The United States is the country for road trips, and summer is the season to enjoy them.
To help you figure out where to go, WalletHub analyzed the best states for a summer road trip — based on costs, safety, and activities.
Find out if your state is among the top 10, as well as our tips for saving money no matter which one you choose.
10 best states for a summer road trip
To figure out the best states for road trips, WalletHub analyzed the following:
- Costs, including gas, hotels, tolls, and car repairs.
- Safety, including population density, road quality, vehicle fatalities, and violent crimes.
- Activities, including attractions, national parkland, and scenic byways.
WalletHub then ranked all 50 states from best to worst; you can see the results by hovering over the map below.
Ready to head out on the road? Here are some summer road trip ideas for the top 10 states listed below.
I have to agree with WalletHub here: Driving along Oregon’s coast was one of my favorite road trips ever. If you like rocky beaches, you’ll have your pick of stunning places to camp.
Don’t miss: Sea Lion Caves, a series of caverns filled with (you guessed it) hundreds of sea lions.
With five national parks within its borders, this state is a must-visit for nature lovers. Its tourism board calls them “The Mighty 5” — and even offers suggested itineraries on its website.
Don’t miss: Zion, an incredible national park with hiking and climbing galore. But if you’re afraid of heights, avoid Angel’s Landing at all costs! Trust me, I speak from experience.
Great seafood, quaint islands, and whale watching? You’ve got it all when driving along Washington’s spectacular coast.
Don’t miss: La Push Beach. Yes, it was made famous by the “Twilight” series — but it’s seriously one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.
4. North Carolina
I always enjoy driving through North Carolina, especially during the fall. Because of its location, the leaves and warm weather stick around a lot longer than in the northeast.
Don’t miss: Hanging Rock State Park, a gorgeous park with opportunities for hiking and paddling.
Although it might be a tad hot in the summer, you can road trip through Louisiana deep into the fall and winter. History buffs will love driving through Plantation Country to learn about the state’s complex past.
Don’t miss: New Orleans, a waterfront city that needs no introduction. You’ll be able to enjoy fabulous music, tasty food, and a culture you won’t find anywhere else.
I once road-tripped through Texas. In August. Without air conditioning. Though I wouldn’t recommend that, I would highly recommend traveling through this massive state (and eating lots of BBQ on the way).
Don’t miss: Austin, the live music capital of the world. If you take a night out on the city’s famed Sixth Street, you’re bound to hear tunes everywhere you go.
Although you might only think of it as being home to Las Vegas, Nevada is filled with parks and wild-west ghost towns that make for a fantastic summer road trip.
Don’t miss: The Mount Rose Highway, a winding 24-mile road that travels from the stunning shores of Lake Tahoe to the quirky city of Reno.
If you’ve never been to Minnesota, you’re missing out. This affordable state has more than 227,000 acres of parkland and 1,030 miles of hiking trails — without the crowds of more touristy areas.
Don’t miss: The International Wolf Center, an organization dedicated to researching wolves and education the public about them. And yes, you’ll see wolves!
Is there any road trip more quintessential than Highway 1? Perhaps Route 66, but I’d argue the former is more beautiful.
Don’t miss: Big Sur, a spectacular region on the central coast. You can hike, you can eat — and best of all, you can just relax.
I lived in Colorado for three years, and it remains one of my favorite states. Although famous for its ski resorts, you’ll find many summer activities here, including hiking, mountain biking, and river rafting.
Don’t miss: Breckenridge, an adorable mountain town just a few hours west of Denver. In the summer, it has cool weather and tons of festivals.
5 ways to save money on road trips
Whichever state(s) you travel through on your summer road trip, saving a little extra money never hurts. Here are some tried-and-true tips, along with suggestions from your fellow road warriors.
1. Download a gas-comparison app
GasBuddy is the best. You simply open it up, click “gas near me,” and it pulls up prices of all the gas stations nearby. Saving a few cents a gallon over a long road trip is worth it.
fill water bottles at every stop, bring a cooler, try to eat mostly groceries. Also, if you see super cheap gas, TOP UP.
— Cait Flanders (@caitflanders) June 27, 2017
2. Obey traffic laws
OK, so you should follow the rules wherever you are.
But it’s especially important on road trips, according to Jamie Cattanach, because you won’t be able to defend yourself in court!
Don’t get a ticket across state lines. Expensive and no way to fight them in court!
— Jamie Cattanach (@jamiecattanach) June 27, 2017
3. Look for free events
Instead of forking out for tickets to museums or theme parks, check online for free happenings in your destination.
Thanks to late summer sunsets, many cities have events — such as food festivals, outdoor movie nights, and live music — nearly every night of the week.
I limit myself to only 2-3 avocado toast meals while roadtripping. Of course, you can eat as much avocado toast if you arent a millennial
— NEINFEETOFSMOKE (@9FEETOFSMOKE) June 27, 2017
4. Bring a tent and sleeping bag
Let’s face it: Roadside motels can make for some fun stories, but they’re often not worth the price of admission.
Spend time on peaceful country roads — and not massive interstates — by camping. Not only will you save big bucks on accommodation, you’ll also get to see locations you might’ve missed otherwise.
Avoid RV parks at all cost. State parks are much prettier and much cheaper.
— Carson Vaughan (@carsonvaughan) June 27, 2017
5. Pack snacks
Although it might not seem like a big deal to stop at a convenience store or fast-food joint every few hours, those little costs add up. Not to mention, eating like that will have you feeling icky in no time.
Instead, stop at grocery stores to fill your cooler with healthy snacks like carrots and hummus, apples and natural peanut butter, and rice cakes or tortilla chips.
Also, eat from a cooler but for the love of GOD do not put a block of cheese in the bottom of one with loose ice in it. Ew ew ew ew ew
— Jamie Cattanach (@jamiecattanach) June 27, 2017
Feeling ready for that summer road trip? (I sure am.)
Download some podcasts, fill up your tank, and get on your way!
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.97% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.30% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
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2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
APR stands for “Annual Percentage Rate.” Rates listed include a 0.25% EFT discount, for automatic payments made from a checking or savings account. Interest rates as of 11/8/2018. Rates subject to change.
Variable rate options consist of a range from 3.27% per year to 6.09% per year for a 5-year term, 4.64% per year to 6.14% per year for a 7-year term, 4.69% per year to 6.19% per year for a 10-year term, 4.94% per year to 6.44% per year for a 15-year term, or 5.19% per year to 6.69% per year for a 20-year term, with no origination fees. APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rate will change on the first day of every month (“Change Date”) if the Current Index changes. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes. The variable interest rates are calculated by adding a margin ranging from 0.98% to 3.80% for the 5-year term loan, 2.35% to 3.85% for the 7-year term loan, 2.40% to 3.90% for the 10-year term loan, 2.65% to 4.15% for the 15-year term loan, and 2.90% to 4.40% for the 20-year term loan, respectively, to the 1-month LIBOR index published on the 25th day of each month immediately preceding each “Change Date,” as defined above, rounded to two decimal places, with no origination fees. If the 25th day of the month is not a business day or is a US federal holiday, the reference date will be the most recent date preceding the 25th day of the month that is a business day. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 3.27% per year to 6.09% per year for a 5-year term would be from $180.89 to $193.75. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.64% per year to 6.14% per year for a 7-year term would be from $139.65 to $146.76. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.69% per year to 6.19% per year for a 10-year term would be from $104.56 to $111.98. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.94% per year to 6.44% per year for a 15-year term would be from $78.77 to $86.78. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 5.19% per year to 6.69% per year for a 20-year term would be from $67.05 to $75.68.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown.
All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.28% effective October 10, 2018.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.47% – 6.99%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.47% – 6.30%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.51% – 8.09%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.02% – 6.44%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.69% – 7.21%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.79% – 8.39%6||Undergrad & Graduate|