Google has released its list of the most-searched scenic spots in the United States during 2022, and there are some surprises. For starters, "scenic spots" in Google's definition does not include iconic places such as Vermont's Technicolor White Mountains in fall or the yawning Grand Canyon in Arizona. (More about that later.)
Google users were interested in where to see and photograph some of Mother Nature's most magnificent scenic locations along with monuments to man's ingenuity. Here's the list of the chosen 10, and for those who might wish to visit during 2023, a few additional surprises.
The compilation is led by DUMBO. No, not the pachyderm that starred in the 1941 Walt Disney film. To New York residents, that's the acronym for "Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass." A stretch of Washington Street in Brooklyn offers a dramatic view of the Manhattan Bridge soaring overhead that frames the Empire State Building in the distance. It was the most-often searched scenic spot in the country last year.
When traffic began crossing the span in 1909, after the Brooklyn and Williamsburg bridges were finished, the plan was to name it "Bridge No. 3." Fortunately, more imaginative minds prevailed.
Another span also ranks high on the list. The Golden Gate View Point in Mill Valley, California, is where many visitors assemble to gaze at the orange-colored bridge that connects San Francisco and Marin County. Frommer's Guide has described it as "possibly the most beautiful, certainly the most photographed bridge in the world." In addition to carrying vehicles and pedestrians, it is designated as part of U.S. Bicycle Route 95, which runs through California, Washington state and Alaska.
I'll place a bet you wouldn't guess that a spectacular splashing fountain that has been featured in popular movies such as "Ocean's Eleven" and "Jason Bourne" would rank third on this list. The Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas project jets of water skyward as lights flash and music plays. In 2019, Celine Dion and James Corden performed from a boat in the lake created by the fountains, re-enacting a scene from the film "Titanic."
It's no surprise that the Statue of Liberty, one of the nation's most recognized landmarks, is included in this list. Popular places for viewing and photographing the robed Roman Goddess of Liberty include the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan's Battery Park. Lady Liberty acquired her present greenish hue years after she was dedicated in 1886. Government officials felt that a sea-green tone would appear softer than the original copper finish and allowed natural chemical reactions to alter her color.
Next on the list is aptly named Horseshoe Bend in Arizona, a meandering stretch of the Colorado River that resembles what its moniker suggests. It's best viewed from the east rim of the Grand Canyon. Geologists predict that the river eventually will bisect the neck of the bend, producing a natural stone bridge and abandoning the curve. Don't worry, though. This will take eons.
A train ride rather than a river turn thrills passengers in North Carolina, where Great Smoky Mountain Railroad engines chug through the Nantahala National Forest. It's an expanse of dense, old-growth woodlands and plunging waterfalls. Among actors who have appeared in movies in which the railroad starred are Harrison Ford, Jack Lemmon and Sandra Bullock. If you go along for the ride, check out the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Museum adjacent to the depot. It features more than 7,000 Lionel model engines and cars as well as a large miniature track layout.
Across the state line in Tennessee, the Gatlinburg SkyBridge offers a different kind of thrill. The longest pedestrian cable bridge in North America stretches 680 feet over a deep valley, providing panoramic views of the Smoky Mountains. A 30-foot-long stretch of see-through glass isn't for the faint of heart. Rest assured, though, that the thick, multilayered panels are safe for those willing to walk on them.
The Grand Canyon also makes the list -- but not the world-famous one in Arizona. Pine Creek Gorge is a 45-mile-long slash with depths of up to 1,500 feet that's grandiosely known as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania for its steep walls and plummeting waterfalls. The Pine Creek Rail Trail, a converted railroad bed that follows the canyon floor, is perfect for hiking and biking. USA Today ranks it among the 10 best places in the world for a bike tour.
Ninth on the list is a sign in California other than the famous one in Los Angeles that spells "Hollywood." This landmark identifies Beverly Hills, the affluent Los Angeles neighborhood that's associated with lavish estates owned by celebrities. The 40-foot emblem is a replica of one built in 1907. During spring and summer, a beautiful pond in front of the letters comes alive with blooming lilies, making for the perfect photo backdrop.
Last in the catalog but not in the hearts of its fans is the Glacier Point overlook in Yosemite National Park. Perched at an elevation of 7,214 feet, it offers superb views of several of the park's best-known landmarks. In winter, cross-country skiers can experience the view after a 10.5-mile slosh through snow. The Glacier Point Road usually is open from late May through October or November but recently was closed for repairs.