We asked all 53 2012 Miss America contestants to share the must-see places in their home states.
<b>Miss Alabama Courtney Porter</b><br> "Alabama is what we call the 'State of Surprises.' We have the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, one of the best Medical Institutions in the nation at University of Alabama at Birmingham, and lakes galore. However, I would have to say that my favorite place in my home state of Alabama is the beautiful gulf coast. Orange Beach and Gulf Shores are 2 of the sandy white beaches Alabama has to offer. The food, fellowship, and memories waiting to be made at the gulf coast are truly invaluable."
<b>Miss Alaska Katy Lovegreen</b><br> "By far my favorite place in Alaska is Denali National Park. The park is the home of Mt. McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America, as well as bountiful wildlife, and other breath-taking natural wonders. Whether rafting the Nenana River, watching brown bear cubs play on the tundra, admiring the colors of Polychrome Pass, or watching The Mountain rise from the clouds, Denali National Park never ceases to delight. It is the perfect place to be reminded of the untamed wilderness that is the true essence of Alaska."
<b>Miss Arizona Jennifer Sedler</b><br> "My favorite place in Arizona is the Sonoran Desert. It is one of the largest and hottest deserts in all of North America, but don't let that fool you. [Hundreds of] species thrive in the harsh conditions and create not only a gorgeous natural spectacle where there is always something to be discovered on a warm, sunny hike, but also a breathtaking backdrop for Arizona's famous sunsets. And when you're out there, you really get a feel for the rich history that has taken place there: the cattle ranchers, the copper mines, the old west showdowns, these are all things that make Arizona special."
<b>Miss Arkansas Kristen Glover</b><br>"My favorite city in Arkansas has to be my hometown, Stuttgart! We are known as the rice and duck hunting capital of America. We host thousands of duck hunters from around the world during the winter and promote our own World Championship Duck Calling Contest. Most recently, Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon filmed their latest movie, "Mud," in Stuttgart. Directors expect this film to be released in 2013."
<b>Miss California Noelle Freeman</b><br>"San Diego is my favorite city in California because of the beaches, people and of course, the Mexican food! A perfect day in San Diego would start with shopping and socializing in the heart of it all, Downtown! Everyone is laid back and extremely friendly so you always leave with new friends! Next stop, Seaport Village then Pacific Beach where the waves are crashing and the Mexican food is plentiful! Walking along the boardwalk while watching the sun setting is the perfect way to end the day in America's finest city... San Diego!"
<b>Miss Colorado Diana Dreman</b><br>"Boulder, CO: Make sure to check out the historic Pearl Street Mall with an eclectic array of boutiques, fine or funky restaurants, street performers, and adding to the mix are the young professionals, retirees, students, and of course life–time hippies. If you are looking for to-die-for pastries visit Spruce Confections and for a great cup of coffee, visit The Cup. If you are up for the outdoors enjoy one of Boulder’s 300 miles of trails, especially Boulder Creek Path which runs through town and out Boulder Canyon. As local Coloradoans say you must visit the Republic of Boulder."
<b>Miss Connecticut Morgan Amarone</b><br>"My favorite place in Connecticut is Foxwoods Resort & Casino. Even though Foxwoods is North America's largest casino, it truly has something for everyone - the shopper, the diner, the golfer, the businessman, the bride who wants to be pampered at the spa. Children will never be bored with the kid-friendly arcade and pool. The Miss Connecticut Pageant was even held at Foxwoods for several years! Beauty, elegance and history, all conveniently located in the southeastern corner of my state. I would love to take you on a tour!"
<b>Miss Delaware Maria Cahill</b><br>"When I was crowned my local title, I was thrilled to represent my favorite spot in Delaware, Rehoboth Beach. Rehoboth is a beautiful town on the east coast that boasts a one-mile boardwalk, incredible food and tax-free shopping at the best outlets and boutiques. That is hard to beat!!! I come from a family with 7 children and there is something for every single one of us to do! There is never a dull moment in Rehoboth Beach."
<b>Miss District of Columbia Ashley Boalch</b><br>"Mini golf, skeeball and Mexican cuisine; all in one place, what more could you ask for? H Street Country Club, located at 1335 H Street NE, combines great Mexican food and fun indoor games. While the name says country club, it's more like a Chuck E. Cheese for adults with the only miniature golf course in DC! My favorite dish is the Filete de Salmon, and paired with Mexican Fried Bananas, it's a match made in heaven. It really doesn't get any better than quesadillas and skeeball! Did I mention a free miniature golf game is included with dinner on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays?"
<b>Miss Florida Kristina Janolo</b><br>"With so many diverse, interesting and fun places to visit in Florida, it's hard to choose a favorite! The Everglades is a rare and beautiful place and one of North America's unsung wild places. No matter what I feel like doing - a picnic, a nature walk - even an adventurous airboat ride - the Everglades provide a naturally scenic backdrop for any outing. It is a resource important not only for its natural heritage and spiritually enriching powers, but for its commercial and recreational values as well. Once you visit the River of Grass, you will never forget the experience."
<b>Miss Georgia Michaela Lackey</b><br>"My favorite place to visit in Georgia is downtown Atlanta. I only live 20mins from there. It has everything from the arts, to history, to fun activities for families. Some of my favorite attractions include The Fox Theater, Centennial Olympic Park, the Coca-cola Factory, and the Georgia Aquarium which is the largest aquarium in the world!"
<b>Miss Hawaii Lauren Cheape</b><br>"Hawaii has such beautiful beaches and places to see but one of my favorite places in Hawai'i is Iolani Palace. We are the only state in our country that has a royal palace. It has a special place in my heart because when my family first came to Hawai'i in 1859, we lived right next to Iolani Palace. My family still has invitations to go to Princess Ka'iulani's birthday at the palace. It is a place where you can look at Hawai'i's past in order to understand our present culture."
<b>Miss Idaho Genevieve Nutting</b><br>"I love Table Rock in Boise, Idaho. It is a beautiful area in the foothills of Boise that allows runners, bikers, climbers, and hikers to enjoy a scenic view of all of Boise. With a nice place at the top to enjoy gorgeous sunsets, it's a definite must see when traveling to Idaho!"
<b>Miss Illinois Hannah Smith</b><br>"My favorite place to visit is our great city of Chicago! We are so culturally diverse. The windy city has something to offer for everyone; from famous landmarks, the arts, some of our greatest sports teams and of course terrific shopping! So whether you wish to see a Broadway musical, or simply grab a slice of our famous deep pizza, Chicago, Il, is the place to visit!"
<b>Miss Indiana Jackie Jerlecki</b><br>"I am so fortunate to have my favorite spot in the great Hoosier State right in my hometown. The Elkhart County 4-H Fair is the largest county fair in the nation and is located in Goshen, IN. With amazing rides along the midway, food vendors to satisfy any food craving, livestock barns, headlining recording artists and the friendliest people you'll ever meet, the Elkhart County 4-H Fair is a treat for all ages. Some of my favorite memories are the summers I spent at the fair from sun rise till sunset, with a funnel-cake in hand."
<b>Miss Iowa Jessica Pray</b><br>"One of my favorite places to go in Iowa is Wilson Orchard in Eastern Iowa. The best time to go is in the fall when the leaves have changed into deep golds and reds. I love picking apples and enjoying apple cider doughnuts. It is the highlight of my Fall and the view of the rolling hills of Iowa and the clear skies is breathtaking."
<b>Miss Kansas Carissa Kelley</b><br>"Wichita evolved from a cow town to "Air Capital of the World" where 37% of the world's general aviation aircraft are built. The iconic 44-foot-tall "Keeper of the Plains" statue pays tribute to the Native Americans who lived here long before settlers arrived. Just blocks away, Old Cowtown Museum relives the 1870s Wild West complete with re-enactors and cowboy songs from the Diamond W Wranglers. Thirty-five eclectic museums cater to all ages, interests and passions. The Old Town red-brick warehouse district is the heart of the city's vibrant nightlife and next to the INTRUST Bank Arena."
<b>Miss Kentucky Ann Blair Thornton</b><br>"The home of the world-famous Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs is filled with history, hats and horses! Who knows - you might even spot a celebrity."
<b>Miss Louisiana Hope Anderson</b><br>"[There's no better way to witness Louisiana than by coming to New Orleans!] On a typical visit, you might stroll around the French Quarter, absorbing the sights (our beautiful St. Louis Cathedral), smells (everything from freshly made French bread to warm pralines), & sounds (jazz music resonating from all corners) the Crescent City offers! Beignets & a Café au lait are a must at Café du Monde! Then head over to the French Market to shop for locally made scarves, candles, & jewelry! Dinner at Mulates—where you'll enjoy Cajun dancing & fine cuisine—is the perfect finale!"
<b>Miss Maine Julia Furtado</b><br>"My favorite place in Maine would definitely be Camden. It is a small quaint town with many shops and a beautiful waterfront. It is well known among tourists, and is truly a magical little place. You can really lose yourself in the beautiful fall foliage that can be seen from all angles. Whether you are checking out the sail boats of all shapes and sizes on the waterfront, or climbing Mt Megunticook at Camden Hills State Park to get a bird's eye view of the town, it is a place to be visited by all!"
<b>Miss Maryland Carlie Colella</b><br>"The Inner Harbor of Baltimore Maryland has been one of the major seaports in the United States since the 1700s. The harbor is one of the most photographed and visited areas of the Baltimore area. Within walking distance one can experience several shops, restaurants, attractions and more than 20 major hotels. If you are looking for a day where at one moment you can explore a national aquarium and crack open a famous Maryland crab on the pier the next, then the Baltimore Inner Harbor in Maryland is your next destination. We look forward to seeing you there!"
<b>Miss Massachusetts Molly Whalen</b><br>"I have spent almost every summer of my life on Cape Cod, or as we refer to it as "the Cape." From Falmouth, to Martha's Vineyard, there is always something to do and beautiful beaches to visit."
<b>Miss Michigan Elizabeth Wertenberger</b><br>"Since Michigan is abundant in culture, tourism, and entertainment, picking just a few of my favorite places was a challenge. Grand Rapids is my favorite urban city. It's a very creative place to be for someone like me, who has a degree in design, because it inspires artists who come to visit. There is something for everyone there, whether it be restaurants, shopping, or museums. One of the most exciting times is during Art Prize, where thousands of artists come together to display their pieces, and compete for a monetary prize."
<b>Miss Minnesota Natalie Davis</b><br>"The Mall of America is the second largest shopping mall in the United States, with over 520 stores--every girl's dream! It attracts millions of tourists every year for its seemingly endless supply of shopping opportunities and for attractions such as Nickelodeon Universe and Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium."
<b>Miss Mississippi Mary Margaret Roark</b><br>"My favorite place in Mississippi is the Mississippi Delta, running along the Mississippi River from Memphis, TN down to Vicksburg, MS. For centuries, this fertile area has inspired its inhabitants... including B.B. King, John Grisham, Morgan Freeman, & more. The Delta is rich in its crop production as well as its culture. The Delta is home to the Cotton Capital of the World & the Catfish Capital of the World; it is home to Ground Zero Blues Club, Po' Monkey's Blues Lounge, & soon to be the home of the 2nd Grammy Museum. The Delta is my home & will always be one of my favorite places."
<b>Miss Missouri Sydney Friar</b><br>Being a small town girl, without a doubt, my favorite place is Branson, MO. It has the shopping and entertainment of a big city with the quaint feel of a small town."
<b>Miss Montana Veronika Ohlinger</b><br>"My favorite place in Montana is my hometown! I live in beautiful Cooke City, a town nestled in a valley of gorgeous mountains with a population year-round of about 90. Traveling into the town on US Highway 212 is known as one of America’s most scenic drives, the Bearthtooth Highway. However, this road is only open during the summer months [due to heavy snowfalls during the winter]. Leaving Cooke City and heading west on 212 for 4 miles will bring you to the Northeast Entrance to Yellowstone National Park, where you can view the breathtaking scenery and spot numerous types of wildlife!""
<b>Miss Nebraska Kayla Batt</b><br>"My favorite place in Nebraska is the Sandhills, specifically my grandparents farm in Angora. I spent my entire childhood in the hills, ridding horses, sledding, playing with my cousins, swimming in the horse tank and learning how to drive. We would await the night of a harvest moon as it crept above the hills & into the sky filling it with millions of stars. I look forward to each of my trips out west, to see the hills, the sunset, and the stars that lie in the Sandhills of Western Nebraska!"
<b>Miss Nevada Alana Lee</b><br>"Few travel destinations of the world can compete with the notoriety, glam and entertainment value of Las Vegas! The city's various attractions appeal to a global audience of business people, entertainment gurus, outdoor enthusiasts and people simply looking to let their hair down. No matter the occasion, Las Vegas has what you're looking for!"
<b>Miss New Hampshire Regan Hartley</b><br>“My favorite place in NH is the city of Portsmouth. I grew up visiting the summer arts festival in Prescott Park, touring the Tall Ships as they came into port in Portsmouth Harbor, and singing Christmas carols in historic Strawberry Bank. With the 10 beautiful acres, Prescott Park makes for a relaxing oasis away from downtown. The Portsmouth Harbor annually welcomes the Tall Ships into port allowing visitors to tour the great masts. Before you leave Portsmouth make sure you take a tour on the Isles of Shoals Steamship Co. and enjoy some ’lobstahs’ and ‘steamahs!’“
<b>Miss New Jersey Katharyn Nicolle</b><br>"Ocean City, NJ, also known as America’s greatest family resort, has been our family’s summer vacation destination my entire life. It is known as a family-friendly seashore community with no shortage of things to do on and around the island. I have made life-long memories boogie boarding, playing soccer on the beach, walking the boardwalk while eating caramel popcorn, fudge or ice cream, and riding the amusements on “Big Night.” I now have another wonderful memory in Ocean City. I was crowned Miss New Jersey in the beautiful Ocean City Music Pier!"
<b>Miss New Mexico Sarina Turnbull</b><br>"Ruidoso, a small village in southern New Mexico is my favorite location in my state with the breathtaking mountain views and natural serenity. This enchanting city allures visitors with unique shopping and dining experiences. In addition, Ruidoso offers live horse-racing action, critically acclaimed performances at the Spencer Theatre, winter sports at Ski Apache and entertainment at the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino. This quaint village is a gem in the desert southwest. As the sun sets each day in Ruidoso, one can see why we are the Land of Enchantment!"
<b>Miss New York Kaitlin Monte</b><br>"The Erie Canal Ports in Monroe County, where I grew up, are port-based villages bustling with local shops, dining, and year-round activities including street fairs, art festivals and concerts. Tow paths, formerly used for mules, now make a scenic route for walking, jogging or biking. Daily cruises give tours of the area, kayaks and canoes are available to rent and public boat launches allow visitors to spend the afternoon afloat as they fish, relax or see the sights. The Port Villages are a perfect taste of what New York has to offer outside of the Big Apple."
<b>Miss North Carolina Hailey Best</b><br>"Linville Falls, NC is a gorgeous waterfall in the Blue Ridge Mountains of NC that is hidden in the midst of forest and hiking trails. The falls move down by several steps, starting with twin waterfalls that feed into a small gorge (Linville Gorge) and then end up in a high volume 45-foot drop off. The Linville River flows through this area, which is how the falls got its name! Large rocks around the water make for a perfect reading spot or area to sun-bathe in the warmer months of the year. It is my ideal place to spend a secluded, carefree afternoon in beautiful North Carolina!"
<b>Miss North Dakota Arianna Walker</b><br>"Since North Dakota is landlocked, my favorite place in my state is the Missouri River. If you came to my hometown of Bismarck, I would take you for a boat ride to see some of the country that Lewis and Clark explored. We would stop on a sandbar & play a little bocce ball, sandbar golf or volleyball & have a BBQ. We could also race jet skis on the river or float in the boat & end our day on the Mandan side of the river with a tour of historic Fort Lincoln State Park. We could camp overnight in the park & cook S’mores over an open fire. That’s my idea of a great day in North Dakota!"
<b>Miss Ohio Ellen Bryan</b><br>"My Mom's entire side of the family vacationed at the Maumee State Park in Ohio. We stayed in the cabins and enjoyed the pools, golf course and trails. The park is also within close driving distance to the Cedar Point Amusement Park, so we went there for a day. And another night we all drove to downtown Toledo to watch the Mudhens Baseball Team. It was a great low budget vacation right in Ohio that was perfect for our family!"
<b>Miss Oklahoma Betty Thompson</b><br>"My favorite place in Oklahoma is Tenkiller Lake in green country. My family vacations there every summer and it's absolutely beautiful. We love taking the boat out to ski and tube. My absolute favorite is waking up in the morning and going for a walk or run when the water is so calm and peaceful. It's my favorite place on Oklahoma, I've spent summers and falls there and enjoy every minute of it!"
<b>Miss Oregon Caroline McGowan</b><br>"One of my many favorite places in Oregon is the International Rose Test Garden in Portland. This garden has more varieties of roses than your wildest dreams could imagine! These blossoms are highly celebrated, and have become a symbol of Portland, "The City of Roses". The International Rose Test Garden is a romantic spot where many lovers wander, but it is also just perfect place for a quiet walk with a cup of good coffee (which us North-Westerners are known for!) Between the beautiful overlooks and fragrant blossoms, you won't just stop to smell the roses, you'll spend all day there!"
<b>Miss Pennsylvania Juliann Sheldon</b><br>"Pennsylvania is home to the " Sweetest Place on Earth," Hershey, PA! Come for a visit at the Hershey's chocolate factory to get a behind the scenes look at how all of our favorite Hershey treats are made. While in Hershey, visit Hershey Park! Hershey Park is a fun family amusement park that welcomes families from all over for days filled with coaster riding and indulging in sweet treats!"
<b>Miss Puerto Rico Laura Ramirez</b><br>"Arecibo Observatory- located in the municipality of Arecibo, Puerto Rico. The Arecibo Observatory is one of the most powerful radio telescopes in the world. In addition, is an area for the scientific community projects with the space."
<b>Miss Rhode Island Robin Bonner</b><br>"Known as “America’s first resort,” and for its famous Gilded Age mansions located on Bellevue Avenue, Newport is not only the home of the renowned Cliff Walk, but it is also host to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Not only is it known as the sailing capitol of the United States but also in this beautiful city one can walk down the cobblestone streets, shopping and enjoying many fine dining restaurants. As one of my favorite places to visit in the summer, I especially enjoy the quant antique shops and eating lunch at the Barking Crab."
<b>Miss South Carolina Bree Boyce</b><br>"In South Carolina, my favorite place to visit is Columbia. The beautiful capital of our state has much to offer. From fine dining, historic places, shopping, and home of the University of South Carolina's Gamecocks. You can enjoy 300 days of sunshine while visiting the world renowned Riverbanks Zoo or spend a day relaxing at our luxurious lakes. In Columbia, they are proud of their simmer and spark, their firebrand history and bright, shining future. I invite you to Columbia to sample the sultry South, with generous helpings of Carolina hospitality."
<b>Miss South Dakota Anna Simpson</b><br>"Sylvan Lake is considered the "Crown Jewel" of Custer State Park in the Black Hills of western South Dakota. The lake consists of crystal clear mountain water where you can enjoy swimming, paddle boating, and fishing. The hiking is spectacular where you can climb Harney Peak (7,244 feet), which is the highest point east of the Rocky Mountains. This is definitely a place to visit with the whole family."
<b>Miss Tennessee Erin Hatley</b><br>"One of my favorite hiking destinations is the Great Smoky Mountains, one of America’s most visited national parks. With over 850 miles of trails, there is a path for you to experience the magnificent scenery and mountain air. Want to be even more ambitious and walk the Appalachian Trail? Seventy of the 2,175 miles of the world’s longest marked trail in the world are located in the Smokies. So take a walk with me as we explore Tennessee!"
<b>Miss Texas Kendall Morris</b><br>"Fort Worth is where the West begins. Among all of the attractions in the great state of Texas, my favorite is by far the Fort Worth Stockyards. Rich history and tradition are everywhere. Whether you want to watch the twice daily cattle drives or learn to two-step dance at the legendary Billy Bob’s dance hall, a world of Texas charm awaits to greet you."
<b>Miss Utah Danica Olsen</b><br>"I love Lake Powell because it is a red rock desert flooded with water! Water skiing, wake boarding, and don't forget tubing; is all welcome at Lake Powell because anything goes! Catch a tan on the red rock or hike to anazi Indian ruins for an unforgettable day on Utah."
<b>Miss Vermont Katie Levasseur</b><br>"My favorite place to visit is Church St. In downtown Burlington, VT. Church St. Is our walking marketplace and has incredible food, entertainment and shopping."
<b>Miss Virgin Islands Camila Daniels</b><br>"My favorite place to visit in the Virgin Islands is Yacht Haven Grande in St. Thomas. It's a beautiful outdoor mall on the harbor. I love to shop there! All of our shopping is duty and tax free, so the prices are great. It's also in a beautiful setting because it's right on the harbor; yachts and cruise ships are docked right next to the shops and restaurants. Yacht Haven Grande combines everything I love about l love about living in St. Thomas."
<b>Miss Virginia Elizabeth Crot</b><br>"My favorite place in Virginia is the beach! My friends and I like to go to Sandbridge Beach as opposed to the Ocean Front because it is much more secluded- kind of a local's secret spot!"
<b>Miss Washington Brittney Henry</b><br>"Pike Place Market is my favorite place in Washington because it reminds me of "where I came from." While in high school, I played violin on the streets of Pike place as a street busker for two years. I got to know the market and many of the vendors very well! One dollar at a time I earned enough to start college."
<b>Miss West Virginia Spenser Wempe</b><br>"My favorite place in West Virginia is Harpers Ferry. I'm biased because it's where I grew up, but it's an amazing small town. Harpers Ferry is where John Brown's raid took place during the civil war. Harpers Ferry is where civilization met frontier nestled between the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers."
<b>Miss Wisconsin Laura Kaeppeler</b><br>"My favorite place in Wisconsin is a toss-up between Common Grounds, a coffe shop overlooking the beautiful and calming views of Lake Michigan in my hometown of Kenosha or Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI. While I love peace and relaxation, nothing can beat cheering on the reigning Super Bowl Champs at the historic Lambeau Field Stadium!"
<b>Miss Wyoming Catherine Brown</b><br>"My favorite place in Wyoming to visit is Thermopolis. It is a beautifully special place with so much history and of course the natural hot springs! There are amazing slides, pools, and restaurants. My family went once a year for most of my life, making it a place very near and dear to my heart."