TRAVEL: 5 Best States For Summer Road Trips

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best-states-for-summer-road-tripsMore than three-fourths of Americans take some kind of summer road trip.

But where to go?

Glad you asked – check out these 5 best states for taking a summer road trip.

WalletHub compared the 50 U.S. states to find the most fun, scenic and wallet-friendly road-trip destinations — plus those that’ll have travelers pulling a quick U-turn. The financial advice site used 21 key metrics, including each state’s attractions, road conditions, costs and even weather patterns.

Here is how the top 5 list for best summer road trip states shakes out:

  1. Oregon – 60.50
  2. Nevada – 59.35
  3. Utah – 59.22
  4. North Carolina – 56.08
  5. Minnesota – 55.59

The score after each state’s name is on a scale of 100. So, as you can see, Oregon is the only state to even get a passing grade and just barely. Does that mean the U.S. overall fails when it comes to summer road trips?

Let’s look at each state and see what makes it special. We’re also throwing in some advice on the best cars to rent for your road trip.

2015 Subaru Outback Review

Oregon – the Northwest state gets a top 5 ranking for its road conditions and safety. It’s ranked second best for fun & scenic attractions.

Rent a Subaru Outback if you can. Subaru is pretty much Oregon’s unofficial official car. recommends driving the historic Columbia River highway. Sounds like a plan to us.


Nevada – Before you scoff, there is so much more to Nevada than Las Vegas. The scenery can be stunning. The state ranks third for fun & scenic attractions and cracks the top 10 for driving & cost of lodging.

Don’t rent a convertible because it’s a hot place in the summer. Go for something with a touch of luxury like the Audi Q7. recommends heading to Lake Tahoe for the Mt. Rose scenic drive over to Reno.


Utah – OK, so it’s technically a popular off-road destination, but Moab would have to be at the top of the list when visiting Utah. has a nice article on the scenic byways you can explore in a day. And, because this is Moab, you’re going to want to rent a Jeep Wrangler for the trip.

Ford Mustang

North Carolina – It’s the only state on the East Coast to make the top 5 list. Head to the Asheville area if you want some distinctive scenery. End your day at The Biltmore Estate. has all you’ll need to know when heading out.

Your best choice for a rental? North Carolina in summer is a good spot for a convertible like the Ford Mustang.

hyundai_tucson_2016_1-5Minnesota – The Land of 10,000 Lakes is just a natural place for a road trip. After spending some time there last summer driving the Hyundai Tucson [which of course is our recommendation for best rental], I can’t wait to return. Minnesota is ranked second for best road conditions & safety. Even though it’s a wintry state, it has some fantastic roads for driving. One thing I didn’t see on my trip was waterfalls but apparently there is a great waterfalls trip to take.

By the way, here’s an interesting road trip tip by Doug Kennedy, a professor in the department of recreation and leisure studies at Virginia Wesleyan College. He recommends joining a group with chapters around the country. His choice was the Loyal Order of Moose. He said doing so lets him drop in at lodges around the country for a drink and a bite to eat among the locals. It could lead to some new friends.

Curious what the 5 worst states for road trips are?

  • Michigan
  • North Dakota
  • Mississippi
  • Alaska
  • Connecticut

Looking for a new or used car? Check out BestRide’s local search. 

Keith Griffin

Keith Griffin

Keith Griffin is an automotive columnist for the Las Vegas Review Journal and, as well as a reviewer for the Boston Globe, and - most importantly - dad to two great girls.