The best states for road trips
Taking a road trip is the ultimate vacation, giving you the freedom to set your own schedule so you don’t have to worry about missing trains or flights. It means you can also travel off the beaten path, taking in the natural wonders and unique curiosities you can’t see anywhere else.
Now car subscriptions have made road trips easier than ever, to pack up and explore the open road without having to worry about road tax, servicing, and breakdown cover wherever you decide to go.
But which states are the best for road trips? We’ve analyzed each state based on the average price of car hire, accommodation, fuel prices, weather, plus the number of accidents and tourist attractions to find out.
Road trip score: 6.88/10
Arizona can be crowned the ultimate state for road trips, scoring 6.88 out of 10. The state is full of natural wonders as it’s home to seven national forests and three national parks. Arizona is also the home to the Grand Canyon too, making it ideal for a road trip getaway. Arizona also ranks first thanks to its low average rainfall, second only to its neighbor Nevada, and its cheap cost of car hire too, ranking third for the factor.
Road trip score: 6.59/10
Up next is Texas, with the largest state in the lower 48 boasting the most extensive highway system, there’s plenty to explore. From the piney woods of East Texas to the mountainous desert in the west and vibrant cities like Austin and San Antonio in between, Texas has something to offer for every traveler. The Lone Star State takes second place with a score of 6.59/10 out of 10 thanks to its affordable fuel, ranking second for the factor. It's also one of the hottest states, ranking in the top five for average temperature.
Road trip score: 6.33/10
Taking third place is Illinois, ranking in the top ten for most affordable car hire and accommodation. Home to 300 miles of the iconic Route 66, it’s no surprise Illinois ranks in the top three. The state offers road trippers much more than vintage Americana, with the Great River Road following the western edge of the state, offering breathtaking scenery and historical landmarks.
The most affordable car hire
West Virginia ($37 per day)
Choosing the perfect car is one of the most important decisions for a road trip and there’s plenty to consider: from fuel efficiency, how much space you’ll need, and additional costs like breakdown cover and insurance, too. If you’re planning on hiring a car for your road trip, West Virginia has the cheapest rates at only $37 a day.
The most affordable fuel
Oklahoma ($3.24 per gallon)
Taking the top spot for average fuel price is Oklahoma at only $3.24 per gallon. The state has such affordable prices thanks to its many oil refineries, which drive down prices. Its fuel taxes are also some of the lowest in the nation too!
The most affordable accommodation
Georgia ($91 per night)
After a long day of road-tripping, you’ll want somewhere to relax, unwind and get ready for the next leg of your big adventure. From motels to hotels and B&Bs, there’s plenty to choose from, but if you’re on a budget, accommodation in The Peach State is ideal. They’re the most affordable on our list at only $91 per night.
The safest roads
Massachusetts (4.9 per 100,000 people)
Road safety is very important on road trips, especially if you’re traveling on unfamiliar roads. With this in mind, Massachusetts takes the top spot for this factor. The state has the lowest number of fatalities, as the state has recently adopted a new system of designing and managing its highways which anticipates risks to road users and puts their safety first.
The most attractions
Hawaii (134.8 per 100 miles of public roads)
The Aloha State takes the top spot as the road trip destination with the most activities and attractions at a whopping 134.8 for every 100 miles of public roads. Thanks to Hawaii’s very small network of highways, and its reputation as a tourist’s paradise, there’s plenty of culture, history, and natural wonders to explore.
The hottest weather
Hawaii (Average annual temperature 73.5ºF)
If you’re looking to escape to a warmer climate for your road trip, Hawaii is the best location with its average annual temperature of 73.5ºF. Thanks to it being so close to the equator, Hawaii enjoys consistently warm temperatures all year round.
The driest weather
Nevada (Average annual rainfall 10.2 inches)
When you’re exploring everything the road has to offer on your travels, you don’t want it spoiled by wet weather, and it can make driving to your next destination harder too. Nevada is the best state to avoid this, with only 10.2 inches of rainfall a year thanks to the Sierra Nevada mountains creating a rainshadow over the state.
Beginning with a list of all 50 US states, we analyzed each state on the following factors. We then gave each state a normalized score out of ten on each of the factors, before taking an average across each of these scores to reach our final overall score out of ten.
The most affordable car hire: The average cost of hiring a car for a single day in each state according to Kayak.
The most affordable fuel: The average cost of fuel per gallon in each state according to AAA Gas Prices.
The most affordable accommodation: The average cost of one weeknight in a hotel in each state according to Kayak.
The safest roads: The total number of road fatalities in each state in 2020 per 100,000 of the population according to The NHTSA.
The most attractions: The total number of attractions in each state per 100 miles of public highway according to Tripadvisor.
The hottest weather: The average annual temperature in Fahrenheit in each state in 2020 according to Extreme Weather Watch.
The driest weather: The average annual precipitation in inches in each state in 2020 according to Extreme Weather Watch.
Populations: The population of each state in 2021 according to The United States Census Bureau.
Road lengths: The total length in miles of public roads in each state in 2020 according to The U.S. Department of Transportation.
Currencies were converted on 12/13/2022 using Google Finance.
All data correct as of 12/13/2022.