Stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific and beyond – the United States boasts an incredible array of natural beauty. Our 50 states – each a little kingdom – are all unique and attractive in their own way. But which five states are the most beautiful? I’ve traveled all over these United States so feel qualified to make my picks. Below is my list of the prettiest states in the nation. What would be your top five?
Even though I live here and admit to being biased (though I am not a native Californian) – there is no state in the union that can beat California for sheer beauty and diversity. The Golden State has miles of glorious beaches, spectacular mountains and Ski resorts, acres of manicured vineyards and important farmland, majestic towering redwood forests; awe inspiring National Parks and Lake Tahoe. Plus beautiful cities and towns, north and south, from San Francisco to Santa Monica. Okay, so there’s traffic, high gas prices and crowds, but the more I travel, the more I recognize that California is the prettiest state of them all.
I was shocked at how beautiful Virginia was after my first encounter a number of years ago. What stunning scenery, backwoods horse country, dense woods and green, green green pasture land as far as the eye can see. Chock a block with lovely little towns, countless rivers and bays, deep story lines – some good, some somber – but for the most part this state is inhabited by smart, very friendly, genuine people. Plus the Commonwealth of Virginia is so rich with American history. Worthy sites include Mount Vernon, Monticello and Montpelier and hundreds of others offering glimpses into the beginnings of our country. Virginia is a beauty – and wine too.
Make no mistake; even though New York City is an amazing place, it’s only a small part of what the Empire State has to offer. See the verdant hills of the Catskills or the rugged mountains of the Adirondacks. Niagara Falls is nothing to sneeze at and the important Long Island beaches are visited by millions. This state is awash with water, and the Finger Lakes are but a few of the many lakes dotted throughout the state. Magnificent farms and vineyards can be enjoyed “upstate,” and hamlets like Cooperstown, Ithaca and Lake Placid are charming places to visit.
Aloha everybody. Go and experience the balmy Pacific breezes and relaxed Hawaiian spirit. Not only exotic and tranquil, each of the Hawaiian Islands has a different character all its own, from Oahu’s big city vibe to Maui’s serenity; the Big Islands volcanic otherworldliness to Kauai’s moist, out there feeling. Warm and inviting, and what sublime beaches – Hawaii isn’t for everybody – which is just fine with me. I do hear some got “rock fever” living in Hawaii, but for many it is certainly a paradise to visit. America is incredible lucky to have Hawaii as its 50th state.
Really two states in one, Washington is sliced roughly down the middle by the majestic Cascade Range. Seattle and the islands in the far west are in a temperate rain forest, and green is the color to be seen most of the year. Though it does rain quite a bit, America’s northwestern most state is proudly represented with a boating culture, great fishing, entrepreneurial spirit and some amazing coastal scenery. Then to the east of the Cascades, Washington State is a high rugged desert much more akin to places in Idaho or Nevada, then Seattle. Farmland, ranchland and miles of thriving vineyards take you to Walla Walla, one the prettiest and most underrated cities in the US. (Plus the State Vegetable – the Walla Walla Sweet onion comes only from there. Check it out.
Prettiest state Honorable Mentions include: Colorado, Vermont and Kentucky.
Next the 5 ugliest states in the nation.
c. Bob Ecker 2011
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