10 "Worst States" in America to Visit, According to Science

States were ranked based on culture to natural wonders, urban delights and more.

The most-preferred vacation destinations in the U.S. are essentially unchallenged—California, New York, and Florida surface at the top of mind for their sheer volume of attractions (and, in two cases, great weather). But if you were to blindly throw a dart at a map of the U.S. to pick your next travel stop, where should you hope it won't land?  The Telegraph recently ranked all 50 American states by 39 separate factors in four categories (nature, culture, experiences, and luxuries). The states were measured "on differentials as varied as, on one hand, their respective tallies of five-star hotels, museums, and top-ranked restaurants; on the other, their highest mountains, number of national parks, range of dark-sky areas (or lack thereof), and tallest waterfalls," the news outlet said. Other considered factors included population density, average temperature, air quality, annual rainfall, crime rate, and cost of living. From this, the paper assigned an overall point value, with California (1171), Florida (931), and New York (871) coming in at the top. And after all that data analysis, here's what came out the other end: The 10 worst states in the U.S. to visit. We list them here in order, with the very "worst" coming last.

10
Montana

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Total points: 463

Big Sky country ranked high for its nature (159 points in that category put it ahead of #12 Georgia and close to #8 destination Massachusetts), but rock-bottom marks for culture and luxuries pulled the state to the bottom 10 in terms of overall appeal.

9
Mississippi

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Total points: 444

A so-so rating for nature combined with low marks for culture (behind Kansas and Alaska) and luxuries secured the Magnolia State a spot in the bottom 10.

8
Kentucky

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Total points: 441

Kentucky's culture score (59 points) put it ahead of top-10 finisher Utah (which managed only 45). What brought the state down? An anemic score for luxuries (28 points; top scorer California got 184) and apathetic reader-poll results (only 20 points, compared to Florida's 100).

7
Kansas

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Total points: 434

The middle of the country doesn't have much to see, according to the news outlet's rankings, which include a bottom-five finish for both luxuries and nature.

6
Arkansas

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Total points: 409

The Natural State didn't live up to its advertising, finishing in the bottom 10 for nature in the Telegraph's poll. It just couldn't compete with category winners in forest percentage (Maine, 89%), most top-ranked beaches (Hawaii and Florida, with 10 each), and most water (Michigan, 41%).

5
West Virginia

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Total points: 407

West Virginia actually ranked in the middle of the pack among U.S. states for culture and luxuries (at #30, it had triple the score of Wyoming and Kansas), but a meh overall experience score and poor reader poll feedback placed it in the bottom five overall.

4
Delaware

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Total points: 399

Among the 50 states, Delaware ranked dead last in luxuries—earning only one point. Low scores across the board, including in culture and nature, contributed to its bottom-four finish.

3
South Dakota

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Total points: 392

South Dakota ranked last among all 50 states for culture (with 8 points compared to #1 California's 242), and a meager 7 points for luxuries (compared to New York's 152) dragged it to #48 overall in terms of traveler desirability.

2
Iowa

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Total points: 383

While Iowa's culture ranking (49 points) was good enough to place it in the middle of the pack, its low scores for nature (dead last), luxuries (bottom five), and the unwillingness of readers to vouch for it in a public poll pulled it down to next-to-last overall.

1
North Dakota

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Total points: 371

Judged by its caliber of nature, culture, experiences, and luxuries, North Dakota came in dead last among American states. But the Telegraph defended it as having certain appeals. "There are several obvious reasons why North Dakota was always likely to finish last in this study—it is land-locked; it has no major-league sports teams; its biggest city, Fargo, is better known as the title of an Oscar-winning 1996 film than as an oasis of fine dining," said the news outlet. "And yet, it can still be considered a wholly worthwhile travel destination—particularly if your favorite version of America is the one of broad horizons and scant noise pollution."

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