I have often wondered which American states have the most Buddhists and one of the ways of doing that is counting the number of Buddhist centers in each state. Well, I found a map from 2004 by "The Pluralism Project." Not surprisingly much of the south, the center plains states and the northern Rocky Mountain states stretching from Wyoming up to Montana and Idaho have the least. Those are regions that are either: Sparsely populated, dominated by Christianity and/or traditionally conservative politics, which are all factors that make establishing a Buddhist center difficult. That said I envision Buddhism continuing to grow throughout America in the coming decades.
The states that appear to have the highest concentration of centers are as usual on the east, west coasts and Texas of all places. Texas is part of the Bible belt region of states and has many who are anti-anything that isn't white, anglo-saxon, protestant. That said Texas is a big state with many immigrants I'm told. So that would boost the numbers, which I'm sure is especially large in the big cities like Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. Especially Houston with it's growing Chinatown. I'm sure the liberal, young, university town of Austin has a decent amount of Buddhists as well. New York is pretty self-explanatory. It has THE city (New York City) for diversity in all areas of life and not far behind is California where there is a very big Asian-American population as well. There are also many white-Americans who are very liberal and open-minded toward other beliefs. So no surprise that Buddhism is popular there either. So, California, New York and Texas are the big three.
The next level is where my state of Colorado is listed. It's that dark orange/brown, square state surrounded by all those white and tan states. Colorado has had a sizable Buddhist community since the 1970s when in 1970 Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche founded the Tibetan Buddhist Shambhala tradition in Boulder and established the Shambhala Mountain Center and Stupa near Fort Collins. In 1974 Rinpoche established Naropa University in Boulder, which private, Buddhist-inspired, ecumenical and nonsectarian. In addition, the many ethnic Tibetans, Nepalese and Bhutanese who moved to the northern Colorado area in part due to the Tibetan Buddhist centers established by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche feel right at home with our high mountains, alpine environment and high altitude. I have spoken to several myself who have said it is like a home away from home due to the similar climate and concentration of Tibetan Buddhist centers. So combine all of that with a very liberal, open-minded, college town like Boulder and it's no wonder there are so many Buddhists and Buddhist centers here. You can find several Zen centers as well if that's your style.
Colorado has kind of become a Mountain West refuge for minority religions and beliefs. I'm not going to go into too many other states as this post would get way too long but the last one I'll mention is Hawaii. My wife grew up on the islands and I have seen many Buddhist centers, shrines and temples there. They are gorgeous, especially when put in front of the backdrop of the stunning Hawaiian scenery. One of my favorite places on Oahu is the Byodo-in temple at Temple Valley, which is a replica of the famous Byodo-in temple in Kyoto, Japan. There is also a very vibrant and wonderful Chinatown in Honolulu. Hawaii is not only a great place to live if you can afford it but the Buddhist community is quite vibrant and very much alive.
~Peace to all beings~