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By the Time I'm 30, I...

Updated: Nov 9, 2020

…want to visit all 50 US States.


Goal setting is such an important, fun part of life. You may be rolling your eyes at me, but seriously it can be fun! Goals don’t always have to be career or health related. (Even though, yes, those are equally important.) While those types of goals are great, don’t forget to set more fun goals!


For me, that’s travel.


A while back, I set the goal to visit all 50 states by the time I was 30. That was about 6-7 years ago. After all that time, I still find this to be one of my more challenging, yet exciting goals.

I’m currently at 37 / 50 US states at 74% done. I always get excited when I talk about that, because I was nowhere close to this back when I set this goal.


Below is a little visual I like to keep up with, Pink being where I've been, Grey being where I need to go:

Now, let’s talk ground rules about what I mean by visiting the states. Visit, to me, means actually spending time in the place and making an effort to see what the culture is like in the cities you explore. So, I don't count just driving through a state on the way to another. This has made the goal QUITE challenging at times. However, how cool will it be, when I can tell a story one day to my (FUTURE!) kids about each city in the US and something special about it? So cool!!


So what I am really trying to do here is challenge you to set a goal in your life to travel and explore. Whether it’s close by or far away, set goals to get out and explore this beautiful world we live in. Make it something you have 5 years to complete, 10 years to complete, whatever you choose will be perfect! And, if years go by and you still need some more time to complete this goal, give yourself that time. No matter how long it takes, at least you are getting out there and exploring.


It is so important to get out and wander into the unknown. With every trip, you learn a little bit more about yourself and a lot more about the places around you. The world we live in is beautiful, so get out there!


I thought it may be fun to share a little bit of what I’ve learned from each state that I’ve visited, so here we go:


Alabama – Orange Beach & Gulf Shores are AMAZING. I’ve had my most relaxing beach trips in Alabama. If you get to take a trip here, try stopping into Lulu’s or Lambert’s for some food and a good time. You won’t regret it! This state isn’t ALL about that college football team that no one wants to talk about. ;) hehe. Geaux Tigers!



Arizona – The Grand Canyon. That's all I have to say about that. Seriously, one of my favorite places I've been in the US. My best friend and I climbed around and took some crazy pictures, but more importantly took in the breathtaking views. I missed it the second we left. You MUST go.



Arkansas – Since I grew up in Memphis, I have been to Arkansas a few times in my day. Whether it was Hot Springs, where we ventured to the Water Park or to Little Rock where we hiked the Big DAM Bridge, Arkansas did not disappoint.


California – Well, being that I’m a Cali Girl (if you didn’t know, that’s my last name), I have always loved my California trips! Back when I was younger, I went to LA & San Diego with my family… this was one for the books for sure. Many years later, I flew to LA to explore with my best friend from college. We hiked to the Hollywood sign and wandered down Rodeo Drive. After some days in LA, we drove her car ALL the way across the country to Baton Rouge. I will never forget that trip.



Colorado – 4 Words. Great American Beer Festival. Oh. My. Wow. What a sight. Also, Colorado might quite possibly have the most beautiful backdrops I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t get over that the mountains in Colorado were real – LOL. They just looked too perfect, like a painting!



Delaware – What a small state. Haha! But a cute state! Did you know it is only 96 miles long, and ranges from 9 miles to 36 miles wide? I thought that was wild! You know what else is wild, it’s tax free there. Yep, no sales tax! So, do your shopping there if you can! Delaware also has some beautiful beaches worth visiting like Dewey Beach and Bethany Beach.


Florida – Oh, I love you Florida. You give me amazing experiences at Disney World and Universal… the shops at Key West… the beaches at Pensacola… I could go on for days. Always a good vacation when I’m headed to Florida.



Georgia – I have been to many games in Atlanta and what a great stadium. Fully recommend seeing a game in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. As long as, you’re not cheering for the dirty birds. ;) Also, Georgia is a beautiful state.


Hawaii – I FINALLY made my way to Hawaii last year. We went as a family for my parents 40th Wedding Anniversary. We stayed in this amazing house, right off the Kahala Beach in Oahu. I spent each morning jogging to the beach and just sitting on a park bench taking in the views. Seriously some of the best moments of my life. Oh, and you have to hike Diamond Head. GORGEOUS VIEW.



Illinois – Always a good time in Chicago! I actually used to live here as a kid for a year. I have many fun memories of walking to school in the snow. I also ventured here many times as an adult. I love shopping in Chicago... and the deep dish pizza... to die for!



Indiana – I visited Indianapolis once for a preseason Saints game, we won! Lucas Oil Stadium was a treat and would definitely go back again. I had lots of fun shopping in downtown Indy! What a fun downtown scene.



Kentucky – Louisville is a fun city! We went there as kids on a family trip. This city comes with lots of fun museums for families!


Louisiana – Oh, Louisiana, how you are my home. Besides how much I love my alma mater (GEAUX TIGERS!), Louisiana still holds up to be one of the most culturally diverse places I have ever been. The people are welcoming, and the atmosphere/culture is infectious. You have to make your way down to New Orleans at some point in your life. I promise you it will be amazing.



Maine – How COOL is Maine. I never thought I'd actually ever get there because it felt SO FAR. I still want to take another trip back to explore more parts of Maine. There's so much more beauty to unpack there. The lighthouses were breathtaking and the lobster rolls were delicious. I felt such a calmness when in Maine. Take a trip to Portland and have a lobster roll overlooking the Harbor, such a cool experience.



Maryland – I lived in Baltimore for about 4 years. A few as an adult and 1 as a kid growing up. I didn't remember much about Baltimore as a kid, so I was excited to unpack this "new" city back in 2016. I miss so much about Maryland. It was a great place to live and there was so much beautiful history. I lived in Mount Vernon, Baltimore and the parks were Ginger's (my dog!) favorite in the city. You must try the Owl Bar (by far my favorite Bar in the city) and ask for Joe! Say Jessie sent you! You will not be disappointed. Also, take a trip down to Annapolis, what an interesting town. I still stand by that being my favorite town I've ever visited. This state will continue to hold such a beautiful place in my heart for the rest of my life. Love you Maryland!



Massachusetts – You must travel to Boston and you MUST go on the Freedom Trail. There is so much history in Boston! Very interesting stuff if you like history of course. Also, if you love shopping and good food, take a stroll in the Back Bay area. I personally LOVE Eataly so I always find myself there if it is in a city I'm visiting. Eataly is in the Prudential Center near Back Bay, you must go if you love Italian food!



Michigan – Wow! It can get cold there! Every time I went to Michigan, it happened to be very cold weather, but nonetheless this was a cool state. I couldn't get over how close I was to the Great Lakes. It's wild when you're looking at a body of water, and OH it's a Great Lake. My favorite parts of Michigan were the views.


Mississippi – Just like Arkansas, this state is very close to Memphis so I have driven through it frequently! I work close to it too, so I end up lunching in Olive Branch sometimes. I will say my favorite place to go in Mississippi is the Tanger Outlets in Southhaven. Great deals!


Missouri – I love St. Louis. What a fun city! We went here as a family a good bit and also on Band Trips while I was in Middle School - lol. The arch is a must-see, even though the elevators are quite claustrophobic LOL. I have so many fond memories at the St. Louis Six Flags and the Lamberts on the way in Sikeston.



Nevada – Always a good time in Las Vegas, am I right? Haha! This was one of the many stops on my cross country road trip to LSU from Los Angeles. We got to gamble, catch shows, and shop for days. If you haven't seen Las Vegas, you have got to go!



New Hampshire – I ventured to New Hampshire while on my road trip from Boston to Maine. We stopped in this cute little city called Portsmouth, NH. It was a cute town right on the coast with local shops and restaurants. We also ventured to see another lighthouse. So beautiful. I would love to venture back to New Hampshire to explore more one day.


New Jersey – I've been to New Jersey many times now at this point and by far my favorite place to go is Hoboken! A good friend of mine lives there and she graciously lets me stay with her whenever I travel to that part of town. The views of New York are gorgeous and the food is amazing! Hoboken is also the home to Carlos Bakery, so I mean I had to go there… haha!



New Mexico – Another one of the many stops on our cross country road trip. OH, the dead spots in New Mexico - LOL. It is a miracle we did not end up lost. We stayed the night in Albuquerque and relaxed until the morning. We couldn't get over how beautiful the views were.


New York – What I would GIVE to live in New York City. I know, I know, everyone says that. But, seriously I love New York. I took many trips to NYC while living in Baltimore and I loved the pace and lifestyle of the city. I traveled there for work sometimes as well, and started to feel like a local at times. New York is just one of those places where there is nothing quite like it.



North Carolina – I traveled to Charlotte a good bit for work a few years back. Beautiful city, but you could tell it wasn't quite ready for the growth. Traffic was INSANE. I always enjoyed great people and phenomenal barbecue while visiting Charlotte.



Ohio – I used to manage Ohio as part of my territory when I worked in Pittsburgh and grew to love the Buckeye state. Cincinnati and Columbus were such fun cities that I highly recommend. If you find yourself in Cincinnati, make your way to Rhinegeist, such a fun atmosphere! You also should go to Cedar Point if you like roller-coasters! I went there for my 18th birthday, and it was 100% the most fun theme park I've ever been to.



Oklahoma – Tulsa, Oklahoma - The home place of Hanson. Man, I love that band. Well I didn't see that band in Tulsa, but I did take my sister and some friends to a Jonas Brothers concert there. We even had some time to visit the Golden Driller statue, lol what a big man!



Oregon – I love Portland, Oregon. This city was seriously breathtaking. On the uber ride to my hotel, I was honestly SHOCKED by the skyline. It's almost like futuristic looking. They were somehow able to keep all the nature intertwined with the city. It doesn't just look like a cement and concrete for miles. You also can see Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens in the distance and it is gorgeous. I found time to get to Multnomah Falls and Hood River. I did not regret it. I'll never forget those views.



Pennsylvania – I lived in Pittsburgh for 2 years. What a city! I got my first start in my career here so it holds a very special place in my heart. Pittsburgh is a SPORTS city. I loved that about it, and even became a fan of the Penguins while I was there. I had never been to a hockey game before and man, was I missing out!! If you've never made your way to Pittsburgh, you should! I fell in love with the city of bridges.



South Carolina – My trip to South Carolina took me right to the coast on Myrtle Beach. We somehow accidentally ended up there for Bike Week... BAH. That made for an interesting week. Motorcycles are loud, y'all! Regardless we had an amazing time full of beautiful views of the Atlantic and great food.



Tennessee – My heart & soul, right here. I love Tennessee. I spent most my life growing up in Memphis. There is so much beauty in this state. From Chattanooga to Nashville to Memphis, you will not be disappointed.



Texas – I was born in Houston - Fun fact! We didn't stay there long though. We were a moving family! I would have to say my favorite city so far in Texas is Dallas. However, I'm headed to Austin this month… maybe I'll have a new favorite!


Utah – Another stop on my cross country road trip, I didn't get to spend nearly enough time in this state, but I spent enough time to know I would love to go back. Again gorgeous views! How to people live in places like that and not realize how lucky they are to have these views?


Virginia – I've been to Virginia many times, but my favorite and most memorable times in Virginia took place in Arlington, VA. Every time I found myself in Washington DC, I took a trip over to Arlington to visit the National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It is a very peaceful place and the sheer volume takes your breath away.



Washington DC – Yes, I know this isn't a state, but I wanted to put a little blurb in here about DC. I had traveled here a lot as a kid, but really didn't take in how cool this place was until I was living In Baltimore. DC is a very short trip down from Baltimore and so worth it. Take the Marc train, it's easy and worth it! My fondest memories of DC are exploring the National Mall and Monuments, but also making sure to take time for some good food. Lots of great times in DC from concerts to tours to good food.



West Virginia – I have been to Charleston and Morgantown, WV. Both cities have lots to offer from history to fun times. Morgantown is the home to WVU, so it has some pretty cool coffee shops that I frequented while working in the city.


Wisconsin – OMG. It is COLD in Wisconsin. I had never felt cold until I visited Madison during New Years. My best friend lived there so I visited her. Despite the cold, we had so much fun! It's pretty cool to see an entire frozen lake. You must try Cheese Curds, they are amazing. Good wine there, too. ;) Oh! I also got to tour the Epic Headquarters, and this is seriously one of the coolest off ice spaces.



Wyoming – Another state with beautiful views. My friend and I road tripped to Cheyenne for the day from Denver. We spent lots of times at the breweries and tried all the beers!


Places I've Yet to Explore:


Alaska

Connecticut

Idaho

Iowa

Kansas

Minnesota

Montana

Nebraska

North Dakota

Rhode Island

South Dakota

Vermont

Washington


What cool stories do you have to tell from the places you've visited?


Until Next Time,


Jessie




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