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En español | Pike National Forest, Colo.: Only Mount Fuji attracts more summit seekers than the mountain that inspired "America the Beautiful." Drive up or take the cog railway. With the Rockies' purple mountain majesties to the west and the fruited plain to the east, you'll be inspired, too.
Los Angeles: James Dean took in this view in Rebel Without a Cause, and so can you. A winding drive through Griffith Park gets you to the domed planetarium and its panoramic view. On a clear day, you can see Catalina Island; at night L.A. appears as a neon patchwork quilt.
Frank Whitney/Getty Images
Boston: Set atop 65-foot Breed's Hill (the actual site of the famous 1775 skirmish between Bostonians and Brits), this 1842 obelisk rewards visitors with a one-of-a-kind view. Up 294 steps, four windows reveal all of Boston and its bay, spreading at your feet.
Jeff Greenberg/Getty Images
Great Smoky Mountains National Park: East of the Mississippi there are only two spots higher than the Dome, which is just 35 miles from Knoxville, Tenn. The observation tower offers a 200-mile view on haze-free days. The half-mile walk from the parking lot is steep, yet worth it.
Adam Jones/Getty Images
Philadelphia: There was once a gentleman's agreement that no Philly tower would top William Penn's hat on the statue that crowns this ornate layer cake of a building. Spoilsports broke the rule in 1987, but the view from the feet of Penn's 27-ton figure is still the best in town.
National Geographic/Pete Ryan/Getty Images
Washington, D.C.: Donald and Ivanka Trump plan to redevelop this landmark, but they can't touch the bell tower, which is run by the National Park Service. While the Washington Monument is closed for repairs due to the 2011 earthquake, the Old Post Office boasts D.C.'s best view.
Columbus, Ohio: Visitors are rewarded with a 360-degree vista of the city — all the way to the Appalachian foothills, 50 miles away. The Rhodes Tower's peregrine falcons nest on ledges along the 41st floor. If they're not out, you can see inside their nest via a webcam.
Alamy, Ron Buskirk / Alamy
Provincetown, Mass.: The monument, which has 116 steps and 60 ramps, would seem more at home on an Italian piazza than at the tip of Cape Cod, but here it is, the tallest all-granite structure in the country. A recent spruce-up enlarged the windows up top, enhancing the views of land and sea.
Onne van der Wal/Corbis
Whitney Portal, Calif.: You need to be in good shape, a U.S. Forest Service permit is required, and checking the weather is a must. But the 22 mile roundtrip hike to see the highest peak in the Lower 48 is surprisingly doable. Even if you only get part of the way up, you'll see dramatic scenery.
Mark Lewis/Getty Images
Outer Banks, N.C.: The tallest brick lighthouse in the nation was built in 1870 to warn ships away from a killer sandbar dubbed "The Graveyard of the Atlantic." The National Park Service leads tours up its 269 cast iron steps. There's even a monthly full-moon tour.
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