What Are the Best States for a Summer Road Trip?
Photo courtesy Thinkstock.
For nearly 77 percent of U.S. travelers, summertime is the best time to hit the road. However, deciding where to go is sometimes a challenge when there are 50 states to choose from. Gas may be cheaper, but it’s still more expensive than it was a few months ago and other costs weigh in to drive up trip prices.
“I believe we're going to see a large number of road trips this year,” said Doug Kennedy, professor in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies at Virginia Wesleyan College. “Gas is still considered cheap and even though it has been on the rise recently, consumer behavior is all about perception. Consumers 'perceive' that gas is reasonable so car travel isn't a barrier this year.”
WalletHub compared the 50 U.S. states to find the most fun, the most scenic and the most wallet-friendly destinations, using 21 key metrics, including attractions, road conditions, costs and even weather, to determine each state’s strengths and weaknesses.
The main findings indicate that your best option overall is Oregon. While driving and lodging costs aren’t the cheapest, it ranks high in road safety conditions (number five out of 50 states) and came in at number two for fun and scenic attractions. Nevada, Utah, North Carolina and Minnesota rounded out the top five.
California, which ranked number one for fun and scenic attractions, ended up 22nd because of lodging costs, where it ranked the opposite end of the spectrum at number 50. For road safety, it came in 30 out of 50.
Vermont was number one in road safety but was 37th for lodging costs and 29th for fun and scenic attractions.
Wyoming came in 19th overall but was number one for lodging prices.
One of the most popular scenic attractions this year will be U.S. national parks, which are currently celebrating 100 years of the National Parks Service.
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“Visitation numbers to the National parks continue to increase,” said Sally Childs, professor of recreation studies and exercise science at Lake Superior State University. “I expect that this year, in particular, visitation will be even greater. I know that visitation in Michigan State parks continues to increase ... so, the trend is for more park visitors every year, and I would expect that most of these folks are road trippers. So, yes, I think the number will continue to rise. A personal vehicle provides easy access to travel opportunities that air travel doesn't.”
Overall, each state has pluses and minuses for travel and no state was at the bottom of the heap in every category, which means that road trippers just have to pick the right combination of attributes that suits their travel requirements.
The map below shows how each state in the nation ranked.
More by Janeen Christoff
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