I will assign a letter grade to each state based on the following criteria: Recreational opportunities, physical terrain, culture, general affordability, political leanings and growth. (States that are growing too fast or are too red get lower grades in my book)
Part 1: Alabama through Kentucky.
Alabama B+. Gets high marks due to recreational opportunies in the north. Loses marks from coastal overdevelopment and general conservative populace.
Alaska: B+. Recreational opportunites and diversity of culture and wildlife are unmatched and would warrant an A. However, as one of the reddest states and it's economy dependent on oil, it's grade is lowered.
Arizona: B-. Grand Canyon and nearby recreation areas get an A, but the existance of Phoenix and it's attending sprawl warrant a big fat F.
Arkansas: A-. Scenic and affordable. Much diversity in terrain and flora. Certainly lots to do. Not as red as most southern states, especially in the Delta region.
California: B-. Overrated, but nice parks in the north. If I were to divide the state in two I would give the north half an A- and the south half a C-
Colorado: C+. Great mountain scenery but outrageously expensive. Would bump up a full letter grade if they nuked Colorado Springs. (Kidding!)
Connecticut: B-. Nice small towns and forested terrain are giving way to way too much suburban growth. A blue state to be sure, but one populated by "limosine liberals"
Delaware: B-. A couple of nice towns, but too much coastal development.
District of Columbia: B+. You could visit a different institution every day and it would take you more than a year to visit them all. If there were only a way to get rid of all the lobbysts. D. C. will probably garnish an A- once Bush leaves office in 2009.
Florida: C-. My worst state. Too many overblown, Disneyfied hellholes like Daytona Beach, Orlando and Miami. This state is going to suck America dry if another big hurricane wipes out all those $10 Milllion McMansions along the coast and these people's sense of entitlement makes me sick. Key West gets an A though.
Georgia: B-. Great National Forest areas in the north. Good roadside architecture and "rustic" landscapes in the south. However, there is the matter of Atlanta...
Hawaii: C. Never been there, but my perception is one of just a bunch of high-rises along the beach.
Idaho: B. I Know very little about Idaho. Only drove there on the way to Utah from Wyoming. What I saw was beautiful and this probably applies to the rest of this mountainous state as well. However, it has the noteriety of having the most pro-Bush county in America (Madison County 90+% for Bush)
Illinois: B-. The south is cool with lots of places to camp and bike, and there is much to do in Chicago as well. But Chicago is being ruined by both city snobs who live there and suburban snobs who commute there from their exclusionary suburban Hellholes. Their high-maintenance lifestyle and slash-and-burn sense of entitlement have resulted in the demolition of hundreds of historic buildings throughout Chicagoland. Teardowns have resulted in the construction of thousands of new condos, McMansions and high-rises which has driven out the middle classes, and made traffic congestion and attending environmental damage worse than ever. Places like Hinsdale and Orland Park are the absolute pits. Chicago-based tourists are ruining Galena. And Mayor Daley is a colossal prick.
Indiana: B+. Nice parks in the south, such as Brown County and surrounding state forest land. Pokagon State park in the NE is awesome. Lots of nice small towns. Indi is kind of overrated though and general conservative slant throughout the state keep it from being an A.
Iowa: B+-. Slightly biased view for I've only been to the Mississippi River areas and these areas are certainly worthy of an A.
Kansas: B+. Nice towns along U. S. 56, but not much recreational opportunities and the stigma of being one of the reddest of the red states.
Kentucky:A-. My third second favorite state as a kid. Great recreational oppurtunities throughout the state, especially in the east. But it has lost some of its luster due to rampant suburban growth (especially around the Cinci area) and environmental damage from strip mining conglomerates.
Louisiana: B Only been to Lake Charles and Vidalia. Would have liked to have visited The Big Easy before Katrina.
Maine: A-. Haven't been there since 1977, but it was one of the best vacations ever! Loved Mt. Desert Island and Sebago Lake and the small towns along U. S. 1. Not affordable though.
Maryland: B Nice in the Panhandle and Assateague (sp?) but loses points for DC sprawl and Ocean City.
Massachusetts: B- Too much sprawl but nice forested areas in the west.
Michigan: A- Lots of great places to hike, camp, canue, and bike in the north. Ann Arbor is great too as are Mackinac Island and Bois Blanc Island. Deficits include too much suburban growth, gaudy places like Gaylord and Mackinaw City and the wholesale destruction of Detroit.
Minnesota: B Twin Cities are OK. Know little about Minnesota outside this area. Nice views along Miss. River.
Mississippi: B+. Areas along the Trace are nice, if a somewhat distorted view of the state. I loved Nachez.
Missouri: A. Visited there last year, the first time I had really spent a lot of time in the state. Great recreational opportunities in the southeast including the Mark Twain National Forest. Decent state park system. St. Louis is fun including the Gateway Arch and the Zoo. Will visit again. Absolutely hate suburban St. Louis however.
Montana: B+ Been a while since I've been there but I liked it. Not too fond of the 60% slant for Bush however.
Nebraska: B Not seen a whole lot but I liked the drives through the prairies on U. S. 20. But its deeply red slant warrant an F.
Nevada: 2. B- A once great state ruined by tourism. But is still has nice desert views, desolate roads and remnants of ghost towns (if you can find the ones not ruined by tourists). Reno was OK but Vegas is an overblown Hellhole.
New Hampshire:A-. Awesome mountain scenery, small towns and recreational opportunities.
New Jersey: B+ Love Cape May and the northwest. Nice agricultural areas in the southwest and I hear good things about the Pine Barrens. But state is being ruined by rich Philly and NYC pricks and their "second home" McMansions on the coast. These a$$holes are driving up prices all up and down the coast and so far nothing can stop them. They are also ruining Cape May and digging their clawa into the Wildwoods. Stone Harbor is the absolute is the worst town in America.
New Mexico: B Only been in the north on the way to Taos, which I thought was is overated.
New York: B+ Great recreation in the Adirondacks and Ithaca areas. Many affordable areas upstate. Would like to visit NYC. However, too much suburban growth.
North Carolina: C+ Once my favorate state, has lost a great deal of value due to rampant growth in the Golden Traingle area. The Cape Hatteras area (other than the beautiful National Seashore) is the absolute pits.
North Dakota: B Only seen the Badlands, which was beautiful. Desolate to be sure, but that may not be such a bad thing. Consistantly one of the most crime-free states in the union but I'm not pleased with it's political leanings.