Even the most well-traveled RVer will show a few gaps on the “where I’ve been” map, especially in that wide windy stretch of America between the two coasts we often label “the middle.”
It’s a big country out there and clocking all 50 states is a bucket list accomplishment. But which states are getting passed over the most?
We pulled data from tourism boards across the country to determine which states are getting the least love from RVers and other visitors.
Annual visitors: 29.8 million
Why you should RV there: The Land of Enchantment boasts some ridiculously gorgeous desert ‘scapes. Ghost Ranch, the terrain made famous by Georgia O’Keefe, is full of crimson and gold cliffs and big blue sky. White Sands National Monument has a mind-boggling 275 square miles of gypsum sand dunes set in the shadow of the mountains. And we’d be remiss to leave out Carlsbad Caverns, a collection of over 100 caves and one of the state’s top attractions.
The cities are no slouches either. Santa Fe is one of America’s great art destinations, and not just for the turquoise, silver, and artist galleries in the town center. Santa Fe also has an awesome food scene, where meticulously-made Southwestern fare shines with ancient recipes and ingredients.
Annual visitors: 25.8 million
Why you should RV there: There are plenty of good reasons to visit the Iron State besides SEC football. Starting with the fact that you can participate in its famous annual mullet toss (fish, not hair). Or, if you’re not into throwing fish, you can explore 35 miles of gorgeous coastline, most notably, Gulf Shores.
In terms of 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. In Mobile, a home museum and a stadium complex honor baseball great Hank Aaron.
Finally, any idea where the largest space museum in America is? Cape Canaveral, Houston, Washington, DC? Nope… it’s in Huntsville! The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is a great attraction and home to the famous space camp.
Annual visitors: 24.1 million
Why you should RV there: Venture back to a day when the 1 percent did way cooler things with their money by taking the cliff walk through Newport’s historic mansions.
Rhode Island also boasts 40 miles of coastline (it’s not called the Ocean State for nothing), and some of the warmest water in New England. If you’re still hanging in Newport, Second Beach is your move for a day at the beach.
Annual visitors: 23 million
Why you should RV there: Let’s start with Elvis’ birthplace, it’s in Tupelo. From there, you can walk up to three different music trails—through cotton fields, churches, train depots, and nightclubs—to learn about the roots of blues and country music. And finally, Mississippi is also home to three 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 a million types of music from the region, including blues, jazz, country, rock & roll, R&B/soul, gospel, Southern gospel, Cajun/zydeco, and bluegrass.
There are also 26 miles of pristine water and white sand beaches in Mississippi, without anywhere near the number of tourists or tacky T-shirt shops you’d find in Florida. And, unlike the other beach towns on the Gulf, Biloxi and Gulfport have casinos. And don’t overlook funky Bay St. Louis. While you’re there, hit Buccaneer State Park for great camping near the Gulf in nearby Waveland.
“My favorite thing is to go where I have never been,” wrote photographer Diane Arbus, and so it is with us.