Which states have Americans visited, and which are their favorites?

Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
September 22, 2022, 2:08 PM GMT+0

Some people have a bucket list that includes visiting all 50 states; others are content to stay where they are. A recent YouGov poll explores how many and which states Americans have visited, as well as which states they designate as their favorite and least favorite. From among the 50 states and Washington D.C., Americans on average have been to 17. While one in 10 Americans (11%) say they've never left the state they live in, fewer than 2% say they've visited at least 50 of the 51 states and D.C.

Which states are Americans most likely to have visited? Given that we're counting where people live now, and that more populous states generally have more people, places, and businesses to visit, it makes sense that the top five most visited states are also the most populated. However, these states' ranking by population isn't the same as their ranking by how many have visited them. The top two most visited states, Florida and New York, are surpassed in terms of population by the next two on the list (California and Texas), suggesting that they may be more popular tourist or business destinations than places to live.

The top five most visited states are:

  • Florida (visited by 61% of Americans)
  • New York (55%)
  • California (54%)
  • Texas (52%)
  • Pennsylvania (48%)

The least visited states, on the other hand, are not necessarily those with the fewest residents. What they do share in common is being in the Western or Midwestern parts of the country. Alaska, the third least populated state, tops the list, having only been visited by 13% of Americans. Alaska is followed by North Dakota, Idaho, Montana, and Nebraska. Washington D.C., which if counted as a state would rank as the third least populated, is among the most visited destinations, with 49% of Americans saying they've been to the nation's capital.

The five states visited by the smallest share of Americans are:

  • Alaska (visited by 13% of Americans)
  • North Dakota (15%)
  • Idaho (19%)
  • Montana (19%)
  • Nebraska (19%)

The survey also asked people to choose their favorite and least favorite state from among those they've been to. Only the 80% of Americans who had been to at least two states were asked this question, and Washington, D.C., wasn't included in this assessment of favorite states. While the four most populous states all are included among the five favorite states and the five least favorite states, their order in each list does vary. Each top-five list included one state that wasn't among the most populous states. Hawaii landed a spot in the five favorites despite being one of the states visited by the smallest share of Americans; fewer than 1% named it their least favorite. New Jersey was one of the five least favorites while just 1% named it their favorite state.

Top five favorite states among those who have visited:

  • Florida (9% of Americans who have been to at least two of the states named it as their favorite state they had been to)
  • California (8%)
  • Hawaii (7%)
  • New York (5%)
  • Texas (5%)

The states most likely to rank as a person's least favorite are:

  • California (7% of Americans who have been to at least two of the states named it as their least favorite state they had been to)
  • Texas (6%)
  • Florida (5%)
  • New York (5%)
  • New Jersey (3%)

— Carl Bialik and Linley Sanders contributed to this article

Methodology: This U.S. News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,000 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between July 25 - 27, 2022. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the 2018 American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as news interest and 2020 Presidential votes (or non-votes). Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3% for the entire sample.

Image: Adobe Stock (Konstantin Yuganov)

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