Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Which US vacation spots have the most amazing city views?

Window Gnome compared more than 450 of the largest U.S. cities to determine the best vacation locations for amazing views in 2023.

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An aerial view of the blue-green ocean and skyline of South Beach, Miami.

Mia2you // Shutterstock

Where in the U.S. can you book a scenic urban getaway? With the summer travel season approaching, Window Gnome ranked 2023's best vacation cities for amazing views.

We compared over 450 of the biggest U.S. cities based on 3 categories. We looked at access to "hotels with views" from Expedia and accommodations tagged with "amazing views" on Airbnb. We also considered ratings and cost factors, among 9 total metrics.

Plan a breathtaking vacation with help from our ranking below. To learn how we ranked the cities, see our methodology.

Amazing views across the country

Window Gnome

From coast to coast, there are plenty of places to visit for amazing views.

Top 5 close up

No. 1: Miami | Overall Score: 71.65

  • Number of Hotels With a View: 360 | Rank: No. 3
  • Share of Hotels With a View: 2.43% | Rank: No. 101
  • Number of Airbnbs With Amazing Views: 653 | Rank: No. 1
  • Number of Top-Rated Airbnbs With Amazing Views (4.5+ Stars): 242 | Rank: No. 1
  • Average Nightly Rate for Airbnbs With Amazing Views: $223.43 | Rank: No. 86

No. 2: Las Vegas | Overall Score: 70.65

  • Number of Hotels With a View: 201 | Rank: No. 8
  • Share of Hotels With a View: 2.84% | Rank: No. 84
  • Number of Airbnbs With Amazing Views: 646 | Rank: No. 2
  • Number of Top-Rated Airbnbs With Amazing Views (4.5+ Stars): 218 | Rank: No. 4
  • Average Nightly Rate for Airbnbs With Amazing Views: $267.63 | Rank: No. 126

No. 3: Los Angeles | Overall Score: 68.07

  • Number of Hotels With a View: 473 | Rank: No. 2
  • Share of Hotels With a View: 4.06% | Rank: No. 41
  • Number of Airbnbs With Amazing Views: 255 | Rank: No. 5
  • Number of Top-Rated Airbnbs With Amazing Views (4.5+ Stars): 225 | Rank: No. 2 (tie)
  • Average Number of Reviews for Airbnbs With Amazing Views: 117.85 | Rank: No. 52

No. 4: San Francisco | Overall Score: 64.39

  • Number of Hotels With a View: 272 | Rank: No. 6
  • Share of Hotels With a View: 9.36% | Rank: No. 2
  • Number of Airbnbs With Amazing Views: 258 | Rank: No. 4
  • Average Guest Rating for Airbnbs With Amazing Views: 4.89 | Rank: No. 157
  • Number of Top-Rated Airbnbs With Amazing Views (4.5+ Stars): 210 | Rank: No. 5

No. 5: Chicago | Overall Score: 60.70

  • Number of Hotels With a View: 277 | Rank: No. 5
  • Share of Hotels With a View: 6.06% | Rank: No. 9
  • Number of Airbnbs With Amazing Views: 263 | Rank: No. 3
  • Number of Top-Rated Airbnbs With Amazing Views (4.5+ Stars): 225 | Rank: No. 2 (tie)
  • Average Nightly Rate for Airbnbs With Amazing Views: $361.79 | Rank: No. 204

The upshot

Sights of beaches and Western mountain ranges dominated the top 100 of our ranking, including 5 Arizona, 7 Colorado, 7 Florida, and 18 California cities. All 4 cities representing New Mexico also finished in the top 100. 

Memorable vacation views are sparse in parts of the Heartland, such as in Nebraska, North Dakota, Kansas, and Michigan. Aside from a few outliers — Lawrence, Kansas (No. 84) and Michigan cities Detroit (No. 115), Ann Arbor (No. 218), and Grand Rapids (No. 244) — most urban spots in these states lack hotels and Airbnb rentals with pretty panoramas.

Rooms in some of the most scenic cities, such as Miami (No. 1) and Seattle (No. 6), come with a hefty price tag. Meanwhile, more affordable aesthetic accommodations are found in suburbs like Sparks, Nevada (No. 22), and Rancho Cordova, California (No. 54), as well as in more remote cities like Las Cruces, New Mexico (No. 36). Texas boasts several inexpensive escapes — from lounging lakeside in Lewisville (No. 73) to Rio Grande vistas in McAllen (No. 33) to bayside bashes in Corpus Christi (No. 208). 

Behind the ranking

First, we determined the factors (metrics) that are most relevant to rank the Best Vacation Cities for Amazing Views. We then assigned a weight to each factor based on its importance and grouped those factors into 3 categories: Access, Quality, and Cost. The categories, factors, and their weights are listed in our methodology.

For each of the 500 biggest U.S. cities, we then gathered data on each factor from Airbnb and Expedia. We eliminated 45 cities lacking hotels and Airbnb rentals with views — and therefore Quality and Cost data, as well — resulting in a final sample size of 455 cities.

Finally, we calculated scores (out of 100 points) for each city to determine its rank in each factor, each category, and overall. A city's Overall Score is the average of its scores across all factors and categories. The highest Overall Score ranked "Best" (No. 1) and the lowest "Worst" (No. 455).

This story was produced by Window Gnome and reviewed and distributed by Stacker Media.