The Least Popular States to Visit in the U.S. (and Why You Should Travel There)

The Least Popular States to Visit in the U.S. (and Why You Should Travel There)
Photo: ChristineMinato, Shutterstock

If you’re American, it’s not uncommon for your travel bucket list to include visiting all fifty states. You’ve probably gotten some of the big ones, like New York, California, and Florida, out of the way already — that’s because these states have obvious attractions. No one wonders if there are any fun activities to do in the Big Apple or along the California coast. The daunting aspect of visiting all fifty states isn’t visiting the heavy hitters; it’s figuring out what to do in the states that, except for a brief period in fifth grade, you don’t even know the capitals of.

These states tend to be underrepresented in media and frequently not focused on in school curriculum. But that doesn’t make them any less worthy of your tourism. In fact, they have quite a bit to offer. Here are the five least-visited states in the country, and two reasons to go and check each of them out.

Vermont

The obvious reason to visit

The skiing. Skiing accounts for a large portion of Vermont’s tourism in any given year, and when you go to visit, you’ll see why. Vermont is littered with beautiful mountains up and down the state. The state’s flagship skiing town, Stowe, is nicknamed the “ski capital of the east.” What if you’re a skiing appreciator but your actual skiing days are behind you? Fret not, as Stowe is also the home to the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum.

The less obvious reason to visit

The quarries. If skiing’s not your thing, check out Vermont in the summertime. An interesting characteristic of Vermont is it’s covered in quarries, both active and inactive, and all are a sight to behold. You can take tours of active quarries like the Rock of Ages, or go swimming or cliff-jumping in local quarries for a quick and cheap thrill. Just be careful — these quarries are often swim-at-your-own-risk.

Montana

The obvious reason to visit

Big Sky. Often considered a crown jewel of Montana, Big Sky is among their most prominent attractions because of its breathtaking landscapes and tourism infrastructure. Activities include hiking, whitewater rafting, and wildlife viewing. Once you factor in a vibrant art and restaurant scene, Big Sky becomes a no-brainer for anyone looking to visit the Treasure State.  

The less obvious reason to visit

The Montana Vortex. The Montana Vortex is described as a “genuine quantum or gravitational anomaly that defies the laws of physics and nature.” I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a genuine quantum or gravitational anomaly in my life, so the prospect of visiting one piques my interest. The sensation has been labelled as “hard to describe” but in essence throws off your inner balance, as well as creates optical illusions, in a truly mind-boggling way.

Wyoming

The obvious reason to visit

Yellowstone National Park. Telling someone to visiting Wyoming to check out Yellowstone National Park is like telling someone visiting Paris to check out a little place called “The Louvre” — it’s like uh, yeah, we know. But if it’s so obvious, why haven’t you been yet? Hmm? Check out Yellowstone, get a picture in front of Old Faithful, and strike Wyoming off of your bucket list.

The less obvious reason to visit

The Smith Mansion: The Smith Mansion is a collection of wooden terraces and staircases making an amalgamation of a house that looks like it’s straight out of a Stephen King novel. The abandoned log house has become a breeding ground for tales after the owner died during a fall while working on the home in 1992. This structure is worth checking out if you already find yourself on the Buffalo Bill Cody Scenic Byway.

Delaware

The obvious reason to visit

The beaches. If there’s one thing you know about Delaware, it’s that it’s the home of President Joe Biden. But if there’s two things you know about Delaware, it’s that it’s the home to some of the nicest beaches on the East Coast. Between Rehoboth Beach and Lewes, visitors can take in warm waters, whale-watching tours, and even the opportunity to do some tax-free beach shopping.

The less obvious reason to visit

Roosevelt Inlet Shipwreck. I was really excited to share with you the Delaware tradition of the Punkin Chuckin festival, so imagine my disappointment when I learned it moved to North Carolina because of friendlier insurance liability laws. But I’m equally excited to share with you the Roosevelt Inlet Shipwreck. Dating back from the American Revolution, this shipwreck wasn’t uncovered until 2006. Offering a unique look at the Delaware coast, artifacts from the shipwreck are still being found to this day.

Alaska

The obvious reason to visit

Polar bear viewings. Did you know Alaska is the only U.S. state that is home to polar bears in the wild? If you’re willing to pay a pretty penny, you can even see one up close. August to October is what they consider “polar bear viewing season” so go ahead and finally book that late summer trip to Alaska you’ve always been talking about and hit two bucket list birds with one stone.

The less obvious reason to visit

Glacier cruises. If seeing a large chunk of ice is on your bucket list, but you’re still not ready to forgive icebergs for what they did to the Titanic, glaciers might be the way to go. These Alaskan cruise options offer the opportunity to see these land masses up close and personal — something you’d never get to see in Times Square or Disney World.

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