10 Best States to Visit for an Adventure Vacation

Looking to add some excitement to your next vacation? A study by Westgate Branson Resorts analyzed nine key indicators that make a destination perfect for an adventurous getaway. These indicators include the number of hiking trails, national parks, nature reserves, and other factors that contribute to thrilling outdoor experiences. Here’s a breakdown of the top ten states in the U.S. for adventure vacations, based on their total scores.


Photo Credit: Jenn Coleman.

Kicking off our top ten is Texas, with a total score of 61.38 out of a possible 100. The study revealed Texas as a prime destination for adrenaline junkies, with the second-highest number of skydiving opportunities in America.


Photo Credit: Jenn Coleman.

Missouri claims the ninth position, with a total of 61.40 out of 100. From the scenic beauty of the Ozark Mountains to canoeing and kayaking in the state’s rivers, there is plenty to explore for outdoor enthusiasts. The state ranks high across the board, particularly for skydiving, ranking as the seventh state with the most skydiving opportunities.


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Claiming eighth place is Massachusetts. Most notably, Massachusetts ranks as the state with the sixth-highest number of wildlife areas nationwide and the seventh-highest number of nature reserves in the country, contributing to its final score of 61.99.


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Wisconsin ranks seventh, with a score of 64.16 out of a possible 100. The state offers a range of adventurous activities and scores highly across all metrics analyzed but most notably for the number of skydiving opportunities, placing fourth in this metric.


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The research revealed that Pennsylvania ranks as the sixth best state to visit for an exploration vacation. With a total index score of 64.76, Pennsylvania ranked highest in the nature reserves factor, with the fourth-highest number of nature reserves in the United States.

Home to diverse wildlife, outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy birdwatching, wildlife photography, and nature walks in places like the Pennsylvania Wilds region or Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.


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The study revealed that Ohio secures the fifth spot, with a total index score of 65.16 out of a possible 100. The state boasts high scores across the board, placing in the top five for factors such as the number of skydiving opportunities, number of wildlife areas and hiking trails available.

Most notably, Ohio places as the fifth most Instagrammable state for an adventure vacation. The state has a combined number of 147,794 hashtags for adventure-related hashtags, such as #OhioNature and #OhioWildlife.


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Following closely, Virginia received a total score of 65.45, making it the fourth ideal state for an action-packed vacation. Most notably, Virginia ranks second for the number of hiking trails in the state and has the fifth-highest number of nature reserves in the United States, with 164 reserves.

New York

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New York claimed the third spot. Beyond the busy streets of New York City, the state offers outdoor enthusiasts a number of opportunities, such as hiking in the Adirondack Mountains, kayaking in the Finger Lakes, and exploring the scenic Hudson Valley.

Despite not exhibiting notably strong performances in many metrics, New York excelled with a total score of 65.56.


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In second place is California, as the second-best state for a thrilling vacation this year, scoring 70.82. California stands as a haven for adventurers, boasting the highest number of national parks among all states, with nine. California offers a wide range of adventure activities including, surfing, skiing, hiking, camping, and exploring national parks like Yosemite and Joshua Tree.

California also ranked second for the number of TripAdvisor reviews of state activities that include adventurous keywords.


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Florida emerges as the prime choice for an adventurous vacation in the United States, according to the research. Florida took the top spot due to its impressive index score of 78.09 out of 100 and came out on top for a number of factors the study analyzed. For instance, the state ranked as the most Instagrammable state for an adventure vacation, boasting over 604,000 combined posts under hashtags such as #FloridaNature, #FloridaCamping and #FloridaHikes.

Additionally, Florida ranked number one for the TripAdvisor category studied, with the highest number of terms related to adventure and/or nature used in reviews for state activities on TripAdvisor, such as ‘hike’, ‘road trip’ and ‘wilderness’.

Concluding Best States to Visit for an Adventure Vacation

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Mark Waltrip, COO of Westgate Branson Resorts commented on the findings: “The United States is overflowing with fantastic adventure travel destinations. Whether you are drawn to hiking, mountain biking, climbing, camping, or other outdoor activities, there are plenty of beautiful spots to enjoy your favorite adventure.” “However, not all states offer the same level of adventure for outdoor enthusiasts, with some having an edge over others. This research provides valuable insights into the best states to visit this summer for those seeking an unforgettable experience in the great outdoors.”

“Interestingly, Missouri ranks among the top ten. Missouri is a destination of endless excitement, blending entertainment with thrilling outdoor adventures. Nestled in the heart of the mountains, Westgate Branson Woods Resort offers newly refurbished, expansive luxury villas with breathtaking views of the surrounding Ozark Mountains. Conveniently located near Branson’s vacation hotspots, Westgate Branson Woods places families at the center of the excitement, including renowned attractions like Silver Dollar City, Dolly Parton’s Stampede, and much more.” 

A big thank you to our friends at Westgate Branson Resorts for compiling this research and allowing us to publish it!