Sure, a big summer vacay somewhere exotic is all well and good — but let's not underestimate the worth of a good road trip. And hey, guess what? If you've been wondering what the best states for summer road trips are, you're in luck: WalletHub worked their number crunching magic and came up with a ranking of all 50 states. Fill up your gas tank, buckle up, and let's get rolling, shall we?
WalletHub gathered their data from a few different sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, the FBI, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Park Service, a number of travel sites, and their own research. Using this data, the site then ranked every state in the nation on 20 different metrics across three different categories: Driving and Lodging Costs, Road Conditions and Safety, and Fun and Scenic Attractions (because what's a road trip without beautiful surroundings and a few fun diversions?). What makes the final ranking interesting? The fact that there aren't any specific areas of the country that are better for road trips than others — they're spread all over the place. In the top 10 alone, we've got places in the Southwest, in the Pacific Northwest, in the Midwest, down South, and more — and the same is true for the bottom 10 and the middle 30.
So hey, the good news is that no matter where you live, you're probably relatively near at least one awesome road trip location. You might even be able to take the ultimate road trip route, if you've got enough time on your hands. Here are the top 10 picks according to WalletHub — head on over there to see the full ranking of all 50 states.
True, Oregon only ranked 32 on Driving and Lodging Costs — but it took high spots for both Road Conditions and Safety and Fun and Scenic Attractions: Four for the former and three for the latter. It also ranked third for most scenic byways, so it's pretty to drive through, too.
At a rank of 24, Nevada scored in the middle range for Road Conditions and Safety; however, it made up the difference with a 12 in Driving and Lodging Costs and a four in Fun and Scenic Attractions. It's also the number one state in the nation with the lowest camping prices, so if you're a fan of roughing it in the great outdoors, Nevada might be your best bet — but bear in mind that it's got some of the highest gas prices, too, as well as a relatively high rate of car thefts per capita.
Minnesota may be effing freezing in the winter, but apparently it's quite nice in the summer — or at least, it's super safe. It ranked 22 for Driving and Lodging Costs and 19 for Fun and Scenic Attractions; however, it's the best state in the U.S. when it comes to Road Conditions and Safety. Also, this photo? It is beautiful. It's of the Nemadji State Forest along the Minnesota-Wisconsin border, and I want to go there.
With a rank of 40 (yikes) for Driving and Lodging Costs, Washington isn't exactly the cheapest state for a summer road trip; it does, however, rank highly for Road Conditions and Safety (number nine!), and it took the top spot for Fun and Scenic Attractions. The Space Needle, Mount Rainier, all those state parks, the original Starbucks… there's tons to do. Well played, Washington — even if you also have one of the highest rates of car theft per capita.
Ohio also ranked in the lower half for Driving and Lodging Costs, but it scored a more than respectable six for Road Conditions and Safety and a seven for Fun and Scenic Attractions. And if you're a roller coaster fan? Two words: Cedar Point.
Like Ohio and Washington, Utah didn't do incredibly well when it comes to costs; furthermore, with a 17 for Fun and Scenic Attractions, it's not as jam-packed with activities as some of the other states that made the top 10. It is, however, remarkably safe, ranking number two for Road Conditions and Safety — and it's also tied with Oregon for the number three spot on the most scenic byways list.
Wyoming only ranked 26 for Fun and Scenic Attractions, presumably because the scenery is gorgeous but without much to do in it; however, at number four for Driving and Lodging Costs and eight for Road Conditions and Safety, it's both an affordable and safe road trip location. It's also great for camping, coming in number two (below Nevada) on the lowest camping prices list.
Ranked 11 for Driving and Lodging Costs, 23 for Road Conditions and Safety, and 14 for Fun and Scenic Attractions, Colorado is a solid road trip choice — and beautiful, too. Hello, Rocky Mountain National Park!
9. North Carolina
The one southern state to break the top 10, North Carolina ranked 14 for costs, 23 for safety, and 12 for attractions. It's also apparently got some of the prettiest byways in the country, coming it at number two on the scenic byways list.
Surprised to see Idaho on the list? Well, it's only middling when it comes to Driving and Lodging Costs — it ranked 27 — and slightly better for Road Conditions and Safety (21) and Fun and Scenic Attractions (15)… but it'll be a beautiful drive thanks to its number five rank on the most scenic byways list. Oh, and also? It ranked number five on the fewest car thefts per capita list. And that, as they say, isn't nothing.
Check out the full list of the best and worst states for summer road trips over at WalletHub.