Great Outdoors in the USA

Today we can’t wait to share some awesome outdoor destinations throughout the great outdoors in the USA, namely locations from the West Coast, Southwest, Midwest, and East Coast regions! 🇺🇸 We’re going to cover our favourite national parks, small town gems, hiking trails, and year-round adventures, in addition to sharing some great travel tips and local recommendations.

Enjoying and exploring North America’s great outdoors has been a constant draw for travellers as well as  locals, taking the opportunity to explore what’s closer in our own backyard. For those who live in the USA, there are a plethora of outdoor adventures beckoning that are merely a hop, skip, and jump away from home! 🧳

Table of Contents

  1. West Coast
  2. Southwest
  3. Midwest
  4. East Coast

Photo: Peter in Jackson Hole for Flytographer. Jen and family capture memories in Jackson Hole with a family photoshoot.

West Coast

Let’s go! 🎉 We’re going to start our guide to the great outdoors in the USA adventure tour on the West Coast. With casual vibes, great weather, and beautiful shorelines, the West Coast screams Adventure! from north to south.

Photo: Whitney in Portland for Flytographer. Nick and partner celebrate their engagement in Portland with a surprise proposal photoshoot.

Portland, Oregon

Portland is cool, eclectic, and refreshing. Whether you’re here for a quick overnight or a weekend away, or are planning an even longer stay in Portland, this city has so much to offer: amazing food, a great art scene, and some jaw-dropping scenery where the forest meets the coast. Travel tip: Only 90 minutes from Portland lies the Oregon Coast and, in particular, Cannon Beach, which is located in Ecola State Park. You know the scene — wide open sand, glistening ocean water, moody lighting, and iconic Haystack Rock jutting out above from the sea. Named one of the world’s 100 most beautiful places, Cannon Beach is a dream. You probably already have Cannon Beach on your “must-see great outdoor adventure sights in the USA” list (is that a thing? It is now😜), but just in case, here’s your reminder: you can’t talk about the great outdoors in the USA without mentioning Cannon Beach. This beach is just one of many great places to take photos near Portland.

Photo: Whitney in Portland for Flytographer. Hannah and partner capture memories in Portland with a couple photoshoot.

Palm Desert, California

Palm Desert, California is located in the Coachella Valley, just west of Joshua Tree National Park and not far from gorgeous photo spots near Palm Springs. Palm Desert offers 5-star accommodations, luxury shopping, incredible dining, and outdoor adventures with a scenic desert landscape that feels like a true escape.

It is no wonder why the National Park Service has claimed and protected Joshua Tree National Park, named for its famous twisted Joshua trees and home to an incredibly diverse, rustic, and dramatic landscape. A trip to Palm Desert is a true desert escape, and Joshua Tree National Park is absolutely an outdoor adventure you need on your itinerary! 📝

Honourable mentions of outdoor activities on the West Coast include: admiring the Redwoods and Sequoias of Yosemite National Park in Northern California, snowshoeing through the great snowscapes of Alaska, and visiting a campground near beautiful Big Sur.

Photo: Jamie in Palm Desert for Flytographer. Emilyn and family capture memories in Palm Desert with a family photoshoot.

Southwest

The Southwest is one of the most unique areas in North America, and a perfect place to enjoy the great outdoors in the USA. 🌵 We’re going to touch on two of our favourite places to enjoy in the Southwest: the Grand Canyon and Sedona, Arizona!

Photo: Amanda in the Grand Canyon for Flytographer. Emmanuel and partner celebrate their engagement at the Grand Canyon with a surprise proposal photoshoot.

Grand Canyon, Arizona

It goes without saying: the Grand Canyon is, well, grand. It’s breathtaking. Spectacular. Surreal. After all, it’s one of the world’s seven wonders! ❗️ Whether you’re going to explore in-depth, or just check out the sights from the rim, the Grand Canyon is one of the must-sees when it comes to the USA’s great outdoors. If you are looking for a way to see the bottom of the canyon without hiking down and up eight miles of switchbacks, consider whitewater rafting through the Colorado River or taking a mule ride.

Photo: Terri in the Grand Canyon for Flytographer. Heather and partner celebrate their birthday at the Grand Canyon with a couple photoshoot.

Sedona, Arizona

Sedona is a mecca of rejuvenation, known for not only beautiful views and geography, but also its connection to the earth and spirituality. 🧘‍♀️ Sedona offers so much in terms of outdoor recreation but also balances out nature with healing and relaxation, all the while feeling like a small town gem. Sedona is home to several natural “vortexes” which create a phenomenal nautral landscape with an abundant diversity of flora and fauna.

Sedona tip: Be sure to check out Dry Creek Trailhead and Oak Creek Canyon! 🥾They’re different but simultaneously wonderful, and they’re both worth taking a serious look at for your great outdoor adventures in the best photo spots in Sedona.

Photo: Whitney in Sedona for Flytographer.  Whitney and partner celebrate their babymoon in Sedona with a maternity photoshoot.

Midwest

Moving from the West Coast inward, we have to take some time to spotlight some of our favourite towns of the great outdoors in the USA: Salt Lake City, Denver, Boulder, and Jackson Hole!

Photo: Flytographer in Denver. Jennifer and family capture memories in Denver with a family photoshoot.

Denver & Boulder, Colorado

Both Denver and Boulder offer tons of culture, history, and amazing geological features. At the base of, but not actually in the Rocky Mountains, Denver and Boulder both offer wide open spaces and stunning backdrops whether you’re here to sightsee, relax, or just take some great photos. 😉 The Colorado River headwater starts North of Boulder and is one of this state’s claim to fame as the 6th longest river in the USA, spanning approximately 1,500 miles and seven states. One of the best photo spots in Denver and Boulder is the Garden of the Gods – an official National Natural Landmark located in Colorado Springs, about 90 minutes south of Denver.

Photo: Flytographer in Boulder. Brad and Garrett capture memories in Boulder with a couple photoshoot.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Utah is a goldmine for outdoor adventures and nature enthusiasts. Filled with natural wonders and stunning mountain landscapes, Salt Lake City is home to amazing hiking, eating, and a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities. 🏔 For an easy hike the whole family can enjoy, head to Ensign Peak! Located just above the Utah State Capitol building, this hike gives you a stellar view of Salt Lake Valley, Great Salt Lake, and beyond.

Only about 30 minutes from Salt Lake lies Park City — home to some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the world. ⛷ Main Street in Park City is awesome to explore (eat, shop, people-watch) year-round, and particularly fun (and busy!) each January during the Sundance Film Festival. Make sure to stop by all of the photo spots near Salt Lake City!

Salt Lake City tip: Sundance Resort is an incredible destination that highlights so much of what Northern Utah has to offer. With award-winning food, outdoor events and concerts, scenic lift rides (including moonlit lifts — did someone say stargazing!?), ziplining, and more, everyone in your party is sure to find something special at Sundance Resort. 🎫

Photo: Liz in San Diego for Flytographer (taken in Salt Lake City). Gabby and partner capture memories in Salt Lake City with a couple photoshoot.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Jackson Hole is a favourite family destination year-round due to its variety of fun activities and stunning scenery, not to mention its charming downtown Town Square. Located in Western Wyoming, near Idaho, and not far from both Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park, Jackson Hole is a quintessential American mountain town that completely embodies the wild outdoors!

Jackson Hole tip: Don’t miss taking a photo at Jackson Hole’s Elk Antler Arch! 🤳 There are actually four arches — one at each corner of the Town Square — and each arch is an intricate jumble of nearly 12,000 pounds of antlers, replaced every 30-40 years. Make sure to stop at all of the other essential photo spots in Jackson Hole too!

Photo: Madison in Jackson Hole for Flytographer. Krystle and partner celebrate their anniversary in Jackson Hole with a couple photoshoot.

East Coast

While the East Coast has endless amazing getaway and road trip options, we’re going to focus on just two of our favourites today: Destin, Florida in the South, and Cape Cod, Massachusetts in the Northeast to round out our guide on the great outdoors in the USA.

Photo: Flytographer in Cape Cod. Molly and family capture memories in Cape Cod with a family photoshoot.

Destin, Florida

Located in Florida’s Panhandle, Destin has some of the country’s best beaches with sugar-white sand and dazzling, clear, emerald waters. Perfect for families, Destin has so much to offer including snorkeling, beachcombing, and sand castle building! ⛱ Fishing in Destin is spectacular 🎣, and one of the main lures to visiting Destin. (See what we did there? Lures? 😉)

Destin tip: HarborWalk Village is a must! HarborWalk Village is a waterfront destination for dining, shopping, live entertainment, water sports, excursions, and outdoor adventures.

One of the best places to take photos in Destin is the Henderson Beach State Park featuring sand dunes and breathtaking golden hours.

Photo: Mary in Destin for Flytographer. Katie and family capture memories in Destin with a family photoshoot.

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Way on the other end of the East Coast lies Cape Cod. Most popular during the summer months, Cape Cod lies in Massachusetts’ geographical “hook.” Made up of 15 towns, Cape Cod also includes the nearby islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Cape Cod oozes classic New England charm. 🦞 Whether you’re here for the beaches, history, maritime decor, or just the lobster rolls, Cape Cod is a true American (and East Coast!) getaway.

Cape Cod tip: The Cape Cod National Seashore is a 40-mile stretch of coast designated as a national park, and includes not only sandy shorelines (6 national seashore beaches!), but also marshes, ponds, trails, and more. For more travel tips from our local Flytographers on the best places to eat, see and do in Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard, check out our New England Travel Guide.

Photo: Flytographer in Cape Cod. Jacqueline and partner celebrate their babymoon in Cape Cod with a maternity photoshoot.

Capturing memories in the Great Outdoors

While you’re busy exploring the great outdoors in the USA via plane, train, or automobile (perhaps on a bucket list road trip route!), don’t forget to schedule time for dreamy, memorable photos and book a local Flytographer. Our photographers are also local experts, giving you not only stellar photos, but an insider’s viewpoint to some of the best sights in the USA — perfect for your next great outdoor adventure. ❣️

Got any other great tips and recommendations? Be sure to tag us! We can’t wait to see where your next great American adventure takes you. 🇺🇸