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The man who visited every American state ranked the things they should see and the things they should skip

The man who visited every American state ranked the things they should see and the things they should skip

Lee Abamonte has visited each of the 50 states at least three times.
Courtesy of Lee Abamonte

  • Lee Abbamonte, 45, is a travel blogger who has visited all 50 US states several times each.
  • As a nature lover, Abamonte prefers states with diverse terrain and plenty of outdoor activities.
  • He likes Colorado for its mountain towns, but thinks getting to North Dakota is too difficult.

There's a lot of traveling, and then there's Lee Abamonte.

Abamonte, a 45-year-old travel writer based in California, says he is the youngest person to have visited every country in the world and the North and South Poles. He has also visited all 50 US states at least three times for each of the 63 US National Parks.

He caught the travel bug during college when he spent a semester abroad in London. But his passion for traveling became his life's work after the events of September 11. He was 23 years old at the time, and was working in the World Trade Center at a Wall Street firm owned by financial services giant Cantor Fitzgerald — which lost the most employees of any company that day.

“I lost one of my best friends and almost everyone I worked with,” he said. “It was surprising.”

After leaving finance in 2002, Abamonte dedicated his life to travel. He began Documenting his travels and advice on a blog In 2006, he later appeared on television as a travel expert.

Abamonte says that although he never intended to break travel records, he ended up visiting almost every country in 2011. Soon after, he also completed visiting every state in America thanks to numerous road trips.

“I've been to every baseball stadium and football stadium,” he said. “I'm a big sports guy.”

Abbamonte, who is also a nature lover, Ranked all 50 states on Instagram Advance this month. He explained in the comment of the post to the followers that it was arranged Which puts California first and North Dakota last It was based on his personal experiences and was admittedly subjective.

Abamonte told Business Insider why he loves his six favorite states, and why four of them ended up at the bottom of his list.

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California has it all, no matter who you are or what you like to do.

Abamonte has lived in California for three years and ranks it as the number one state in the United States.
Marco/Getty Images

Abamonte, who moved to California three years ago after spending more than two decades in New York City, says his new state is his favorite for one big reason: It has it all.

“It has beaches, it has mountains, it has deserts, it has islands, it has great cities, it has good cities,” he said. “No matter what you like – I don't care who you are – there's something for you here.”

Abamonte is part of California because it has nine national parks, the most of any state in the United States.

Although he says the only time he felt somewhat unsafe in the United States was in San Francisco, he has returned several times and still thinks it is a “pretty cool city.”

There's more to Colorado than good skiing.

There's more to Colorado than just skiing, Abbamonte says.
Croc20/Getty Images

Colorado ranks second on Abamonte's list, mainly because of how diverse the terrain is and how “spectacular” the national parks are.

“Colorado is all about the mountains. And I'm not even a skier, but I love going to ski towns and doing everything other than skiing. I also love going to ski towns in the summer because I love hiking,” he said. “Eastern Colorado is just like another plains oasis.”

He's also a fan of Colorado's small towns, including Durango and Telluride. The capital, Denver, is also a worthwhile destination.

“Denver is also a really great crossroads of America, where the East ends and the West begins,” he added.

Utah is “pure nature,” Abamonte says.

Abbamonte says Utah's outdoor scene is out of this world.
Mark Brodkin/Getty Images

While Abamonte thinks Salt Lake City is a “beautiful city,” he says the real magic of Utah lies in its many national parks, including Zion, Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon.

“Utah, to me, is pure nature,” he said. “It's a lot of fun and scenic.”

Abamonte says Utah also feels incredibly safe for him.

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There's more to Arizona than the desert.

Arizona has beautiful sunsets.
David Sucsi/Getty Images

While Abamonte loves Arizona's “desert landscapes” and the Grand Canyon, he says there is much more to the state than meets the eye.

“Everyone thinks it's just desert,” he said. “But they have everything there.”

With skiing in Flagstaff and national parks like Saguaro and Petrified Forest, Abamonte says Arizona has more diverse terrain than people assume.

“I went to business school in Phoenix, which I love even though it's not the best city on the surface,” he said. “But to me, you have to leave the city to get to the good things in Arizona.”

He says the sun is setting The best you can find “anywhere in the USA”.

The inhabited islands of Hawaii are all different.

He says Honolulu is underappreciated.
Maridav/Getty Images

Abamonte has visited Hawaii every year since 2004.

“I've been to all the inhabited islands at least three times, and they're all amazing,” he said, adding that one of the coolest parts about the seven islands is that each one is “completely different.”

“The weather is perfect, there are great hikes and golf, and I love the Polynesian culture,” he said.

He's also a fan of Honolulu, which he says is incredibly “underrated.”

“You have the big volcano and Waikiki Beach, which is a beautiful beach,” he said. “There's a reason the Obamas keep going back there on vacation. It's so wonderful.”

Nevada is a dream, no matter the season.

He says Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful sights in the United States.
Marius Blatsch/Getty Images

Nevada combines the best of Arizona and Utah because it has natural beauty and plenty of desert scenery, Abbamonte says.

Although he loves Las Vegas, he says, Lake Tahoe is the main reason Nevada ranks among the top six states in the United States.

“This is probably the most beautiful thing in the United States,” he said. “I've been there dozens of times in the summer and winter, and it was like a dream.”

Abbamonte ranked Louisiana 47th out of 50 states. It would have been even further if not for New Orleans.

He says New Orleans raises the bar for Louisiana.
f11/Getty Images

Since Abamonte He cares greatly about diverse geography and abundance of nature, and the states he ranked lowest among the 50 states are more “flat” in terrain.

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Louisiana is the fourth flattest state in the United States, according to World population review.

However, New Orleans is still a draw for visitors, Abamonte says.

He also says that if his ranking were based on food, it would be in the “top 10, if not top five” because he loves Cajun cuisine.

Kentucky is great – if you like horses and fishing.

Kentucky is known for its horses and fishing, Abbamonte says.
Photographer: Alexei Steub

Some of the most popular things to do in Kentucky, like horseback riding or fishing, may not be for everyone.

“If you ask people from Kentucky what they like about Kentucky, they'll say, 'I live on a lake, and I go fishing,' or 'I like horses, and it's the best state for horses,'” Abamonte said. “But I don't like horses or fishing. “It's one of those things you probably have to live there to appreciate.”

Kansas might be more attractive if it were home to another, larger city, Kansas City.

Some people don't know that the most popular city of Kansas City is actually located in Missouri.
Sean Pavone/Getty Images

Abamonte is also a Kansas City Chiefs fan – Kansas City, Missouri. The city most people have heard of is located on one side of the Kansas River, across from the smaller Kansas City, which is actually in Kansas, he said.

“The one thing I love about Kansas is they have the best college basketball in America in Lawrence, which is where the University of Kansas is,” he said.

He also says there's a museum dedicated to former President Dwight Eisenhower that “is great to go to if you love your history.” But he says it's a three-hour drive from Kansas City, Missouri.

North Dakota may be the least accessible state.

North Dakota is not easily accessible from most places in the United States, Abbamonte says.
Ronch/Getty Images

North Dakota is at the bottom of Abamonte's rankings because of the amount of time it takes to get there from other parts of the United States.

“When you travel to North Dakota from other states, you usually have to take connecting flights,” he said. “There's not much going on there.”

He says other low-ranking states, including Alabama and Mississippi, are at least closer to vibrant cities in different states or coasts.

Although he ranked North Dakota 50th out of 50 states, Abamonte says it's not because he hates it.

“There are good things there, like Teddy Roosevelt National Park. The problem is it's hard to get there,” he said. “And when you leave the park, you're like, 'Okay, I'm in North Dakota now. What do I do?'

However, Abamonte says he has not ruled out returning to North Dakota.

“You have to give me a good reason to return to North Dakota, simply because of the effort it took to get there,” he said. “I would never say no to anything because you never know.”

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