Most Fun States in America
We all define “fun” a bit differently. And hopefully the place in which we live caters to our personal ideas of entertainment. But that’s not always the case, which may drive people to live somewhere new.
There are certain states where fun is not just an option but also a way of life. These states offer such a variety of activities that everyone will be able to find something that excites them.
With pure enjoyment in mind, WalletHub compared the 50 states across 26 key indicators of a jolly good time that won’t break the bank. They range from movie costs to accessibility of national parks to casinos per capita. Scroll down for the winners, money-saving advice from a panel of experts and a full description of our methodology.
For a more local breakdown of the fun scene, check out WalletHub’s Most Fun Cities in America ranking.
Most Fun States to Visit in America
‘Entertainment & Recreation’ Rank
Selling your state as a “fun place” can be tough without the right strategy. For advice and insight into the making of a fun state, we asked a panel of experts to share their thoughts on the following key questions:
- Are state-sponsored campaigns to promote tourism successful in bringing new visitors to the state?
- Should states provide tax incentives to attract professional sports teams and other entertainment draws?
- Based on the experiences of Colorado and Washington, what are the pros and cons of states legalizing marijuana in terms of tourism?
In order to determine the most fun states in America, WalletHub compared the 50 states across two key categories, “Entertainment & Recreation” and “Nightlife.”
We evaluated those categories using 26 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 indicating the greatest number and variety of fun and cost-effective options.
We then determined each state’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.
Data for metrics marked with an asterisk (*) were available at only the city level, and in such cases we calculated a weighted average based on the size of the city population and we used the square root of the population to calculate the population size in order to avoid overcompensating for minor differences across cities. For metrics marked with two asterisks (**), we used the square root of the population to calculate the population size in order to avoid overcompensating for minor differences across states.
Entertainment & Recreation - Total Points: 80
- Number of Attractions*: Quadruple Weight (~11.23 Points)
- Variety of Arts, Entertainment & Recreation Establishments: Quadruple Weight (~11.23 Points)
- Ideal Weather*: Quadruple Weight (~11.23 Points)
Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s Cities with the Best & Worst Weather ranking.
- Restaurants per Capita**: Double Weight (~5.61 Points)
- Amusement Parks per Capita**: Full Weight (~2.81 Points)
- Golf Courses & Country Clubs per Capita**: Half Weight (~1.40 Points)
- Movie Theaters per Capita**: Half Weight (~1.40 Points)
- Arcades per Capita**: Half Weight (~1.40 Points)
- Fitness Centers per Capita**: Full Weight (~2.81 Points)
- Skiing Facilities per Capita**: Half Weight (~1.40 Points)
- Marinas per Capita**: Half Weight (~1.40 Points)
- Shoreline Mileage: Full Weight (~2.81 Points)
Note: Shoreline Mileage of the outer coast includes offshore islands, sounds, bays, rivers, and creeks to the head of tidewater or to a point where tidal waters narrow to a width of 100 feet. For the Great Lakes, shoreline mileage was measured in 1970 by the International Coordinating Committee on Great Lakes Basic Hydraulic and Hydrologic Data and cross-referenced with U.S. Lake Survey measurements for each state.
- Beach Quality: Full Weight (~2.81 Points)
Note: This metrics includes the beach access, water quality and the status of surfing areas.
- Access to Scenic Byways: Full Weight (~2.81 Points)
Note: This metrics includes both the Number of Scenic Byways and the Length of Scenic Byways.
- State Fairs & Events per Capita**: Full Weight (~2.81 Points)
- Access to National Parks: Full Weight (~2.81 Points)
Note: This metrics includes both the number and the gross area of national parks per capita.
- Personal Spending on Recreation Services per Capita: Double Weight (~5.61 Points)
- State & Local Direct General Expenditures on Parks & Recreation per Capita: Triple Weight (~8.42 Points)
Nightlife - Total Points: 20
- Average Beer & Wine Price*: Full Weight (~2.22 Points)
- Movie Costs*: Full Weight (~2.22 Points)
- Nightlife Options per Capita**: Double Weight (~4.44 Points)
- “Access to Bars” Grade*: Full Weight (~2.22 Points)
Note: This grade is a combination of bars per capita and bars per square mile, a measure of both availability (per capita) and proximity (per square mile).
- Time of Last Call: Full Weight (~2.22 Points)
- Music Festivals per Capita**: Full Weight (~2.22 Points)
- Performing-Arts Theaters per Capita**: Full Weight (~2.22 Points)
- Casinos per Capita**: Full Weight (~2.22 Points)
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Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Economic Analysis, National Park Service, Council for Community and Economic Research, American Gaming Association, TripAdvisor, Beachapedia, America's Scenic Byways, NOAA Office for Coastal Management, Group Nine Media, CarnivalWarehouse.com, Music Festival Wizard and WalletHub research.
Image: Valentsova / Shutterstock.com
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