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These Surprising U.S. States Have Just Been Rated The Best For A Summer Trip 

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As we creep towards August, the summer travel season is well underway and showing no signs of letting up anytime soon.

With a record number of Americans heading to international hot spots such as Europe for their long-awaited summer trip, let’s not forget that many people are also sticking closer to home for their holiday. 

Girls looking at Excelsior Geyser in Yellowstone National Park

With fifty states full of beaches, cities, deserts, National Parks, and everything else you could possibly want for your holiday, choosing where to go in the U.S. can become quite the undertaking. 

A new study is shedding some light on the best states to visit for a summer vacation, and the results might surprise you. While tried and true mainstays of Florida, Hawaii, and Texas all score some top spots, there are other states that might raise some eyebrows. 

Missing from the top billings are popular holiday destinations such as California and New York, instead being replaced by more rugged and underrated choices such as the Dakotas. 

The report compared all 50 states and focused on 20 metrics across seven key factors that impact a holiday: infrastructure, affordability, crime and safety, and summer entrainment. 

Looking out over the badlands of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

Here Are The Surprising U.S. States That Have Just Been Rated The Best For A Summer Trip:

Wyoming 

The top spot on the list of best states for a summer holiday goes to Wyoming for its unique charm and natural beauty. As the main home to both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, Wyoming attracts more than its fair share of visitors each summer. 

This is a state full of natural beauty and some of the country’s widest range of wildlife. Don't forget to check out Bighorn and Medicine Bow National Forests to explore some stunning natural beauty.

In terms of towns, Jackson Hole is a popular choice for a holiday, and for a bit of quirkiness, visit Lost Springs, a small town with just one official resident. The average cost for a 3-night stay in Wyoming is $168, and the average meal costs just under $9.00. 

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Sunrise of Moulton Barn in the Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

North Dakota 

With a 3-night stay costing an average of $126 and an avenge meal around $9.74, North Dakota can be considered a budget destination for some. Things to see here include the peaceful Lake Sakakawe, the popular and scenic Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Scandinavian Heritage Park, and the town of Fargo, of course. 

Painted Canyon Overlook and the Enchanted Highway are also crowd pleasers to take in some views. Hikers can find some ground on the popular Lewis and Clark Trail, and a visit to the National Buffalo Museum is another good option. 

Fargo main st and theater at dusk on a cold spring evening

Arkansas 

With an average menu price of $9.47, and 3 nights of accommodation averaging about $150, Arkansas rates highly for affordability. With an official state nickname of “The Natural State,” it’s no wonder that the majority of things to see here are its natural beauty. 

A highlight on a visit to Arkansas includes Hot Springs Natural Park, Buffalo National River, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and Crater of Diamonds State Park. 

@somewhere.in.arkansas Arkansas is underrated. I said what I said. #arkansascheck #arkansasphotographer #arkansas #ozarkmountains #northwestarkansas #traveltiktok #traveltips2023 #hiddengems ♬ original sound – ARKANSAS TRAVEL

Tennessee

Famous for having both Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee is probably the one state on this list that is not very surprising. Aside from these two extremely popular cities, Tennessee’s most visited attraction is the stunning Great Smoky Mountain National Park, which by some accounts is the most visited national park in the country. 

Of course, a visit to Graceland or Dollywood is always an option too, if the great outdoors is not your thing. Tennessee is more expensive than some of the other entries on the list, with an average menu price of $10.03 and accommodation coming in at $210 for 3 nights.

Honky tonk bars in nashville neon signs

South Dakota 

With major tourist attractions such as Mount Rushmore and Badlands National Park, it’s no wonder South Dakota ranks so high as a great summer trip destination. Don't forest Custer State Park, and the Black Hills and Missouri Rivers. 

South Dakota’s nickname might be The Mount Rushmore State, but there is more here to explore than just this attraction. The average menu price in South Dakota is just over $10.23, and 3 nights of accommodation rings in around $160. 

@thenationalparktravelers 🔥 Who else has Badlands National Park on their bucket list? @South Dakota #badlandsnationalpark #blackhillsofdakota #badlands #sodak ♬ original sound – Connor | Morgan 📸✈️🥾

Montana 

Montana is known as “Big Sky Country”, although its official nickname is actually “The Treasure State”. The main things to see in Montana include the very popular Glacier National Park, which sees more than three million visitors in the summertime. So if you come to Montana in hopes of visiting this favorite attraction, it’s crucial you plan ahead. 

A small portion of Yellowstone National Park also lies in Montana as well, and other popular attractions include the Little Bighorn National Monument and the Museum of the Rockies in trendy Bozeman. According to the study, the average menu price in Montana is $10.42, and 3 nights of accommodation costs around $194. 

Glacier National Park

Kansas 

With an average menu price of $10.04 and the average 3-night accommodation setting you back around $127, maybe Dorothy was right when she said that there is no place like home (if your home is Kansas of course). 

Top attractions in Kansas include Botanica, The Wichita Gardens, Boot Hill Museum, Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, Monument Rocks (often referred to as the Chalk Pyramids), and many more things to discover in this underrated state. 

@nikkidelventhal Reply to @kmtn1996 Favorite place in Kansas 🙏🏻 #fyp #hiddengem #kansas #statepark #carcamping ♬ Runaway – AURORA

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