Just my kind of article! Yesterday, Seeing all 50 states popular by Beth J. Harpaz of the Associated Press appeared. There’s actually a club for folks who have been to all 50 United States, the All Fifty Club. I should belong since I’ve been qualified for about 20 years. In fact, I’ve been to each of the 50 states more than once. In fact, I can recommend attractions, some not so well-known, in all 50.
But first, I find it funny that people set criteria (as I do) for including a state in their personal list of been-there-done-thats. Like, for some you must put your feet on the ground to count the state, and in Mike Schechter’s case –use a bathroom. Rest stop anyone?
So here goes. Alabama. According to Alabama.com the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, 468 championship-quality holes at 11 sites across Alabama tops the list of its attractions. Ruth & I like Bellingrath Gardens south of Mobile. Opened to the public since 1932, this Estate + Formal Gardens is especially spectacular in the winter when camellias bloom and in spring when azaleas take over. Off the beaten track: Helen Keller’s childhood home in Tuscumbia, Alabama. She’s been dead since 1968, but Keller’s life and accomplishments remain inspirational. Ivy Green, where she grew up, remains a 4 Compass experience.
Alaska. I’ve written previously about Nome, Denali, Homer, etc. This State, tied with California for most National Parks, has a lot of remote but excellent attractions not seen from cruise ships, like the Museum of the Aleutians in Unalaska, port of Dutch Harbor. If you don’t mind loud & crowded, check out the fish & chips at Humpys, Anchorage’s part tourist trap, part local hangout. If you love a heady variety of beers, this is your kind of place.
Arizona. Most popular attraction? What serious traveler hasn’t been to The Grand Canyon? But there’s much more to Arizona than this big colorful, hole in the ground. My top five would also include Tucson’s Saguaro National Park in 2 sections, Sedona, Canyon de Chelly (eerily magical), and Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter hangout, Taliesin West, in Scottsdale. Lesser known places: Ramsey Canyon south of Sierra Vista, a major hummingbird magnet, and the very worthwhile Zane Grey Cabin/Museum in Payson.
Arkansas. Top Attraction: Crystal Bridges, Alice Walton’s new & exceptional museum of American art in Bentonville that has wildly exceeded all expectations since opening on 11-11-11. Ruth and I love exploring Arkansas’ scenic back roads that curve among many mountains. An offbeat attraction: Crater of Diamonds State Park. Southwest of Arkansas’ only National Park, Hot Springs, this attraction is unusual in that it’s the only place in the world where you & I can dig for real diamonds. Do not try this in Africa.