Credit: Arkansas Dept. of Parks and Tourism (edited)
Even probably the most travelled Americans have a few gaps within the “where I’ve been” map, especially after we’re talking about missing states. It’s an enormous country on the market and clocking all 50 is a bucket list accomplishment. But which of them get passed over the most? We pulled data from each state’s tourism board to find out the 12 with the fewest variety of annual visitors, and then polled locals as to what we’re missing out on by not spending more time there.
More: Probably the most Beautiful Place in Each State
Credit: Flickr/Rennett Stowe
Annual visitors: 25.8 million
Why you must visit: Let’s start with the obvious: the chance to make endless Monica Lewinsky/cigar jokes as you stand in a replica of the Oval Office on the Clinton Presidential Library. After that, you can visit Bill’s boyhood home in Hope, or Johnny Cash’s in Dyess.
If Civil War reenactment is more your jam, Historic Helena on the Mississippi Delta was occupied by Union soldiers and was the location of an 1863 battle; it was also a safe haven for runaway slaves. Or, if you are more interested by civil rights than civil war (although they’re obviously connected), Little Rock Highschool was home to the primary public-school integration in 1957.
But since Arkansas is the Natural State, the largest reason to visit is the outdoors. Hot Springs National Park is without doubt one of the 20 most visited within the country and home to Bathhouse Row, where you may get your aromatherapy on in a natural hot spring. Past that, there’s America’s first national river, the Buffalo, where you possibly can whitewater raft through limestone bluffs, as well because the caverns at Devil’s Den and Blanchard Springs.
Annual visitors: 24.3 million
Why you should visit: You gotta figure that the 14 annual home football games played at Auburn and Alabama keep the Iron State out of the bottom 10 in terms of visitors. But SEC football and crazed fans aside, there are plenty of other reasons to visit.
Starting with the actual fact that you would be able to drink in two states at once at the Flora-Bama bar near Orange Beach. Or participate in its famous annual mullet toss (fish, not hair). Or, if you are not into throwing fish and/or drinking on the beach, you’ll be able to explore 35 miles of gorgeous coastline, most notably, Gulf Shores — it’s the prettiest place within the state and home to the annual Hangout Music Festival.
When it comes to history, there are landmark sites from the Civil Rights movement all across Alabama, including the Civil Rights Institute and the famous 16th St Baptist Church in Birmingham, and the National Voting Rights Museum in Selma. There’s also baseball history — the oldest stadium in America is Rickwood Field in Birmingham.
Finally, any idea where the most important space museum in America is? Cape Canaveral, Houston, Washington, DC? Nope… it’s in Huntsville! The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is the very best attraction in the state and home to the famous space camp.
Credit: Flickr/Nic McPhee
10. North Dakota
Annual visitors: 24 million
Why it is best to visit: While a lot of the visitors to North Dakota as of late are within the oil industry, 120 years ago the state had one essential guest: Theodore Roosevelt. And he loved his time on the badlands so much he: a) bought a ranch and moved there, and b) was inspired to grow our national park system by signing the Antiquities Act. Eventually, his property became part of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Today, North Dakota has 63 national wildlife refuges and 13 state parks, and offers visitors the possibility to see not only an albino buffalo, however the world’s largest buffalo on the whole — Dakota Thunder — on the National Buffalo Museum in Jamestown.
But buffalo aside, we know what you actually need to speak about: college hockey. Perhaps the one sport within the state that’s nationally relevant — unless you consider fracking a sport — the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux are among the top programs within the country. They usually play in perhaps essentially the most lavish arena within the college game. The marble-floored, leather-seated Ralph Engelstad Arena cost $104 million and is perhaps the most effective atmosphere in the sport on a college level.
Credit: Flickr/Kenneth Lu
Annual visitors: 22 million
Why you need to visit: Tupelo’s Neon Pig Cafe’s Smash burger straight-up won our greatest Burger in America tournament. But when ground-beef tourism isn’t your raison d’etre, there’s still plenty to do in the Magnolia State.
Let’s start with Elvis’ birthplace, it’s also in Tupelo. From there, you can walk up to 3 different music trails — through cotton fields, churches, train depots, and nightclubs — to learn concerning the roots of blues and country music. And eventually, Mississippi is also home to a few of the five driving trails on the Americana Music Triangle, a 1,500-mile highway route through five states with historical stops related to pretty much 1,000,000 forms of music from the region, including blues, jazz, country, rock & roll, R&B/soul, gospel, Southern gospel, Cajun/zydeco, and bluegrass.
If you cannot discuss Buddy Guy anymore, there are also 26 miles of pristine water and white sand beaches in Mississippi, without anywhere near the variety of tourists or tacky T-shirt shops you’d find in Florida. And, unlike the opposite beach towns on the Gulf, Biloxi and Gulfport have casinos. While you’re there, hit the Beau Rivage for the perfect nightlife in the state, or head to the Walter Anderson Art Museum in nearby Ocean Springs.
Credit: Flickr/Ken Lund
Annual visitors: 19.1 million
Why it is best to visit: “Sure,” you say. “The College World Series is likely to be the best multi-day event in sports. But they use aluminum bats and my alma mater barely even had an intramural softball team.” It is still worth hitting, unquestionably. But for reasons to go to Nebraska apart from college baseball or Warren Buffett, allow us to suggest…
Football. The redded-out Memorial Stadium in Lincoln has sold out every game since 1962 and, despite the program’s recent struggles (see ya, Bo!), the fans remain a few of the most intense and spirited in the sport. Also, unlike in most big-time stadiums, they’re polite to visitors.
When you’d prefer to take part in sports rather than watch them, Nebraska is considered one of the top destinations on the planet for quail and pheasant hunters; the annual One Box Hunt in Broken Bow draws celebrities and top hunters every October and is taken into account probably the most revered hunts within the country.
Finally, you cannot exit Nebraska with no visit to Chimney Rock or Scotts Bluff National Monument. Both are tall million-years-old stone monuments created when prairie winds carved away the natural rock.
Credit: Flickr/Martin de Lusenet
7. Rhode Island
Annual visitors: 19.2 million
Why it is best to visit: Quahog is not real, before you read any further. So your dreams of visiting Spooner St will have to be put on hold until some theme park decides to erect its own version — like Universal did with Springfield.
Peter Griffin aside, you should still visit Rhode Island. Not only are you able to venture back to a day when the 1% did cooler things with their money than making it rain by taking the cliff walk through Newport’s historic mansions, but during the summer you can ironically dress up like F. Scott Fitzgerald and tailgate on the weekly polo matches. Seriously. It is a scene.
Rhode Island also boasts 40 miles of coastline (it’s not called the Ocean State for nothing), and among the warmest water in New England. If you’re still hanging in Newport, Second Beach is your move for a day at the beach.
To round things out, you have got the Pawtucket Red Sox (or Pawsox) — a fun minor-league alternative to Fenway — 10 breweries and distilleries (remember, it is the smallest state), a burgeoning, underrated restaurant scene in Providence, and, oh yeah, Del’s Frozen Lemonade. Do not leave without trying a Del’s.
Which states are the 6 least-visited? And why must you absolutely visit them? Find out in the total story, at Thrillist.com!