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50 States to Love! Visit all of ’em!
The Driveby Tourist encourages people to visit as many states as they can. After all, we have 50 States to Love! As of January 2023, I’ve seen every state at least twice. And spent at least one night in each state. This link brings you to a post that’s not quite complete, but it provides an abbreviated record of when I visited and where I went on the visit. I’m still adding links to posts about each state. By the way, I saw all 50 AGAIN after January 1st, 2014. I finished all 50 for the first time in 1987, with New York becoming my 50th state! And my second time around, Hawaii was the fiftieth in January 2023!
Another “by the way,” although just setting foot in every state is a goal, it’s best to see or do something of note in each state! However, what you see and do are totally up to you.And here’s an article about road-trip destinations. As someone who doesn’t like the heat, I’d save Texas, Louisiana, and Florida for a different time of the year!
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Best Road-Trip Destinations for Summer
I found an article in WalletHub that shows all the US states ranked by Best Road-Trip Destination for Summer. Here’s the link. And the map below shows the rankings in a graphic.
Briefly, about the diverse geography
Obviously, (or maybe not obviously), the US contains a broadly diverse geography. From sea level on the coasts to over 20,000 feet on Mt. Denali in Alaska. And from tropical weather in Hawaii to arctic cold in Alaska. From flat prairie in the midwest to towering mountains in Colorado. Even the tropical rainforests in Hawaii, the temperate rainforests in the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state, and the desert in the southwestern US. And remember, there are 50 States to Love!
Of course, we can’t forget the beautiful National Parks in the east, like Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountain. Or the Great Lakes. Or the beautiful beaches on the Gulf Coast. Another beautiful place is the Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire. Of course, even more so in the fall color season.
Demonstrating why I see 50 States to Love!
Many of my posts show a clear way to show my love for visiting all 50 states. For example, this (still incomplete) set of posts about my road trip through all 26 states east of the Mississippi. Many of my other posts contain road trips and information about other states. For example, Route 66! Or the visit to western Montana and northern Idaho. As I write new and update existing posts, I plan to include more references to visiting all 50 states. It’s a mantra!
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Background for 50 states to love!
All 50 states (in aggregate) boast over 330 million people, the 3rd most populated country on earth. And the total area is 3.797 Million square miles (9.834 square kilometers.) That’s the fourth largest by land area. Like many countries around the world, the USA was once a British colony. We declared our independence in 1776 and fought the British for several years to gain recognition of that independence.
Our first government, 13 loosely organized states under the Articles of Confederation, proved unwieldy, and many of our leaders gathered in Philadelphia to develop a new constitution. The constitution reached final ratification in June of 1788. The new government operations began on March 9, 1789. The “founding fathers” developed the constitution to allow amendments as needed. And we’ve been operating with that form of government ever since!
Growth of the US & and now 50 States to Love
From the original 13 states, a 14th state (Vermont) joined in 1791. Over the years, with treaties and land purchases, the US reached 48 states by 1912. In 1959, Alaska and Hawaii became states as well. They are the first states not physically connected to any other state. And we now have 50 States to Love! Interestingly, we added states regularly until 1912, when we reached 48.
We never went more than about 15 years without adding more states until after 1912. Forty-seven years later, we added Alaska as #49 and Hawaii as #50. Now it’s been nearly 64 years since adding a state, the longest in our history. Talk of statehood for Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico remains a regular source of discussion.
Begging, Pleading, Beseeching, Imploring, Requesting!!!
Here’s a link to a website for those who have visited and are working on visiting all 50. It’s the All-Fifty State Club. You can join as a full member if you’ve visited all 50 states. Or, you can join as a 48C or 49C if you’ve visited all the continental states. Of course, with your plans to visit all 50, you can join when you have 35 states completed. When you complete all 50, you receive a certificate congratulating you! See mine below.
Just do it!
I know. Not everyone wants to travel to every state. But think about “getting out of your comfort zone!” Some states are easy; others are difficult/expensive to visit. For example, Alaska and Hawaii! And some don’t hold much appeal, like some states in “flyover country!” In fact, about 10% of Americans haven’t left their home state! And the average American visits 10 to 12 states in their life. About 1% visit all of the 50 States to Love! Wouldn’t you like to be a 1 %er?
Speaking of “flyover country,” one state celebrates their often being one of the last to visit. At the Fargo, North Dakota, visitor center, they celebrate with a poster that advertises “Save the Best for Last.” And, if you tell them it’s your 50th state, they give you a t-shirt to celebrate! Even better, they have the original wood chipper prop from the movie Fargo on display.
Counting your states
By the way, you decide what counts. Flying over a state’s airspace doesn’t count. I initially counted Hawaii when they let us off the plane in Hawaii while in the Navy. We left the terminal building and walked outside. Now I’ve spent ten days in Hawaii, so it definitely counts!
Most people believe you have to complete a “significant” activity. Others think you need to spend at least one night in the state. I’ve spent one night each in Delaware and Rhode Island and two or more in every other state.
But, whatever, it’s your list, so it’s your rules! Just so that you keep going because there are 50 States to Love!
And before I bring this post to an end…. – Classic American Road trips!!
Here are 12 Classic American Road trips gleaned from my research about 50 states to love! (Or stolen from someone!) You may not think of all of them as “classic,” but apparently, someone did! Some of these, especially the east/west roads, provide many opportunities to visit new states.
1. Route 66
See my blog post (link here) for more information. Route 66 marks the “Great Western Migration” of many people. After World War II, the road carried many travelers to various areas between Chicago and LA. The Driveby Tourist drove the entire length in April 2018. It’s a “lifetime highlight”! It includes drives through eight of the 50 states to love.
2. Great River Road
I’ve written blog posts (link here) about the Great River Road. The “road” runs on both sides of the Mississippi and contains sections of many federal, state, and local roads. The northern end begins at Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota, and the southern terminus goes down to Venice, Louisiana, about 75 miles southeast of New Orleans.
3. Pacific Coast Highway
This highway runs near the Pacific from Olympia, WA, to San Diego, US 101, and CA 1. I’ve traveled the section from LA to San Francisco. CA 1 makes up the PCH from Orange County north to a terminus where it meets US 101 in Mendocino County north of San Francisco.
While the PCH has different definitions, some people include the southern roads to the Mexican border and the northern highways into Canada. However you choose to define it, the PCH makes a beautiful drive. (I’d like to take it, including the entire route from Canada to Mexico. In fact, it’s on my “tentative” list for the fall of 2023.)
4. Appalachian Trail
From New England into the heart of Dixieland. Endless beauty. However, it’s a hiking trail, but many roads parallel this trail. I’ve been on the part of the road known as the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina.
The Blue Ridge Parkway connects Great Smokey Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. While it doesn’t have the length of the other trips in this document (469 miles), the majestic scenery likely deserves its own place on this list.
This trip gives you many more reasons to find 50 states to love!
5. The Loneliest Road
US-50 from Maryland to San Francisco. The road gets its name from the western part through Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California. Long stretches of “No Services.”
A section of the road in western Utah into eastern California is called a dangerous highway because of the summer heat and the lack of services. In at least one area, it’s over 100 miles between services. But this also provides many more states to visit of the 50 states to love!
6. The Great Northern
US-2 starts near Acadia National Park in Maine, then across the northern US around northern Lake Michigan, to near Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota, Glacier Park in Montana, and ends in Everett, Washington. I’ve also been on this road in Maine, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana. Here’s a link to Glacier National Park in Montana.
This road also includes a wide variety of diverse geography. An oddity about the highway number: When the US developed the numbering scheme, all highways, mainly running coast to coast, were to end in “0”. By that rule, US-2 should really be US-0!
7. The Oregon Trail
US-20 follows the route of early pioneers from Cape Cod to the Oregon coast. In the eastern US, the highway roughly parallels I-90. Both US 20 and I-90 are the longest highways in their category.
Initially, US 20 was to end at Yellowstone National Park and later extended into Oregon. Hence, the name Oregon Trail also paralleled the old Oregon trail of settlers moving to frontier Oregon.
8. The Lincoln Highway
Contrary to popular folklore, the Lincoln Highway, not Route 66, was the first US highway created by the forerunner of the US Highway System. The highway plan took a route from Times Square in New York to Lincoln Square in San Francisco. The highway’s scenic parts don’t really start until central Wyoming! Although there are scenic areas in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Initially conceived in 1912 and dedicated in 1913, the highway became part of the US Numbered Highway System in 1926. The route became US-30 from the east coast to Wyoming. Then it became US-50 and then US-40 in California. Today, it’s generally superseded by I-80. Some parts of the highway still exist, while I-80 has replaced others. By the way, the Lincoln Highway crosses Route 66 in Illinois (link to Route 66 story).
9. The Road to Nowhere
US-83 starts at the Canadian border in North Dakota and runs nearly straight south to Mexico (on the Texas border) without ever passing near a conventional tourist destination. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) significantly increased truck traffic on this highway. Bismarck, ND, is the largest city on the road from the Canadian border to central Texas.
Most of you likely think the only reason to drive this highway is to visit lesser visited states of the 50 states to love! After all, much of it is flat or rolling prairie land, which has its own kind of beauty. By the way, I’ve driven sections of this road in North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, and Oklahoma.
10. Atlantic Coast Highway
Typically named US-1. It starts in Fort Kent, ME, and ends in Key West, FL, staying near the Atlantic ocean for much of its length. For significant traffic, I-95 now bears much of the traffic formerly on US-1. While the remaining available parts make a beautiful drive, the dense population on the east coast makes for slow going.
But stay off I-95 if you want to see that part of the country! I’ve driven the Keys Highway from Miami and Key West, which is a section of US 1.
11. Southern Pacific Highway
US-80 and its modern-day equivalents. There are more varied landscapes and cultural diversity than on any other cross-country road. This highway runs north of I-10 and occasionally intersects with I-20. Initially, US 80 ran to San Diego, but since 1991, it has truncated in Dallas, TX.
If you want to go to California from Dallas, head toward Route 66 by heading north into Oklahoma or northwest into the Texas Panhandle. Or make your own route and follow the path of US 80. Much of it became state highways. And these east/west routes bring you through many of the 50 states to love!
12. Border to Border
US 93 starts north of the Canadian border at Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada, to the Mexican border in Nogales, Arizona. (Highway 93 is also part of the Canadian highway system and retains number 93!) Part of the highway is the Extraterrestrial Highway near Area 51 in Nevada. This highway claims to cross a more diverse geography than any other highway. And it runs through Las Vegas as well!
There you go! 50 States to Love!
The critical point is to visit every state and see points of interest in every state. However, if you want to “count” a state by just driving through, that’s fine with me. When you make it a point to visit every state, you may become overwhelmed with the vast lands and the diverse geography included in the country. Remember, there are 50 states to love across the country. And tell me about your experiences!
Yes, do tell me about your experiences. Here’s the link to my contact page. When I get comments, I’ll add a section below to show everyone’s responses. Don’t worry; I won’t use any identifying information!
Classic Rock Recollection
“I’ve Been Everywhere” by Johnny Cash
I was totin’ my pack along the dusty Winnemucca road
When along came a semi with a high and canvas-covered load
If you’re going to Winnemucca, Mack, with me, you can ride
So I climbed into the cab, and then I settled down inside
He asked me if I’d seen a road with so much dust and sand
And I said, “Listen, I’ve traveled every road in this here land.”
I’ve been everywhere, man
I’ve been everywhere, man
Written by: Geoff Mack
- “I’m trying for all 50. I hope to make it in the next five years. Thanks for the inspiration! – “Anonymous”
- Are you going to provide more information about additional states? (Answer: I’m working on it! Follow along to see what else I add!) (By the way, assume the commenters haven’t given specific permission to give their name.)
- Why would anyone want to visit all 50 states? (Answer: Because there is so much to see, even in the states that aren’t highly visited.)