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New Bern: Most Picturesque Skyline in the U.S.

(article by Evie Carrick at

New Bern, North Carolina, has a stunning skyline that beat out every other small city in America.

When you think of skylines, you likely think of those found in New York City, Tokyo, or Shanghai, major world cities where sky-high architectural marvels like the Empire State Building, the Tokyo Skytree, or the Shanghai Tower can be found. But beyond these iconic buildings and their surrounding cityscapes are noticeably smaller cities with noticeably different skylines — those that integrate elements of natural beauty and historic architecture into the mix. 

In a recent roundup of picturesque, small-city skylines, one U.S. community stood out. New Bern, North Carolina, a small city of just over 30,000 people, topped the list, which was compiled by via a poll of 1,000 travelers. According to the survey, the riverfront city, which sits near the North Carolina coast north of Wilmington, has a small-city skyline unlike any other. 

“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,” said Harrison Gough of in a press release shared with Travel + Leisure.

Travelers called out New Bern’s particular blend of natural features and historical charm. It is surrounded by water thanks to its location by the confluence of the Neuse and Trent Rivers, and the city has more than its fair share of greenery. The natural features of New Bern are bolstered by a historic downtown district that showcases well-maintained colonial architecture.

One of the city’s standout landmarks, Tryon Palace, is a replica of the 1760s Royal Governor's mansion and is surrounded by 16 acres of lush garden. This landmark, in addition to New Bern’s mix of natural and historic skyline components secured the city’s No. 1 ranking on the list.

Following New Bern in the top 10 small-city U.S. skylines (of 70 skylines total), were nine other small cities that captured travelers — including a second city in North Carolina and a couple in Colorado: Walla Walla, Washington; Estes Park, Colorado; Ojai, California; Hendersonville, North Carolina; Leadville, Colorado; Bay St. Louis, Mississippi; Valley City, North Dakota; Bath, Maine; and Jonesborough, Tennessee.

For the full list of 70 most picturesque small skylines in America, visit here.

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