What is each US state known for? We decided to take a deep dive into researching and examining what makes each state in the USA unique. In this special report, we round up famous things & fun facts for each US state and territory!
Each of America’s 50 states has its own treasures–natural wonders, famous residents, notable events, and more. Besides the fifty states, America also has the District of Columbia and five inhabited overseas territories. In this article, we will take a look at the highlights of all these unique places. For more, see our article on what America is known for.
- What is Each State Known For?
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
- The District of Columbia
- American Samoa
- Northern Mariana Islands
- Puerto Rico
- U.S. Virgin Islands
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What is Each State Known For?
Alabama is known for its southern heritage, college football, and contributions to the civil rights movement. Rosa Parks made her famous bus ride in Alabama. Martin Luther King Jr. led the Selma March and wrote “Letters from Birmingham Jail” here. The notorious “Bloody Sunday” incident also occurred in Alabama.
Alabama also made significant contributions to America’s space program, being the home of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Next door to this center is the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, America’s largest space museum.
Alaska is known for its natural beauty. It is the largest state and has North America’s tallest mountain, Denali. Alaska is also famous for its northern lights and its “midnight sun”. Alaska has a wealth of natural resources such as oil and gold and an equally rich cultural history of Native Alaskan and Russian heritage.
Alaska is well known for its many bears, whether polar, black, or grizzly bears. Other famous forms of Alaskan wildlife include salmon and sea lions. Alaska’s landscapes are diverse, ranging from towering mountain ranges to isolated wind-swept islands.
Arizona’s most famous feature is the Grand Canyon. The 48th state is known for its desert climate and extreme heat, as well as its wild west heritage. Arizona is famous for its Native American culture, such as the Navajo.
Other famous attractions in Arizona include the Hoover Dam, the Petrified Forest National Park, and the Painted Desert. America’s most famous highway, Route 66, also passes through Arizona.
Arkansas is the home of Walmart and the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton. It is also the home of country music legend Johnny Cash. The University of Arkansas is famous for its college football team, the Razorbacks.
Arkansas is famous for the Ozark Mountains and the Ouachita Mountains. The state is also famous for the Hot Springs National Park and the Crater of Diamonds State Park. Crater of Diamonds is the only public diamond mine in America, where you can pay $7 to try your hand at finding your own diamonds.
California is known for its famous beaches and for popularizing surfing. The state is known for its diverse natural beauty and it has the most national parks in the entire United States. It is the third largest state in America and also the most populated state.
California is famous for its major cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego. Los Angeles, in turn, is famous for its role in the entertainment industry, most notably as the home of Hollywood. California is also known for its agricultural production and its wines.
Colorado is known for its stunning natural beauty, especially in the Rocky Mountains. Colorado is famous for Denver “the Mile-High City” and many famous ski resorts. The famous Mesa Verde cliff dwellings are found in Colorado.
The Centennial State is famous for gaining statehood on the 100th anniversary of the United States. It is also famous for the Colorado River and its rich wild-west heritage.
Connecticut is famous for its colonial history and Native American heritage. The state also has a proud maritime heritage and is famous for its clam chowder. The prestigious Yale University is located in Connecticut.
Connecticut was also home to many famous (or infamous) Americans such as Nathan Hale, Benedict Arnold, Noah Webster, and Mark Twain. Connecticut is famous also for being part of the “tri-state” region with New York and New Jersey.
Delaware was the first state to enter the Union and has many famous sites from the colonial era. Delaware is famous for its beaches and the horseshoe crabs that swarm them in early summer. The state has a famously low-income tax rate as well.
Delaware is home to the Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and Delaware Bay oysters. Chemical manufacturing is one of the major industries in the state. Delaware hosts the famous Firefly Music Festival.
The Sunshine State is known for its major amusement parks such as Disney World and Universal Studios. Florida is known for the Everglades. Florida boasts many white, sandy beaches and is famous for its citrus fruits, especially key limes.
St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest city in America, was founded in 1565. Florida is famous also for the legendary Fountain of Youth and its space shuttle launches at the Kennedy Space Center.
The state is also known for alligators and other forms of wildlife. Florida is also known for the unusual antics of some of its human residents, leading to the famous “Florida Man” memes on the internet.
Georgia is nicknamed “The Peach State” for its famously delicious peaches. It’s also known as the home of Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines. Georgia is known for its mountains, which are part of the Appalachian Mountains, and for the “Little Grand Canyon.”
The state is famous for its southern heritage and culture. It is also famous for its Native American culture, especially the Etowah Mounds built by prehistoric tribes. In recent times, another monolith, the Georgia Guidestones, has been the center of controversy.
Hawaii is known for its famous beaches and tropical climate. The 50th state is famous for its volcanoes, both active and extinct. Hawaii is the only state not connected to the North American continent. Hawaii is also famous for the notorious attack on Pearl Harbor, which led to America’s entry into World War II.
The tropic climate lends itself to growing tropical fruits such as coconuts and pineapples. Hawaii is one of the few states that used to be a sovereign nation before becoming a state. Many aspects of Hawaiian culture, such as surfing and hula dancing, gained popularity throughout the country.
The state of Idaho is known for its beautiful forest, mountains, and lakes. Idaho is home to Hells Canyon, the deepest gorge in America. The state is famous for its potatoes as well as gemstones and minerals.
The state is famous for the Craters of the Moon National Monument, an otherworldly landscape formed from an ancient lava flow. Idaho has a rich frontier history as well as many ghost towns. The state also spans two time zones, with southern Idaho on Mountain Time and northern Idaho (aka “The Panhandle”) on Pacific Time.
Illinois is famous for the city of Chicago, home of famous sports teams, Chicago-style pizza, and the Willis Tower. Route 66 begins in Illinois and the state also has a long history of railroads. Illinois has the most nuclear power plants (11 of them) of any state. The state also has a reputation for corruption.
Illinois is famous for the U.S. Presidents who lived there. Abraham Lincoln began his political career in Illinois. Ulysses S. Grant lived there briefly. Ronald Reagan was born and raised in Illinois and Barack Obama served in the state and national legislature while residing in Illinois.
Indiana is famous for professional auto racing, especially the Indy 500. The state also has a reputation for basketball, and a local high school team served as the inspiration for the classic sports film “Hoosiers.” NBA legend Larry Bird hails from Indiana and, after retiring, coached the Indiana Pacers for several years.
Before moving to Illinois, Abraham Lincoln spent much of his youth in Indiana. Indiana is also home to such prominent universities as Notre Dame and Purdue.
Iowa is the nation’s number one producer of corn. The house in the famous painting “American Gothic” is located in Iowa–appropriately enough for a largely agrarian state. Iowa is also the home of the nation’s largest truck stop.
American film legend John Wayne was born in Iowa, and the state has a rich heritage of early American frontier history. Taco pizza was first made in Iowa and an Iowa-born entrepreneur invented the world’s first bread-slicing machine.
Kansas is the initial setting for the famous novel and movie “The Wizard of Oz.” The state’s history is deeply intertwined with the controversy over slavery and states’ rights. Armed conflicts between militias even took place before the Civil War.
Kansas is famous for its frontier history, being home to Dodge City, from which the phrase “get out of Dodge” originates. Tornados are not uncommon in Kansas and the midpoint of the contiguous United States is found here.
Kansas has a history of aviation, too. Amelia Earheart came from Kansas and several major airplane manufacturers are located in the city of Wichita.
Kentucky is known for its horse races such as the Kentucky Derby and equestrian culture. The state is home to Kentucky Fried Chicken and several other culinary delights. These include the hot brown sandwich, derby pies, Kentucky bourbon, and more.
One of the most famous attractions in the state is the Mammoth Caves National Park. Despite living most of his life elsewhere, Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky. Ironically, Jefferson Davis was also born in Kentucky. Kentucky is also home to Fort Knox and its famous gold bullion reserves.
Louisiana’s biggest attraction is the city of New Orleans, especially during Mardi Gras. The city also boasts a thriving music scene. New Orleans is considered to be the birthplace of jazz. It is also the center of Cajun culture and cuisine.
The Mississippi River empties into the Gulf of Mexico along the coast of Louisiana and the river serves as a major commercial artery for the state. North of New Orleans, the state is famous for its swamps and bayous.
This state in the northeastern corner of the country is known for its rugged coastline and sprawling forests. In fact, it is the most forested state in America. Maine is famous for
fresh, delicious seafood (especially lobster), maple syrup, and blueberries.
Maine is famous for its cozy coastal towns and scenic lighthouses. It’s also one of the few states in the “Lower 48” where moose can be found. Maine is home to the famous L.L. Bean brand of outdoor gear and clothes. At one time, Maine used to be part of Massachusetts!
The events that inspired our national anthem occurred during the War of 1812 at Fort McHenry. Fredrick Douglass and Harriet Tubman came from Maryland. Edgar Allen Poe lived in Baltimore, which is also famous for its sports teams and maritime heritage.
Maryland’s beaches are popular tourist destinations and Chesapeake blue crabs are a local delicacy. Maryland has deep connections with America’s favorite pastime as well. For one, Babe Ruth and the Ripken brothers were born and raised in Maryland. The team that would later become the New York Yankees began in Baltimore before transferring to the Big Apple.
Massachusetts is well-known for its role in the colonial era and the revolutionary war. Plymouth Rock, the site of the Pilgrims’ landing, and Salem, the site of the infamous witch trials, are two of the most famous attractions in the state. The city of Boston was a major hub for revolutionary activity.
Massachusetts is famous for Cape Cod, clam chowder, and prestigious universities such as Harvard and MIT. The state also boasts several famous professional sports teams such as the Celtic, the Patriots, and the Red Sox.
Michigan is the only state that is “split” in two, consisting of the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. This state touches four of the five great lakes, more than any other state. The city of Detroit is famous for its role in the auto industry, even if its glory days may be in the past.
With so much coastline, there are many lighthouses throughout the state. In fact, Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state. Michigan is home to the only floating post office in the United States, a tugboat that delivers mail, and even has its own zip code!
The northernmost state in the Lower 48 is known for its cold winters, Scandinavian heritage, and the unique Minnesota accent. Minnesotans are famously friendly and polite. Famous Minnesota musicians include Prince and Bob Dylan.
The state is famous for its many lakes, having the nickname “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” The abundant forests contribute to the thriving logging industry, especially in Minnesota’s frontier days. This gave rise to the American tall tale of Paul Bunyan and his ox named Blue. Minnesota is also the home of the Mall of America, the largest shopping mall in North America.
The Mississippi River is one of the most famous landmarks in this state. One of the most iconic sights along the river is the old-fashioned paddle boats. Elvis Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi. The state also has a reputation for its Delta Blues and bluegrass music.
Mississippi has a rich southern heritage and is generally more conservative and religious than other states. Mississippi hosts the Cruisin’ the Coast festival celebrating classic cars. The Gulf Coast of Mississippi is famous also for its beaches, barrier islands, and resort towns.
Missouri is known for the city of St. Louis and the Gateway Arch which commemorates the beginning of Lewis and Clark’s explorations. Other famous cities in Missouri are Kansas City and Jefferson City. American author Mark Twain was born in Missouri and Walt Disney had his first studio in Kansas City.
Missouri was the starting point for the short-lived Pony Express. It was also the home of the notorious outlaw Jesse James. Missouri played an important part in the build-up to the Civil War and in the war itself.
Appropriately named “Big Sky Country,” Montana is home to many epic landscapes. One of the most famous places in the state is Glacier National Park. The park contains one of the few hiking trails to cross the border with Canada. Montana’s mountains are home to several ski resorts.
Montana is famous for its Native American culture and frontier history. Cities such as Butte boomed in the “Old West” because of the abundant precious metals found nearby. Montana is the United States’ only source of platinum. The Battle of Little Bighorn, aka “Custer’s Last Stand” was fought in Montana.
Nebraska is known for being part of the Great Plains, but also for rock formations such as Chimney Rock. Cattle ranching is a major part of the state economy and Nebraska produces a significant amount of the nation’s beef. There are even more cows than people in Nebraska!
Both the Oregon Trail and the Pony Express traveled across Nebraska in their time. The original Boys Town is in Nebraska, as is the one-of-a-kind Carhenge. Some of the most famous Nebraskans are Warren Buffet, Gerald Ford, and Edwin Perkins, the inventor of Kool-Aid.
The Silver State earned its nickname from the large deposit of silver discovered in the Comstock Lode. The most famous thing about Nevada, though, is easily the city of Las Vegas, famous for its casinos and the Las Vegas Strip. The city of Reno also has several casinos, but the city is better known as a hub for outdoor exploration.
Nevada shares Lake Tahoe with California, as well as having several ski resorts entirely of its own. The famous Burning Man music festival takes place in the Black Rock Desert in northwestern Nevada. Nevada is also the driest state in America, drier than even Arizona!
New Hampshire is famous for its forests and mountains, especially the White Mountains. The most famous mountain in that range is Mount Washington, known for its weather observatory and extreme winds and cold temperatures.
New Hampshire residents pride themselves on their independent spirit and down-to-earth lifestyle. The state has many cozy small towns and rustic villages. Maple syrup, apple cider donuts, and fried lake bass are local delicacies. The state also has the shortest shoreline of any state, with just 18 miles of coast on the southern tip of the state.
“The Garden State” is best known for its proximity to New York as part of the Tri-State area. Ellis Island, the gateway for many early immigrants to America sits just off the shores of New Jersey. New Jersey is also known for its seaside resort towns, especially Atlantic City.
New Jersey also played a pivotal role in the American Revolutionary War. George Washington’s famous crossing of the Delaware River before the battle of Trenton happened in New Jersey. Technological revolutions occurred in New Jersey as well. Thomas Edison perfected his incandescent light bulb at his laboratory in Menlo Park.
The Land of Enchantment deserves its nickname. New Mexico is home to some of the most stunning rock formations in the American southwest. It also boasts a vast collection of ancient pictographs left by the prehistoric Anasazi people. The state’s heritage is a unique combination of Native, Hispanic, and white American cultures.
One of the most “enchanting” attractions is the hot air balloon festival held each year in Albuquerque. New Mexico was also the site of the first test detonation of an atomic bomb and is home to many cutting-edge research laboratories.
New York is known for New York City and its many famous landmarks. Just a few of them include the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, and Wall Street. Local cuisines such as the New York bagel, New York-style pizza, and Coney Island hot dogs are also well-known nationwide.
Upstate New York has many famous sites as well. The most famous of these is Niagara Falls. Other noteworthy places include the cities of Albany and Buffalo.
North Carolina is best known for Kittyhawk, the site of the Wright brothers’ first powered aircraft flight. The Tarheel State is home to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited national park in America.
North Carolina is home to several universities famous for their athletics as well as their academic programs. North Carolina prides itself on its barbecue and Pepsi-Cola was invented in New Bern, North Carolina. History buffs know North Carolina as the site of the famous Roanoke colony, known for the mysterious disappearance of its inhabitants.
North Dakota is known for its rugged beauty. The most famous places to see this are the Badlands National Park and the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
North Dakota is famous for its Native American culture, especially the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. The state is well-known for its buffalo herds as well as the world’s largest buffalo statue. Several other giant animal statues can be found throughout the state as well.
Ohio is known for its major cities such as Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus. Ohio is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Eight Presidents of the United States came from Ohio and the Wright Brothers grew up there as well.
Ohio has the only state flag that is not square-shaped. It is also home to prestigious universities such as Oberlin College. Ohio has also become the subject of many zany memes of late.
Oklahoma is known for its agriculture and cowboy history. It is also the only state with a Broadway musical named for it. The title song from that musical is even the state anthem! The state is well-known for the tornados that often sweep through it.
Oklahoma’s most well-known cities are Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Oklahoma has a rich Native American heritage, being home to tribes such as the Cherokee, Osage, Pawnee, and more. Route 66 passes through Oklahoma on its way west.
Oregon’s beauty is hard to surpass. Towering mountains, such as Mount Hood, loom above fertile farmlands and dense forests. Crater Lake is the most famous attraction in the state and the Oregon Coast has many natural wonders along its shores.
One of the most famous man-made attractions along the coast is the Tillamook Creamery. Oregon is well-known for pinot noir wine. Portland, Oregon is known for the beauty of its surroundings and the eccentricity of its inhabitants.
Oregon was the terminus of the famous Oregon Trail. It also marked the end of Lewis and Clark’s westward expedition to the Pacific Ocean.
Pennsylvania is famous for the cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Philadelphia is known for its pivotal role in early American history and the historical sites associated with it. Pittsburgh is known for its industry and its major league sports team.
Pennsylvania is also known for its rolling hills and farmlands. The state also has a sizable Amish population.
America’s smallest state is by no means the least interesting. Rhode Island’s official state drink is coffee milk, a mix of sweetened coffee and cold milk. Rhode Island prides itself on its rich maritime heritage and New England culture.
Brown University is located in Rhode Island. The state is also known for its beaches and seaside resorts, especially Newport. Newport hosts the annual America’s Cup sailing competition.
South Carolina is known for Myrtle Beach and its many golf courses. The city of Charleston, South Carolina is famous for its rustic charm. South Carolina is also known for the events at Fort Sumter that helped spark the American Civil War.
Other attractions in South Carolina include America’s only tea plantation, a wide variety of barrier islands, and the unique Gullah culture found on several of these islands. South Carolina is also known for the Carolina Reaper pepper.
South Dakota is most famous for its rugged badlands and Mount Rushmore. The Black Hills Mountain Range and the Black Hills National Forest are found in South Dakota, along with hot springs and many natural caves.
South Dakota is famous for its Native American tribes, especially the Sioux. The notorious Wild West town of Deadwood is located in South Dakota also.
Nashville and Memphis are the most famous cities in Tennessee. Nashville has a reputation for its music scene, especially at the Grand Ole Opry theater and for the spicy hot chicken sandwich. Memphis is known as the birthplace of Aretha Franklin and also for Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley.
Tennessee is also known for its rolling hills and the Appalachian Mountains. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park extends into Tennessee. Tennessee is also the site of America’s largest known underground lake.
Texas is known for its western heritage and spirit of independence. Country music is popular in Texas and the city of Austin has the title “The Live Music Capital of the World.” Major industries in Texas include agriculture, ranching, and oil drilling.
Texas is one of the few states that used to be a sovereign nation before becoming a state. Texas is also known for its major cities and its role in America’s space program.
The Great Salt Lake and Salt Lake City are two of Utah’s most well-known attractions. Just west of the Great Salt Lakes are the vast Bonneville Salt Flats. Southern Utah is famous for its national parks showcasing its rugged canyonlands.
Utah is known for its Mormon population and also for its pioneer heritage. Skiing is popular in Utah’s mountains and the world-renown Sundance Film Festival is held in Park City, Utah.
Vermont is famous for the beauty of its forest and the Green Mountains. Skiing is a popular activity in Vermont, along with hiking the state’s many trails. Vermont was the first state to abolish slavery, doing so in 1777.
Vermont is home to the Ben and Jerry’s brand of ice cream. The Green Mountain State also produces more maple syrup than any other state.
Virginia is famous for its colonial history, especially the settlement at Jamestown. Eight U.S. Presidents came from Virginia, including four of the first five Presidents: Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe.
One of the most famous attractions in the state is the scenic Shenandoah Valley. During the Civil War, the city of Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy.
The Evergreen State earns its name well, being home to sprawling evergreen forests. The state is famous for Olympic and Cascade Mountain Ranges, as well as individual peaks such as Mount Rainier and Mount Saint Helens.
Washington is famous for its agriculture, especially apples and cherries. The state’s most famous city is Seattle, well-known for its beautiful surroundings and counter-cultural past.
One of the most interesting things about West Virginia is its origin. It began as a breakaway region of Virginia at the outset of the Civil War, choosing to remain in the Union. It also is home to Harpers Ferry, the site of one of the most famous pre-Civil War clashes.
The state is known for the Appalachian Mountains and their many scenic peaks and valleys. The inhabitants of these areas are also known for their preservation of Appalachian culture, especially bluegrass music.
Wisconsin is known for its many lakes, and for the Great Lakes in particular. Wisconsin is also known as the home of the Green Bay Packers, and as a state that produces more 2.4 billion gallons of milk every year. In fact, Wisconsin’s dairies are some of the most famous in the world.
One more fun fact about Wisconsin is that it is known as the “Ginseng capital of the world”!
Wyoming’s most famous feature is Yellowstone National Park and its many geothermal springs and geysers. The state is well-known by nature lovers for the Grand Teton Mountains and the Devil’s Tower rock formation.
Outdoor activities are popular in Wyoming, especially skiing at Jackson Hole. The state also has a strong frontier heritage and several ghost towns.
The District of Columbia
The District of Columbia is best known for the city of Washington–the nation’s capital. Here one finds the White House, the Capitol Building, and numerous famous monuments. Some of the most well-known include the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.
The National Archives Museum houses the original copies of the Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence. The Smithsonian Museum and several prestigious universities are also located in “DC.”
American Samoa is known for its tropical beauty and idyllic climate. Tuna fishing is one of the primary industries here. The territory is also home to the stunning National Park of American Samoa.
American Samoa is also one of the two territorial holdings of the United States south of the equator. The other is Jarvis Island, which is uninhabited.
Guam is known for its pristine tropical nature and its sizable military presence. The Japanese captured it briefly in World War II. It is also west of the International Dateline, so it is often a day ahead of the rest of the country.
Northern Mariana Islands
These islands are another of America’s holdings in the Pacific Ocean. American forces captured these islands from Japan in World War II.
In the 1970s, the inhabitants chose to seek closer ties to the United States instead of pursuing sovereignty. The famous Mariana Sea Trench is in the waters off of these islands.
Puerto Rico is famous for its tropical beauty and natural wonders. One of the most remarkable is its many bioluminescent bays. Puerto Rico’s Mosquito Bay is the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world. Puerto Rico is famous for its rum production and is the birthplace of the Pina Colada.
U.S. Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands are known for their white sandy beaches and deep harbors. These islands used to belong to Denmark but were acquired in 1917 when the U.S. government bought them. Tourism and rum distillation are the major industries here.
Now you don’t have to wonder what each state is known for!
All of America’s states and territories have many remarkable features, from natural wonders to noteworthy events to famous people. This article has been a glance at some of the most famous.