Fifty Shades of States – The Best of the US

As of  July 11, 2013, I am proud to say that I achieved my lifelong goal of visiting all fifty of the United States of America.  Everyone has a different definition of “visited”, so I used the definition from the “All Fifty Club” which is “set foot on the ground of that state and breathed the air”.  I believe that I am now qualified to issue an educated opinion on which states are the best.  So here are my top 6 states, in no particular order, because that is too hard.

1.  California, I miss you.  So tall and varied, from the ocean to the mountains, the natural beauty and warmth have always sucked me in.  For some reason, I associate California with sunshine and happiness, which is why I made it my home for almost 20 years.  Anytime there is a cloudy day, I think of California, and I smile.  California in a word – sunshine.

Yosemite, CA

Yosemite, CA

Point Reyes, CA

Point Reyes, CA










2.  New York, I love you.  Now, I know what many of you are thinking:  “Yeah!  New York City!”  It is true.  NYC is pretty cool, but here I am talking about the entire state.  New York State, where I was born, raised and schooled.  I love the autumn here when the leaves are orange and red and there is a crisp chill in the air.  Something about New York always says home to me.  So when I am traveling around the world and people ask me where I am from, I will say New York.  New York in a word – home.

Lake Placid, NY

Lake Placid, NY

Albany, NY

Albany, NY












3.  Aloha Hawaii!  From my first visit to Oahu in 1999, I have had a love affair with Hawaii.  Thinking about the beautiful weather, the perfect beaches, the unique history and culture, Hawaii is the most non-US-like state, in my opinion.  I love to travel, and I love visiting new places, and of everywhere I have travelled, Hawaii is the only place that I go back to time and time again.  I think I’ve been at least 10 times.  From the moment I get off the plane in Hawaii my stress melts away.  Hawaii in a word – relax.

Kauai, HI

Kauai, HI


Maui, HI










4.  Alaska, I see you.  Alaska left a lasting impression on my mind and in my heart.  I went in July, when it never got dark outside and the temperatures were perfect.  The wildlife and the hiking in this state are unmatched.  If you like being outside, this is a state for you.  On the other hand, if you do not like the outdoors and nature, don’t bother with a visit, because you’ll probably be bored.  Alaska in a word – nature.

Denali National Park, AK

Denali National Park, AK


2010-07 Alaska lumix 143

Denali National Park, AK












5.  Wyoming, I inhale you.  This was an unexpected surprise for me.  I didn’t realize how wonderful Wyoming was until I visited.  With less than 600,000 people and no professional sports teams, I never hear people talking about the wonderful state of Wyoming.  But she surprised me with some of the coolest national parks in the country (Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, Devil’s Tower).  The air tasted better there than any other state I have visited.  I could retire in this state.  Wyoming in a word – clean.

Sheep Herding in Wyoming

Sheep Herding in Wyoming

The Grand Tetons, WY

The Grand Tetons, WY











6.  Tennessee, I dance with you.  This state surprised me more than Wyoming.  I never thought much about Tennessee, but when I visited, I realized it offered more than I could’ve imagined.  Knoxville – a cute city with an adorable downtown.  Nashville – a mini Vegas with where casinos are replaced with music (a fair and positive trade-up in my book).  Memphis – a hotbed of American history and culture and some of the best damn BBQ I have ever tasted.  Tennessee in a word – fun.

Knoxville, TN

Knoxville, TN

Graceland, Memphis, TN

Graceland, Memphis, TN












So, for the other 44 states that didn’t make the top 6 list, no offense.  I found something wonderful and unique in every state I visited.  Now is you turn!   Do you agree?  Disagree?  Who did I miss?  Tell me about your favorite state and why in the comments below.

Categories: USA | 18 Comments

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18 thoughts on “Fifty Shades of States – The Best of the US

  1. Daniel "Virginia is for Lovers' Carvill

    How can you pick Tennessee and Wyoming over the Commonwealth of Virginia!??!! From the Chesapeake Bay to Shenandoah Valley, Virginia is the most beautiful State on the East Coast!!! Really??? Wyoming??? You need to come back for another visit! I want an edit or I am telling mom!!!

    • Have you been to Wyoming? No, I didn’t think so. :p

      • Larry Barker

        I just got back from Yellowstone and totally agree Wyoming is the place to be!

      • I’m glad you guys enjoyed it. I liked looking at the photos Kristi posted.

    • Krista

      Sorry, Danny, but NH is the most beautiful state in the East Coast. World-class rock climbing and ice climbing, great hiking in the White Mountain National Forest, and awesome skiing. Did you know that North Conway (my town) was voted one of the 25 best ski towns in the USA by Outdoor Magazine? Laurie…clearly Aunt Dee and Uncle Lee did not show you the best of NH!!

      • Haha! I knew this post would drum up some controversy!

      • Dee

        Oh Krista, of course we shared the New Hampshire coast with Laurie – fun time having a seafood lunch together on the ocean’s edge. By the way, New Hampshire has way too much snow!!!!!!

      • Haha! I did love New Hampshire, especially the lobster roll, but as I California girl I have become a wimp in the snow and cold.

  2. Lisa

    I know I should be loyal to VA and NH, but I still think NC has the most to offer. That’s where we plan on retiring, so it must be good!

  3. Lisa

    I am happy to see TN made the list. We are yet to get there, but have it on our list to visit soon.

  4. Dee

    My favorite state to visit is Hawaii especially the island of Maui. The beaches are beautiful, the weather perfect, the flowers amazing and you can’t beat Hawaiian papayas. The best state to live in (so far) is obviously Pennsylvania – short winters and nice summers. Of course, being near Lancaster and the Amish community filled with quilters is always a plus.

  5. Toby "I Love NY" Krantz

    Many people do retire to Wyoming for the other, unstated benefit of retiring there: No state income tax. I agree it’s one of the most beautiful…Teton and Yellowstone are my #1 and #2 favorite parks.

  6. Toby "My Retirement Planning Advice is Worth Exactly What You Paid For It" Krantz

    Presumably taxable withdrawals from your traditional IRA. And maybe social security benefits depending on your total income.

  7. Pingback: It’s the Final Countdown! | Living La Vida Laurie

  8. Ron LeDoux

    I love your list. I think I sat on that same rock in Denali National Park this summer. The weather from 7/17 to 7/31 was incredible. There were a couple of days in the mid 80’s. Alaska is my Hawaii. Jealous of you and your adventures.

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