People always ask why I wanted to visit all Fifty States of America. Did I merely wish to earn the notch or the bragging rights? Not really, it’s way more complicated.
I moved to Florida in 1996. That same year I visited New Orleans, Washington DC, and Virginia. I was immediately struck by how vastly different each state is. The landscape is dramatically different, as are the cultural norms – almost as if you have landed in another country. The sheer size and diversity of the States captured my attention immediately. I was hooked and needed to see more. Then, my mother lost her battle to cancer at 62. Frankly, this experience accelerated my quest to visit America’s Fifty States before my number gets called.
Do I feel accomplished? Sure, it feels good. What’s better is I have experienced America’s Fifty States for myself and have priceless memories. As many of you know, I have some funny stories as well!
According to USA Today, half of all Americans see fewer than ten states in their lifetimes. I’ve never understood this; I still don’t. A sad statistic that I would like to help change. Where else in the world can you dive for lobsters or scallops in one state and dog sled in another? Only in America, folks! There is so much beauty in this country to explore; it’s endless. Each of America’s Fifty States offers up a different experience.
All-Time Favorites of America’s Fifty States:
Florida, hands down no competition for first place. You need to know where to go to experience paradise in this often Mickey glamorized state.
I am flirting with bumping Hawaii for Maine. I can’t settle this score anytime soon because I need more time in both places to be sure, but Maine captured my heart as a contender, assuming it delivers on our second trip!
Florida (can’t name one specific place because too many)
Least Favorites of America’s Fifty States:
I’m a firm believer that everywhere holds a hidden gem to discover. I can also say this is mostly true, but two states were beyond blah:
Good luck finding the gems here, it’s slim picking folks. Iowa was one field after another – straight-up boring. One tip I will give you to North Dakota. If I had more time and a wingman, I would have ventured up to the oil fields of Williston. Unfortunately, I could not persuade anyone to take the journey with me, so I did Fargo.
States I Intend to Revisit:
If you follow me or know anything about me, I don’t do much twice. Few things qualify, but some do and for different reasons:
More to See:
California: Not a top 5 for me, but I have a laundry list of places to still hit in California. For example, Sonoma, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Hollywood. The next California trip will be to cover Monterey Bay to see the whales followed by a trip to Yosemite. Potentially, California will make the top 5, let’s see. Florida:Despite living here, my list of things to see and do here grows vs. gets shorter. Next up is Anna Maria Island, followed by Steinhatchee – the scalloping capital of Florida, then Cape Romano to see the dome houses. Hawaii: Ranked in my top 5, this is a certain re-do. We only did one Island and will return to do many more. Hawaii above and beyond exceeded my expectations. Add to this, I saw my first whale in Hawaii, so it will always hold a place in my heart. Maine: The last state I visited and one of the most beautiful for sure. We only had four days in Maine and did the coastline. I feel robbed! Ultimately, this place needs at least a week or two to take it all in. I will return to Maine to do the inland along with more of the northern coastline. Utah: Specifically to conquer Zion National Park. I’ve already been to Utah several times, just not made it to the motherland yet.
Montana: This state would be my second choice of places to live in the States, were it not so cold. I love cold vacations, but I don’t want to be digging myself out of a joint to get somewhere. Same for NYC, but NYC is beyond out of reach financially. As much as I love NYC, I don’t fancy living in a shoebox. Nevada: Unfortunately for me, this is in Brian’s top 5, so it’s inevitable I will return. More Vegas for me, yippee! Yes, that is total sarcasm. New York: This one never gets old; my all-time favorite city NYC resides here so many trips will follow. I never pass on a chance to go to the Big Apple. Rhode Island: I have a close friend who lives here, so we will return. Rhode Island hosts many mansions from the Vanderbilt era. I’ve toured a few but want to see more because they are fantastic. Specifically, the Marble House next time. Tennessee: The Monkey has not been to Tennessee, and it’s a must for kids! Not to mention Tennessee is in my top 5 for a ton of reasons. And, Graceland is a must that I have not visited yet. Texas: I’ve only been to Dallas so much like California, there is more to discover here. Plus, my sister-in-law lives here with our niece and nephew.
A couple of others worth considering, Delaware. While a small state, I think there are more gems to uncover. And, Ohio. Hocking Hills State Park was one of our most relaxing trips of 2018!
America is my home. I chose to live in a place I love. This country has offered a host of incredible opportunities, an excellent education, a challenging career, a fantastic husband, and so many beautiful friends that I am always strapped for time!
No country is perfect. I’ve lived and worked in a few, so I get to say this knowing what I am talking about vs. what I think or perceive. If you separate the apparent issues like politics, religion, violence, and race and focus on the positives of this country, it is still number one for me. And, no matter what you might think about Americans, they are the kindest, friendliest, most loving, generous, and hospitable humans on the planet. Another fact I can attest to!
America is by far the most beautiful and diverse country on the planet, hence the need to visit America’s Fifty States to appreciate her beauty fully.
Nikki Webster is a travel writer who covers how to travel while grinding a day job, how to travel without breaking the bank, hotels, cruising, and off-the-beaten-track experiences. She is particularly fond of Florida and writes extensively about the state. She flies around 60,000 miles per year and has visited 54 countries, 50 states, and six continents. You can read all about her travels at www.britonthemove.com.