Louisiana tops this list because of New Orleans and... OK, mostly just New Orleans. But! If you fly into Baton Rouge -- and it is SO much cheaper to fly in and rent a car from Baton Rouge Metropolitan, a tiny airport where there are no lines for anything ever -- you can make a quick detour en route to the Big Easy to visit the plantations of River Road right along the Mississippi; it includes the incessantly Instagrammable Oak Alley Plantation, a popular filming location for Southern gothic horror masterpieces like Interview with the Vampire and the first season of True Detective. You can also drive over the somewhat terrifying 24-mile Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, the longest continuous bridge over water in the world. There's really just something about being out in the swamps that creeps into your bloodstream... Louisiana has a feel about it in a way few other states do.
Now, while you're in New Orleans, don't be afraid to sacrifice some of your drinking-in-the-Quarter time to investigate more of the surrounding areas with a swamp tour or a plantation tour or a cemetery tour (of the famous above-ground "Cities of the Dead"). Or stay in the damn Quarter and go on a ghost tour or a vampire tour or a voodoo tour or a literary tour or a cocktail tour... or just amble down Frenchmen St and wander into whatever bar has the most amazing live music (hint: it could be any of them). Or just eat crawfish and gator and boudin balls and Gulf oysters everywhere in as many places as you can until you have to fly home.
Mon cheri, New Orleans is the most incredible city in this whole country. Ain't nowhere else like it, and ain't nowhere ever will be. And that's why Louisiana is squarely at the top of the list (OK, so maybe I'm not as impartial as I thought was). Either way, laissez les bons temps rouler!
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Nicole Rupersburg lives in Detroit and may have just convinced herself to go to New Orleans again next month. Follow her on Instagram at @eatsdrinksandleaves to see if that ends up being true.