What Each State Should Be Most Thankful For
No matter where you live, from the snowy summits of Alaska to the swampy bayous of Louisiana, we all have at least one reason to feel blessed. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, here's what each state should be thankful for this year.
Alabama: White barbecue sauce
BBQ is one of the most divisive topics in the South. But Alabamians will stand strong in their opinion that sauce should be white. Wait… what? Yep, white BBQ sauce is as much a staple in Alabama as Crimson Tide games on Saturdays. Born in Decatur in 1925, the mayonnaise-based sauce is a tangy, slightly sweet substitute for your traditional red sauce. Don’t knock it ’til you try it! You’ll also want to find out the strangest food laws in every state.
When someone says “the lights are out” in Alaska, they aren’t talking about a power outage. Instead, they’re talking about the glimmering starry streaks of the aurora borealis, also known as the Northern Lights. The best place to see the breathtaking celestial display light up the sky in green, teal, and white? The town of Fairbanks between September and April, when the auroras are most visible.
Arizona: Luxury spas
Relaxation isn’t hard to come by in Scottsdale, where there are more destination spas than in any other city in the country. Soak in a Turkish steam bath, experience the healing powers of crystals, or sip a green juice made with local agave in your private cabana.
Forget rollin’ down the river. In Arkansas, you’ll be floating. Grab your tube or canoe and spend a Saturday afternoon on a float trip down the Buffalo River. Whether you go it alone or take a guided tour, enjoy the breathtaking bluffs as you wind your way through the Ozark Mountains. Don’t forget the cooler stocked with plenty of cold ones and the perfect picnic to be enjoyed riverside.
California: Road trips
There’s really no better way to see California than from the passenger seat of a car (bonus points if it’s a convertible so you can feel the warm Cali sun on your face). Turn up the Beach Boys tunes and zoom down the famous Pacific Coast Highway that runs along the cliffs and overlooks the waves crashing on the shore below. The stunning views more than make up for the hours Californians spend in L.A. rush hour during the week. Find out the best weekend getaways in every state.
With stunning ski resorts dotting the mountains (and even more backcountry trails that only the locals know about), it’s no surprise that Colorado recently saw over 13 million skier visits in just one year. From Aspen to Telluride to Keystone, there are plenty of spots for adrenaline junkies to go flying down a steep mountain at 20 miles per hour. You can even hit the slopes year-round thanks to the indoor training facility at Woodward Copper complete with ramps and jumps.
In Connecticut, you don’t order a piece of pizza, you order a “piece apizza.” New York and Chicago may have their own pie bragging rights, but no one does it quite like the town of New Haven, where you’ll find Neopolitan-style pizza baked in coal ovens, giving it a little extra crunch. The toppings are light, the dough is crisp yet chewy, and the pies are oblong and irregular since each one is hand-formed.
Delaware: No sales tax
Christmas shopping isn’t quite so painful in the First State, which is one of five states that don’t have any sales tax. And with most sales taxes falling in the 4 to 7 percent range, you could be banking hundreds of dollars in money saved the next time you hit the mall.
Florida: Mild winters
There’s a reason so many snowbirds flock to Florida every winter, and it’s not to see Mickey Mouse at Disney World. Rather, it’s that reading on the thermometer outside that, even during the coldest month of January, hovers at an average of 61 degrees. The promise of lounging poolside in December and never having to shovel snow again? Sign us up.
Georgia: Sweet tea
In the state famous for peaches and beaches, the only thing sweeter than that syrupy Southern accent is the tall glass of iced tea sitting in front of you. It may contain as much sugar as a bottle of soda, but sweet tea also has good-for-you antioxidants since it’s brewed from black tea leaves. Just don’t drink it too much.
Hawaii: The “aloha” lifestyle
Aloha isn’t just a way of saying hello, it’s also a way of life. The word encompasses everything you probably think of when you think of Hawaii (minus the beautiful beaches, of course): easygoing attitudes, a culture built on love and harmony, and the laid-back “island time.” Things move slower on the Big Island, a refreshing change of pace from the bustling cities of the mainland. Discover the true meaning behind these Hawaiian words and phrases that reveal the secret to zen.
Idaho: Hot springs
Skip the hot tub and soak in one of Idaho’s 340 natural springs instead. The state is home to the most usable hot springs in the country, which have benefits like boosting circulation, relieving stress, and easing aches and pains. The most well-known hot spot (pun intended!) in Idaho is likely Kirkham Hot Springs, a series of geothermal pools featuring warm waterfalls that are the equivalent of a hot shower. Find out about all the best natural hot springs around the United States.
Every Illinois native loves a good horseshoe. But this isn’t the backyard game you might be thinking of… it’s an open-faced sandwich topped with thick ham steak or burger patties and French fries and then smothered in creamy cheese sauce. Originally from the city of Springfield, the horseshoe sandwich has become a must-order item on diner menus across the state. Who knew that Illinois had a food secret even more delicious than deep dish pizza?
Indiana: Movie snacks
If there’s any state that knows the right way to “Netflix and chill,” it’s definitely Indiana. That’s because it’s not only the birthplace of Orville Redenbacher, it’s also one of the world’s biggest producers of popcorn. There’s even a town named Popcorn! Check out these 24 other funny town names you won’t believe exist.
Besides being what you feel like after indulging in a deep-fried stick of butter at the Iowa State Fair, pigs are what this Midwestern state is known for. As the number one producer of hogs in the country, Iowans are quite literally bringing home the bacon. In fact, they love their bacon so much (and who wouldn’t), there’s even a festival dedicated to it, where a Bacon Queen and Pork Princess are crowned every year. Don’t miss the best state fair in all 50 states.
Kansas: Flint Hills
The lyric “amber waves of grain” was basically written about Kansas where you’ll find the largest tallgrass prairie in North America. Watch the sunset over fields of wildflowers or drive down the backroads through the rolling pastures. Don’t miss the rows of towering sunflowers, a favorite in the fall months. The Flint Hills are a magical place so, if you’re not in Kansas anymore (OK, Dorothy), you probably want to be. You’ll definitely want to check out these photos of the most spectacular sunset in every state.
With more turkey (and deer!) per capita than any other state, Kentucky is the spot that hunters flock to each year. But the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving table isn’t the only kind of turkey that Kentucky residents enjoy. There’s also Wild Turkey bourbon… along with 95 percent of the world’s entire bourbon supply that’s produced right in the Bluegrass State. So yes, we’ll take our turkey with a side of, uh, Turkey, please.
Louisiana: Soul food
Po’boys, jambalaya, crawfish, fried chicken, buttery biscuits… hungry yet? Because if there’s one thing Louisiana is known for (other than Mardi Gras, of course), it’s that downhome country cookin’ we all crave. All that artery-clogging, finger-licking food pairs perfectly with some live jazz music down on Bourbon Street, too. And don’t forget to finish off your meal with beignets, deep-fried bits of dough coated in powdered sugar. Let the good times roll! Be sure to check out the birthplace of 20 of the most iconic foods in the world.
Maine: Island hopping
You don’t need a passport to live the island life. There are over 4,600 islands off the rocky coast of Maine, some of which are completely wild and perfect for exploring. One of the biggest inhabited islands, though, is Vinalhaven Island in Penobscot Bay featuring an adorable waterfront hotel, picnic, and swimming spots, and some of the most mouthwatering lobster rolls in the state. Don’t miss the 10 most romantic islands in the United States.
Maryland: Steamed crabs
You won’t find anyone more passionate about their crabs than the people of Maryland—and for good reason. The crustacean-crazed state steams their crabs differently than anywhere else in the country: packed full of regional favorite Old Bay. Picking crabs, after all, is a popular past time for almost every Marylander and they know exactly how to crack the claws to get the most meat. Dip it in melted butter or malt vinegar and you’re, well, golden.
Massachusetts: Local lingo
Between the accent and the wacky words, it’s almost as if Massachusetts residents have their own “wicked” secret language that separates the insiders from the outsiders. Unless you understand “bang a u-ey,” “rotary,” or “packie,” you’ll have no idea what they’re talking about. But you should still take the “cahr” to Boston, which was ranked one of the best cities for history buffs.
Michigan: Hand map
Fun fact: You can get around Michigan without a map, a GPS, or an iPhone. All you need is… your hand. That’s right. Because Michigan is shaped like a mitten, you can use your hand to point to where exactly your headed. Just hold your right hand straight up and turn your left hand horizontal to represent the upper half of the state. For example, Detroit is located just below your thumb whereas Traverse City sits between your pinky finger and ring finger. How convenient!
People aren’t just nice in Minnesota, they’re “Minnesota nice.” What exactly does that mean? They tell it like it is and aren’t afraid to speak up when that neon green dress you’re wearing to church is, well, “an interesting choice.” Some may call it passive-aggressive, but Minnesotans just call it honest. Whatever it is, it’s a breath of fresh air (and everyone needs to hear the truth every once in a while).
Mississippi: Cost of living
Want to spend a little and save a lot? Head on down to Mississippi, where every dollar goes a lot further. Sixteen percent further, to be exact. That’s because Mississippi has the lowest cost of living in the entire country, with houses costing 30 percent less than they do elsewhere.
Missouri: Lake life
With over 1,150 miles of rivers, waterways, and beautiful lakes, Missouri has more shoreline than the entire length of the California coast. Head to the Lake of Ozarks on a sunny afternoon for camping, fishing, boating, swimming, you name it. Or hike to the top of one of the bluffs to overlook the sparkling water below. The Show Me State definitely knows how to show you a good time enjoying the lake life.
Montana: State pride
Proud to be an American? Sure. But people in Montana are equally (if not more) proud to be, well, Montanan. A survey concluded that Montana was tied with Alaska as the state with the most pride, with 77 percent of its residents saying their state is the best state. We get it—if we had gorgeous Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks, friendly small towns, and endless outdoor activities, we’d probably feel the same way.
Nebraska takes its trees pretty seriously—after all, the first-ever Arbor Day took place in the state in 1872, when Nebraskans planted one million (!!) trees. Even today, the government closes and most people gather to plant new saplings or spend the day exploring the Arbor Day Tree Farm. From providing shade to a hot Nebraska tailgating Saturday to being the perfect spot for a massive treehouse to helping the environment, it’s no wonder that Nebraskans are such tree huggers.
Nevada: Open-minded people
You’ll find all walks of life in Nevada, from the uber-conservative to the wildly eclectic. No matter who you are or where you’re from, everyone is welcome in the culturally diverse state that was ranked one of the top ten most open-minded states in the United States. The easygoing vibe makes life, well, pretty easy in terms of getting along with your neighbors and feeling free to express yourself. That kind of acceptance is one thing that shouldn’t stay in Vegas.
New Hampshire: Freedom
“Live free or die.” In a state where that’s the official motto, how can you not be thankful for all the freedom you’re blessed with this year? Whether it’s choosing a job (New Hampshire has low unemployment rates), roaming the streets at any hour of the night (the state is one of the safest), or getting your annual physical (they have the best healthcare in the country!), you’re free to live life exactly how you want to. That’s something we tend to take for granted a little too often.
New Jersey: Gas stations
Sometimes it’s the little things in life—like not having to pump your own gas. New Jersey is the last state where it’s actually illegal to fill your own tank. Relaxing in your heated car instead of standing out in the freezing cold rain at the pump sounds pretty good to us. And if it also creates more jobs in the state, well that’s just an added bonus.
New Mexico: Mexican food
Chipotle’s got nothing on the Southwestern fare of New Mexico. Sip a Mexican hot chocolate at Cafe Pasqual’s, chow down on a soft sopapilla, or add a little spice to your life with a regional green chile cheeseburger. And of course, we all know the real star of Santa Fe is Frito pie, a pile of chili, Cheddar cheese, and onions topped with crispy corn chips. Hungry yet?
New York: Big dreams
It might be the city that never sleeps but New York City is also the place known to make dreams come true. From aspiring actors to ambitious entrepreneurs to wannabe fashion designers, almost every New Yorker has their version of the American Dream. And if there’s anywhere to chase that passion, it’s New York, where opportunity lives on every street corner. Even if you aren’t “trying to make it,” you can’t help but be swept up in the excitement of it all.
North Carolina: The color blue
Everything is better blue. That’s what most North Carolinians would say, even if they may not agree on the shade (the Duke navy vs. Carolina sky blue debate is the most divisive topic in the state). The color runs deeper than just sports, too. From the deep blue of the Atlantic Ocean crashing on the eastern side of the state to the aptly-named Blue Ridge Parkway cresting the stunning peaks of the Appalachian Mountains, North Carolina is feeling blue in the best way possible.
North Dakota: No tourists
Crowds, expensive prices, and seasonal partygoers aren’t something that North Dakotans have to worry much about. After all, it’s the least visited state in the country. Which most of the residents have no problem with, proven by the fact that North Dakota was dubbed the state with the highest quality of life. Fewer tourists just mean they can keep all the natural beauty and miles of farmland and ranches that their state has to offer to themselves.
Ohio: The Amish
Horse and buggies are a common sight in Ohio, the state with the largest Amish population of nearly 70,000. Besides giving a boost to the overall economy, the Amish people are well-known for their gorgeous handcrafted furniture, farm-fresh food, cozy quilts, and mouthwatering handmade cheeses and jams. Plus, life moves at a slower pace on the backroads of Amish country, something we could all use every once in a while.
Oklahoma: Happy hour
Oklahoma loves happy hour. But not the kind that involves alcohol… the kind that involves cherry limeade. Every afternoon from 2 to 4 p.m., you’ll find cars lining up for Sonic’s happy hour half-priced slushies, soda, shakes, and floats. The drive-in chain was originally founded in Shawnee, Oklahoma and now boasts over 168,000 drink flavor combinations like Strawberry Shortcake which is Sprite with sweet cream, vanilla flavoring, and fresh strawberries.
Oregon: Public beaches
Live in one of those states where there are certain places you can’t soak up the sun and sand? Beach, please. Oregonians are not about that life. Thanks to the Oregon Beach Bill passed in 1967, the public has free, unrestricted access to every beach in the state. That includes everything from the sandstone cliffs of Cape Kiwanda to the black pebble-covered Cobble Beach. Read on to discover 12 of the best beaches in America.
Pennsylvania: Junk food
Hershey’s, UTZ, Tastykake, Peeps, Godiva, Auntie Anne’s… Pennsylvania has mastered the art of snacking. In fact, the small town of Hanover is the country’s biggest producer of snack food products from potato chips to pretzels to sweet treats. And while we love junk food as much as the next person, it’s definitely possible to have too much of a good thing.
Rhode Island: Coffee milk
Coffee milk is the new chocolate milk. At least it is in Rhode Island, where the unique beverage was named the official state drink back in 1993. The perfect combination of sugar and caffeine, it’s simply coffee syrup (a blend of instant coffee and corn syrup) mixed into a glass of cold milk that’s enjoyed by kids and adults alike. Find out the one food you have to try in every state.
South Carolina: Front porch sittin’
Drive through any South Carolina small town and you’ll likely see a bunch of friendly faces out on the wide front porches. There’s really no better way to unwind after a long day of work than in a rocking chair with some sweet tea, a warm breeze, and a good friend to gossip with. South Carolinians have long been dedicated to the laid-back lifestyle—the first rope hammock was created in Pawley’s Island over 125 years ago.
South Dakota: No traffic
Does rush hour even exist in South Dakota? Of course, but it’s nothing like the bumper-to-bumper jams of major metropolises. The average commute time in South Dakota is the lowest in the entire country, a mere 16.6 minutes.
Tennessee: Southern hospitality
Bless your heart! Southern charm is a real thing, especially in Tennessee where you can expect doors to be held, thank you’s to be said, and mamas (and grandmamas) to be respected. Being nice is literally the law—it’s illegal to post an image online that would cause someone “emotional distress,” for example. Make like a Southerner and do one of these 30 acts of kindness today that take less than 2 minutes.
Texas: Live music
Austin wasn’t dubbed the “Live Music Capital of the World” back in 1991 for no reason—the city has more live music venues per capita than anywhere else in the world. In fact, at any given moment, you can hear over 1,900 bands and artists performing in the area. Basically, if you live in Texas, you have no excuse to be bored on a Friday night.
Utah: Four seasons
No, not the ritzy hotel—the actual calendar seasons. While some people prefer the warm winters of Florida or Hawaii, residents of Utah appreciate that they get to experience everything from the gorgeous foliage in the fall to the snowy ski slopes in the winter to the wildflower fields in the spring. And let’s not forget about summers spent basking on a boat in the middle of shimmering Lake Powell. Don’t miss these mountain towns that turn into storybook paradises in winter.
Vermont: Fresh food
Getting all your fruits and veggies is not a problem in Vermont, where over 85 farmers markets are scattered throughout the countryside. Each market boasts plenty of produce straight from the fields, along with homemade cheeses, milk, and jams. The farm-to-table focus has made Vermont number one on the Locavore Index which measures a state’s commitment to local food. If you’re heading to the farmers market, read these 13 secrets for getting the best deals.
Virginia: Armed forces
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a state that bleeds red, white, and blue more than Virginia. Likely due to its proximity to the nation’s capital, the state is home to the most active duty military members and has been consistently ranked as one of the best places for military veterans and retirees. No matter where you live, take an extra moment out of your day to thank someone you know who has bravely served (or is currently serving) our country.
Washington: Polite people
No R-rated road rage here! Either Washingtonians are really even-tempered or they just hide it well—according to a recent study, they swear the least out of any other state’s residents. Fewer four-letter words make for much happier, friendlier neighbors and for that, we definitely can’t complain, even when it’s, uh, fudging raining for the tenth day in a row…
West Virginia: Walmart
In the small towns of West Virginia where most places shut down by 10 p.m., the most “wild and wonderful” thing to do is head to the nearest Walmart. Not only is the major chain store good for high school hangouts and cheap necessities after hours, Walmart is also great for boosting the economy of struggling towns and bringing in new jobs to the state. That’s something to really be thankful for.
Wisconsin: Fish fries
Friday night lights? More like Friday night fish fries, if you’re in Wisconsin. What started as a religious gathering (Friday was a day that people abstained from eating meat and opted for fish instead) is now one of the state’s favorite past times. Here’s what you need to host your own fish fry: flaky fried fish, crispy French fries, marble rye toast, coleslaw, beer, and a bunch of family and friends to enjoy it all with. Don’t miss the most historical hotel in every state.
Wyoming: Peace and quiet
Leave the bright lights, honking horns, and endless sirens of the city behind and escape to the Wyoming wilderness. Whether you’re up in the mountains or down on the ranch, you won’t run into many people since Wyoming is the least populated state. It’s also home to Bedford, the smallest town in America with a population of just 201 people as of a recent census. Next, read on for the most charming small town in every state.