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Travel | Road Trip
The Best & Worst States For A Summer Road Trip


The weather is warmer, the sun is shining, and it’s a great time to hit the road and travel somewhere new. And, you won’t be alone. According to recent reports, more than two-thirds of Americans plan to take a vacation this summer, and 59 percent say they are more likely to drive than fly.

The question is, where do you go? And how much will it cost? Gas prices are rising nationally, and road trips also mean paying for places to sleep, dining, and other activities.

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Luckily, WalletHub recently shared their list of the most fun, scenic, and wallet-friendly road trip destinations this year based on safety, cost, and activity factors. Here’s a list of some of the best—and the worst—states for a summer road trip this year.

WalletHub used 33 metrics to grade each state on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the best conditions for a summer road trip. Then, they determined the state’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate overall score. Metrics they analyzed include:

  • Cost (max 33.33 points)—including average gas prices, toll costs, cost of car repairs, price of a three-star hotel room, price of camping, vacation rentals, and cost of living.
  • Safety (max 33.33 points)—including vehicle miles traveled per capita, population, share of interstates congested during peak hours, vehicle travel on roads, driving laws, traffic indiscipline, quality of roads and bridges, traffic-related fatalities, car thefts, rate of larceny, and violent crimes per 1,000 residents.
  • Activities(max 33.33 points)—including share of area designated as national parkland, national parks recreation visitors, zoos and botanical gardens, amusement and theme parks, fairs and festivals, number of attractions, nightlife, historical sites, miles of shoreline, idealness of summer weather, restaurants and accommodations, and more.

Sun rise

According to the study, the top states to visit on a summer road trip include:

1. New York
Score: 59.86/100

When you think of New York, you may automatically think of the city. But there are dozens of other places throughout the state that make it a great road trip destination. Ranking 38th for costs, New York ranked high for both safety and activities. Top destinations to check out include Saratoga Springs, the Finger Lakes, Lake Placid, or Niagara Falls.

Score: 58.25/100

This state ranked 34th in safety, but 9th in costs and 4th in activities. If you’re looking for wide open spaces, Texas can offer it. Some of the must-visit stops can include Balmorhea State Park, Blanco State Park, Big Bend National Park, the Cascade Caverns, and Dinosaur Valley State Park, or check out the city life in Austin or Fort Worth.

3. Louisiana
Score: 57.66/100

Louisiana scored well in costs and activities, but lower in safety (41st). Of course, one of the most popular places to visit in this state is New Orleans, but throughout the state you can find white-sand beaches, southern plantations, state parks, and more.

4. Maine
Score: 57.46/100

Maine ranks high in safety (1), and average in costs (17th) and activities (29th). However, if you’re a nature fan, Maine is a great spot. With places like Acadia National Park, Baxter State Park and Old Orchard Beach, plus cities like Portland, you can go from mountains to beaches in just a few hours' drive.

5. North Carolina
Score: 56.00/100

North Carolina ranks 7th in activities and 12th in costs. With cities like Asheville, Charlotte, Raleigh, and Outer Banks, road-trippers alike are sure to find something they love. From beaches to museums, art districts to NASCAR, there are also state parks for hiking and camping, and even downhill skiing.

Other top states include Minnesota (55.95), Utah (54.06), Illinois (53.31), Michigan (53.06), and Wisconsin (52.41).

And, the worst states that you should avoid on a road trip include:

1. Rhode Island
Score: 38.76/100

The worst state to visit on a summer road trip ranks 42nd in cost and 48th in activities.

2. Delaware
Score: 38.78/100

As the second worst state to take a road trip to, Delaware ranks 50th in activities, 39th in safety, and 29th in cost.

3. Connecticut
Score: 40.56/100

Connecticut only ranks 14th in safety, but scores 47th in activities and 41st in cost.

4. Hawaii
Score: 40.94/100

Almost the highest in cost in 49th place, Hawaii is a beautiful and popular destination but also difficult to take a road trip to.

5. Arkansas
Score: 41.49/100

Lower in cost (ranking 6th), Arkansas scores 44th in safety and 43rd in activities.

Others at the bottom of the list include Montana (42.48), Alabama (42.65), New Mexico (43.41), Mississippi (43.93), and New Jersey (44.58).