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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.