We have 50 states that make up our great nation and they’re all unique in their own ways. Let’s break down what makes each state special.


With their name meaning “tribal town” in the Creek Indian language, Alabama is the only state to have their official beverage be alcohol. Alabama had the first electric streetcar system in the world and was the first state to recognize Christmas as an official holiday. Notable people from Alabama include Helen Keller, Rosa Parks, Nat “King” Cole, and Hank Aaron.


“The Last Frontier” state has more coastline than all other 49 states combined. Juneau is the only state capital that isn’t accessible by road. Less than 50 miles away from Russia, dog mushing is the official state sport. And if you want to see the Northern Lights, many hotels offer to give you a wake up call when they are visible. The North Lights can be seen, on average, 243 days a year in Fairbanks.


With the bolo tie as the official state neckwear, Arizona is one of the most unique states in the union. Home of the Grand Canyon, this state is also home to the oldest Native American settlement called Oraibi founded by the Hopis. Arizona wasn’t part of the USA until 1912 but we sure are glad to have them.


Home to Johnny Cash and Walmart, Arkansas has over 600,000 acres of lakes and 9,700 miles of streams and rivers. The World Cheese Dip Championship is held in Little Rock every year because the first cheese dip was invented in Hot Springs, AR at a restaurant called “Little Mexico” in 1935.


Formerly known as “The Grizzly Bear State”, California is known for its larger than life persona. They say dreams come true in Hollywood but nightmares are made in the hottest and driest spot in America, Death Valley. From the beaches to wine country, California gave us Levi’s and Disney.


Colorado is the only state to ever turn down the Olympics but they did host the world’s first rodeo on July 4th, 1869…at least they claim that. The 13th step of the Colorado State Capitol Building is exactly one mile above sea level. Colorado also is host to the largest hot springs pool in Glenwood Springs.


It was named “The Constitution State” because in 1639, the “Fundamental Orders” were written and is considered history’s first written constitution. So naturally, their state song is “Yankee Doodle.” Connecticut isn’t only home to ESPN, but they also invented the hamburger at a small place called “Louis’ Lunch” which remains open today in New Haven.


 The first state to ratify the Constitution therefore making it “The First State”, Delaware only has 3 counties. Though Delaware is small it size, it is home to the fastest internet and has more horseshoe crabs than anywhere else in the world. The nickname “The Diamond State” is actually a nod to Thomas Jefferson who once referred to Delaware as a “jewel among the states.”


With more golf course than any other state, it’s no wonder why so many people travel to Florida. It also has the most toll roads and bridges than any other state. Crocodiles and alligators come together in the Everglades and it’s the only place on Earth where they live together. Without Florida, we wouldn’t have Gatorade.


The last of the 13th original colonies but was first to change the legal voting age from 21 to 18. Even though we know Georgia as “The Peach State”, Georgia is the largest producer of peanuts, pecans, and vidalia onions. The Georgia Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the world. Georgia is also where Martin Luther King Jr. was born.


Comprised of eight islands, Hawaii is the only state to grow coffee. It is also home to the largest pineapple maze at the Dole Plantation. A reason to absolutely love Hawaii is because snakes are outlawed there and there are no billboards. Hawaii has its own time zone and it is the only state to honor a monarch.


Unlike a lot of state’s who are named after people or are based on words from a local language, Idaho was given its name by a lobbyist in Washington who suggested it although he said it came from a Shoshone word. They produce one-third of the potatoes in the United States and they even have a potato museum. Idaho’s Hell Canyon is deeper than the Grand Canyon.


Home of McDonald’s and Dairy Queen, Illinois is home to one of the few rivers that flows backwards, the Chicago River. Illinois is also home to the world’s largest public library. Nearly 80% of the state is farmland. And in Metropolis, Illinois, there is a giant statue of Superman.


The first professional baseball game was played in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Santa Claus, Indiana is a real place with the World’s Giant Christmas tree. Elvis Presley’s last show was in Market City Square. Lewis and Clark actually began their journey across America in Fort Vincennes, Indiana.


There are more hogs than humans in this fine state. Iowa is 92% farmland but don’t let the farmers fool you, Iowa has the highest literacy rate in the nation at 99%. And, of course, the “Field of Dreams” is a legitimate tourist attraction that you can go visit a few miles outside of Dyersville. Iowa State is the oldest land grant college in the USA.


So Spain actually explored in 1541 and French explorers from Canada in 1673. Pizza Hut started in Wichita. Amelia Earnhart is from Atchison. The element of the helium was discovered as a common element at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. It would also be a shame for me to not add that the tallest water slide can be found in Kansas as well.


The world’s largest fireworks show happens on the opening night of the Kentucky Derby. Kentucky is also the home of the “Happy Birthday To You” song which was written by two sisters in Louisville in 1893. The lightbulb was introduced to the public for the first time in 1893 in Louisville.


With the largest alligator population in the country, Louisiana has half as many alligators as they do people. The Louisiana Capitol Building is the largest in the country with 34 stories. While you might know New Orleans for jazz, the first opera was performed there in 1796.


99% of the blueberries come from Maine. Maine also has the highest moose population in the country. Maine is nothing short of unique with the Umbrella Cover Museum, Maine Coast Sardine History Museum, and International Cryptozoology Museum. About 40 million pounds of lobster are caught off of Maine’s coast each year which is about 90% of the lobster the US consumes.


Staying with the seafood theme, Maryland produces more blue crab and clams than any other state. Maryland is home to the first school, King Williams School, in the United States. And yes, the Baltimore Ravens are named after the famous Edgar Allen Poe’s poem, “The Raven”.


The first phone call ever was made in Boston and it’s also the state where volleyball was invented. There is a home in Rockport that is made entirely of newspaper. The first basketball game was played in Springfield. Of course, Massachusetts also gave us Dunkin Donuts.


With the nation’s longest freshwater shoreline, Michigan touches four out of the five great lakes. The Saugatuck Ferry is the only hand-cranked chain ferry in the U.S. Michigan State University was the first agricultural college in the U.S. And a fun history fact, four country’s flags have flown over Michigan: French, Spanish, English, and the United States.


“The Land of 10,000 Lakes” actually boasts 11,824 lakes that are 10 acres or more. Many Fortune 500 companies call Minnesota home like Target, Best Buy, and General Mills. The Mayo Clinic is based out of Rochester and the first bone marrow transplant in the United States happened at the University of Minnesota.


Root beer was created in Biloxi in 1898. The term “teddy bear” was actually coined in Mississippi when President Theodore Roosevelt refused to kill a bear that was trapped. They have over 100,000 acres of catfish farms and Pine Sol was created in a pine forest outside of Jackson.


Missouri’s name means “town of the large canoes”. Missouri was the first state to free their slaves in 1865. The largest crop in Missouri is the soybean and Laura Ingalls Wilder was raised in Missouri. Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis is the largest beer producing plant in the United States.


The name came from the Spanish word for mountain, “montaña”, they also have a Spanish motto, “oro y plata” which means “gold and silver” as a nod to their mining history. There are more cattle in Montana than people. Evel Knievel was from Montana.


The emergency communications we use when we call “911” was first used in Lincoln. Here in Nebraska, it’s acceptable to drink the Kool-aid because it was invented there. Nebraska also boasts the nation’s largest indoor rainforest. It is also home to a Nebraska chain called “Runza” which serves hot stuffed pastries and serves only in Nebraska.


Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America and it’s also the second deepest lake in America. Las Vegas has over 150,000 hotel rooms which is more than anywhere else in the world. Nevada is the driest state in the nation and has more mountain ranges than any other state.

New Hampshire

Home of the first public library, New Hampshire is also where the first American astronaut to go into space, Alan Shepard Jr., was born. New Hampshire seems to be the place to go shopping because they’re one of nine states with no sales tax. The snowmobile was invented here as well.

New Jersey 

The setting of the famous duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, New Jersey is the diner capital of the world. Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb in Menlo Park. The first ever baseball game was played in Hoboken and the first college football game was played in New Brunswick.

New Mexico

For over a thousand years, the people of Taos Pueblo have resided in the beautiful adobe dwellings. With more cows than people, New Mexico is also where the first atomic bomb was exploded. Santa Fe is sits at 7,000 feet above sea level, making it the highest capital in the United States.

New York

The New York capitol building in Albany took 28 years to build. Lake Placid is the only place in the United States to host the Olympics twice. Seneca Falls was home to the first women’s rights convention. And to add quite an odd fact, New Yorkers bite people 10 times more than sharks do.

North Carolina

The famous pirate Blackbeard called this state home and the first plane was flown in Kitty Hawk in the Outer Banks. Home of Krispy Kreme, North Carolina is also where the first putt putt course was built. North Carolina also boasts the site of the largest home in America, the Biltmore Estate. The first ever child to be born (1587) in America happened in Roanoke, North Carolina.

North Dakota

Producing the most honey, dry beans, wheat, canola, and flaxseed, North Dakota is the least visited state. In 1982, Rutland, North Dakota went down in the Guinness World Record book for the largest hamburger with it weighing 3,591 pounds! North Dakota also has a weird thing about big animal statues…just google it.


Home of the first traffic light, Ohio is also home to the first ambulatory services. Ohio is also home to the first professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Reds. Neil Armstrong was from Ohio and so was Thomas Edison. 50% of the US population lives within a 500 mile radius of Ohio.


The shopping cart was created in this great state and serves as the headquarters for 39 Native American tribes. Oklahoma has an official state meal that includes chicken-fried steak, black-eyed peas, okra, squash, corn on the cob, cornbread, sausage and gravy, biscuits, barbecue pork, strawberries, and pecan pie.


Portland has more breweries than any other city in the world. Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States. A quarter of the world’s llama population resides in Oregon. With over 80 ghost towns on the register, Oregon is home to the largest cheese factory and the smallest river in the world.


You can find the oldest gas station in Altoona and you can find the nation’s oldest golf course in Clarion. Another first is that the first department store was located in Philadelphia; the store was called Wanamakers. In 1943, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles merged to make the “Steagles” for one season because both teams had lost so many men to the war.

Rhode Island

With the shortest state motto, “Hope”, and being the smallest state in the union, Rhode Island’s official state drink is coffee milk. The first ever circus in the United States happened in Newport. Two years before the Boston Tea Party, a group of Rhode Islanders attacked a British warship. It resulted in the burning of the ship and killing the leading officer.

South Carolina

In Bowman, South Carolina sits a UFO center. The first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter. Myrtle Beach is the golf capital of the world. On average, South Carolina experiences 10-15 earthquakes a year. Before it was the Palmetto State, it was the Iodine State.

South Dakota

Belle Fourche is the geographical center of the United States and it has more miles of shoreline than Florida. Mount Rushmore took 14 years to build. The U.S.S. South Dakota was the most decorated warship in WWII. There are more than 1,300 free-roaming bison in the state.


On a clear day, 7 states are visible from Lookout Mountain close to Chattanooga. Nashville is the country music capital and the home of the Grand Ole Opry which is the longest continuously running live radio program in the world; Bristol credited with being the birthplace of country music. “Graceland”, Elvis’s home, is the second most visited house in America.


Larger than any country in western Europe, Texas’s official state dish is a bowl of hot chili. Austin is home to the world’s largest urban bat colony. The official state sport of Texas is rodeo. The state motto is “Friendship” and more tornadoes have been recorded in Texas than any other state. The oldest law enforcement agency are the Texas Rangers.


Utah is the only state where every county contains some part of a national forest. Utah’s Arches National Park boasts over 2000 natural sandstone arches (hint: if you discover one that hasn’t been found yet, you get to name it!). Over two-thirds of Utah’s land is owned by the federal government.


Montpelier is the only state capital in America that doesn’t have a McDonalds. Vermont is also the birthplace of the president born on July 4th, Calvin Coolidge. Vermont is the largest producer of maple syrup. The Von Trapp family, famous for their story being told in “The Sound of Music”, moved to Vermont. Also, you won’t find any billboards in Vermont, they’re illegal.


Eight U.S. presidents were born in this beautiful state. Patrick Henry’s famous “Give me liberty or give me death” speech was given in Richmond. The Pentagon, in Arlington, is the largest office building in the world. The very first peanuts grown in the U.S. were grown in Virginia. Virginia is often called “the birthplace of a nation.”


The biggest building in the world is located in Everett; it is the location of the final assembly parts of Boeing aircrafts. Mount St. Helens is still an active volcano but it’s also home to nine other active volcanoes. Microsoft is headquartered in Redmond. Washington is the only state to be named after a president.

West Virginia

 This wild and wonderful state had the first ever female African American legislature named Minnie Buckingham Harper. The famous underground fallout shelter for members of Congress in the 1950’s is located in White Sulphur Springs. The smallest church in the continuous United States is called “Our Lady of the Pines” and is located off Route 50 in Preston County.


The oldest city in the state is Green Bay and while Minnesota gets the reputation for lakes, Wisconsin has over 15,000 of them. Wisconsin leads the country in their production of sweet corn and cranberries. Wisconsin is also the home of the ice cream sundae that was created in Two Rivers.

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This gorgeous state is the least populated in America. Devils Tower became the first national monument under President Theodore Roosevelt. There is only one public university in the state and that is the University of Wyoming. Old Faithful, the famous geyser, got its name because of how dependable the eruptions were (every hour and a half).

Hope you enjoyed your journey from sea to shining sea with these facts about our great states that make up our nation.

Caroline C.
FFL Cabinet Member
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