Ever since the dawn of the skyscraper era with the construction of the world’s first 10-story iron-framed marvel in Chicago over 130 years ago, cities globally have embraced and reimagined this architectural marvel, crafting skylines that are a spectacle in their own right.
The US, being a haven of architectural innovation, boasts skyscrapers that defy traditional definitions, now being recognized more for their towering heights—anything beyond 492 feet—rather than the number of floors. These towering structures are not merely landmarks; they are a testament to architectural prowess. From the famed Space Needle and Empire State Building to lesser-known yet equally awe-inspiring skyscrapers, the US is home to 20 of the most breathtaking skylines.
But the allure of skylines is not reserved for large cities alone. Scattered across the American landscape are smaller towns with skylines that are nothing short of picturesque. Salem, Oregon, is a prime example, boasting a skyline that marries historic architecture, like the dignified Oregon State Capitol crowned with a gold-plated pioneer statue, with the lush allure of the Willamette Valley. Similarly, Mobile, Alabama’s skyline is a captivating blend of historic and modern architecture, set against the tranquil Mobile Bay, mirroring the city lights at night—a scene that encapsulates the city’s rich maritime heritage and southern style.
MovingFeedback.com recently carried out a survey of 3,000 seasoned domestic travelers to rank the 70 most picturesque small-town skylines in America.
#1 New Bern, North Carolina
America’s most picturesque small town is New Bern in North Carolina: New Bern enchants with its historic architecture and the confluence of the Neuse and the Trent rivers. Its skyline is punctuated by the distinct silhouette of the Tryon Palace, with its colonial-era charm adding to the town’s scenic riverfront vistas.
#2 Walla Walla, Washington
Known for its lovely downtown and wine country, Walla Walla’s skyline is a blend of small-town charm and natural beauty. The Whitman College campus adds a stately presence, while the rolling hills of vineyards provide a stunning backdrop.
#3 Estes Park, Colorado
Nestled in a valley surrounded by majestic peaks, the skyline is dominated by the rugged and awe-inspiring outline of the Rockies, providing a dramatic backdrop to the town. The quaint, rustic architecture of Estes Park, with its charming shops and mountain lodges, complements the natural grandeur. The presence of the iconic Stanley Hotel adds historical significance and architectural interest. The blending of this cozy mountain town ambiance with the overwhelming natural beauty of the surrounding wilderness makes Estes Park’s skyline a stunning and captivating sight, embodying the spirit of Colorado’s mountainous allure.
#4 Ojai, California
Ojai’s skyline is framed by the Topatopa Mountains, creating a dramatic backdrop for the town’s Spanish Revival architecture. The famous pink moment at sunset casts a warm glow that highlights the unique beauty of this artsy community.
#5 Hendersonville, North Carolina
This charming mountain town boasts a skyline filled with historic buildings and churches, set against the Blue Ridge Mountains. The historic Main Street, with its antique shops and boutiques, is the jewel in Hendersonville’s crown.
#6 Leadville, Colorado
As the highest incorporated city in the United States, situated at an elevation of over 10,000 feet, Leadville’s skyline is set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Colorado Rockies, including towering peaks like Mount Elbert and Mount Massive. The city’s architecture, featuring Victorian buildings and historical structures from its boom days as a silver mining town, adds a unique historical character. The juxtaposition of these well-preserved 19th-century buildings against the rugged mountain landscape creates a striking visual contrast. Leadville’s skyline, thus, is not just a feast for the eyes but also a testament to Colorado’s pioneering spirit and the endurance of its mining heritage amidst the imposing natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains.
#7 Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
The skyline of Bay St. Louis is a picturesque mix of coastal and historical influences, with the Bay Bridge stretching across the water. Its small-town feel is complemented by the scenic views of the Gulf.
#8 Valley City, North Dakota
Known as the ‘City of Bridges,’ Valley City’s skyline is characterized by the Highline Bridge towering over the Sheyenne River, adding structural elegance to the city’s panoramic views of lush river valleys.
#9 Bath, Maine
Bath’s skyline is defined by its maritime heritage, with the mast of historic ships and the Bath Iron Works shipyard. The Kennebec River provides a stunning waterway that enhances the city’s coastal skyline.
#10 Jonesborough, Tennessee
Tennessee’s oldest town, Jonesborough, offers a skyline that is a mix of historic homes and buildings, with the mountains providing a timeless backdrop. The town’s storytelling tradition adds an intangible charm to its scenic views.
Colorado had a third entry included as having among the most picturesque skylines in the country:
Breckenridge features a skyline that beautifully captures the essence of a classic mountain town blended with a world-renowned ski resort. Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, its skyline is dominated by picturesque peaks, including the towering Breckenridge Ski Resort, which provides a stunning backdrop year-round. The town’s historic district, with its charming Victorian architecture, adds a quaint and historic flavor, reflecting its gold mining past. Main Street is lined with colorful buildings housing shops and restaurants, contributing to the lively and inviting atmosphere.
“Awe-inspiring skylines are not exclusive to our major metropolises. Our survey reveals that the heart of America’s architectural beauty often beats strongest in our smaller towns, where history and nature combine to create truly unforgettable vistas” says Harrison Gough of MovingFeedback.com.