A blogger who's been to every US state at least 3 times picked his 6 favorites— and 4 he wouldn't go out of his way to visit again

Lee Abbamonte.
Lee Abbamonte has visited each of the 50 states at least three times.Courtesy of Lee Abbamonte
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  • Lee Abbamonte, 45, is a travel blogger who has visited all 50 US states multiple times each.

  • As a nature lover, Abbamonte prefers states with diverse topographies and many outdoor activities.

  • He loves Colorado for its mountain towns but thinks North Dakota is too hard to get to.

There's well-traveled, and then there's Lee Abbamonte.

Abbamonte, a 45-year-old travel writer based in California, says he's the youngest person to visit every country in the world and the North and South Poles. He's also visited all 50 US states at least three times each and all of America's 63 national parks.

He caught the travel bug during college when he spent a semester studying abroad in London. But his passion for travel became his life's work after 9/11. Then 23, he was working in the World Trade Center at a Wall Street firm owned by the financial-services giant Cantor Fitzgerald — which lost the most employees of any company that day.

"I lost one of my best friends and pretty much everyone I worked with," he said. "It was eye-opening."

After quitting finance in 2002, Abbamonte dedicated his life to travel. He started documenting his trips and tips on a blog in 2006, later appearing on TV as a travel expert.

Abbamonte says that while he never set out to break travel records, he finished visiting every country around 2011. Soon after, he also completed visiting every state in America thanks to several road trips.

"I'd gone to every baseball stadium and football stadium," he said. "I'm a big sports guy."

Abbamonte, who's also a nature lover, ranked all 50 states on Instagram earlier this month. In the post's caption, he explained to followers that his ranking which puts California first and North Dakota last was based on his personal experiences and was admittedly subjective.

Abbamonte told Business Insider the reasons he loves his favorite six states, and why four wound up at the bottom of his list.

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

A road along the coast.
Abbamonte has lived in California for three years and ranks it his No. 1 US state.Markue/Getty Images

Abbamonte, who moved to California three years ago after spending more than two decades living in NYC, says his new home state is his favorite for one big reason: It's got everything.

"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 is something for you here."

Abbamonte is partial to California because it has nine national parks, the most of any state in the US.

Although he says the only time he's felt a bit unsafe in the US was in San Francisco, he's been back several times and still thinks it's a "pretty great city."

There's more to Colorado than good skiing.

A ski resort at sunset.
There's more to Colorado than skiing, Abbamonte says.Kruck20/Getty Images

Colorado is second on Abbamonte's list, mainly because of how versatile the topography is and how "great" the national parks are.

"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."

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

"Denver is also a really cool crossroads of America where the East ends and the West begins," he added.

Utah is "pure nature," Abbamonte says.

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

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

"Utah, for me, is pure nature," he said. "It's very pleasant and scenic."

Utah also feels incredibly safe to him, Abbamonte says.

There's more to Arizona than the desert.

Arizona sunset.
Arizona has beautiful sunsets.David Sucsy/Getty Images

While Abbamonte loves Arizona's "desert scenery" and the Grand Canyon, he says there's 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 such as Saguaro and the Petrified Forest, Abbamonte says Arizona has a more diverse topography 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, for me, you gotta leave the city to get to the good stuff in Arizona."

The sunsets, he says, are the best you can find "anywhere in the US."

Hawaii's inhabited islands are all different.

A beach with mountains in the background.
Honolulu is underrated, he says. Maridav/Getty Images

Abbamonte has visited Hawaii every year since 2004.

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

"The weather is perfect, there's great hiking and golfing, and I love 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 Obama still goes back there on vacations. It's absolutely awesome."

Nevada is a dream, no matter the season.

Lake Tahoe.
Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful sights in the US, he says.MariuszBlach/Getty Images

Nevada combines the best of Arizona and Utah because it has both natural beauty and a lot of desert vistas, Abbamonte says.

While he likes Las Vegas, he says, Lake Tahoe is the main reason Nevada makes his top six states in the US.

"That's probably the most beautiful thing in the United States," he said. "I've been there in the summer and the winter a dozen times, and it's like a dream."

Abbamonte ranked Louisiana 47th out of 50 states. It would've been farther down if it wasn't for New Orleans.

New Orleans.
He says New Orleans elevates Louisiana.f11photo/Getty Images

Since Abbamonte cares most about versatile geography and the abundance of nature, the states he ranked lowest out of 50 are more "flat" in topography.

Louisiana is the fourth-flattest state in the US, according to the World Population Review.

New Orleans, however, is still a lure for visitors, Abbamonte says.

He also says if his ranking was based on food, it would've been in the "top 10, if not top five" because he loves Cajun cuisine.

Kentucky is great — if you love horses and fishing.

Rolling countryside hills at sunset.
Kentucky is known for horses and fishing, Abbamonte says. Photographer: Alexey Stiop

Some of the most popular things to do in Kentucky, such as ride horses or fish, may not be for everyone.

"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."

Kansas may be more appealing if it were home to the other, bigger Kansas City.

Witchita, Kansas.
Some people don't know that the more popular Kansas City is actually in Missouri.Sean Pavone/Getty Images

Abbamonte is a fan of Kansas City — Kansas City, Missouri. The city most people have heard of sits on one side of the Kansas River, he said, across from a smaller Kansas City that's actually in Kansas.

"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.

He also says there's a museum dedicated to former President Dwight Eisenhower that's "cool to go to if you like your history." But, he says, it's a three-hour drive away from Kansas City, Missouri.

North Dakota may be the least accessible state.

A road going through grassy fields.
North Dakota isn't very accessible from most places in the US, Abbamonte says.rruntsch/Getty Images

North Dakota is at the bottom of Abbamonte's ranking because of how much time it takes to get there from other parts of the US.

"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."

Other low-ranked states, including Alabama and Mississippi, are at least closer to vibrant cities in different states or coastlines, he says.

Even though he ranked North Dakota 50th out of 50 states, Abbamonte says it isn't because he dislikes it.

"There are good things there, like Teddy Roosevelt National Park. 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?'"

Still, Abbamonte says he wouldn't rule out going back to North Dakota.

"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," he said. "I would never say no to anything because you never know."

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