16 Must-Visit States That Every American Loves to Explore

Americans have favorite spots when it comes to unwinding and exploring. From the sunny beaches of Florida to the rugged mountains of Colorado, these 16 states have captured the hearts of travelers looking for leisure and adventure. Whether you’re planning a vacation or scouting locations for potential retreats, these are the 16 states that Americans like to visit the most for leisure.

1. Florida: Sunshine and Theme Parks Galore

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Florida tops the list as the go-to destination for countless Americans seeking fun under the sun. Renowned for its warm weather and iconic attractions such as Disney World and Miami Beach, Florida is a haven for family vacations. Last year alone, the state welcomed over 137 million visitors who indulged in its mix of exhilarating theme parks and relaxing coastal spots. This visitor influx not only boosts Florida’s economy but also supports millions of jobs, making it a powerhouse in tourism. An impressive 61% of people surveyed said they visited Florida in the past year, underscoring its popularity.

2. New York: The City That Never Sleeps

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New York is a state of contrasts, offering everything from the bustling streets of Manhattan to the tranquil Finger Lakes. Famous for landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and its vibrant cityscape, New York captures the essence of both urban thrill and the peaceful outdoors. Last year, 55% of Americans surveyed explored New York, drawn by its diverse attractions and the unique blend of experiences it offers. Whether it’s the high energy of the city or the serene retreats upstate, New York remains a favorite for a wide range of travelers.

3. California: Adventures from Coast to Mountains

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California’s stunning diversity, from its scenic coastlines to majestic national parks, places it firmly as a top U.S. destination. Home to Hollywood, the Golden Gate Bridge, and an array of outdoor adventures, it’s a state that promises something for everyone. Last year, tourism in California generated a staggering $134.4 billion, with more than half of U.S. adults (54%) visiting.

4. Texas: The Heart of the South

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Texas is an undeniably fascinating mix of vibrant cities and sprawling landscapes. It’s known for its big skies and even bigger parks. You’ll find four of America’s largest cities in Texas, as well as truly impressive national parks and preserves, including Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains. Known for its distinctive culture, delicious cuisine, and warm hospitality, it’s a state that embodies the spirit of the American South. In 2022, tourism infused the Texan economy with over $91 billion, making it a favorite among 52% of American travelers.

5. Pennsylvania: History and Chocolate

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Home to the Liberty Bell and Hershey’s Chocolate, Pennsylvania marries historical significance with sweet indulgence. Its beautiful countryside and rich American heritage make it a fascinating destination for travelers. Last year, Pennsylvania welcomed a significant portion of U.S. tourists, with 48% of respondents saying they’d visited.

6. Georgia: Southern Charm and Natural Beauty

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Georgia’s lush landscapes and southern hospitality make it a standout destination. From the tranquil Blue Ridge Mountains to the historic streets of Savannah, it’s unsurprising Georgia attracted 46% of U.S. tourists.

7. Illinois: Urban Vibes and Natural Wonders

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Illinois, with Chicago at its heart, is a state of architectural marvels and diverse attractions. This popular state has a rich history, having been home to 4 US presidents. Enjoy the retro All-American flavor of Illinois’ stretch of the world-famous Route 66, explore the urban wonders of CHicago, or play outdoors along the great mississippi. Tourism plays a crucial role in Illinois’ economy, with millions of visitors exploring its wonders each year. 43% of US leisure travelers said they’d been to Illinois last year.

8. Virginia: Where History Meets Nature

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Virginia’s historical landmarks and natural beauty make it an unforgettable destination. From the shores of the Chesapeake Bay to the Appalachian Mountains, there’s history, modern wonders, and outdoor adventures for everyone. It’s also home to Colonial Williamsburg, a popular historical attraction, as well as the Pentagon. And it’s home to 22 national parks, including Blue Ridge Parkway and Shenandoah. 42% of survey respondents reported visiting Virginia.

9. North Carolina: From Mountains to Sea

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North Carolina’s diverse landscape, from the Great Smoky Mountains to its charming coastal towns, offers a wide range of experiences. Its natural beauty and vibrant cities attract 42% of US leisure travelers, so it’s a top choice for folks seeking both adventure and relaxation.

10. Arizona: Desert Landscapes and Cultural Riches

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Arizona’s stunning desert vistas and rich Native American heritage make it a unique travel destination. The Grand Canyon, Sedona’s red rocks, and the vibrant city life offer a blend of natural wonder and cultural exploration. Horseshoe Bend, Devil’s Bridge, Sedona’s gorgeous hiking trials. The list goes on. Last year, Arizona attracted 41% of US leisure travelers. .

11. Tennessee: Music, Mountains, and More

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Tennessee’s rich musical heritage and natural attractions make it a must-visit state. From the vibrant streets of Nashville to the peaceful Smoky Mountains, it offers a mix of entertainment and outdoor activities. Plus, of course, it’s home to Dollywood! Tennessee’s charm and diversity have made it a popular destination, with 40% of survey respondents saying they’d visited in the last year.

12. New Jersey: Shorelines and Cityscapes

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New Jersey, nestled between the bustling cities of New York and Philadelphia, has so much to offer, from the iconic Jersey Shore to the serene beauty of the Pine Barrens. Last year, New Jersey captivated 40% of U.S. tourists, who came seeking its famous boardwalks, diverse culinary scene, and historic sites. Whether it’s exploring the vibrant streets of Hoboken or soaking up the sun in Cape May, New Jersey provides a unique East Coast adventure.

13. Nevada: Entertainment and Natural Splendor

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Nevada, known worldwide for the glittering lights of Las Vegas, offers much more than just casinos and shows. Beyond its entertainment capital, the state is home to stunning natural wonders like the Red Rock Canyon and Lake Tahoe. Nevada’s blend of thrilling nightlife and outdoor adventures makes it a magnet for 39% of American travelers. From the neon-lit Strip to the serene Nevada desert, the state promises unforgettable experiences for every type of traveler.

14. Ohio: Heartland Charm and Innovation

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Ohio, the heart of the American Midwest, is a state of innovation, natural beauty, and rich history. From the roller coaster capital of the world, Cedar Point, to the tranquil Hocking Hills, Ohio offers a diverse range of attractions. Last year, 39% of U.S. visitors discovered Ohio’s vibrant cities, like Cleveland and Cincinnati, and its picturesque Amish Country. Whether it’s exploring world-class museums, attending a sports event, or enjoying the great outdoors, Ohio provides a quintessentially American experience.

15. South Carolina: Southern Hospitality and Coastal Beauty

South Carolina
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South Carolina, with its warm climate, welcoming atmosphere, and rich cultural heritage, is a jewel of the South. From the historic charm of Charleston to the sun-drenched beaches of Myrtle Beach, the state offers a blend of relaxation and exploration. Last year, 38% of American tourists were drawn to South Carolina’s coastal treasures, lush gardens, and notable Civil War sites. Known for its delectable cuisine and gracious hospitality, South Carolina promises a truly southern experience amidst breathtaking landscapes.

16. Maryland: Maritime Heritage and Scenic Byways

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Maryland, known as “America in Miniature,” offers a diverse landscape that ranges from sandy dunes in the east to forested mountains in the west. With its significant maritime history, the state is a haven for those interested in exploring the Chesapeake Bay, its iconic crab cuisine, and historic waterfront towns like Annapolis, the sailing capital of America. Last year, Maryland drew in 38% of U.S. tourists, attracted by its rich history, vibrant cultural scenes in Baltimore, and the serene Appalachian Trail. Whether it’s enjoying a seafood feast, tracing the steps of America’s founding fathers, or experiencing the beauty of its national parks, Maryland provides experiences that celebrate the heart and soul of the East Coast.


American Wonders: Exploring Iconic Landmarks in All 50 States

New York
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America is a great nation filled with iconic landmarks, that let you explore history, culture, music, sports, nature, and art. Each state has its own iconic landmarks and special places that everyone can and should enjoy. Take a look at out top picks in every state. What are your favorite American landmarks?

Best Regions in the U.S. to Escape to When Society Collapses

Alaska skyline
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Choosing a refuge in the event of societal collapse involves weighing the pros and cons of each location against your personal preparedness goals and abilities. Whether you’re drawn to the solitude of the desert or the protective heights of the mountains, the key is finding a place that offers safety and the opportunity for growth and renewal.

12 Money Mistakes That Can Leave You Vulnerable in a Crisis

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In times of uncertainty, financial stability is more crucial than ever. While prepping for physical emergencies is vital, don’t overlook financial prepping. Avoiding these common money mistakes can help make sure you’re in a stronger position to weather any storm.

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Katy Willis is a writer, lifelong homesteader, and master herbalist, master gardener, and canine nutritionist. Katy is a preparedness expert and modern homesteader practicing everyday preparedness, sustainability, and a holistic lifestyle.

She knows how important it is to be prepared for whatever life throws at you, because you just never know what's coming. And preparedness helps you give your family the best chance to thrive in any situation.

Katy is passionate about living naturally, growing food, keeping livestock, foraging, and making and using herbal remedies. Katy is an experienced herbalist and a member of the CMA (Complementary Medical Association).

Her preparedness skills go beyond just being "ready", she's ready to survive the initial disaster, and thrive afterward, too. She grows 100% organic food on roughly 15 acres and raises goats, chickens, and ducks. She also lovingly tends her orchard, where she grows many different fruit trees. And, because she likes to know exactly what she's feeding her family, she's a seasoned from-scratch cook and gluten-free baker.

Katy teaches foraging and environmental education classes, too, including self-sufficient living, modern homesteading, seed saving, and organic vegetable gardening.

Katy helps others learn forgotten skills, including basic survival skills and self-reliance.

She's been published on sites such as MSN, Angi, Home Advisor, Family Handyman, Wealth of Geeks, Readers Digest, and more.

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