Every US state has a “thing” to be proud of. In these times of divisiveness and negativity, let us focus and celebrate the good things – we mean, the best things. These “things” can be great people, iconic food, a tradition, a sporting event, an activity, a natural phenomenon, breathtaking sights… anything that’s the pride of each state.
When you go to any of these states, be sure to watch their important events, try out their traditions, visit their most iconic locations, meet famous people (if you’re lucky), try their best delicacies, and behold their most breathtaking natural wonders.
Alabama – College football
When someone mentions Alabama, there’s no doubt you’ll think of the “Roll Tide” heard all across the state as it cheers on the University of Alabama, which has won the most national football championships of any college team since 1936 with 11.
Alaska – The Northern Lights
As the Last Frontier, there are many great things to see in Alaska, from the great outdoors to the grizzly bear. However, the Northern Lights take the cake. You don’t have to travel all the way to Scandinavia to witness this glowing, dazzling natural phenomenon. Also known as aurora borealis, the Northern Lights can be seen in Alaska between mid-September and late April, peaking in March.
Arizona – The Grand Canyon
The breathtaking Grand Canyon is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the US. More than six million people visit the Grand Canyon National Park each year.
Arkansas – Former US President Bill Clinton
William Jefferson “Bill” Clinton is the 42nd US President. He was born and grew up in the city of Hope in Hempstead County, Arkansas. Before becoming President, he served as Arkansas’s 40th and 42nd governor. When he was elected President at age 46, Clinton became the third-youngest US President after Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy.
California – Hollywood
The term “Hollywood” refers to the iconic Hollywood sign on Mount Lee and the US showbiz industry itself. From the glitz and glamour of Hollywood’s “Golden Age” to the present day, California remains popular as a stomping ground for celebrities and for producing a majority of the movie industry’s blockbuster movies and award-winning films and TV shows.
Colorado – Skiing
The Rocky Mountains are one of the major mountain ranges in North America. Although it also covers other states such as Wyoming, New Mexico, Montana, Utah, Idaho, and the province of British Columbia in neighboring Canada, most of its significant peaks are located in Colorado. The alpine environment and climate make Colorado a popular skiing and snowboarding destination, home to 39 ski and snowboard resorts. These ski resorts are some of the largest in the country, allowing skiers of all skill levels to try gliding over the snowy slopes.
Connecticut – UConn basketball
The University of Connecticut displays an unparalleled dominance in the basketball world. The university’s women’s and men’s basketball teams have won 15 national championships between them. But in March 2018, the women’s team’s 36-game winning streak was finally snapped by Notre Dame in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament.
Delaware – NASCAR
Aside from being a tax haven, Delaware is best known for the Dover International Speedway, aka “Monster Mile,” which hosts two NASCAR races yearly.
Florida – Theme parks
If you think it’s the beaches, which are still great to check out, it’s actually the theme parks that have made Florida famous in the world.
The Sunshine State is known for its theme parks and attractions, notably the Walt Disney World and the Universal Studios Orlando.
Georgia – Peaches
Georgia is known as the birthplace of the two most important milestones in US history: the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement. But it’s also famous worldwide for its peaches – duh, it’s not called the Peach State for nothing. The fruit even appears on the US Mint’s commemorative Georgia quarter.
Hawaii – Beaches
An endless number of beaches! The tiny archipelago state boasts 750 miles of combined coastline. And all beaches in the Aloha State – from the world-famous resorts to the wild beaches unspoiled by commercialization – could be considered among the world’s best. Not to mention that Hawaii is the birthplace of modern surfing. Check out the reasons why you should visit Hawaii at least once in your life.
Idaho – Potatoes
Idaho’s fertile soils are ideal for growing potatoes, and the state is known for producing more of the crop than any other state. That’s why Idaho earns its unofficial moniker, “The Potato State.” The most famous potato variety grown there is the brown russet.
Illinois – Deep-dish pizza
When it comes to the battle of pizzas in the United States, it’s usually between New York City and Chicago. There are many other things to love in Chicago and the rest of Illinois. But the state is best known for the deep-dish pizza, which originated in its biggest city.
Indiana – Indianapolis 500
Indiana’s state capital, Indianapolis, is a city that loves to go fast. Of course, we’re talking about the Indianapolis 500, aka Indy 500. The race is held annually at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana. It is the oldest major automobile race not only in the US but also in the world.
Iowa – Cornfields
Iowa is known for having a robust farming and agricultural industry. It’s little wonder, because the Hawkeye State has around 87,500 farms. The top agricultural commodities produced in Iowa are corn, soybeans, hogs, cattle, eggs, and dairy products. Iowa is the country’s top corn producer – in 2016 alone, it produced more than 2.74 billion bushels of corn, its biggest corn production to date.
Kansas – Fewest number of roads in poor condition
Less than 1% of the roads in Kansas are considered unserviceable, the lowest in any state. Perhaps it has something to do with its terrain, as it is a geographically flat state.
Kentucky – The Kentucky Derby
The Kentucky Derby is famous for its exciting racing, preppy fashion, and mint juleps (consisting of bourbon, mint, and sugar syrup). The horse race is held annually in Louisville and is the longest-running sporting event in American history.
Louisiana – Jazz
While the po’boys, Cajun culture, and Mardi Gras make up an essential part of Louisiana’s identity, jazz should be the state’s most significant contribution to American culture. Louisiana jazz can be found basically in every corner of New Orleans and beyond. Over the century, Louisiana jazz – specifically New Orleans jazz – has spread beyond the American shores and become part of the world’s soundtrack.
Maine – Lobsters
While Maine’s official nickname is “The Pine Tree State,” its other nickname should be “The Lobster State.” Maine’s famous crustaceans are considered the “sweetest, most flavorful lobster on earth.” Lobsters are also an immense economic driver for Maine, contributing an average of $1 billion annually to the state’s economy.
Maryland – Crabs
It has got to be the battle between states starting with “M” that are famous for their crustaceans. Happily, everyone wins in this battle. In Maryland, it is renowned for its crabs, specifically blue crabs. And also, crab cakes. Maryland sits on the Chesapeake Bay, which brings the state its marine bounties. Marylanders and visitors from all over the country get their fill of the blue crabs at the annual crab feast in Baltimore.
Massachusetts – Dunkin’
Sure, you can go to a local Dunkin’ branch near you. But if you want to take a trip to Dunkin’s history, you’ve got to go to the site where the world-famous doughnut chain started. Dunkin’ – formerly Dunkin’ Donuts – was established in Quincy, Massachusetts, in 1950. Its founder, Bill Rosenberg, aimed to make and serve the “freshest, most delicious coffee and donuts quickly and courteously in modern, well-merchandised stores.
Michigan – The Great Lakes
Michigan’s shoreline measures 3,288 miles (5,292 km) long, making it the longest shoreline in the United States. And most of that shoreline bumps up against some famous lakes: Superior, Michigan, and Huron, which are actually more than just “great.” The lakes and the surroundings are picturesque with serene waters and sandy beaches. They’re the best places to catch a sunset, have a picnic on a dock, or ride on a boat to the gentle splash of waves.
Minnesota – The Mall of America
The Mall of America opened in 1922 in Bloomington (a suburb of the “Twin Cities”), Minnesota. It is the biggest shopping mall in the country with more than 500 stores and ten attractions. It’s so big that it even has a theme park inside. More than 40 million people visit this mall every year.
Mississippi – The blues
Whereas Louisiana is famous for jazz, Mississippi is known for blues. Many American music genres, including rock n’ roll, owe their beginnings to the blues, which took its roots in the Mississippi River delta.
Missouri – Budweiser
Here’s a story of Budweiser’s origins. An influx of German immigrants moved to St. Louis, Missouri, in the 1800s, and nearby cave formations allowed brewers to cool their beverages… and that was long before refrigeration was invented. So, next time you pop a bottle of Bud, thank Missouri.
Montana – Cowboys and the cowboy culture
Where have all the cowboys gone? Thankfully they’re still very much around, specifically in Montana. Its wide, grassy plains are conducive to raising cattle, leading to a very flourishing ranch industry. They’re the reason why cowboys are here, and cowboy culture is still very much alive and kicking in this state.
Nebraska – Museums (especially the offbeat ones)
Nebraska is proud of its cultural scene – always fun, quirky, and on the go. The state capital Lincoln is home to the iconic National Museum of Roller Skating and the Museum of the American Speed. And there’s still so much to see beyond Lincoln’s borders. The city of Hastings is the birthplace of Kool-Aid, so it’s no surprise that Hastings Museum mounts an exhibit dedicated to the popular sweet drink. There’s also the Klown Doll in the city of Plainview displaying clown-related memorabilia. Or, if your interest leans toward fossilized wood, head for the town of Ogallala to check out the Petrified Wood Gallery, which also specializes in Native American arrowheads and artifacts.
Nevada – Las Vegas
You’ve most likely heard of Las Vegas – the glittering oasis is known for its casinos and gambling, shopping, fine dining, entertainment, and nightlife. And, of course, there’s the Las Vegas Strip.
Autumn lovers would travel across the country just to witness the fall leaves change colors along the creeks in New Hampshire and the state’s charmingly quaint New England villages.
New Jersey – Diners
With over 500 diners everywhere in the state, it’s no wonder that New Jersey is the “diner capital of the world.” If you plan to visit The Garden State, make sure your belly is ready for the epic food crawl!
New Mexico – Green chile
New Mexicans dine on almost everything with green chile – green chile enchiladas, chile con carne, rellenos, and even cheeseburgers. Green chile is so famous in New Mexico that the state adopted the country’s first-ever official State Question: “Red or green?”
New York – Broadway
Sure, there are many iconic landmarks in New York City, like the Statue of Liberty (although technically it sits on New Jersey’s terrain) and the Empire State Tower. And oh, there’s also the vast Central Park to escape the urban jungle momentarily.
But one of the most popular things to do while visiting New York City going to a Broadway show. Loving New York writes that 13 million people attend one of Broadway’s stage productions, 63% of whom are tourists, in a year.
North Carolina – The Wright Brothers
You may have guessed where North Carolina’s motto “First in Flight” comes from. The Wright Brothers launched its first successful flight at Kitty Hawk on the Outer Banks on December 17, 1903. It went down in history as the first “controlled, powered aircraft flight.”
North Dakota – Ranches
Ninety percent of North Dakota land’s area is occupied by more than 39 million acres of farms and ranches. So, it’s little wonder that the Peace Garden State is one of the leading agricultural states in the US, producing many agricultural products like flaxseed, spring wheat, and canola.
Ohio – Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opened in Cleveland in 1983. Induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is considered one of the most prestigious honors for the world’s most famous rock (and non-rock) musicians. It is visited by thousands of visitors each year.
Oklahoma – Onion burgers
Like many great cuisines, onion burgers were invented out of necessity. During the Depression Era, onions were cheap and beef was expensive, so people began adding onions to cut down on costs. Now, it’s one of Oklahoma’s famous culinary offerings simply because they’re delicious.
Oregon – Beer
Oregon is primarily known for its wealth of natural wonders, including beautiful hiking trails, gorges, canyons, mountains, rainforests, and an incredible shoreline. But what all those places have in common is that they are just right next to excellent breweries. The Beaver State has over 260 of them, most of which are craft breweries.
Pennsylvania – Cheesesteak sandwich or Philly cheesesteak
Pennsylvania may be rich in American history and is the home of the Liberty Bell, but it is also famous for its iconic cheesesteak sandwich. Debates rage as to who is the best maker of this dish, but it is popular enough to appear all across the country and the world.
Rhode Island – Mansions of the rich and famous
Rhode Island may be the smallest US state in terms of land size, but it is the home of several big and grand mansions that were built during the Gilded Age period (1870 – 1910). You can still see some vestiges of this era at estates such as The Breakers in the city of Newport.
South Carolina – Charleston
Charleston has been consistent in several “best US cities” rankings. Its quaint, antebellum charms continue to beguile tourists. Don’t forget to try Charleston’s barbecues, specifically from Smoke BBQ on King Street.
South Dakota – Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore is one of the country’s most iconic landmarks and tourist destinations. The colossal sculpted faces of former Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln are carved into Mount Rushmore’s granite face. It took 14 years to complete the sculpture, from 1927 to 1941. This ambitious project was conceived as a way to drive tourism in South Dakota and its famous Black Hills region.
Tennessee – Country music
Tennessee’s capital, Nashville, is the “Music City” home of the Country Music Awards and Country Music Hall of Fame. Many of America’s iconic country music legends, like Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton, have either grown up or started their careers in Tennessee.
Texas – Barbecue
Texas may have the energy blessings and get most of its wealth from oil. But they would be second fiddle to their mouthwatering barbecues, which the Lone Star State is also known for. For the Texans, barbecue is not only a dish but also a big part of their culture. Texans would be ready to debate that Carolina, Memphis, or Kansas City-style barbecues can’t hold a candle to the dry-rub smokiness of the Texas barbecue.
Utah – National parks
Utah is home to five national parks, the most famous being the Arches National Park in Grand County. These breathtaking sandstone arches and natural land bridges dotting this national make you realize that there is no better architect than Mother Nature herself.
Vermont – Maple syrup
The Green Mountain State is famous for its own “liquid gold,” the maple syrup. Vermont produces more maple syrup than any other US state, as it accounts for over 50% of the country’s maple production. In 2020 alone, Vermont produced a record two million gallons of maple syrup.
Virginia – The birthplace of many US Presidents
Virginia, named after England’s Queen Elizabeth I (“The Virgin Queen”), is rich in history and regarded as the “birthplace of a nation.” It is also the home of the eight presidents — George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson.
Washington – Coffee
Starbucks leads the global coffee market with over 32,000 stores in 80 countries. Thankfully, the first and original Starbucks store in Seattle’s Pike Place Market still exists. Seattle’s Best is another popular coffee chain that has now since operated as Starbucks’s subsidiary.
West Virginia – Berkeley Springs
The small but luxurious town in West Virginia was built around mineral springs. If you need to relax, beat stress, find wellness, and indulge, you will find several spas and wellness centers there. The Berkeley Springs State Park is famous for its mineral spa, which is reputed to have curative or restorative powers. The waters can be bathed for stress relief or drunk to cure digestive disorders.
Wisconsin – Cheese
Blessed are the cheesemakers! Wisconsin accounts for around 30% of the national cheese production as it produces two billion pounds of cheese each year. With its thriving dairy industry, Wisconsin certainly knows its cheese.
Wyoming – Yellowstone National Park
Located on the northwestern corner of Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park never fails to stun visitors with its range of geographical oddities and geothermal features that make you think you’re on another planet. It is home to the Sulphur Spring, the Old Faithful geyser, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and the Yellowstone River.