2023’s Best Vacation Cities for Amazing Views

A couple sits on wooden chairs in front of an open window, looking out at a body of water and mountains in the distance

Where in the U.S. can you book a scenic urban getaway?

With the holiday 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.

If you prefer more secluded vacations, check out our ranking of the Best States for Remote Getaways.

Contents

Rankings

See how each city fared in our ranking:

Top 5 Close Up

Check out the slideshow below for highlights on each of our top 5 cities.

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

Photo Credit: Mikhail Nilov / Pexels / Pexels License
The Eiffel Tower stands out in front of a large fountain among hotels and casinos in Las Vegas
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

Photo Credit: Solvej Nielsen / Pexels / Pexels License
A view of the Los Angeles skyline with Griffith Observatory in the center
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

Photo Credit: Roberto Nickson / Pexels / Pexels License
A view of San Francisco’s colorful skyline as the sky grows pink ahead of the sunset
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

Photo Credit: KEHN HERMANO / Pexels / Pexels License
Two people bike along a body of water across from the Chicago skyline
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

Photo Credit: Chait Goli / Pexels / Pexels License

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). 

Ask The Experts

Some sights are bucket list contenders, while others are more of a stunning bonus for a charming getaway. 

No matter what your travel ambitions are, planning a trip can be stressful. We reached out to a panel of experts for advice on arranging your trip with ease. Read their insights below. 

  1. How far in advance should guests book their trip if traveling during shoulder seasons (spring and fall)?
  2. What are three pros and three cons of traveling during the off-peak travel season?
  3. How much more do guests pay on average for a hotel room or Airbnb with a view? 
  4. What does one’s view preference — mountains, water, city skyline — say about their personality?
Albert A. Barreda, Ph.D., MS.
Associate Professor
Yasong (Alex) Wang Ph.D. CHIA CAHTA
Professor
Albert A. Barreda, Ph.D., MS.
Associate Professor
Missouri State University, Department of Hospitality Leadership

How far in advance should guests book their trip if traveling during shoulder seasons (spring and fall)?

I recommend booking 3-6 months before the trip. That is usually early enough to score deals on flights and hotels before they sell out but still gives you some wiggle room if plans need to change.

Flights and hotels are often less expensive than peak summer or holidays, so they can fill up faster than you may expect. Booking in advance ensures you get your preferred flights, hotels, and activities.

Here are some tips:

  • Book popular destinations earlier — their shoulder seasons fill up fast.
  • Stay flexible with last-minute deals if you can. Smaller crowds make spontaneity easier.
  • Check the weather patterns at your destination. Shorter shoulder seasons may require longer lead times.

Overall, 3-6 months out provides a nice balance. But if factoring in your destination and personal style, book earlier.

What are the three pros and three cons of traveling during the off-peak travel season?

Pros:

  • Save money on flights, hotels, and tours — which makes that budget stretch further. It’s also easier to book at the last minute if your plans are flexible.
  • Skip the crowds — you can relax and enjoy attractions at your own pace.
  • Experience local culture without tourism overload.

Cons:

  • Weather may be rainy, cold, or unpredictable, which limits outdoor options.
  • Some businesses run limited hours or close during off-peak seasons.
  • Holiday closures may impact openings — research destination calendars.

How much more do guests pay on average for a hotel room or Airbnb with a view?

Expect to pay 20-50% more for a room with a view versus a non-view room. Ocean, landmarks, or city skylines add the biggest premiums, especially in luxury hotels. Prices also climb in popular destinations like Paris or Vegas.

Specific factors:

  • Location. Central cities or natural wonders hike up view premiums.
  • View type. Oceanfront costs more than a garden view.
  • Luxury level. High-end rooms charge more regardless [of the view].

Shop around, read reviews, and book early to get the best view rates for your trip.

Visitors must expect to pay $50-100 more per night for a room with a view versus a basic room without one. Oceanfront, mountain, and city skyline views are the hottest and cost top dollar. At luxury properties, the view premium can run into the hundreds per night.

The most in-demand views like overlooking the ocean or a famous landmark tend to add the biggest bump in nightly rates. Views don’t come cheap, especially in posh properties. But for many travelers, soaking in that perfect vista is worth the price premium.

What does one’s view preference — mountains, water, city skyline — say about their personality?

Mountain fans often love the peace, nature, and slower pace. Water lovers value relaxation and serenity. City adorers thrive on arts, culture, and energy. While view preferences may not offer a definitive insight into someone’s personality, they can provide some general clues or associations:

  • Mountain lovers: People who prefer mountain views often appreciate tranquility, adventure, and natural beauty. They might be drawn to outdoor activities, hiking, and a slower-paced lifestyle.
  • Water enthusiasts: Those who prefer water views, such as the ocean or a lake, might have a deep appreciation for relaxation, serenity, and the soothing qualities of water. They could be inclined towards water sports or seaside leisure.
  • City skyline admirers: People who favor city skyline views tend to enjoy urban life, cultural experiences, and the vibrancy of a city. They might be drawn to arts, dining, and the hustle and bustle of metropolitan areas.

In summary, mountain lovers may cherish nature, tranquility, and adventure. Water fans can have a deep appreciation for relaxation and serenity. City admirers often crave arts, culture, and energy. But it’s key to remember view preferences aren’t definitive personality indicators — they simply suggest possible inclinations. Most people have diverse interests beyond a singular favorite view.

Appreciating combinations of mountain, water, and city scenes is common, too. So, while view preferences can provide clues to someone’s personality traits and interests, they do not paint their entire picture. There are always exceptions and complexities that go beyond a favorite view.

Yasong (Alex) Wang Ph.D. CHIA CAHTA
Professor
Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Department of Management Eberly College of Business

How far in advance should guests book their trip if traveling during shoulder seasons (spring and fall)?

It’s hard to answer this question because of the fluctuating and volatile nature of the travel business these days. In particular, because of the unstable social and economic status, it turns out to be harder to estimate the time frame for trip reservations.

What are the three pros and three cons of traveling during the off-peak travel season?

Pros:

  • It would be less crowded.
  • It would be cheaper.
  • It would provide more flexibility in terms of itinerary because of more vacancies available to be booked.

Cons:

  • Nature-related activities may be limited.
  • Things are more likely to be closed.
  • The weather is generally worse.

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 the table below.

For each of the 500 biggest U.S. cities, we then gathered data on each factor from the sources listed below the table. 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).

  • The “Worst” among individual factors may not be No. 455 due to ties.
  • We collected the number of “hotels with views” from Expedia and accommodations tagged with “amazing views” on Airbnb. 
  • Many scenic cities have legal restrictions limiting Airbnb rentals, which may negatively impact their score in this ranking — as is the case with Boca Raton, Florida (No. 455) — due to a lack of Airbnb accommodations with “amazing views.”

Sources: Airbnb and Expedia

Window of Opportunity

Can’t get away on a picturesque escape to one of the top cities in our ranking? 

Whether you’re looking to design a better space in your home to soak in the sights or planning to turn your gorgeous property into a vacation rental, make the most of your scenery by upgrading your window game.

Explore our slideshow below for tips.

A cracked window pane with some pieces missing
Repair or replace any damaged or broken windows.

Photo Credit: whitemay / Canva Pro / Canva License
A panoramic view through a picture window of a small coastal city
Get a perfect glimpse of your surroundings with picture windows.

Photo Credit: Tri Nguyen / Canva Pro / Canva License
A white bay window on the side of a house with geometric stained glass on the top panes

Install a big bay window or strip of bow windows overlooking your best view.

Photo Credit: ChristianBunyipAlexander / Canva Pro / Canva License
Jalousie windows are slightly opened on the side of an enclosed porch
Let in some fresh air without compromising style with jalousie windows.

Photo Credit: Nuberger13 / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
White awning windows jut out of a bright blue house
Crack open the windows to increase ventilation with awning and casement windows

Photo Credit: Ratchat / Canva Pro / Canva License 
A white arched window peeks out from a concrete house

Add a unique touch with arched windows, round windows, and transom windows.

Photo Credit: carminesalvatore / Canva Pro / Canva License

Use Window Gnome to schedule a professional from your area to handle window installation, repair, and window cleaning.

Window Gnome is part of the Home Gnome family of home services sites.

Media Resources

Main Photo Credit: freedomz / Canva Pro / Canva License

Sav Maive

Sav Maive is a writer and director based in San Antonio. Sav is a graduate from the University of Virginia and is a loving cat and plant mom.