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The 10 Best States for a Summer Vacation, New Study Says

The results might have you rethinking your summer travel plans.

School's out for summer, which means it's vacation time. And whether you're traveling with the kids, with a group of friends, or maybe even on your own, there are seemingly endless options for a warm-weather trip. That's why a new study from financial website Scholaroo that ranks the 10 best U.S. states for a summer vacation is particularly helpful. Plus, they created their list based on 20 different metrics organized into four main indicators—summer entertainment, infrastructure, crime and safety, and accessibility.

But if you were thinking of a beach vacation in California or a camping trip in rural Vermont, you may want to think again and consider heading to the Northwest. To find out the most highly-rated states, keep reading.

RELATED: 12 Best Cities in the U.S. for Outdoor Adventures.


tallgrass prairie kansas on a mild summer morning

Coming in at number 10 is Kansas "due to its abundant outdoor recreational opportunities, including scenic lakes, hiking trails, and camping sites, as well as its vibrant local festivals and events that showcase the state's rich cultural heritage," according to Scholaroo.

The state ranked third for affordability, with accommodation costs coming in at the third cheapest in the country.


Austin Texas Bikers
Trong Nguyen/Shutterstock

"From the vibrant cities of Austin and Houston to the stunning Gulf Coast beaches, visitors can enjoy a mix of cultural experiences, outdoor adventures, and relaxing beach getaways," says Scholaroo of number-nine spot Texas.

The Lonestar State ranks sixth for both entertainment venue visits and transportation costs, so you can feel comfortable doing a multi-city vacation. Texas also ranks second for weather, which takes into account its average summer temperature.

RELATED: The 10 Most Naturally Beautiful States in the U.S., New Data Shows.


Glacier National Park

If it's natural beauty that you're looking for in a summer vacation, Montana might be just the place. The state is home to the Rocky Mountains and Glacier National Park, and if you stay near the Wyoming border, you'll also have easy access to Yellowstone National Park.

Expect any green area to be beautiful, as Montana comes in second in the nation for parks maintenance. And because of all this access to outdoor space, it ranks as the fourth most bicycle-friendly state.

South Dakota

Mount Rushmore National Monument
Adventures on Wheels/Shutterstock

South Dakota also ranks highly for parks maintenance (seventh), which makes sense considering it's home to Black Hills National Forest (where Mount Rushmore is located), Badlands National Park, and Wind Cave National Park.

It's also a great state if you want to step back in time to the Wild West. Small towns like Custer and Deadwood are former mining cities where you can find old-timey saloons and historic reenactments.

In addition, South Dakota comes in ninth for affordability.

RELATED: The 7 Best Beaches That Are Also U.S. National Parks.


Hot Springs National Park
All Stock Photos/Shutterstock

If you enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, camping, and water sports, Scholaroo says Arkansas is a great destination. Perhaps one of the biggest attractions is Hot Springs National Park, where you can soak in a thermal spring that's nearly 4,000 years old. There's also Chena Hot Springs, which has the second-bluest water in the U.S.

Need more convincing? Arkansas is ranked the most affordable state in the country for a summer vacation. It has the sixth lowest accommodation costs and the fourth lowest average menu price.


things to do in nashville, TN - downtown nashville
Shutterstock / f11photo

"Whether you're a nature enthusiast, a music lover, or a history buff, Tennessee's charm and hospitality, coupled with its abundance of outdoor adventures, make it an ideal destination for an unforgettable summer getaway," says Scholaroo.

You can visit Nashville for country music and hot chicken, or you can head to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, America's most visited national park.

Tennessee ranks seventh for entertainment venues, third for hotels and motels, and first for transportation costs.

RELATED: The Top 5 Beach Vacation Home Rentals in the U.S. for 2023.

North Dakota

iStock / Amber Boyd

Scholaroo notes that North Dakota is another state with "breathtaking natural beauty" and "picturesque landscapes." This includes Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the Badlands, where you may even get the chance to spot some wildlife.

The state ranks seventh for overall affordability, with the number-one most affordable accommodation costs and the sixth-lowest average menu prices. It's also ranked the fifth-most bike-friendly state and seventh best for hotels and motels.


Fort Lauderdale Beach. Florida. USA.

Would any summer vacation list be complete without the Sunshine State? Whether you prefer the East Coast or the Gulf Coast, the beaches here are some of the best in the nation. And let's not forget about Disney World.

Unsurprisingly, Florida ranks fifth for hotels and motels, with a plethora of offerings from swanky Miami penthouses to cozy seaside cottages. It also comes in sixth for national parks access, with destinations like Everglades National Park, the country's largest tropical wilderness, and Dry Tortugas National Park, a collection of seven islands where you can snorkel through coral reefs.

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Wood carved statues near the water at Pu'uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park

It's safe to say that nowhere in the U.S. feels more tropical than Hawaii. The state ranks second for national parks and fifth for lakes and beaches.

"Visitors can indulge in a wide range of activities, such as surfing, snorkeling, hiking through breathtaking trails, and exploring volcanic wonders," says Scholaroo. "Moreover, the vibrant Hawaiian culture, including traditional music, hula dancing, and delicious local cuisine, adds an enriching and immersive dimension to the vacation experience."

Do note that Hawaii ranks dead last for weather, so be sure you pack your sunscreen and an umbrella! It also ranks 45th for affordability, so don't expect a cheap vacation.


Jackson Hole Wyoming
Dean Fikar/Shutterstock

Interestingly, Wyoming is right behind Hawaii when it comes to poor summer weather. But what it lacks in a temperate climate, it makes up for in affordability (for which it's ranked second) and summer entertainment (for which it's ranked third).

"Whether hiking through pristine wilderness, rafting down exhilarating rivers, or witnessing the awe-inspiring Old Faithful geyser, Wyoming provides endless opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts," says Scholaroo.

Some of the top attractions are Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Bridger-Teton National Forest, and the Old Faithful Geyser. As for where to stay, Jackson Hole is a popular spot any time of year.

Dana Schulz
Dana Schulz is the Deputy Lifestyle Editor at Best Life. She was previously the managing editor of 6sqft, where she oversaw all content related to real estate, apartment living, and the best local things to do. Read more
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