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    Posted May 12, 2014 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Visited all 50 states?

    50 States By 30


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     50StatesBy30 is determined to visit all 50 states by the time she is 30. With a full-time job and limited vacation time, she often has to search to find the time to travel. "A lot of short trips are key," she said. She also does a lot of research before she travels somewhere so she can make the most of her short trips.
    - Verybecoming, CNN iReport producer

    Goal: Visit all 50 States by the time I turn 30


    Rules: In order for a state to count at least one of the following criteria must be met (1) sleep there (2) eat a meal there - fast food or chain restaurants do not count (3) explore the city long enough to feel like I have a good understanding of my surroundings.


    Background: My friend Meghan told me that she was planning on visiting all 50 states in her life and had found a website to track it called the All Fifty Club (http://www.allfiftyclub.com/). I was intrigued to know my state count so decided to check it out, but I was rather disappointed when I saw my total state count was a measly 18 states.


    I have always been an avid traveler but my travels were focused on international exploration or visiting states I had already been to. As a very proud American and a self-proclaimed All-American girl, the realization that I had seen more countries than states had me questioning my travel priorities. How had I only seen 1/3 of the country that I called home and loved?


    I decided in that moment that I would visit all 50 states by the time I turned 30. This seemed a bit irrational when I realized I had only 5 ½ years to visit 32 states, a full-time job, limited vacation time, and no untapped bank account to pay for this costly endeavor. But, I was determined to make this goal a reality and I am currently in the process of doing just that!


    Since last June, I have visited 7 new states bringing my total state count to 25. I have 5 new state trips booked for this year and can’t wait to continue seeing more of this wonderful country.


    This past year I visited Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Texas, Tennessee, Michigan, and Illinois. Next on the agenda is a mini road trip to North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia at the end of the month. My experience thus far has proven to be just as educational, interesting, and glamorous as my International travels.


    People are always interested to know what are my favorite restaurants, activities, etc. for each state so I have included just a few of my favorites from my travels in the past year.


    Best Eats:


    Moonshine Patio Bar and Grill (Austin, Texas)
    By far the best Pork Chop of my life… and I didn’t even order it. I spent half the meal politely begging my friend Jenny for another bite because it was so delicious. We also went back for Sunday Brunch and were equally happy!


    Zingerman’s (Ann Arbor, Michigan)
    I spent three days in Ann Arbor, Michigan and went to Zingerman’s every day I was there (one day I went twice!). I have eaten more marshmallows than most humans do in their lifetime and can honestly say nothing compares to their vanilla marshmallows.


    Wildberry (Chicago, Illinois)
    I found out about this place on my Southwest flight to Chicago and wish I knew how to contact the person sitting next to me to thank them for this tip. Wildberry has exceptionally delicious flavored lemonade and wonderfully unique takes on traditional breakfast foods. My personal favorite was the Oreo S’more pancake.


    Torchy’s (Austin, Texas)
    4 words… deep fried avocado taco. Yes, it is as delicious as it sounds! Also, Torchy’s has Migas tacos. Migas has now become my all-time favorite breakfast dish and I have Torchy’s to thank for the introduction to TexMex breakfast.


    Best Activity:


    Portland Zoo Lights (Portland, Oregon)
    The Portland Zoo Lights during the holidays are truly spectacular! On our short weekend trip to Portland we went to the Zoo twice. Yes, TWICE! Not only are the light displays impressive electrical art they also have a wonderful animal family. The elephants were a particular favorite of mine.


    Grand Ole Opry (Nashville, Tennessee)
    A trip to Nashville would not be complete without a concert at the Grand Ole Opry. I love country music and saw some of my favorite artists perform the night we were there. I couldn’t stop smiling!


    Henry Ford Museum (Dearborn, Michigan)
    The Henry Ford Museum was surprisingly fun and definitely worth the visit. The grounds are covered with famous historical houses, old cars driving the streets, and even a little post office. In my opinion the best part of the entire day was watching the vintage baseball game played without gloves to the 1800 rules!


    Best Photo Opportunities:


    Greetings from Austin Postcard Mural (Austin, Texas)
    A trip to Austin is not complete without a photo in front of this well-known mural.


    Hey Cupcake (Austin, Texas)
    The larger-than-life cupcake on top of the airstream trailer makes for a great photo opportunity… not to mention also the location of delicious cupcakes.


    City of Spokane Blocks (Spokane, Washington)
    Located at Riverfront Park, these blocks make for a fun photo opportunity.


    Red Wagon (Spokane, Washington)
    Naturally the world’s largest Radio Flyer Wagon makes for a great backdrop in any photo… and there is a slide!


    Lake Coeur d’Alene (Coeur d’Alene, Idaho)
    This pristine lake is the perfect picturesque stetting for any picture.


    Curious to know where I’m headed next? Follow me on Instagram at 50StatesBy30 (http://instagram.com/50statesby30).


    (I am always looking for travel suggestions so if you have suggestions on where I should stay, what I should do, or where I should eat please leave a comment and I’ll check it out!)

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