US States & Time Expended

  • Post last modified:August 7, 2022

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Here’s an ongoing post about my personal visits and residences. It’s US States & Time Expended in each one. Yes, I have spent time in all fifty US states. And just to show how I did it, here it is! There will be links from here to other posts and back to here from more posts. I want to tie things together and give some ideas about how to visit places you might not have considered. Although this post seems like a better fit for those interested in visiting all states, you may find it interesting as well. Here’s a link to a trip that included more states than any other trip.

US States & Time Expended
Picture of car magnet for The Driveby Tourist!

If you visited all fifty, want to, or are planning to do so, here’s a link for you! Again, just trying to show US States & Time Expended in each. And why you should visit each state! Please comment about your experiences. Here are the 12 states in order of where I’ve personally spent the most time: MN-Much of my life, ND-24 years, AK-12 months, NE-11 months, FL-10 months, AZ-9 months, CA-6 months, TN-5 months, WI-4 months, KS-3 months, CO-3 months, WY-2 months.

My list of best places is included. I’ve included an “area” of the state, a “place” and a city. My ideas change over time as well. And I’m still completing the list! And I welcome your input as some states’ “best places” are from just a short visit.

My visits to all 50 US States & Time Expended

Why visit all 50 states? Many people don’t think it’s worth it.

Since I had a big start by the time I was 30, I started to plan for business trips, vacations, and other reasons to drive through a state. (I’m still updating, but I believe I’ve driven TO and IN 48 states. My trip to all 26 east of the Mississippi in the fall of 2021 brought me through all 26 east of the Mississippi.)

In 1970, a friend and I drove from Minnesota, through North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and back home. In 1974, my wife and my oldest daughter (before my other two were born) drove from Minnesota through North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, and Washington.

I’ve driven to and through Iowa many times. I drove Route 66 in 2018 which included Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. The Great River Road took me through every state that borders the Mississippi River, including Louisiana and Arkansas.

I’ve driven IN Alaska but not TO Alaska. And I’ve never driven IN Hawaii. (I don’t think I need to say that I haven’t driven TO Hawaii!)

Best Places in each of the US States & Time Expended


Best Place to visit

Area: Gulf Coast -Place: Alabama Music Hall of Fame -City: Huntsville

My time spent

Prior to 2014:
1965 – I changed planes in Birmingham on my way to Pensacola. Later, I drove into Mobile from Pensacola with a guy who had a car. On Memorial Day weekend, I went with three others to visit one guy’s uncle in Lake Charles,
Louisiana. We drove through southern Alabama both ways.

After 2014:
In 2021, I drove from Atlanta to Birmingham and then to Montgomery, where I spent a night. After visiting Florida for a night, I spent a night in Gulf Shores after seeing Bamahenge (a quirky place!). The next day, I drove through Alabama, including a visit to Selma, and then spent the night in Tuscaloosa. From there, I drove through part of Mississippi and after spending a night there, drove across northwestern Alabama, stopping in Florence to see a Frank Lloyd Wright home and in Muscle Shoals to see the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. From there, I drove to Nashville TN.

Aggregate time = 3 days


Best Place to visit

Area: Kenai Peninsula -Place: Fairbanks -City: Homer

My time spent

Prior to 2014:
1968: From mid-January until nearly Thanksgiving, I spent time on Adak Island in the Aleutians. I was home for about 3 weeks in October when my dad died.
1979: Five days in Fairbanks for a work trip.
1980: Five more days in Fairbanks for a work trip.
1981: From mid-November until mid-December, spent the entire time going live with a computer system at the hospital there. When I left, sunrise was about 10:30 AM and sunset at about 1:30 PM!

2011: Five days on the Kenai Peninsula for a fishing trip with three other Navy guys.

2013: Four days in Sitka for a work trip.

After 2014:
2014: In May of 2014, I spent 12 days in Sitka for a “go live”, which is what we called it when we “went live” with a computer system in the hospital there.

Aggregate time = ~one year


Best Place to visit

Area: Colorado River area by California -Place: Grand Canyon -City: Sedona

My time spent

Prior to 2014:
1975: From October 1st until December 5th, in Mesa for a computer system install. I went home for the second weekend in October and for Thanksgiving.
1976: Problem-solving for a week in March.
1977: Installing a financial system in Mesa for a week in January. I was there when the Raiders beat the Vikings in the Super Bowl!
1980: Installing a computer system in the hospital in Chandler for a week.
1982: Attended a class in Phoenix for one week
1983: A week in August preparing for a system install in Mesa in December and January
1983: System install in Lake Havasu City
1983/84: From mid-December until early February, spent most of the time doing a system install in Mesa.
1984: Follow up on a system install in Havasu.

1992: Conference in Phoenix for a full week as we spent some vacation time around it.

After 2014:
2015: January thru mid-March, did the “snowbird” thing!
2016: January thru the end of March, “snowbird” thing again!

2018: Route 66, spending nights in Holbrook, Winslow, and Kingman

Aggregate time = 9 months!


Best Place to visit

Area: Mississippi River –Place: Still Looking –City: None yet

My time spent

Prior to 2014:
While visiting Memphis, crossed the Mississippi into Arkansas for just a couple of hours.

After 2014:
2017: Great River Road trip, spent a night in West Memphis AK, and in West Helena, AK, and drove the road both north and south.

Aggregate time = 2 days


Best Place to visit

Area: California’s Route 66! –Place: Catalina Island –City: San Diego

My time spent

Prior to 2014:
1965: Navy Basic Training in San Diego from December 30, 1964, to March 20th, 1965
1966: Three days in San Francisco before leaving to go to Japan
1967: Overnight, when returning from Japan
1968: Overnight, when flying home from Adak on emergency leave
1970: Just drove through from Portland, OR to Reno NV
1982: Five days in the LA area for a business trip
1989 into 1990: Flew into LA on Christmas eve and spent Christmas Day at Disneyland with my kids. Also drove to San Diego and San Francisco, spending New Year’s Eve and Day there. Home again on January 4th or 5th.
Between 1983 and 2002, attended four or five weeklong conferences in San Diego. Average 5 days each time.
2002: Bakersfield to visit in-laws – 5 days
2007: Eureka to visit in-laws – 4 days
2011: Eureka to visit in-laws – 6 days

After 2014:
2014: Navy Reunion in May, and vacation time after the reunion for 10 days in San Diego
2018: Route 66 completion: Barstow, Pasadena, Anaheim (4 days), Yucca Valley, Death Valley (8 days)
2018: Navy Reunion again in San Diego and some extra time in Anaheim with in-laws
2019: Annaheim and other places in the extended LA area (7 days)
2020: Annaheim and other places in the extended LA area (10 days)

Aggregate time = 6 months


Best Place to visit

Area: Rocky Mountains –Place: Rocky Mountain National Park –City: Aspen

My time spent

Prior to 2014:
1978: Sterling for about 3 weeks consolidated
1980: Loveland for about 3 weeks consolidated
1981: Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Loveland, Sterling – 6 days
1996: Boulder, RMNP, Colorado Springs, Aspen, etc – 12 days
1999: Denver for 4 days
2001: Denver for 3 days

After 2014:
2015: Passing through with stops for 3 days
2016: Passing through with stops for 3 days
2019: Denver in April and November for 14 days
2020: Denver and the surrounding area for 11 days (3 trips)

Aggregate time = 3 months


Prior to 2014:
1982: Less than one day
2006: Class in Bridgeport for 3 days

After 2014:
2021: One night in Hartford in October

Aggregate time = 4 days


Prior to 2014:
1984: Drove across the state from Annapolis, MD, and then took the Lewes to Cape May Ferry to New Jersey

1989 (or so): Had lunch in Wilmington while at a business meeting in Philadelphia.

After 2014:
2021: Drove from Baltimore into Delaware, visited the state capital, and stayed one night in Milton DE. After a quick trip to Ocean City, MD, then back to Lewes to catch the late afternoon ferry. Spent about 24 hours in the state.

Aggregate time = 1 day

Florida and US States & Time Expended

Prior to 2014:
1966: Navy school from mid-April to mid-December
1985: Conference in West Palm Beach for five days
1996: Orlando and Sanibel for 10 days
1997: Sanibel for 7 days
1998: Sanibel for 7 days
1998: Orlando for a conference for 5 days
2002: Miami and drove to Key West for 5 days
2002: West Palm Beach for a conference for 5 days
2003: Orlando for a conference for 5 days
2011: Orlando for conference and vacation for 7 days

After 2014:
2019: Vacation for six days to Daytona Beach and Orlando
2021: On Eastern trip, spent one night in Panama City and drove the beach to Alabama the following day

Aggregate time = 10 months


Prior to 2014:
1965: Changed planes in Atlanta!
1986: Two-day visit to Atlanta for business
1995 thru 2003: Attended 5-day conferences three times

After 2014:
2021: One night in Augusta and two nights in Atlanta

Aggregate time = 3 weeks


Best Place to visit

Area: TBD -Place: TBD -City: TBD

Prior to 2014:
1966: Landed in Honolulu to refuel while going to Japan. We got off the plane while refueling. Put my feet on Hawaiin soil and breathed Hawaiin air!

After 2014:
Not yet!

Aggregate time = 90 minutes!


Prior to 2014:
1970: Three days in Boise
1974: 10 days in Moscow

After 2014:
2019: Three days in Cour d’Alene

Aggregate time = 2.5 weeks


Prior to 2014:

1975: Class in Chicago (4 days)
1976: Conference in Chicago (3 days)
1978: Drove through Chicago going out and coming back from Washington DC (1 day)
1981: Install a system in Hoopeston, IL (5 days)
1984: Drove through Chicago going out and coming back from Washington DC (1 day)
1985: Conference in Chicago (2 days)
1991: Weekend courtesy visit partially funded by a company with whom I did business (That was OK to do back then!) (2 days)

After 2014:
2016: Drove through Chicago going to Boston and Maine
2019: Spent 4 days in Chicago on a long weekend pleasure trip (4 days)
2021: Spent two overnights on my trip through all 26 eastern states

Aggregate time = ~3+ weeks


Best Place to visit

Area: just drive through! –Place: Indy 500 Race Track –City: Indianapolis

My time spent

Prior to 2014:
1978: Drove through from west to east going to Washington DC and east to west driving home.
1984: Drove through from west to east going to Washington DC and east to west, driving home.

After 2014:
2014: Drove across while en route to North Carolina. Entered the state by Chicago and drove into Ohio and Cinncinati. Drove back across I-70.
2016: Drove through on I-90 on the way to Boston and Maine, spending a night in South Bend. Drove back home again from east to west, spending a night near Cleveland, and visited the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame.
2021: Drove the length (north to south) of the state and spent two nights in Indianapolis. Visited Indiana Dunes National Park (link) and spent two nights in Indianapolis.

Aggregate time = 5 days

Iowa and US States & Time Expended

Prior to 2014:

After 2014:


Prior to 2014:
Many visits to in-laws between 1993 and 2013. Maybe 15 times?

After 2014:
2015: Here for 3 days over Labor Day to visit in-laws
2018: Drove across KS on the 13 miles of Route 66 in the state & returning from Route 66, spent three nights here. Two with in-laws and one in Kansas City
2021: Visited in-laws for four days in April

Aggregate time = 3 weeks


Best Place to visit

Area: Mammoth Cave National Park area -Place: Louisville Slugger Museum -City: Louisville

My time spent

Prior to 2014:
1981: Visited Paducah and Benton on a business trip.
1984: Spent the night in Frankfort on a family trip to Washington DC
2007: Drove into Harlan County while working in Kingsport TN

After 2014:
2021: Spent just one full day on my trip through here on my way east. Louisville, Frankfort, and a couple of other stops.
2021: Spent two nights (Bowling Green and Hopkinsville) while on the “home stretch” of my Eastern 26 road trip

Here’s a link to Kentucky from my Eastern 26 visit in 2021.


Prior to 2014:

After 2014:


Prior to 2014:
1982: Drove into Maine, had lobster, drove back into Massachusetts. No overnight stay.

After 2014:
2016: Spent six nights in Maine, one in Kennebunkport, two in Camden, and three in Bar Harbor.

Aggregate time = 6 days


Prior to 2014:
1978: Drove through Maryland on the way to and back home from Washington DC
1984: Drove through Maryland on the way to and back home from Washington DC

After 2014:

2014: Drove through on the way home from North Carolina
2018: Flew into BWI and took the train into Washington DC. No overnight stay.
2021: Spent two nights in Annapolis on my Eastern trip.


Prior to 2014:
1982: Two overnights in Massachusetts. Mostly driving. Night in Worcester and second night in Boston.

After 2014:
2016: Four days in Boston
2021: One day and an overnight in the Springfield area then drove through Quincy and Boston a couple of days later.

Aggregate time = 7 days


Prior to 2014:
1984: Returning from Washington DC family vacation, drove across the border and had lunch.
1985: Attended a two-day conference in Ann Arbor
2002: Visited Isle Royale National Park. One night in Copper Harbor before taking the boat to the NP, then three nights in the park.

After 2014:
2019: Drove through much of the Upper Peninsula. Spent 3 days and 2 nights in the UP.
2021: Spent one night in Grand Rapids and saw the Gerald R. Ford Museum.

Aggregate time = ~1 week

Links: Gerald R. Ford Museum and trip through Michigan

Minnesota and US States & Time Expended. But this is home!

Best Place to visit

Area: North Shore of Lake Superior -Place: Split Rock Lighthouse -City: Duluth

My time spent

Prior to 2014:
Born here. Between birth and 17.5 years old, was only outside the state a few times. Twice I got further than Fargo. Up near Michigan ND, once for 4 days and once for three weeks. Other than that in Fargo maybe a dozen times.

After the Navy, lived in Detroit Lakes and Moorhead for about two years. Then lived in the Twin Cities from 1973 to 1975.

Moved back to the Twin Cities in 1997 and have lived here since. I’ve been to many parts of the state. I still have a goal to visit every state park (65) and every county (87) in Minnesota.

After 2014:
From 1997 through “today,” I’m still living in Minnesota!


Prior to 2014:

After 2014:


Prior to 2014:

After 2014:


Prior to 2014:

After 2014:
2019: Eight nights in Missoula, Kalispell, East Glacier while touring and visiting Glacier National Park.

Nebraska – worked here, so it’s included in US States & Time Expended

Prior to 2014:
(work to be done – 1979 to 1981 North Platte & Grand Island
2003: Lincoln and then Omaha
numerous drives through Nebraska to get into Kansas

After 2014:
2015: Drove across the state twice and worked in Scottsbluff from March until Thanksgiving
2016: Drove through on Interstate 80 going to Arizona
2019: Drove across on I-80 in April while en route to Denver when my brother was ill. Spent two nights going out (caught in a storm in Kearney for two nights going out). Came back and spent three nights (Scottsbluff, small town in the Sand Hills, and Norfolk)
2020: Drove through Nebraska on three separate trips to Denver, spending two nights in June, one night on the first July trip, and two nights on the second July trip.

Overall, maybe 10 months in Nebraska


Prior to 2014:

After 2014:

New Hampshire

Prior to 2014:

After 2014:
2021: Driving across the northern part of the state. Spent a night in Portsmouth and a night in ___

New Jersey

Prior to 2014:

After 2014:

New Mexico

Prior to 2014:

After 2014:

New York

Prior to 2014:

After 2014:

North Carolina

Prior to 2014:
1984: One night in western North Carolina in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Visited Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
1996: Visited Raleigh area for a job interview. One overnight.

After 2014:
2014: Four nights in Asheville and seven nights on the Outer Banks
2021: Drove through North Carolina and spent two nights in Raleigh

North Dakota and US States & Time Expended. But I lived here once!

Prior to 2014:
Lived in the Fargo-Moorhead area for 24 years total

After 2014:
I’ve been back many times to visit daughters and grandchildren and for in-law’s Christmas


Prior to 2014:

After 2014:


Prior to 2014:

After 2014:


Best Place to visit

Area: Columbia River –Place: Pacific Coast –City: Astoria

Prior to 2014:

1970: With a college friend, drove from Fargo to Boise, Portland, Reno, and back home through Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska. Spent two nights in Portland.

1974: Visited Clarkson, Oregon briefly while visiting family in Moscow, Idaho.

1995: Visited family in the Astoria area for two days.

2011: Flew to Portland for a drive down the coast to Eureka, CA. Spent one night in Eugene on the way and one night in Portland before catching a flight back home.

After 2014:
2022: One day touring the area from Portland to the coast. I Visited Seaside, Oregon, a beautiful little beach town. Seaside sprung up near the landing spot for Lewis and Clark on the Pacific Ocean. After spending the night prior and the night after this trip, I drove to the “Tri-Cities” of Washington (Pasco, Richland, and Kennewick. I returned at the end of the trip to spend the night before flying out of Portland to return home.

Aggregate time = 9 days


Prior to 2014:
From 1986 through 2002, visited Malvern (Philadelphia area) about ten times for work-related trips.

After 2014:
2021: Drove from Buffalo NY, southeast into Pennsylvania, spending one night in Allentown and one in Harrisburg. Also visited Gettysburg.

A cumulative total of one month in Pennsylvania

Rhode Island

Prior to 2014:
1981 or 1982: Drove through the state, stopped for lunch in Providence.

After 2014:
2021: Drove across the state from Connecticut and into Massachusetts. Drove down into Newport to see the site where Bob Dylan went electric. That actual place isn’t marked but I stopped at a couple of places where the Folk Festival occurred (and occurs). Spent one night in Providence.

Aggregate time = 1 day

South Carolina

Prior to 2014:
1984: Drove into South Carolina, put my feet on SC soil, breathed the air, and left! Total of about 30 minutes!

After 2014:
2021: Drove into the state on my Eastern trip. I spent one night in Florence and two nights in Charleston.

South Dakota

Prior to 2014:

After 2014:


Prior to 2014:

After 2014:
2017: Drove through along the Mississippi River and spent one night in Memphis
2021: On the Eastern trip, I spent two nights in Nashville and one night with a Navy friend and his wife in his country home south of Nashville.

Texas – Must include the second largest state in US States & Time Expended

Prior to 2014:

After 2014:
2018: Drove Route 66 across the Texas Panhandle. Spent one night in Amarillo.


Prior to 2014:

After 2014:
2016: Visited Arches National Park while returning from Arizona
2018: Returning from Route 66, spent one night in Moab and visited Monument Valley


Prior to 2014:

After 2014:


Prior to 2014:

After 2014:


Prior to 2014:
1968: Two nights while flying to Adak while in the Navy
1968: Eight days while being separated from active duty in the Navy
1974: Two nights in Spokane when visiting in-law family
1982: Overnight, when returning from Fairbanks on a business trip
1983: Three days on a business trip
1986: Five days attending a conference
1993: Visited my step-daughter in Seattle for seven days
1994: Visited in-law family for seven days
1995: Two nights for an interview in Vancouver

After 2014:
2014: Changed planes when going to Alaska to install a computer system
2022: Four nights in Kennewick, WA, for a conference

Aggregate time = ~6 weeks

West Virginia

Prior to 2014:

After 2014:

Wisconsin and US States & Time Expended

Prior to 2014:
1964: Train through Wisconsin to Chicago but never got off so likely doesn’t count.
1978: Driving to in-laws in Virginia and spent the night in Madison. Returning spent a night near Milwaukee
1982: Spent three days in Hayward, WI, for two days of work but took the family along and enjoyed a few days of vacation when work was done.
1984: Drove through again on the way to Virginia but only stopped for a meal going each way.
1995: Four days in Bayfield WI camping and seeing attractions. Took the ferry to Madeline Island and rented scooters for a few hours.

2002: Spent a night in Copper Harbor and three nights on Isle Royale National Park, an island in Lake Superior.
2008: Worked in Madison from July until Christmas, driving there every week.
Western WI is only about 40 miles from my home so I was likely there other times as well.

After 2014:
2016: Scored tickets to a Packers game and attended the game at Lambeau! (No, I’m not a Packer fan but everybody should see Lambeau.)
2019: On a trip through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, drove through Central Wisconsin and spent the first night in Green Bay.
Multiple trips into nearby Wisconsin for “gig economy” jobs.

Aggregate time = ~4 months

By the way, here’s a link to a trip through Wisconsin. And another link through Wisconsin to the UP of Michigan.


Prior to 2014:
1970: Drove from Salt Lake City to Denver through Wyoming. Spent one night in Rock Springs.
1979: Several visits to Riverton and Lander to install computer systems in the hospital. Total of 5 weeks.
1981: Spent four nights in Cheyenne for a corporate meeting
1982: Four weeks total in Evanston, WY installing a computer system in a hospital.

After 2014:
2015: Drove through Wyoming many times while working in Scottsbluff Nebraska. (Flights in and out of Denver.)

Aggregate time = About 2 months

Bonus to US States & Time Expended, including outside the US!


1970 – Winnipeg for Memorial Day weekend.
1982 – Vancouver, BC for a conference
1985 – Family visit to Winnipeg
2005 to 2007 – Flew to Toronto, drove to Hamilton, Ontario, to work for McKesson at St. Joseph’s Hospital nearly every week from March 2005 to April 2007. I flew here nearly 100 times during those years! Averaging 4 days a week for an estimated 97 weeks works out to 388 days!

Overall, likely consolidates to about 14 months.


Service at Naval Security Group Activity, Kamiseya Japan, from January 1966 to November 1967.

That’s 22 months.


1981 – Walked across the border into Tijuana!
1990 – Walked across the border and took a taxi to the shopping district with family during a California vacation

Wake Island

1966 – Landed here to refuel on the way to Japan in January of 1966. Spent somewhat over an hour here! But I was there! Touched the soil and breathed the air!

And that’s all for my collection of US States & Time Expended

Classic Rock Recollection

“America” by Simon & Garfunkel

“Let us be lovers, we’ll marry our fortunes together
I’ve got some real estate here in my bag”
So we bought a pack of cigarettes and Mrs. Wagner pies
And walked off to look for America

“Kathy”, I said as we boarded a Greyhound in Pittsburgh
“Michigan seems like a dream to me now”
It took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw
I’ve gone to look for America

Written by: Paul Simon

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