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Travel expert Lee Abbamonte ranks favorite US states from California to North Dakota

A travel expert and blogger who has wandered around the world multiple times revealed his list of his favorite and least favorite states.

When Lee Abbamonte claims to be well-traveled, he means it, as the 45-year-old has been to every UN-recognized country, both the North and South Poles.

Abbamonte’s obsession with travel began after the 9/11 attacks when he was just 23 years old and worked at the World Trade Center for Financial services company Cantor Fitzgerald, which lost most of its employees during the tragic attack.

Lee Abbamonte claims to have been to every UN-recognized country, both the North and South Poles, and all 50 states at least three times.

“I lost one of my best friends and pretty much everyone I worked with,” Abbamonte told Business Insider. “It was eye-opening.”

Following the September 2001 attacks, the travel expert quit his job and began his life journey to see the world, which he started documenting on his blog in 2006.

His adventures brought him to all 50 US states at least three times, which he has ranked based on his experience and preference, according to his Instagram account.

Abbamonte, who has also been to all 63 US national parks, shared with the outlet why he chose his favorites and why he will most likely avoid his bottom four.

Abbamonte warned that his list is subjective and based on personal preference, adding that he loves the scenery, nature and varied landscapes.

Abbamonte named California his favorite state because it has everything. leeabbamonte/Instagram

1. California

The California native unsurprisingly placed the Golden State at the top of his list saying it “simply has everything, more so than any other state, no matter what you like.”

Abbamonte said every placement on the list is based on his own personal experience and is subjective besides his top pick.

“The only one I don’t think is debatable is California at 1,” he wrote on Instagram.

“It has beaches, it has mountains, it has deserts, it has islands, it has great cities, it has good cities,” he told Business Insider. “No matter what you like — I don’t care who you are — there is something for you here.”

Abbamonte admitted he didn’t feel particularly safe in San Francisco, but that hasn’t stopped him from visiting the Bay area multiple times as it is still “a pretty great city.”

2. Colorado

Colorado was named Abbmonte’s second favorite as The Centennial State has nine “great” national Parks and has amazing topography.

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

“Denver is also a really cool crossroads of America where the East ends and the West begins.”

3. Utah

Abbamonte doesn’t have to travel far from Colorado to see his third favorite state, as he just has to travel west to neighboring Utah which has several more national parks including Zion, Arches and Bryce Canyon.

“Utah, for me, is pure nature,” he said. “It’s very pleasant and scenic.”

The well-traveled man says he also felt incredibly safe in the Beehive State.

4. Arizona

Abbamonte seems to favor the Western portion of the country more than any other as Arizona was placed in the fourth highest spot in the personally crafted list.

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

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

Arizona also boasts the best sunsets in the nation, according to Abbamonte.

Abbamonte says he travels to the Hawaiian islands once a year. leeabbamonte/Instagram

5. Hawaii

Hawaii rounds out the top five, which Abbamonte says he has visited every year since 2004.

“I’ve been to all the inhabited islands at least three times, and they’re all fabulous,” Abbamonte said.

He said that all seven islands are “completely different,” which makes the state even better.

“The weather is perfect, there’s great hiking and golfing, and I love Polynesian culture.”

To Abbamonte, the capital city of Honolulu is “underrated” as it has the big volcano and Waikiki Beach.

“There’s a reason Obama still goes back there on vacations. It’s absolutely awesome.”

47. Louisiana

Every list has to have a bottom and Louisiana just happens to be one of Abbamonte’s least favorite states.

The travel expert says it the Pelican State would’ve been placed lower if it weren’t for New Orleans.

The southern state’s low ranking has to do with the flatness of the land, but if Abbamonte was ranking it based on food it would be in the Top 10, possibly the Top 5 because of the Cajun cuisine.

Abbamonte says Kentucky doesn’t have much to offer except horse-back riding and fishing. leeabbamonte/Instagram

48. Kentucky

If you’re an equine or fisherman the Bluegrass State is for you, but Abbamonte claims to be neither.

“If you ask people from Kentucky what they like about Kentucky, they’re like, ‘I live on a lake, and I go fishing,’ or ‘I like horses, and it’s the best horse state,’” Abbamonte said. “But I don’t like horses or fishing. It’s one of those things where maybe you have to live there to appreciate it.”

49. Kansas

Abbamonte likes Kansas City, the home to the Royals and Chiefs, which just happens to be a city in Missouri and not Kansas, which is one of the reasons the Sunflower State is the penultimate state on the list.

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

Besides Allen Fieldhouse, home to the Kansas Jayhawks, tourists can see the President Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library & Museum in Abilene, KS, a quick 150-mile drive west of Abbamonte’s more favored Kansas City.

Abbamonte poses with the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California in the background. leeabbamonte/Instagram

50. North Dakota

Abbamonte awarded North Dakota the distinction of his least favorite state because of its inaccessibility.

“When you fly to North Dakota from other states, you usually have to take connecting flights,” he said. “There’s not a lot going on there.”

Abbamonte said there are good things the Peace Garden State has to offer including Teddy Roosevelt National Park, but after visiting the park he says you feel lost.

Abbamonte placed Texas at 24th on his Top 50 US states list. leeabbamonte/Instagram

“The problem is it is such a hassle getting there,” he said. “And when you leave the park, you’re like, ‘OK, I’m in North Dakota now. What do I do?’”

“You’d have to give me a good reason to go back to North Dakota simply because of the effort it takes to get there. I would never say no to anything because you never know.”

Abbamonte’s first east coast state was New York, which he surprisingly placed at number 11, with Connecticut landing at 15, New Jersey at 28th and Pennsylvania being placed all the way down at number 33.

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