It’s easy to forget that the United States is massive. And while we may celebrate the same national holidays, vote in the same elections, and pledge allegiance to the same flag, the culture in each state couldn’t be more different from that of its neighbors.
Whether you’re planning a road trip or just want to see how your home state stacks up, these tidbits will give you a whole new view of the good old U.S. of A. We’ve rounded up the things people in every state can’t live without, from the practical to the downright peculiar. And if you want more fun facts about America, check out these 20 American Summer Traditions That Foreigners Will Never Understand.
A Yard Sale Sign — Alabama
Every Alabaman has two crucial skills: decluttering and getting a good deal. And fortunately, they get to show off both every year during The World’s Longest Yard Sale, which stretches 690 miles. And for more ways to keep some extra cash in your wallet, check out the 30 Best Ways to Save Money on Clothing.
Bug Spray — Alaska
Of all 50 states, Alaska has the best access to national parks, which is great. At the same time, the state also has over 30 species of mosquito eager to make a meal of you, which is significantly less great, meaning bug spray is essential for locals and tourists alike. And if you want to make sure mosquitos don’t ruin your summer, discover these 20 Genius Tricks to Avoid Getting Bitten by Mosquitos.
A Hose for Your Air Conditioner — Arizona
It’s hot enough and dry enough in Arizona that it makes more sense to have a swamp cooler than an A/C, which means that somebody’s got to fill the thing up. And even if you do have a regular air conditioner, spraying down the coils will help the machine cool off faster so you don’t feel like a dog locked in a car with the windows up.
Camouflage — Arkansas
In other states, wearing yoga pants doesn’t mean you’re going to a yoga class. In Arkansas, wearing camo doesn’t mean you’re going hunting. It just means you’re wearing clothes.
Workout Gear — California
You’re going to need some good workout clothes to keep up in California. The state has the highest number of fitness centers per capita in the country.
Broncos Gear — Colorado
If you want to fit in in Colorado, you better bring your orange gear. Colorado residents aren’t shy about repping their hometown team, The Broncos—and you’ll stand out like a sore thumb without at least one piece of their memorabilia. And for some less-attractive athletic-wear, check out the 30 Ugliest Uniforms in the History of Sports.
Some Gambling Money — Connecticut
Just because you don’t have time to head out to Sin City doesn’t mean you can’t win big—just ask any Connecticut resident. Connecticuters know that some of the best fun on the east coast is close to home, thanks to casinos like Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, both of which call the Constitution State home.
Dog Treats — Delaware
The fine folks of Delaware spoil their dogs to the max. On average, they spend more than the residents of any other state on their canine companions.
Slip-Ons — Florida
Florida has more marinas per capita than any other state in the country, so a good pair of slip-ons is essential. And if you want to step up your shoe game, check out The 30 Coolest Pairs of Slip-On Shoes for Summer.
A tube — Georgia
People in Georgia spend all winter waiting for the chance to complain about how hot the summer is, and once the heat hits, they head to the Chattahoochee River to go tubing and “shoot the Hootch.”
Kama’aina — Hawaii
Living in Hawaii isn’t cheap. But it can be a little more affordable for locals, who can get a kama’aina discount for being residents, which helps ease the sting.
A Winter Hot Tub — Idaho
You don’t actually need a bath house if you can just jump from a hot tub (or spring) into a nearby snow bank. Just ask anyone from Idaho.
A 16-Inch Softball — Illinois
Illinois is one of the only places in the country where you can find people playing 16-inch softball, and they are serious about it. Gameplay is mostly the same as regular softball, but players don’t need gloves or mitts because of the size of the ball.
A Basketball — Indiana
Hoosiers are very, very serious about high school basketball. In fact, Indiana has 13 of the country’s 15 biggest high school gymnasiums, despite only being the 17th most populous state.
A Good Book — Iowa
Iowa has the highest literacy rate in the country. In addition, Iowa City is a UNESCO City of Literature, one of only two in the United States. Clearly they take reading pretty seriously.
A Basement — Kansas
Kansas routinely ranks among the worst states to live in for tornadoes, so having a place to shelter—or at least a plan to get to shelter—is an absolute necessity for the folks who make Tornado Alley their home.
A Crazy Hat — Kentucky
You might only need your crazy hat one day a year in Kentucky, but you don’t want to be caught on Derby Day in Kentucky without one.
Newspapers — Louisiana
In other states, newspapers go into the recycling. In Louisiana, they’re saved like precious treasures to later cover tables at crawfish boils.
A Life Jacket — Maine
Maine can proudly (or maybe not proudly) say that they have more boating accidents than any other state, possibly because of their large fishing community. It always pays to bring a lifejacket when you’re heading to Vacationland.
A Sailboat — Maryland
The capital of Maryland is not only the state capital, it’s also the nation’s sailing capital.
Lotto Tickets — Massachusetts
The residents of Massachusetts outspend the rest of the country by leaps and bounds when it comes to lotto tickets. The average adult spends $926 on the lottery every year. For comparison, the next closest state, Rhode Island, only spends $643 per adult per year.
Golf Clubs — Michigan
They might not have the reputation for it, but Michigan has the most golf courses and country clubs per capita of any state. So, if you’re headed to the Great Lakes state, grab some pastels and a set of clubs, and hit the links.
A Push Broom — Minnesota
A window scraper just isn’t going to cut it when it comes to unearthing your car from a mountain of snow in Minnesota, so your trunk basically turns into a mini-shed, with a shovel and a push broom too.
A Picture of Elvis — Mississippi
The King might have had his come up in Tennessee, but everyone (in Mississippi, at least) knows he came from Tupelo.
Hiking Boots — Missouri
If you’re in Missouri, you’d be remiss not to get a good pair of hiking boots to wear when your hiking the state’s amazing trail. Hopefully they’ll also offer some protection against all the copperheads lurking in the shadows.
A Tent — Montana
After surviving a Montana winter, it’s necessary to spend as much time outdoors as possible in the summer. And if you’re not an outdoor person, you’ve come to the wrong state.
A Spatula — Nebraska
A true pancake fundraiser master brings their own spatula, as anyone in Nebraska could tell you. The state’s famed all-you-can-eat pancake feed fundraisers raise cash for everything from fire departments to local sports teams.
Moisturizer — Nevada
Nevada is the driest state in the country, and it gets scorching hot too. These conditions make it super-easy for your skin to be dehydrated, so residents would be wise to stock up on moisturizer.
Waders — New Hampshire
In New Hampshire you need boots for winter, and obviously you need hiking boots for summer. But those who live there year-round know that it’s just as essential to have a pair of galoshes or waders for everyone’s least favorite season: mud.
The Springsteen Discography — New Jersey
Alright, you might not need every album by the Boss, but if you don’t at least have a copy of Born in the U.S.A., you’re going to get some looks.
An Assortment of Hoodies — New Mexico
It gets hot during the day in New Mexico, but it definitely gets cold at night, too. Since the weather can be so unpredictable in New Mexico, it’s essential to have a warm hoodie on hand in case you accidentally stay out a little later than you’d planned.
A Metrocard — New York
The Metropolitan Transit Authority is the great unifier of New York City, and it gives rides to 4.4 million people in New York every day. If you live in NYC, commute into the city from one of the surrounding suburbs for work, or are among the 48.8 million people who visit the city every year, you can’t live without it.
A Beach Umbrella — North Carolina
North Carolina boasts some of the most unspoiled seashore in the country, wild horses, and plenty of fun to be had on the Outer Banks, all of which makes it an excellent beach destination.
A Down Coat — North Dakota
North Dakota is the coldest of the contiguous states, with winters so frigid it drops the statewide average temperature to just 40 degrees, making a down coat essential for locals and visitors alike.
A Library Card — Ohio
Ohioans can boast that they have the most library visits per capita of any state.
Raincoat — Oklahoma
You can try to carry an umbrella in a rainstorm in Oklahoma, but it probably won’t last too long, thanks to the insane wind that’s bad enough when it’s not raining.
A Beach Sweater — Oregon
The beach in Oregon is beautiful, but it isn’t exactly a tropical paradise. You’ll need to be prepared for a chill if you want to spend a day on the sand.
Fire Halls — Pennsylvania
If there weren’t fire halls in Pennsylvania, people wouldn’t have anywhere to have weddings, baby showers, family reunions, or beef and beers.
Mr. Potato Head — Rhode Island
Mr. Potato Head was born in Rhode Island, and for a while, enormous Potato Head sculptures lined the highways. These days, you’ll have to settle for a Mr. Potato Head license plate to support the Rhode Island Food Bank.
The Flag — South Carolina
Take anything that can possibly have the state flag of South Carolina emblazoned on it, and stick the state flag on it. Yes, on a hat, a bag, a mug, a shirt, a belt buckle, a liquor bottle—you name it. In South Carolina, literally anything that can have the flag on it should have the flag on it. We’re not talking about airport souvenirs for “Yankee” tourists just passing through Charleston, either. We’re talking about South Carolinians wearing SC flag shirts over an SC flag belt while driving a car with an SC flag decal.
Motorcycle — South Dakota
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people come to Sturgis, South Dakota, for a motorcycle rally, so you’re going to need a bike if you want to blend in. If that’s not your thing, you should probably consider investing in some ear plugs.
“Rocky Top” — Tennessee
If you don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb in Tennessee, you better learn the words to “Rocky Top” and get comfortable singing with strangers in a hurry.
A Football — Texas
Texas loves high school football, and they’ve got stadiums that can hold more than 20,000 people—plus Varsity Blues and Friday Night Lights—to prove it.
A Bible — Utah
Utah has the highest rate of regular church attendance of any state, which is no surprise coming from the home of the Mormon church.
Skis — Vermont
Vermont has more places to ski per capita than any other state, making it a great place to try several different resorts without having to travel too much distance.
A Vanity Plate — Virginia
If you want to blend in in Virginia, make yourself stand out with a vanity plate. They’ve got more than any other state.
A Bike — Washington
Washington is the most bike-friendly state in America, so the people there would be remiss not to take advantage of its trails and lanes.
A Regulation Canopy — West Virginia
You need to make sure you have the right gear if you want to participate in Bridge Day—the one day a year it’s legal to BASE jump off the New River Gorge Bridge in West Virginia.
Shorts — Wisconsin
Is the snow mostly gone? Great news! It’s officially shorts weather in Wisconsin. If you’re feeling especially brave, put on some flip-flops and make your late winter ensemble complete.
GPS — Wyoming
If you’re trying to get to someplace new in Wyoming, you’re better off relying on GPS than praying there will be street signs. And if you don’t have GPS, well…good luck. And if you want more facts about the 50 states, This Is the Most Popular Dog Breed in Every State.
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