U.S. States, Ranked from Least to Most Fun
Fun in America is not equally distributed. While some states have a wide variety of entertainment options for every type of person, others lack much more than fields and Walmart parking lots.
So, who's having the most fun? We've ranked every U.S. state from worst to best in terms of having an amazing time and trips you'll never forget.
Where should you go to have a good time? Read on!
It's not Delaware's size as the second smallest state in the U.S. that makes it less fun than others. The First State has the second-fewest number of movie theaters and the most boring nightlife. (Yawn!)
It also has some of the fewest restaurants, golf courses and performing arts theaters in the country, and its residents spend less than most states on recreation services.
Where to have fun: Delaware has 28 miles of dune-backed coastline with quaint Victorian beach towns providing family-friendly fun. The city of Wilmington, inland, also features a riverfront park district with ample dining and shopping. For partying, Rehoboth Beach is the best choice in the state.
Farther south, Mississippi lands near the bottom due to its lack of movie theaters and performing arts theaters. You also shouldn't expect much regarding the variety of arts, entertainment and recreation establishments.
While the state has natural beauty, it hasn't known how to make it more easily accessible to travelers.
Where to have fun: Attempt to make some coin while enjoying yourself at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino, learn a bit about the Civil War at Vicksburg National Military Park and take a dip in the warm coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Midwestern states get a bad rap on people's fun-o-meter. Indiana's flat land is ideal for farming but horrible for most other activities. It also lacks much access to national parks, housing a paltry three National Park Service sites.
Where to Have Fun: Indianapolis is one of the state's best features, serving as home to the world's largest racing circuit; the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, considered the best kids' museum in the country; and 11 professional sports teams, including the NFL's Colts and the NBA's Pacers.
Iowa has the second-most golf courses and country clubs per capita than any other state and more movie theaters than most. But golf and movies aren't enough to earn Iowa a coveted "fun" status.
What it really needs are more amusement parks, restaurants, theaters and attractions (other than the "Field of Dreams" baseball field, that is).
Where to have fun: There are some unusual sites in Iowa, like the Captain James T. Kirk Future Birthplace, Villisca Axe Murder House and Day the Music Died Memorial, which uses thick black glasses to mark the site of the plane crash that took the life of Buddy Holly (along with the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens).
Arkansas is one of the worst states for nightlife, lacking bars, music festivals, casinos and performing arts theaters. The state's bars also have shockingly early last call and closing times.
Don't expect much to do here.
Where to have fun: Considering that a schoolteacher found a 2.12-carat diamond in July 2019 at the finders-keepers Crater of Diamonds State Park, we think there is a wealth of reasons to visit Arkansas.
Nebraska has a very low ranking for entertainment and recreation, with relatively scant marinas (duh!), arcades, movie theaters, restaurants and golf courses.
Heck, even Nebraskans don't tend to boast about Nebraska. In late 2018, the state unveiled its new tourism tagline: "Honestly, it's not for everyone."
Where to have fun: The tagline is actually a joke, playing off the stereotypes people have of Nebraska being boring. There are several cool and quirky places to visit if you ever make it to the state, including Scotts Bluff National Monument, Chimney Rock National Historic Site and Carhenge, a modern-day Stonehenge made of old cars.
Oklahoma is not exactly known for its entertainment, recreation and nightlife. It's got a little bit of a lot of things. But not a whole lot of any particular thing.
Where to have fun: You can explore some interesting attractions in Oklahoma, including a psychedelic arts center known as The Womb in Oklahoma City, an abandoned circus camp called Gandini's Circle in Edmond, and the world's only museum dedicated to action figures in Pauls Valley.
One of the states with the worst access to national parks, Connecticut is considered to be one of the 10 least fun states in America. The state's relative scarcity of scenic byways, subpar beach quality, and minimal investment in parks and recreation earn it a low spot on this list.
Where to have fun: Foxwoods Resort and Casino and Mohegan Sun, both of which offer concerts from top-charting performers, are among the exciting gaming establishments.
42. North Dakota
Remote North Dakota is mainly a wide expanse of undeveloped land, which could be the reason it offers the fewest restaurants per capita. Fargo, its largest city, only has 126,748 residents.
But North Dakota has one of the highest state and local spending on parks and recreation. So if you don't mind skipping city nightlife, you'll find cool things to do in nature.
Where to have fun: State and national parks are the big draw here. If you ever make it to the state, check out Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park and Fort Mandan, which offers an interpretive history of explorers Lewis & Clark.
Ohio, where grassy knolls abound, is home to several golf courses and amusement parks.
It does well in terms of nightlife, especially good in Columbus and Cincinnati. (Really!)
Where to have fun: You can enjoy fun and games at Cedar Point and Kings Island amusement parks, or at outdoor parks like Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Hocking Hills State Park.
40. New Hampshire
New Hampshire doesn't invest much in parks and recreation, which is sad when you consider how much of it is wooded for outdoor fun. Perhaps spending isn't needed when the residents can simply go out the door and enjoy nature, but having a more organized experience would be nice.
While outdoor fun may be plentiful, the state's nightlife leaves much to be desired, making New Hampshire's score low enough to land it among the 10 most boring states.
Where to have fun: New Hampshire offers great ski trails, especially near Mount Washington. That peak is also a summer play area, as is Franconia Notch State Park and the large Lake Winni (Lake Winnipesaukee) and its 258 islands.
Dorothy may have wanted nothing more than to return to Kansas in "The Wizard of Oz," but this Midwestern state doesn't offer much in terms of fun. There's nothing particularly dismal about it but also nothing specific to write home about...except for its BBQ, which locals swear is better in the Kansas Side of Kansas City.
Where to have fun: While the Kansas side of Kansas City is less jam-packed with attractions than the Missouri side, it has its own charms, including the Providence Medical Center Amphitheater (or Sandstone as most locals know it), a rollicking outdoor music venue. Elsewhere, Lawrence is a happening college town, and the Flint Hills are ideal for outdoor exploration.
Neighboring Mississippi, Alabama fares only slightly better. The state offers fewer performing arts theaters than most states, and its cities have relatively few entertainment venues.
Where to have fun: Alabama's Gulf Shores is considered an American Riviera for its 60 miles of beaches so soft the sand squeaks when you walk on it, "singing" as you take in the surrounding emerald-green gulf waters. It's also home to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, where all ages can get a taste of space and weightlessness — how fun is that?!
37. South Dakota
South Dakota touts better attractions and nightlife than its neighboring rival, North Dakota, landing it a few spots above a state it's too often confused with.
Still, South Dakota has fewer restaurants per capita than most, and, with a lack of lakes and seas, fewer water activities.
Where to have fun: One of the states with the best access to national parks, South Dakota is home to Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Badlands National Park and Wind Cave National Park, as well as Custer State Park.
36. West Virginia
West Virginia has one of the lowest variety of arts, entertainment and recreation establishments. It also is one of the states with the fewest performing arts theaters, fitness centers and nightlife venues.
At least you'll be able to head out to nature for rafting, hiking and skiing adventures.
Where to have fun: West Virginia is home to part of the Appalachian mountain range. It also features an adventure-lover's-dream whitewater river-rafting trip along the New River Gorge National Park, and houses the historic and stately Greenbrier Hotel, which has welcomed guests since 1778.
35. Rhode Island
Rhode Island may be the smallest state and among the states with the fewest movie theaters per capita, but it does provide plenty of access to the water
Where to have fun: The state touts 384 miles of coastline along the Atlantic Ocean and Narragansett Bay, even though it's only 37 miles wide and 48 miles long. The town of Newport is even considered the world capital of sailing.
Known as a sailing hotspot, Maryland has a surprising amount of marinas and nearly 3,200 miles of coastline to enjoy (when you follow the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's measurements).
And while this is worthy of note, alas, the nightlife is quite average, keeping Maryland from a higher spot on the fun chart.
Where to have fun: Baltimore's wealth of attractions includes the National Aquarium, Fort McHenry National Monument, and the Inner Harbor restaurants and shops. And while the state as a whole doesn't offer much nightlife, the city's Fells Point is an excellent place for a pub crawl.
Idaho landed in a relatively low position for having fewer performing arts theaters than the majority of states. But what the state lacks in indoor fun, it makes up for in outdoor adventures. It has part of Yellowstone National Park and boasts many ski facilities that aren't as crowded.
Where to have fun: Getting outside is big in this northwestern state, where you can hike along the Oregon Trail, at Shoshone Falls Park or at Craters of the Moon National Park.
Minnesota also has one of the country's highest concentrations of performing arts theaters per capita. It also borders Lake Superior and Canada, making for interesting nature excursions.
Where to have fun: There is so much more than the state's famous Mall of America, much of it outdoor fun. Enjoy the trails at Voyageurs National Park, the waterfalls in Minnehaha Park and on-the-water thrills at Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wildnerness.
Often snow-covered during its long winter months, Vermont has great skiing facilities and is one of the states with the highest variety of arts, entertainment and recreation establishments.
Alas, that wasn't enough to move Vermont higher on the list, as it fares poorly in terms of attractions, amusement parks, arcades, nightlife accessibility and affordability.
Where to Have Fun: Those ski resorts in Vermont make the state the top spot for skiers on the East Coast, with places like Killington, Stowe, Okemo and Sugarbush providing some of the highest verticals and best powder east of the Mississippi River.
Kentucky is famous for horse races and having the world's largest baseball bat. It's also one of the states with the most skiing facilities per capita.
The Bourbon Trail and a legacy of blues also earn it a middle-ground spot. Plus, nature is simply gorgeous here. However, the state can't compensate for its lack of theater and entertainment options.
Where to have fun: Besides checking out Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory and visiting Churchill Downs, Mammoth Cave National Park features awe-inspiring caverns to explore.
Wyoming has the second-best access to national parks, placing it higher on this list. But that's about it.
For instance, its nightlife really is a downer. Wyoming is missing out on access to bars, music festivals, casinos, theaters and nightlife options. Moreover, it lacks in dining as well.
Where to have fun: Like its neighboring states, Wyoming draws adventure-seeking crowds. Visit Grand Teton National Park, Devils Tower National Monument and even Yellowstone, which crosses into Wyoming and provides natural entertainment in the form of Old Faithful's geyser-spewing moments.
Pennsylvania is a large state that offers two awesome cities at either end for theater, restaurants and nightlife, then sprinkles in history, outdoor fun and amusements everywhere in between.
From Pittsburgh on the west to Philadelphia on the east, city-lovers will find lively bars and restaurants, museums dedicated to art and history, and festivals to fill weekend days. When hitting the rural roads, you'll stumble upon the Appalachian Mountains and the Poconos, where you can see how life was lived during a simpler era in Amish Country.
Where to have fun: Visit the home of chocolate, Hershey, to learn about the man behind the name, and to sample all of his candies. Then take a spin on a roller coaster or two at Hersheypark.
The Show-Me State has a decent amount of things to show you in terms of fun, especially within the confines of St. Louis and Kansas City.
The state is also home to Branson, where Silver Dollar City and the Ozarks are a huge draw for American visitors — this is why it's ranked higher than most people would have expected.
Where to have fun: Enjoy professional sporting events in Missouri, home of the MLB's St. Louis Cardinals, NHL's St. Louis Blues and NFL's Kansas City Chiefs, which it shares with Kansas. You'll also find attractions galore in the Missouri part of Kansas City, including the National World War I Monument and Museum and Harry S Truman National Historic Site for history buffs, Worlds of Fun amusement park and Sea Life Kansas City aquarium for kids, and tons of great museums like the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, the American Jazz Museum and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
Remotely tucked away near the Dakotas and serving mostly as cattle land, Montana isn't considered very fun. Its dearth of movie theaters, amusement parks, golf courses and theaters really does it in.
Then again, Montana has ski facilities and access to gorgeous national parks. Plus, it's filled with dude ranches where you can engage in fun activities like star gazing, horseback riding, hiking, fishing and more.
Where to have fun: Montana certainly has parks and ski resorts in spades, such as Big Sky Resort for skiing and hiking and Glacier National Park. And, if you're looking for one of the most picturesque drives in the country, you'll find it here along Going-to-the-Sun Road.
Alaska is another state where the wealth of daylight entertainment far exceeds the nightlife. It has fewer restaurants, movie theaters and variety of arts, entertainment and recreation establishments than most of the country. But it also has the best access to national parks, according to the research.
This mix of good and bad lands it in the middle of the list for fun.
Where to have fun: The national parks, of course! (Eight of them, to be precise)Denali, Glacier Bay, Kenai Fjords? All yours for the exploring.
Maine has an impressive number of skiing facilities and a long coastline. Plus, it has a decent variety of arts establishments. So why does it land so low on the list of fun states?
The great outdoors is Maine's most appealing attribute, with nightlife failing miserably.
Where to have fun: Maine is home to one of the most scenic national parks in the country: Acadia, which is nestled on just a fraction of the state's 3,478 coastline miles. (That's more than California, by the way!)
You might be surprised to see Wisconsin rank better than other Midwest states, but thank its unexpectedly fun nightlife. Madison, Milwaukee, Green Bay? They know how to have a good time when the sun goes down.
The state has more country clubs and golf courses per capita than most. On the flip side, it has poor access to national parks.
Where to have fun: Wisconsin Dells is the "waterpark capital of the world." Slip and slide your way around at Noah's Ark Waterpark, one of the largest you'll ever see.
Utah is one of the worst states in the nation for having a fun night out. But during the day? There is a plethora of activities to keep you smiling, including national and state parks. There are also ski resort towns like Park City.
Where to have fun: Utah is home to the Mighty 5: Arches, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef and Canyonlands National Parks — some of the best and most beautiful parks in the country.
21. South Carolina
Similar to its northern neighbor, which ranks even higher on this list, South Carolina is considered to be a fun and affordable state to visit. Beaches with amusement parks, national parks and gardens, sprawling plantations and up-and-coming cities are all part of the fun here.
Where to have fun: Myrtle Beach is one of the biggest vacation destinations in the country, especially for families. Head over to enjoy the tallest Ferris wheel in the U.S.
Georgia is another middle-ground state in terms of fun.
As home to the capital of the South, Atlanta, and the charmingly graceful city of Savannah, plus many spots in between hoping to show you a good time, don't discount Georgia just because it's not too high on this list.
Where to have fun: The Georgia Aquarium is the world's largest, while the World of Coca-Cola is perfect for sampling unique soda from around the planet. Both are near Centennial Olympic Park in happening Atlanta.
Michigan is home to many golf courses and country clubs per capita. You'll also find a good mix of things to do here, from eating at top-notch restaurants, to connecting with your inner kid at arcades, to catching flicks at movie theaters, to enjoying world-class skiing.
Where to have fun: Michigan is also home to national parks galore, many of which are along the Great Lakes. Try Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Isle Royale National Park.
Texas is an extra-big state with extra-big attractions. It has it all: beaches, hills, cities, science, history and lots to see and do. It also has some of the country's best food scenes.
But the state lacks shine in its offerings. Its nightlife is ok, even in big cities, its beaches aren't that nice and its national parks are somewhat difficult to access. That said, no one can complain about the state's amazing cuisine.
Where to have fun: You can remember The Alamo in San Antonio, as well as cruise down a river while dining along the city's River Walk. In Houston, visit the Space Center, then head down the coast to Galveston and South Padre Island for beaches and sun.
17. New Jersey
The Garden State's shore is a hot spot in the summer, but it isn't actually that long and doesn't feature as much soft, clean sand as other ocean-bordering states. This is also one of the states with the lowest variety of arts, entertainment and recreation establishments — why bother when you can cross a river and enjoy all New York City to the north or Philadelphia to the south have to offer instead?
Where to have fun: New York may claim the Statue of Liberty as its own, but Jersey's Liberty State Park overlooking the statue and the Manhattan skyline offers the best views. Plus, when summer does visit for its brief three-month stint, the Jersey Shore's boardwalk-lined beaches are a blast.
16. New Mexico
It doesn't matter that New Mexico has few golf courses and no access to the sea. The state makes up for it with a good mix of art, entertainment, amusement, restaurants and more.
And it's one of the best states for accessing national parks to boot.
Where to have fun: There are great national parks in this southwestern state, including Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands National Parks, and Chaco Culture National Historic Site.
The Pacific Northwest was an insider's secret for generations, but no more. Now everyone has discovered just how beautiful and laidback the area is, with loads of things to do outside, from Crater Lake National Park to mountains and waterfalls for exploring, hiking and skiing.
Plus, Oregon also has Portland, which provides it with nightlife, world-class dining and an impressive microbrewery scene.
Where to have fun: Visit the city of Portland and wander through the Japanese Garden and International Rose Test Garden to find your zen.
14. North Carolina
In North Carolina, you'll find beaches and mountains and cute cities with restaurants, museums, nightlife and attractions — all at lower costs than the majority of states.
Having fun for free is certainly better than paying for it!
Where to have fun: The Outer Banks' beaches make up a national dune-filled seashore on the east coast, while the Blue Ridge Mountains promise beautiful scenery in the western part of the state. Stop in Asheville to visit the Biltmore, the largest privately owned home in the country.
You're not likely to tie one on and dance the night away in Virginia, but you might do it in Washington, D.C., which is right next to the state's northern border.
The state also has many other underrated forms of entertainment, including plenty of hiking trails, historic cities and vineyards. Yes, this is one of America's wine-producing regions.
Where to have fun: We love Virginia for its history — it seems everywhere you turn you can find something that forged a place on America's timeline, including George Washington's Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, as well as the Arlington National Cemetery. You can also enjoy Shenandoah National Park and take the scenic route along Skyline Drive.
With more restaurants and performing arts theaters than most states, Illinois is one of the best states for nightlife. There is plenty to keep you busy in the heartland of America, specifically in Chicago, the largest city in the Midwest.
Although the state doesn't have great access to national parks, it makes up for it with its Lake Michigan coastline.
Where to have fun: Outside of the music venues in Chicago and East St. Louis, Illinois is home to the famed Route 66 starting point. Notable Americans like Abraham Lincoln, Ernest Hemingway and Frank Lloyd Wright lived here. You can visit all of their former homes.
Massachusetts has more performing arts theaters than most other states, many of which can be found in Boston and the Berkshires for end-to-end state entertainment. Besides this, Boston boasts some of the most respected art museums on the planet, as well as numerous historical sites and plenty of places to enjoy nightlife.
You also have access to the coast, where you can enjoy the beach, go on whale-watching tours and do other interesting activities.
Where to have fun: From the Berkshires to the Cape, Massachusetts offers fun in all forms: hiking in the woods, sunning on the beach, sailing off the coast and exploring historic sites, just for example.
One of the states with the highest variety of arts, entertainment and recreation establishments, Tennessee is also great for nightlife.
Memphis and Nashville are both hot cities for getting out and getting down, with a variety of live-music venues and clubs on tap.
Where to have fun: Check out the country music scene in Nashville at the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium and Country Music Hall of Fame, or learn more about blues and rock in Memphis along Beale Street and at Graceland and Sun Studio.
Arizona is filled with amazing national parks and has lots of fun resorts and golf courses to lounge the day away. Plus, hot-air balloon rides are a daily occurrence in several cities, including artsy Sedona.
Where to have fun: This is the state where you'll find the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon and Monument Valley — three amazing southwestern backdrops that draw visitors from around the world.
Washington has been consistently growing as a travel destination now that people have uncovered how truly hip it is. The state brought on the local breweries trend that has spread across the country, and Seattle's cool vibe includes tons of restaurants, theaters and entertainment.
If that wasn't enough, Washington's national parks, including Olympic and Mount Rainier, are just a stone's throw from Seattle, and the nearby San Juan Islands provide a boating paradise.
Where to have fun: While in Seattle, see the city from atop the iconic Space Needle, visit the landmark Pike Place Market and step into pop-culture history at the Museum of Pop Culture.
Colorado is known to be an outdoor-lover's dream state, with locals touting its hiking, biking and ski trails and practically perfect year-round weather.
Sure enough, the state lands in the top 10, as recreation is a top priority for locals. If you want to do something that's not in nature, head to Denver, where you'll get plenty of nightlife, theatrical shows, concerts and good dining.
Where to Have Fun: It's all about the outdoors here: Rocky Mountain National Park, Mesa Verde National Park, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Garden of the Gods — even concerts are enjoyed outside at Red Rocks Canyon.
Was there any doubt that Nevada was going to land within the top 10?
Nevada features some of the most varied arts, entertainment and recreation establishments in the nation, including abundant outdoor recreation in the desert, where even guests of Vegas can enjoy the red rocks, Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon, just over the border in Arizona.
Where to have fun: There is nowhere else like the casinos of Las Vegas — sample the glitz and glamour of the Bellagio and Venetian along The Strip, and don't forget to take in a performance from one of the many A-list stars hosting residencies in town.
When you throw one of the biggest parties in the world, you're bound to be considered one of the most fun states in America. That's certainly the case for Louisiana, where foot-tall Hurricanes are the drink of choice along beloved Bourbon Street, whether its Mardi Gras or not.
It's not only about the drinks in Louisiana, of course. Airboat tours in the swampland, discovering the history of voodoo and sampling amazing food are in the cards as well. Plus, Cajun food is good enough to warrant a foodie-centric state tour.
Where to have fun: New Orleans, of course! Home to the French Quarter, Jackson Square and nightclubs filled with lively jazz music, this city has excitement down.
4. New York
Of course, New York made the top five. Tied for having the most restaurants, most movie theaters, most performing arts theaters and most fitness centers, the question should really be "What doesn't New York have?"
Nightlife, of course, isn't the answer. The state has one of the highest rankings for nightlife, as well, and we're betting New York City heavily affected that rating — theaters, bars and clubs promise fun that spills well into the night. All in all, it's easy to love New York. If it didn't land as number one, it's because most of its entertainment is concentrated in a single city.
Where to have fun: New York City isn't the only hotspot in the state. Visit Niagara Falls near Buffalo, ski an Olympic slope in Lake Placid and go leaf-peeping in the fall in the Catskills.
We really shouldn't have to explain why Florida came out in the top three: The state boasts more than 1,200 miles of coastline along the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean with beaches galore. It is also home to Disney World and scores of amusement parks like Busch Gardens and Universal Studios.
Florida also has an incredible array of restaurants. That's because this state is home to cities filled with Caribbean and Latin flair, especially in Miami, where all-night dance clubs and hip international-cuisine-filled restaurants attract throngs of visitors. And to top it all off, it has three gorgeous national parks, plus dozens of crystal-clear springs where you can cool off in the summer.
Where to have fun: If you really have to ask, let's add to the mix places like the Kennedy Space Center, the Florida Keys and Everglades National Park.
Outside of Honolulu, Hawaii lacks bars, clubs and entertainment venues.
Then again, why would you want to waste time in these when you could explore crystal-clear oceans, rainforests with waterfalls and golden-sand beaches?
This is a state where you can actually see lava flow straight into the ocean, and where you can learn about a millenary native culture that has been kept alive despite colonization. If you ever get bored in Hawaii, know that it's you, not the state.
Where to have fun: Surfing, kayaking, SUPing, snorkeling, boating — anything to enjoy the warm Pacific Ocean waters is a must-do. On land, visit national parks like Haleakala or Hawaii Volcanoes.
The state that bests them all has to have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to fun and flair — and California sure does. Hugging the Pacific Ocean are 840 miles of coastline with surf-friendly beaches. The state also introduced the world to Disneyland well before Florida's "World" came along. And while it doesn't have Miami, it does have world-class cities in the form of Los Angeles and San Francisco, along with Hollywood and all that entails.
The state is also food heaven, with incredible Asian and Latin American fusion dishes being invented seemingly every day. Plus, there is skiing in Lake Tahoe and so many ways to enjoy the outdoors, from Yosemite and Death Valley to Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks. California definitely earned its blue ribbon.
Where to have fun: Something else California does best: vineyards. Napa Valley, Sonoma County and Santa Barbara produce some of the world's finest wines.