If you only had one chance to visit a state, what one thing would you do? You would want it to be as memorable as possible. Below is a list of the number one thing I recommend for each state. I have broken this list down into three parts and sorted in alphabetically. This is part one.
Go to space camp at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center
Adults and kids come to Huntsville for a chance to sleep in bunks, spin in the Multi-Axis Trainer, and handle a crisis on simulated intergalactic missions. I currently live in Alabama and I can tell you this place is a blast! (See what I did there?)
Hang with polar bears in their real home at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
The villages of Kaktovik and Barrow, located on Alaska’s 19 million-acre wildlife refuge, are especially spectacular spots to stay the night, meet a guide, and watch polar bears live wild and free. Also staying the night will allow for one more thing, catching a glimpse of the northern lights.
Spend a night on the floor of the Grand Canyon
Yes, you could settle for a standard daytime walk around the rim. But doing it that way, you wouldn’t see Havasu Falls. The Grand Canyon has been a tourist destination for decades but I never knew you could sleep at the bottom until I went.
Visit Anthony Chapel in Garvan Woodland Gardens
Situated on 210 acres of flowers, streams, and waterfalls is a six-story-high chapel made of pine beams and floor-to-ceiling glass windows. You can practically hear Mother Nature singing.
Drive State Route 1 through Big Sur
Nothing is more California than a coastal road trip, and this one will take you past some of the most precious views on Earth. Stop at Nepenthe for sunset cocktails on cliffs over the water. The views are amazing both in the restaurant and while driving.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
If you love skiing the mountains, wait till you speed down the tallest dunes in North America on a sandboard. Plus you can usually still see snowcapped peaks in the background.
Order the white clam pizza at Frank Pepe Pizzeria
“Pepe’s” is one of the oldest pizza joints in the country. It was Frank Pepe himself who invented apizza which is now a New Haven delicacy. He did this by subtracting mozzarella, adding oregano, and thinning the crust of the average slice. Pepe’s white clam apizza has been called the best pizza in America. I must admit, I am a simple Chicago girl who loves her deep dish, but this was amazing.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Not a state but still a great place to visit)
Go paddle boating on the Tidal Basin
I mean of course you want to see the White House while you are there but there’s something about seeing D.C.’s biggest monuments from the water. Plus you will get to see many other beautiful things D.C. has to offer.
Walk the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk
Recommended by a friend (I have never been to Delaware) this vintage boardwalk still has some of the best views in the state. Stroll along to the sound of the water or lay on the beach and catch some sun.
Climb the Shark Valley tower
Take a tram tour or brave the humidity and bike around theEverglades National Park. Halfway through, there’s an observation tower you can climb. From up top you can see most of the Everglades and take in all the nature.
Eat at the Olde Pink House in Savannah
I found this spot by chance. Shortly after moving to Alabama, I went in search of haunted places nearby. This refined Southern restaurant has played many roles as a residence, a bank and an army headquarters— this is something James Habersham, the home’s original owner, is apparently not happy about. Patrons have reportedly seen Mr. Habersham’s ghost hanging around the bar. The reviews of the food were enough to draw me in but the thought that it is haunted, sign me up!
Climb the Stairway to Heaven
Ok, so I can’t say much about this (other than what I have read) since this hike technically is illegal. But from what I have heard and read the view is actually spectacular and completely worth the risk.
Drive Interstate 90 across the Panhandle
My husband has a thing for driving famous or popular stretches and this did not disappoint. This 75-mile stretch across Idaho’s northern section will make you long for days when driving was an American pass time. Be sure to stop in scenic Coeur d’Alene for a cold PBR, just don’t drive again after you drink a couple pints.
Spend a day at Navy Pier
I wrote an entire post on this here because this is the best way I can think to spend time while in Chicago. You can do anything and everything here. From wonderful food to wondrous views and even ride a Ferris-wheel.
White River State Park
This was surprisingly hard to choose. I grew up in Indiana and I can think of a million great things to do. But if I was visiting and this was the only time, I would want to go here. So much of what Indiana is about and has to offer is compacted into this lovely park.
Visit the Butter Cow at the Iowa State Fair
This is one of the more unique things to do on this list. This cow (made entirely out of butter) has been a State Fair tradition since 1911. Weighing in at 600 pounds, it is said that the Butter Cow could butter 19,200 slices of toast. Yikes! That is a lot of bread.
Sample the No. 6 Oatmeal Stout at Gella’s Diner & Lb. Brewing Co.
Gerald Wyman started making beer in his kitchen at home until his wife told him to please stop. It took a few years but Wyman opened a charming and modern storefront and won a Gold World Beer Cup Award for his Oatmeal Stout. I am not a huge fan of beer of any kind but this isn’t half bad. My husband and father both loved it.