Top 10 states for summer road trips

Time to hit the roads—but where to?

Welcome to Minnesota sign at Grand Portage, Minnesota
Credit: Explore Minnesota

It's summertime, and for a lot of Americans that means it's time to gear up for an exciting road trip. There is nothing more relaxing than hitting the open road with the music cranked up and the GPS on to help steer you to your final destination. That's why 8 out of 10 leisure trips in the U.S. each year are driving excursions, according to a 2012 study by the U.S. Travel Association. The good news is that gas prices have leveled off—though they're still their highest in six years, according to AAA.

Since planning such a vacation means sifting through endless possibilities, we turned to social network WalletHub, which recently studied road trip costs by assessing 21 metrics—including accommodations, weather conditions and number of attractions—in all 50 states to determine a pecking order of best and worst picks for motoring holidays. Always apt to focus on the positive, we share WalletHub's top 10 Best States for Summer Road Trips.

Pictured: Welcome to Minnesota sign at Grand Portage, Minnesota

—By Kenneth Kiesnoski, special to CNBC.com
Posted 19 July 2014

10. Colorado

A butte along the Unaweep-Tabeguache Scenic and Historic Byway, Colorado
Credit: Denise Chambers/Miles

That the Centennial State—famous for its Rocky Mountains highs—made the top 10 in our list is no surprise. In fact, the highest ranking this scenery-laden state received was in the Fun and Scenic Attractions category, where it came in a respectable 13th. Visit Colorado Tourism.

WalletHub rankings (out of 50)
Driving and accommodations costs: 22
Traffic conditions and safety: 21
Weather conditions: 17
Fun and scenic attractions: 13

Pictured: Unaweep-Tabeguache Scenic and Historic Byway, Colorado

9. Ohio

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad train, northern Ohio
Office of Tourism Ohio/Discoverohio.com

The Buckeye State comes in at No. 9, thanks to a decent showing in the Fun and Scenic Attractions category, where it placed seventh. It's also above average in driver-friendliness (at least once you're on the road). Visit the Ohio Division of Travel and Tourism.

WalletHub rankings (out of 50)
Driving and accommodations costs: 35
Traffic conditions and safety: 17
Weather conditions: 33
Fun and scenic attractions: 7

Pictured: Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad train, northern Ohio

8. California

In California, historical Route 66 runs from coastal Santa Monica to Needles, in the Mojave Desert.
Credit: Visit California

The only surprise about California placing in the top 10 is that it didn't rank even higher. But a poor Driving and Accommodations Costs showing and a middle-of-the-road traffic ranking offset very good weather (5) and fun-and-sun (3) ratings. For more, go to Visit California.

WalletHub rankings (out of 50)
Driving and accommodations costs: 48
Traffic conditions and safety: 22
Weather conditions: 5
Fun and scenic attractions: 3

Pictured: Historic Route 66

7. New York

The George Washington Bridge, connecting New York and New Jersey, is the world’s busiest span.
Credit: NYC & Company/Alex Lopez

The Empire State places well when it comes to fun and attractions, as well as traffic safety. Not surprisingly, it's an expensive place to motor, and the weather is so-so. Still, many would still say, "I (Heart) NY."

WalletHub rankings (out of 50)
Driving and accommodations costs: 43
Traffic conditions and safety: 11
Weather conditions: 21
Fun and scenic attractions: 5

Pictured: George Washington Bridge in upper Manhattan

6. Nevada

Hot August Nights in Reno, Nevada, is the largest classic car and nostalgia event in the U.S.
Credit: VisitRenoTahoe.com

Nevada is in two respects the mirror of New York, with roughly similar costs and appeal but better weather and slightly worse traffic safety. From Las Vegas to Reno, a Nevada road trip is a good bet. Visit the Nevada Commission on Tourism.

WalletHub rankings (out of 50)
Driving and accommodations costs: 34
Traffic conditions and safety: 19
Weather conditions: 11
Fun and scenic attractions: 6

Pictured: Hot August Nights classic-car event, Reno

5. Washington

A swinging bridge crosses the Spokane River in eastern Washington.
Credit: Ben Tobin/Visit Spokane

The Evergreen State is No. 1 in the nation for fun and scenery, WalletHub found. But high costs and that famous Pacific Northwest fog and rain bumped it down a couple of notches. For info on motoring from Spokane to Seattle, visit Experiencewa.com.

WalletHub rankings (out of 50)
Driving and accommodations costs: 45
Traffic conditions and safety: 10
Weather conditions: 19
Fun and scenic attractions: 1

Pictured: Swinging bridge across Spokane River in eastern Washington

4. Utah

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
Credit: Utah Office of Tourism/Steve Greenwood

About average in terms of car and hotel costs, Utah is ahead of the pack in fun and scenery, weather and—in particular—traffic safety. For a fender bender–free holiday, make a beeline for the Beehive State. More information is available at the Utah Office of Tourism.

WalletHub rankings (out of 50)
Driving and accommodations costs: 23
Traffic conditions and safety: 4
Weather conditions: 8
Fun and scenic attractions: 19

Pictured: Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

3. Minnesota

Cap: Minnesota’s popular North Shore Scenic Byway, an “All-American Road” located along Lake Superior.
Credit: Explore Minnesota

The northerly Land of 10,000 Lakes made it into the top three, with an excellent Traffic Safety and Conditions showing and a surprisingly (perhaps only for non-Minnesotans) high placement for weather. For more on the closest thing to Scandinavia we've got in the U.S., click on ExploreMinnesota.com.

WalletHub rankings (out of 50)
Driving and accommodations costs: 29
Traffic conditions and safety: 3
Weather conditions: 10
Fun and scenic attractions: 16

Pictured: North Shore Scenic Byway, along Lake Superior

2. Idaho

Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway, Idaho
Idaho Tourism

With some of the nation's widest wide-open spaces and its second-best weather and traffic safety conditions, Idaho is a motorist mecca—and first runner-up in the race for Best Summer Road Trips this year. To map out your vacation on wheels, go to VisitIdaho.org.

WalletHub rankings (out of 50)
Driving and accommodations costs: 10
Traffic conditions and safety: 2
Weather conditions: 2
Fun and scenic attractions: 22

Pictured: Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway, Idaho

1. Oregon

Source: Janis Miglavs | Travel Portland

Drumroll, please. The Beaver State tops the summer road trip list, thanks to high scores in fun and scenic attractions (2nd place) and traffic conditions and safety (5). Less expensive and sunnier than trendy Washington to its north, Oregon is WalletHub's top pick for holidays on the highways. Fill up the tank and trunk and hit the road for Portland, pronto. See Traveloregon.com for more.

WalletHub rankings (out of 50)
Driving and accommodations costs: 33
Traffic conditions and safety: 5
Weather conditions: 12
Fun and scenic attractions: 2

Pictured: Washington County Winery Loop, Oregon

Click for WalletHub's full list of all 50 states.

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