There’s a lot to love about the U.S.A. and this year, country superstar Carrie Underwood is sitting at the top of PEOPLE’s list.

It’s been 14 years since the Checotah, Oklahoma-native took the nation by storm on American Idol, her powerhouse vocals making her the standout winner of the show’s fourth season. Back then Simon Cowell predicted she’d be Idol‘s biggest success story and now, 26 No. 1 songs later, it’s clear he was right.

Underwood’s classics like “Before He Cheats,” “Cowboy Casanova” and “Jesus, Take the Wheel” remain in rotation, all as she churns out new hits like her latest summer single “Southbound.” That’s just one of the fan favorites on her acclaimed sixth studio album Cry Pretty and she’s currently in the midst of her hit Cry Pretty 360 arena tour.

Happily married to retired hockey star Mike Fisher, 39, and mom to sons Isaiah, 4, and Jacob, 4 months, the star, 36, now has the whole gang out hitting the road with her, turning her 55+ city tour into a full family affair.

“It’s a big awesome mess,” she tells PEOPLE of her happy, hectic life now. After a tumultuous couple of years during which she suffered a painful injury and three devastating miscarriages before welcoming Jacob, Underwood is taking stock of everything she has to be grateful for, while continuing to live her dream.

“Well, I love America, too!” Underwood said after learning she’d topped PEOPLE’s annual list, which spans everything from the Grand Canyon to Shark Week to Michelle Obama‘s bestselling memoir. Watch the video above for more on how she came up with her own list of all-time favorite cities to visit.


Checotah, Oklahoma: “Home is home,” she says of the town where she grew up.

Nashville, Tennessee: Where she and her family live now “is charming, but it’s a booming city.”

Napa, California: “I love Napa cabs,” she says of her favorite thing to sip in the NorCal wine region.

Phoenix, Arizona: During tour stops, “we always try to go hiking and just reset,” says the fitness enthusiast, who recently released a new collection of her CALIA by Carrie Underwood athleisure line.

Los Angeles, California: “It’s so easy to be healthy there,” she says of time in SoCal.

For more on Carrie Underwood’s emotional journey and 99 other great reasons to love America, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

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