the bunkers and the remnant history left behind from the war. Once you make it to the top of Diamond Head, you’re greeted by 360-degree views around the Island of Oahu. The number of tourists hiking this trail every day is in the hundreds but lower if you start early in the morning or late afternoon. This is also a great time to catch the cooler times of the day.

New York City

Contributed by Debbie of the World Adventurists

When you think of the best city skylines in the United States, it’s easy to think of New York City first! The Empire State Building is an iconic part of the New York skyline and is also an incredible place to admire the rest of the skyline from. Though no longer the tallest building in NYC, it is the most popular observation deck, and with one glance, you’ll understand why. The 86th-floor viewing platform features hatched fencing, so you’re able to easily get some great photos. It is the highest open-air observatory in the city. You can also view the skyline from the 102nd floor for some incredible views, though that level does not have open-air viewing.

New York Skyline from the Empire State Building

You’ll be mesmerized by 360-degree views of the Hudson and East Rivers, Times Square, Central Park, The Brooklyn Bridge, The Statue of Liberty, and more. The skyline’s grandeur is absolutely mesmerizing.

If you have the time, take a look at the skyline from the Empire State Building during the day and again at night when the city of lights is beautifully lit. NYC’s skyline is sure to have an effect on you. Being “on top” of the most iconic building is an experience you will not easily forget. Your visit to NYC would not be complete without a visit to the historical Empire State Building.

The cost to witness this incredible 360 view starts at $42 (adults), $36 (6-12 years old), and $40 (seniors). The Empire State Building is located on Fifth Avenue between West 33rd and 34th Streets.

Seattle

Contributed by Matt & Alysha of West Coast Wayfarers. Read more about how to spend a weekend in Seattle!

When they come to Seattle, most people head straight to the world-famous Space Needle to get a sweeping view of the Seattle Skyline. But from the viewing platform on the Space Needle, there’s one critical element of Seattle’s skyline missing – the Space Needle. Plus, at $35 a person, it’s going to cost you, especially if you’re traveling with a family. Lucky for you, there’s an even better view of the Seattle skyline, including the Space Needle, downtown Seattle, and the Puget Sound, just a 25 minute walk away.

Seattle City Skyline

That viewpoint, which is a must-visit over the course of a weekend in Seattle, is a free public park called Kerry Park. You’ll find photographers at all hours of the day trying to get the perfect shot of Seattle’s skyline.

From Kerry Park, you’ll have a spectacular view of downtown Seattle, including the Space Needle and Seattle Center, the Great Wheel, and the water. You’ll usually find a ferry or two as they pull into Seattle! On a clear day, you’ll even have the 14,000-foot tall peak of Mt. Rainier looming beyond the city. The best view is from the western end of the railing that runs along the park.

Getting to Kerry Park is easy. You can drive to and park on the street nearby, or walk from Seattle Center up the hill along Queen Anne Ave N, turning left on West Highland Dr.

Santa Barbara

Contributed by Daria of The Discovery Nut. Read more about some incredible things to do in Santa Barbara!

One of the most charming cities in Central California, Santa Barbara boasts a stunning skyline that can be seen from a couple of vantage points.

One of them is a historic Santa Barbara County Courthouse located in the city’s downtown. Considered one of the most beautiful government buildings in the United States, the courthouse is one of the must-visit places in Santa Barbara. And if you take an elevator to the top of the tower, you will get an amazing view of the Sahara Barbara skyline framed by the Santa Ynez mountains. The entrance to the tower is free and open to the public, and you can park in downtown Santa Barbara.

Another way to see the Santa Barbara skyline is to take a hike to the Inspiration Point located about 1,800 feet above the city. This hike is an excellent workout and it also offers unparalleled views of Santa Barbara and the surrounding areas. The hike is considered moderate and takes about 1,5 to complete on average. The hike begins near Old Mission Santa Barbara. I recommend arriving early as this hike can be a bit busy, especially on weekends.

Santa Barbara panoramic view and city skyline

After you enjoy Santa Barbara’s skyline, take some time to enjoy the city. Santa Barbara has a rich colonial heritage and many historic landmarks where visitors can learn about how this area was established by the Spanish colonists and later evolved into one of the most vibrant cities along Central California’s Coast. 

The history of the city can be best seen in El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park, a former military outpost that was built by the Spanish settlers to protect their territory. Today, El Presidio is an open-air museum that boasts the second oldest building in California called El Cuartel. 

Houston

Contributed by Daphna of A Tiny Trip

Despite being a big and bustling city, Houston has green spaces where you can see its skyline. Buffalo Bayou is a 200-acre park in the center of Houston and one of the best places to see a view of downtown. The bayou has miles of trails for walking and biking and these offer magnificent views of the Houston skyline.

Houston Skyline from Buffalo Bayou park

The best place to see the skyline along Buffalo Bayou is by the Houston Police Officers Memorial. This memorial is in the shape of a cross with the main pyramid and four inverted pyramids along each side. Designed by sculptor Jesús Bautista Moroles, a Texas native, this granite monument is guarded 24 hours by police officers and surrounded by grassy lawns. The address of the memorial is 1400 Memorial Drive. The closest parking is in a small parking lot just off of eastbound Memorial Drive. However, you can park at any of the Buffalo Bayou parking lots and walk along the trail to get to the memorial. The expansive grass makes it one of the best places to visit in Houston with kids.

An alternative option is to step up on the Rosemont Pedestrian Bridge over the Bayou for a slightly different angle and access to Memorial Drive, Spotts Park, and Cleveland Park.

Baltimore

Contributed by Pamela of The Directionally Challenged Traveler

The Baltimore skyline is nestled comfortably on the Inner Harbor. This skyline is unlike many other cities due to its variety of buildings and styles. Along the harbor, you can find a large red cobblestone path to walk on a nice day or rent an electric scooter to get around faster. The harbor features historic ships and submarines, modern-day buildings, and even paddle boats. It’s the perfect base for a weekend getaway in Baltimore.

For an aerial view of the Harbor, head to the Top of the World Observation Level. You can look for deals on Groupon as well. You’ll have amazing panoramic views of the Harbor and can even get some authentic Baltimore souvenirs at the gift shop. Nearby is the 9/11 exhibit and memorial.

Baltimore City skyline from the Baltimore Harbor

If you prefer to get a view of the skyline from the harbor, then head out with American Sailing Tours. They have a variety of tours from the history of Baltimore to romantic sunsets. Captain Tom’s crew is friendly and knowledgeable about the city.

When you’re done exploring the area, be sure to get some famous Maryland seafood at Philips Seafood or The Oceanaire Seafood Room to enjoy views of the harbor!

San Diego

Contributed by Dhara of Roadtripping California

San Diego in Southern California has one of the best city skylines! One of the best places from which to see it is Cabrillo National Monument, which is located at an elevation, at the very tip of the Point Loma Peninsula. San Diego’s skyline is not crammed with skyscrapers, but it has a few beautiful buildings for a classy look. It looks especially beautiful lit up at night. Since it’s right by the ocean, the water adds to the beauty of the San Diego skyline. Boats are lined up in the water in front of the skyscrapers, to complete the picture-postcard scene.

The ocean is another perfect place from which to view, and photograph, the San Diego skyline. Do an evening harbor cruise for those perfect shots at sunset, or after the lights come on!

San Diego Skyline from Cabrillo National Monument
San Diego Skyline from Cabrillo National Monument

If you decide to photograph the skyline from Cabrillo National Monument, go on a bright clear day for the best photos. Right from the viewing gallery around the historic statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, you can get beautiful views of downtown San Diego. The courtyard of the visitor center at the park, and the bay view hiking trail that leads down from the visitor center, are also great spots for views of the San Diego skyline.

Finally, consider taking the ferry or drive over to Coronado Island for stunning views of downtown San Diego and its beautiful skyline from directly across the bay!

Nashville

Contributed by Gabby of Journey to the Destination

Nashville, TN is known for its delicious hot chicken, country music, and honky-tonks. While there are many great things to do in Nashville, viewing the beautiful skyline is one of my favorite things to do!

From rooftop bars to amazing city parks, there are plenty of great places within the city to view the skyline. Just be sure to bring your camera because you will definitely need it.

Nashville City Skyline from the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge.

In my opinion, one of the best views of downtown Nashville is on the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge. This bridge is one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world and it is a fantastic place to go for a walk. Not only will you get views of downtown Nashville, but you also will get great views of the Cumberland River and Nissan Stadium where the Tennessee Titans play football.

Another fantastic place to view the Nashville skyline is at the Bicentennial Mall in downtown. The Tennessee Capitol Building is located within the Bicentennial Mall and there is a beautiful view of downtown Nashville in the background. Once you are done admiring the view, you can visit the farmer’s market for some delicious food. If you would prefer to have dinner and drinks with a view of the Nashville skyline, I recommend checking out UP, Tootsies, or L.A. Jackson.

Chicago

Contributed by Claire Bee of Claire Pins Travel

The city of Chicago is the home of the world’s first skyscraper buildings and still features an awesome city skyline that is one of the tallest in the world. And it’s one of the best city skylines in the United States of America. The Chicago skyline is second only to New York City for the variety of historic and iconic buildings. There are several ways for visitors to enjoy this aspect of the city!

Budget travelers can try Grant Park, Millennium Park, or Lurie Park for free skyline views. A journey on foot along the Riverwalk also provides another perspective of the buildings along either side of the Chicago River for those on a budget. A guided walking tour focusing on history or architecture can also be a great way to learn more about the skyline. River cruises or kayak and sailing tours are a fun option for those who enjoy being out on the water. Travelers looking for a luxury experience can book a private helicopter ride for memorable views accompanied by informative commentary.

Some of the most comprehensive views of the Chicago skyline can be found by looking west over Lake Michigan. You can view the central business district from the Adler Planetarium where you might enjoy seeing the skyline reflected into the lake or get a view of the north side of the city from the Navy Pier. The Ferris wheel at the Navy Pier is also a great place to view the skyline after dark.

Chicago Skyline

For visitors looking for exhilarating views from breathtaking heights, try the 360 Chicago Observation Deck on the 94th floor of the Hancock Tower or the Skydeck at Willis Tower, which is the city’s tallest building.

Finally, for dinner with a view, try Cindy’s Rooftop Bar for seasonal cocktails, and family-style dishes in a relaxed atmosphere in the attached restaurant. Most of these sites can be easily visited using the Chicago rapid transit system.

Pittsburgh

If you’re looking for an awesome city skyline that you can see from almost anywhere in the city, consider visiting Pittsburgh! Pittsburgh’s skyline is notable for featuring its yellow bridges and the three rivers!

The Grandview and Mount Washington overlook offer the best panoramic views from the south side of the city. These views are the most popular for locals and tourists alike. Both overlooks are located along 136-160 Grandview Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15211. Depending on the day, there should be street parking available along Grandview Ave. If not, look for parking in the neighborhoods just past the overlooks.

Pittsburgh City Skyline from the North Side River Front Trail
Pittsburgh Skyline from North Side River Front Trail

Another great way to view the Pittsburgh skyline is to take a walk along the North Shore River Front Trail. This trail walks you along the river and offers beautiful views of the skyline! You can easily park at any of the free parking along the trail.

Lastly, another great option is to take a Gateway Clipper cruise for a river tour of the city! This tour goes along all three rivers and offers unique views of the city skyline! Catch a Gateway Clipper cruise at Station Square and enjoy the beautiful ride.

Who is ready to explore the best city skylines in the USA?

Well, which of these impressive skylines in the United States do you want to go visit next!? Let us know in the comments.

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Pam & Kathrine

Hello! We are sisters from southwestern Pennsylvania sharing with you the best of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and beyond!

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