To Travel is to Live
Well folks, we're 36 months in, of this little thing called RV travel, and must say, we have packed a lot in that timeframe. As a result, our once modest list has expanded 3, 4, or 5-fold that we get to share with all of you. We hope you find it helpful in planning wherever your wheels take you next, from a place to rest your head and mind, to a place that inspires you to see, taste and try new things. We even list places for your fur babies as well since they too, deserve some fun. This trip would not have been the same without our Sadie 🐾.
We never realized just how much there is to see in this amazing country of ours. And we've only touched the surface. The first half of our 2-year journey has taken us to most of the western and southern states as well as Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and Michigan. Fall of 2021 took us to Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire before making our way west again to be with our family for the Holidays. For 2022, we take a more linear route, setting our sites on the whole summer in ALASKA!! We'll have a full page dedicated just for ALASKA, when the trip is through in September. The list below is in alphabetical order and includes only the states we have visited so far. The "read more" selection for each state directs you to specifics on lodging, dining, excursions, etc. Happy planning!
Where do you begin describing the Last Frontier? You might use the word BIG to describe it or maybe it conjures up thoughts of dog sledding, Kodiak bears and the Aurora Borealis (aka Northern Lights). There is no denying its beauty with its 425.8 million acres, comprised of more active glaciers and ice fields than the rest of the inhabited world. And about 90% of Alaska is only accessible by plane. Thus, 1% of Alaska's population (732,000 people) are licensed to fly! ✈️ In addition to Alaska's one of a kind, majestic beauty, it is also famous for the Iditarod, gold mining, sourdough, the Alaska Railroad, aviation, Alaska Native heritage, homesteading, world-class fishing and seafood, outdoor adventures, fresh air, and a slower, more self-sufficient way of life. And the people......some of the hardest working, friendliest bunch. The U.S. definitely scored on acquiring this indescribable beauty of a state for the bargain price of $7 million much to Russia's regret perhaps?
Beautiful sunsets, awesome resorts and spas, home to the Grand Canyon, wonderful Native American history, plenty of hiking places, the night sky is spectacular, lively cities make Arizona a top state to visit. And don't forget the Colorado River Crossing Hot Air Balloon Festival which attracts some of the most colorful and unique balloons! Mark your calendar for April 30th-May 2nd!
Canada 🇨🇦, with its 10 provinces and 3 territories boasts some of the most stunning lake and mountain scenery in the world. In fact, Canada has more lakes than anywhere else in the world and holds 10% of the world's forests. It also has the longest coastline in the world. And Quebec City is the only city north of Mexico that still has fortified walls. In regards to natural resources, Canada has 6 times more oil than Russia. And their national parks are bigger than most countries. Canada is a country filled with famous landmarks, historical wonders, delicious food, incredible culture, and all the outdoor exploration you could ever want. And you might want to brush up on your French if you plan on visiting Quebec.
You can't beat the absolutely breathtaking beauty of Colorado. It has everything any nature lover would want. Lakes, mountains, caverns, waterfalls, unusual rock formations....it's all there. And Denver is a really, really good looking city. And if you're into music, Red Rocks offers the most scenic venue anywhere, so get your tickets early!
There is no state income tax, making it one of the top places to retire. It is also world-renowned for its beach resorts on 663 miles of beaches, amusement parks such as Walt Disney World, sunny/warm temps and plenty of water recreation. And keep your eye out for those adorable, migrating manatees making their appearance during the winter months. Did you know that Manatees and alligators coexist? Nice to know they get along!
Most of us know Georgia to be the Peach State, but it's also a top producer of pecans, peanuts and Vidalia onions in the U.S. Amicalola Falls in Dawsonville is the tallest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River. The Okefenokee in south Georgia is the largest swamp in North America (watch out for those 'gators!). And you can't beat the charming, historic district of Savannah!
Idaho's nickname is the Gem State. But it's also known for great skiing, golfing, camping, and hiking. Our favorite bike ride to this day is the Hiawatha Trail that starts at the Montana border and ends 17 miles later in Idaho. The International Dark-Sky Association recently granted silver-tier International Dark Sky Park status to Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, so it sounds like you can't beat their night sky!
Illinois is known as the "Land of Lincoln" since Abraham Lincoln spent most of his adult life there and was the first state in the U.S. to ratify the Constitution's 13th amendment which abolished slavery. It is the 6th most populous state in the U.S. Inventors John Deere and Cyrus McCormick made their fortunes in Illinois by improving farm machinery. And the third largest city in the U.S. belongs to Chicago.
Did you know Indiana sits atop one of the greatest concentrations of limestone in the world? They've also produced more professional basketball players per capita than any other state. It has the second-largest automotive industry and the Indianapolis 500 is the greatest spectacle in racing. Make sure to check out President Lincoln's boyhood memorial, located in Lincoln City, Indiana.
Kentucky is known as the horse capital of the world with the grandest horse race in the world....the Kentucky Derby held at Churchill Downs. Kentucky bourbon's capital is in Bardstown and you must try the famous bourbon ball. Deelish!! The song “Happy Birthday to You” was penned by two Louisville sisters. Post-its were invented in this "Bluegrass" state and the very first American public performance of a Beethoven symphony was in Kentucky.
You can't beat the melting pot of cultures in Louisiana. And the food is unlike anywhere else. Though everyone associates Louisiana with New Orleans with its amazing music and party scene, it is jam-packed with history. The wild life is pretty cool too. Did you also know that it's the home of Tabasco Sauce? Oh, and of course the people are so kind.
Most people know that Maine is famous for their lobster, right? But, even if you're not a seafood lover, it's still worth a visit to take in its breathtaking 3,478 miles of coastline, the wide range of lighthouses, and who knows. If you are camping or hiking in the woods, you just might run into a moose (the official state animal of Maine). And did you know that Maine has over 6,000 lakes and ponds? Wow!! And don't forget the glorious Fall display of color!
Now of course Michigan ranks up there for fishing with its 3,200+ miles of coastline, but forestry is another important industry where 90% of the U.P. (Upper Peninsula) is covered in trees. Anywhere you stand in the state, you're no more than 85 miles from a Great Lake as it borders 4 of the 5 Great Lakes. And Mackinac Island is rated as one of the top vacation spots in the U.S. Don't forget the fudge!
Mississippi is the "Catfish Capital of the World" and is the nation's second leader of cotton production. The 4-H club began in Holmes County in 1904. The Mississippi River is the largest in the U.S. and serves as the nation's main waterway, earning the nickname "Old Man River". And it's one of 21 states to have milk as its state beverage.
Montana is known for its outdoorsy culture and there's a reason it's called the "Big Sky" state as it really does seem, with all the open land, that the sky goes on forever. It is also home to our favorite national park....Glacier National Park. The air is perfection, that you just want to breathe deep and take it all in. If you're a fisherwoman or fisherman, fly fishing is what it's all about in the great outdoors.
New Hampshire is such a year round beautiful state. Best known for its small picturesque towns and large stretches of wilderness, this "granite state" is the 5th smallest state in the U.S. and the 10th least populated. And it is one of 9 states that doesn't require its residents to pay state income tax. And did you know that New Hampshire was the first state to declare independence from England?
The city of Albuquerque is home to over 300 hot air balloons, making it the hot balloon capital in America. Mark your calendars from Oct. 2 -Oct. 10 for the International Balloon Festival. There are more sheep and cattle, then there are people. Santa Fe is the highest capital city at 7,000 feet. The temperature ranges are also incredible. The lowest recorded temperature has been -50 degrees F, and the highest recorded has been 122. 🥵
Of course we all know about New York City which is what most people think about when they hear New York. But we also think of a place where there are endless museums and art galleries, Broadway, skyscrapers galore, awesome international and experimental food, and of course.....Niagara Falls!
North Carolina is the sweet potato capital of the U.S. and is the ninth largest state. It also has the most visited national park in the U.S.... Great Smoky Mountains National Park. North Carolina has 41 state parks, 10 national parks, and four national forests. That's a lot of scenery folks! The nation's largest private residence, the Biltmore Estate, built by the steamboat, railroad tycoon, George Washington Vanderbilt, is located in Asheville.
Ohio is home to the largest population of Amish people, but did you know Ohioans are crazy about football? It's also home to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the birthplace of the Wright Brothers, the leader in corn production
and the location of Cedar Point.....the 365-acre amusement park on the Lake Erie Peninsula.
The landscape in Oregon is quite diverse with rocky and remote Pacific beaches to the west, barren high desert to the east, and epic mountains, lush forests and wild rivers in between with the hot spots being Crater Lake, Bend, Columbia River Gorge and Washington Park to name a few. And as if that's not enough they've also grown into quite an impressive wine region. Willamette Valley is home to dozens of wineries and vineyards.
Being a pescatarian, I wouldn't know a thing about Philly Cheesesteaks but I guess Pennsylvania is home to the best! But I do know a thing about chocolate with this state being the Chocolate Capital of the USA. With a large Amish presence (4 large communities), we can all get a taste and better understanding of their way of life. And I'd forgotten that this state also hosts the official Groundhog Day celebration. But the state is rich in history. Sadly, it is where the bloodiest battle on American soil took place.....the Battle of Gettysburg. And last but not least, this Keystone State is where the signing of our Declaration of Independence took place on August 2, 1776, sparking the Revolutionary War.
South Carolina produces more peaches than Georgia. Charleston Is home to one of the oldest trees in the country at 400-500 years old. BBQ was born in the Palmetto State. It was the first to secede from the union and was the first European settlement on the continent. It is also the birthplace of that delicious "Sweet Tea". And for you golf fans, South Carolina boasts some of the best golf courses in the world.
Despite the crazy winters and unpredictable weather, South Dakota (otherwise known as SoDak) is without a doubt, one of the best states to live and visit in the country. Of course you have that little hill where the 4 greatest U.S. Presidents are carved into stone (Mt. Rushmore). But there's so much more...... lightning bugs that light up the prairies in summer, potato oles, winter sports, open grasslands as far as the eye can see, fantastic thrift shops, music festivals, small town charm, and rich history.
When we think of Texas, we think of rodeos, cowboy boots, BBQ, hot weather, The Alamo, and big expanses of land filled with cattle. And yes, it is huge, being the second largest state with gosh darn so much to see. And it ranks No. 4 in coastal beaches (600-miles in all). But it also encompasses amazing history, great food, NASA, Big Bend National Park and a wonderful culture scene. And for the ultimate experience, top notch dude ranches!
Utah is a state where the surrounding beauty is endless, and the quality of life is fabulous. It boasts great economic opportunity making it more affordable than Colorado. The skiing is incredible, it has the "Mighty-Five" national parks...Zion, Bryce, Arches, Capitol Reef and Canyonlands, there are dinosaur fossils EVERYWHERE.
Virginia is known as the "Mother of Presidents" due to the fact eight U.S. Presidents were born there. The Atlantic fleet of the U.S. Navy is based in Virginia. And hopefully you were paying attention in your history class as we should all know that Jamestown was the first English settlement in the U.S. It was also the first capital of Virginia. The state is also home to the oldest public university...William and Mary located in Williamsburg.
Where to start? Well, did you know that Washington state harvests between 10 and 12 billion apples annually? So I guess there's never a shortage of apple juice in this state, right? But did you know that the state is a power-house in terms of being carbon-friendly for all us environmentally conscious types. And with its 3,000 miles of coastline, many lakes and stunning coniferous forests, there's never a shortage of beautiful scenery. Seattle (the largest city of the Pacific Northwest) as well as Tacoma and Spokane are also amazing cities worth paying a visit.
Wisconsin is known as "America's Dairyland" as it's one of the leading states in dairy production, particularly in the cheese department. It's also home to the Harley Davidson motorcycle. But don't forget the July fireworks on the Milwaukee Lakefront,
the Milwaukee Art Museum and Milwaukee's Summerfest. And there's plenty to see and do when it comes to water.....they have over 26,000 miles of rivers and streams!