There’s something about colorful destinations that is good for the soul: they seem to come to life, to crackle with personality. Here’s our tour of some of the most colorful places in the US — destinations that are sure to bring a little rainbow whimsy to your travels.
Grand Prismatic Springs, Yellowstone
This hot spring is one of the biggest in the world (spanning the width of a football field and stretching ten stories in depth), and undoubtedly one of its most colorful. Rainbow rings encircle the piping hot pool thanks to the presence of heat-happy microbes that grow in its waters. The center of the spring can reach 189° F (87° C), creating an environment where nothing can grow, hence the clear blue; as the water moves further towards the shore, it cools, creating rings of yellow, orange and red depending on the temperature.
Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, Oregon
Tulip farms are a perennial favorite for color enthusiasts – their happy blooms are big and bright, creating waves of color when planted together. Head to Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm in Woodburn, Oregon, one of the largest tulip farms in the Northwest, to witness acres of land exploding in color during the annual tulip festival, which lasts from the end of March to the beginning of May. The farm is home to dozens upon dozens of varieties, and if you find some you really love (and happen to live in the US), you can even take some bulbs home.
Art Deco district of South Beach, Miami
The Art Deco historic district of South Beach, Miami, is a pastel paradise: buildings in soft hues of yellow, purple, pink and blue give this part of Florida’s most vibrant city a glamorous, vintage feel. The district features over 900 historic buildings that will have you feeling like you’re on a beach vacation with Gatsby himself. If you’re a big architecture fan, don’t miss the Art Deco Museum, where you can learn all about the origin of these buildings and the efforts that went into preserving them.
Havasupai Falls, Arizona
Located within the Grand Canyon region, Havasupai’s bright turquoise waterfalls and pools are the stuff Western US vacation dreams are made of. This watery wonderland is on Havasupai Reservation and belongs to the Havasupai people (whose name means "people of the blue-green water"). Permits issued by the tribe are required to visit, and they go on sale in February of each year. Getting one can be competitive, but the rewarding experience of wandering beneath these shimmering cascades makes the process worth it.
It's also important to note that the falls are closed to visitors until at least June 2022 due to the pandemic. Check for updates before planning any visit.
French Quarter, New Orleans
New Orleans’ French Quarter is famous for being one of the best places to eat, drink and party in the country, but those making the pilgrimage to this amazing city would be remiss if they didn’t take the time to wander the French Quarter beyond Bourbon Street. Stroll along quieter streets lined with multicolor historic homes with floor-to-ceiling windows, bright floral window boxes and stately shutters.
Sunflower fields in the Dakotas
Fun fact: North and South Dakota are the largest growers of sunflowers in the US, which means that sprawling sunflower fields turn the Dakota landscape a shining gold in the summertime. Highway 83 in North Dakota slices right through sunflower-growing country, while I-90 in South Dakota allows you ample opportunities to drink in the vast yellow fields; the latter highway also leads to Badlands National Park, known for its striped stone spires.
Autumn colors in the Blue Ridge Mountains
The northeastern US gets a lot of hype for leaf-peeping – Vermont and New Hampshire frequently top lists for beautiful fall foliage, but we feel that the Southeast also has plenty to offer in the autumn leaves category, specifically the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains. Wind your way through the southern Appalachia in late October and the hills will be ablaze with color; if you’re a hiker, climb up to one of the area’s many knobs and balds for 360-degree views of the breathtaking seasonal spectacle.
The street art of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philly is home to over 3,500 different murals of all sizes, shapes and colors thanks to the efforts of the community street art program Mural Arts over the course of the last thirty years. So numerous are they, in fact, that the organization’s website has an interactive Mural Finder app dedicated to locating art around the city, and it also offers excellent curated walking tours. Take your time exploring this outdoor art gallery – there’s plenty to see.
The bluebonnets of Texas Hill Country
The bluebonnet is Texas’ official state flower, and if you happen to be in Texas Hill Country in March and April, you’ll know why. During the spring, these fields come alive with the delicate blue and white bells, making for a downright delightful drive through the Lone Star State. So beautiful are the blooms that they merit their own Facebook pages, and you can call the Texas Department of Transportation Wildflower Hotline (800-452-9292) to find out when and where the flowers are expected to hit their peak.