This blog post was updated on July 28, 2021.

Most of us bemoan flying. From the turbulence to the delays to the cramped seating, it can be hard to find any joy in hopping aboard a plane. However, if you can snag a window seat, some flight paths in the United States reward you for battling through the long lines at security, the repeated kicks to your seat, and those territorial armrest neighbors. While plane routes aren’t designed for sightseeing, some offer the chance to view iconic US landmarks and beautiful scenery from the unusual vantage point of up in the air. And while you can complain about flying and all its annoyances, one look out a window onto some breathtaking vista will have you forgetting just why you grumble about flying in the first place.

Here are just 6 scenic routes in the US that fly by some fantastic views:

La Guardia and Newark Airport Flights


From the window seat on flights in and out of La Guardia and Newark Airports, passengers can’t help but click away on their cameras for the fabulous views of Manhattan. Certain runways can be better than others for views of the city, but most likely you’ll see picture-perfect shots of the Big Apple if you’re lucky. You can spot the Statue of Liberty, Manhattan, and Central Park. Some landings and departures from Newark fly directly over the city, putting you right above Times Square and other New York City icons.

Albuquerque to Las Vegas


Rather than making a left turn at Albuquerque, you might want to head for the airport instead and get on the next flight to Las Vegas. This scenic flight route takes passengers past one of the United States’ greatest natural wonders — the Grand Canyon. Shortly into the flight, you’ll be treated to an aerial shot of the canyon where you can truly appreciate its scale and wonder. In addition to catching a glimpse of the geological landmark, as the flight nears its end, you will be able to spot Lake Mead, the Hoover Dam, and the Las Vegas Strip.

Flights From the North to Reagan National Airport


If you are heading to Washington D.C. from the north and Reagan is your Airport, get ready for the sightseeing tour outside the window on the left side of the aircraft. Flights coming south into the closest airport to the Nation’s Capitol (it’s located just outside the city, in Northern Virginia) are treated to views of the White House, the Capitol building, and the Jefferson Memorial. Not only are window seat travelers rewarded to a DC tour from the air, but the routes from the north also lend views of the Potomac.

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Portland (Oregon) to Seattle


Flights in and out of Portland tend to be scenic no matter which way you are coming or going from on a plane. However, if you want to see Mount Hood, Mount Rainier, and Mount St. Helens on one flight, hop aboard a flight to Seattle. This scenic route puts all of that mountainous eye candy on the right side of the plane. Even if it is cloudy, the mountains tend to rise above providing commanding views no matter the weather.

New York to Chicago


Flights to and from New York and Chicago give passengers plenty of reasons to book window seats. Beginning in the Big Apple, you will be able to see Manhattan and maybe even Niagara Falls further afield. The gushing icon sits right under a popular flight path from New York to the Windy City. An added bonus of flying into O’Hare International Airport or Chicago Midway International Airport is that you can snag compelling views of the Lake Michigan shoreline and Chicago’s glistening skyscrapers from the airplane window.

Denver to the West


If you’re heading west from Denver on the ground, you can’t avoid the Rocky Mountains. If you flying in that same direction from Denver International Airport, you can appreciate those mountains without having to spend hours to get through them. From the High Plains metropolis, flights headed westward are usually gaining altitude so the mountains are more visible and impressive. Mountain lovers can shorten their journey and still be rewarded to Rocky Mountain views by getting on a flight from Denver to Aspen, where they’ll land right among the peaks and valleys.

Do you know of any other scenic flight route in the US? Share them with us in the comments below!

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About The Author

Suzy Guese is a travel writer from Denver, Colorado. She caught the travel bug after taking her very first flight at just three months old—she was headed for Disney World—and has been a total travel junkie ever since. From family car trips across North America to stints abroad in Europe, Suzy travels the globe with her redheaded temperament in search of sarcasm, stories, and travel tips to share with anyone willing to listen. She blogs about her travels at