Most and Least Expensive U.S. Destinations

AAA has done a yearly survey of the most and least expensive U.S. states for families. It says the estimates are for food and lodging, but I don’t know how Nevada shows up at #3 without gambling losses sneaking into the survey: hotel and meal deals there are some of the best in the country. Also, it seems the only way Delaware could be #10 is if the only reason families go there is to rent a beach house for a week.

Statistical oddities aside, it generally plays out as expected: Hawaii, New York, and D.C. are pricey. Places where there’s nothing to do but watch the corn grow or freeze your butt off are cheap. You can get around this “get what you pay for” aspect though by finding the value gems near the bottom.

Tennessee is in the bottom 10 for costs, but there are three truly great tourist towns in there: Nashville, Memphis, and Chattanooga. (Plus there’s Gatlinburg, if you’re into country kitsch and RV-ers). Next door is bottom 10 Kentucky, with great lakes, state parks, bourbon distilleries, and horses. The Ozark Mountains and lakes of Arkansas are beautiful and Alabama has some of the best bang for your buck golf courses in the world.

Take the family to New Jersey for a week and spend $2,177 on food and lodging. Take them to Kentucky for a week for $1,470. Hmmmmm…

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