Visit the Most and Least-Traveled States in America

Traveling, for many people, is one of life’s great joys. The opportunity to seek adventures in unexplored places, discover cultures, and try new foods from far away lands, can be exciting and fun. But not everyone enjoys leaving their home-sweet-homes. Studies show that a desire to travel may be stronger for residents of some states than it is for others. Researchers ranked each state from most to least-traveled, based on the amount of traveling its residents did.


01 California, most well-traveled

short flight airports travelers california Matthew Micah Wright / Getty Images

With easy access to airports, California residents are the most well-traveled. Many amazing travel destinations are just a short flight away from many of the state’s largest cities, so it’s easier to plan a quick getaway, a short vacation, or an overnight stay. Airlines provide just under 1700 flights between Los Angeles and San Francisco each week, making it easy to get out of town for a couple of days. One study found that a significant number of Los Angelenos head to Reno, Nevada, to grab some time away from it all.


02 Connecticut, second most well-traveled

Boy walking with his dog in the woods into the sunset on a clear autumn day, natural lens flare CHBD / Getty Images

The Constitution State has the second-highest number of travelers. Researchers found that more people from Connecticut travel because they have the financial means to do so. Bradley International, just outside of Hartford, is one of the busiest airports in New England. Thousands of Connecticuters start there and head to the state’s southeastern coast for a weekend stay at the historic and charming waterfront village of Mystic.


03 Illinois, third-most well-traveled

 illinois travelers lake geneva wisconsin csfotoimages / Getty Images

Millions of people travel to Illinois each year. A higher percentage of those visitors are there for leisure, rather than business purposes in recent years. A 2016 study found that more than half of the state’s travelers originate from inside Illinois’ borders. Not surprisingly, Chicago is one of the top destinations in the state. Where do Illinoisans go when they want to take a break? Many head to beautiful destinations like Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, or Saugatuck, Michigan. The gorgeous natural surroundings provide the perfect environments for rest and relaxation.


04 Nevada, fourth-most well-traveled

nevada residents tourism lake tahoe Onfokus / Getty Images

Residents of Nevada are well-aware of the importance of travel and tourism. It supports around 370,000 local jobs, about 40% of the jobs in Southern Nevada. In 2019 alone, 42.5 million people headed to Las Vegas. Another five million landed in Reno, but only 4% of those were from Nevada. The largest alpine lake in North America, Lake Tahoe, straddles the state line between California and Nevada. Both states earn tourism dollars from those visiting the resort area. Some of those are spent by Nevadans, who venture across the border to the California side of the lake seeking some downtime.


05 Florida, fifth-most well-traveled state

floridians destinations deerfield beach pier Stephen Yarley / Getty Images

Floridians love to travel, and there’s no shortage of destinations within their state to satisfy their wanderlust. Orlando and its theme parks may be a big draw for tourists from other states or countries, but it’s not the top choice for residents. Floridians prefer the hidden gems across the state. Instead of heading to the crowded beaches in Fort Lauderdale, they choose Deerfield Beach instead. Those who want to spend some quiet time with nature can fish off the International Fishing Pier there.


06 Oklahoma, fifth least well-traveled state

tourism least travel oklahomans destination John Elk / Getty Images

In the Sooner State, tourism is the third-largest industry. The state’s travel industry is working hard to attract more international visitors, especially those from Australia and New Zealand. But chances are, they won’t see the best parts of Oklahoma. Most Oklahoma residents avoid traveling unless it is to a site inside the state. Lendonwood Gardens in Grove, Sequoyah State Park in Cherokee County, and Woolaroc Museum and Wildlife Preserve in Osage Country are just a few favorite destinations for Oklahomans.


07 Kentucky, fourth-least well-traveled state

big south national recreation kentucky epantha / Getty Images

While tourism ads push bourbon tastings and food tours in Kentucky, most residents aren’t taking part in those activities. Around 70 million people travel here each year and keep the tourism dollars flowing, spending an average of just under $300 per day. But locals prefer weekend day trips and family outings within the Bluegrass State instead of traveling elsewhere or taking extended trips. The Cumberland Plateau in the northeastern part of the state is home to the 125,000-acre Big South National River and Recreation Area, perfect for camping, hiking, and exploring.


08 West Virginia, third least well-traveled state

west virginia residents blackwater falls zrfphoto / Getty Images

This state has some of the most beautiful scenery in the country, and it’s easy to see why so many travelers make plans to visit. But the survey shows that people in West Virginia prefer to take in their own state’s natural wonders rather than exploring other parts of the country. Blackwater Falls State Park is a top destination. West Virginians also head to Charles Town, one of West Virginia’s oldest settlements, to spend the day. East of Charles Town is the Hollywood Casino and Charles Town Races, a horse racing facility, which makes a fun day trip or weekend outing.


09 Alabama, second least well-traveled state

close to home alambamans orange beach Veni / Getty Images

Beaches, great golf courses, festivals, and lots of sightseeing opportunities make it worthwhile for Alabamans to stay close to home rather than travel to other destinations. One study showed that if they do venture out of town, the top choices for destinations are Orange Beach on the Alabama coastline, the Florida Panhandle, or a state or national park, such as Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham. But before they make plans, Alabamans seek out discounts and ask for recommendations from family and friends.


10 Mississippi, America's least well-traveled state

mississippians inside state destinations traveling Michael Hanson / Getty Images

Tourism is big business in Mississippi. In 2019, nearly 25 million people visited the Magnolia State, spending just under $7 billion. But for those who live in Mississippi, there’s no place like home, and that earned them the title of least-traveled state in America. Mississippians say they’d rather spend their hard-earned dollars traveling to areas inside their state. The Mississippi Petrified Forest in Flora, the Tishomingo State Park in Russellville, and the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge in Brooksville are just a few top-rated destinations.


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