Special Report

The Most and Least Fun States in America

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Just about everyone is likely to agree that fun has been in short supply over the past year-and-a-half. But now it’s time to enjoy ourselves again.

As America looks to put the pandemic in the rearview mirror, bars, restaurants, and theatres are reopening and returning to normal capacity. People are taking to the roads and airways in droves, we’re working out in gyms again instead of in front of the TV, and national parks and resorts are filling up. (We won’t be alone in the most popular recreation areas in the U.S.)

We’re also moving. For some at least, pandemic-induced introspection has led to the conclusion that it is time to relocate to new surroundings in search of better work-life balance and a change of scenery. Flexible work arrangements that may become permanent have offered newfound freedom, and time at home has spurred others to consider a career change.

Whether it’s for a getaway or to start a new life, where are the best places to go? To put it another way, since we’re probably all ready to have a good time when we can, in what states are we likely to enjoy ourselves the most?

In an attempt to answer that question, 24/7 Tempo has ranked all 50 states in terms of where you’re likely to have the most (and least) fun. The ranking is based on information compiled by WalletHub, a credit advice site owned by Evolution Finance, Inc. 

The site’s study was based on an index calculated from 26 different metrics covering the categories of Nightlife (including number of music festivals, performing arts venues, and casinos per capita and average prices of beer, wine, and movies) and Entertainment and Recreation — ranging from number of restaurants, fitness centers, marinas, and amusement parks per capita to access to scenic byways and beach quality. (For other measures of states’ qualities, see our ranking of the best and worst states to live in).

Click here to see the most and least fun states in America.

Another important measure is how committed each state seems to be to the support and improvement of parks and recreation facilities. The amount each one spends annually on these things comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Annual Survey of State and Local Finances for 2018, the most recent year for which data was available when this story was completed.

Source: benedek / Getty Images

50. West Virginia
> Total score: 14.67
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 2nd worst
> Nightlife rank: 2nd worst
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $224.8 million — 11th lowest

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Source: onasill / Flickr

49. Mississippi
> Total score: 14.82
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: the worst
> Nightlife rank: 5th worst
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $242.1 million — 12th lowest

Source: mdgmorris / Getty Images

48. Delaware
> Total score: 15.87
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 3rd worst
> Nightlife rank: the worst
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $76.3 million — 2nd lowest

Source: BlazenImages / Getty Images

47. Arkansas
> Total score: 19.49
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 5th worst
> Nightlife rank: 3rd worst
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $260.7 million — 14th lowest

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Source: SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

46. Rhode Island
> Total score: 19.78
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 4th worst
> Nightlife rank: 17th worst
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $83.2 million — 3rd lowest

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

45. Vermont
> Total score: 21.45
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 6th worst
> Nightlife rank: 13th worst
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $67.6 million — the lowest

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Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

44. Alabama
> Total score: 23.41
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 7th worst
> Nightlife rank: 8th worst
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $482.0 million — 22nd lowest

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

43. Connecticut
> Total score: 24.37
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 8th worst
> Nightlife rank: 10th worst
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $270.2 million — 15th lowest

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

42. Kentucky
> Total score: 25.60
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 10th worst
> Nightlife rank: 12th worst
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $427.4 million — 21st lowest

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Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

41. Kansas
> Total score: 26.58
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 12th worst
> Nightlife rank: 18th worst
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $386.0 million — 20th lowest

Source: Paulaandreaonline / Getty Images

40. Maine
> Total score: 26.83
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 16th worst
> Nightlife rank: 7th worst
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $103.1 million — 4th lowest

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Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

39. New Hampshire
> Total score: 26.86
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 13th worst
> Nightlife rank: 11th worst
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $112.0 million — 6th lowest

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

38. Indiana
> Total score: 28.05
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 11th worst
> Nightlife rank: 20th best
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $535.7 million — 25th highest

Source: Nick Fox / Shutterstock.com

37. Montana
> Total score: 28.36
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 9th worst
> Nightlife rank: 19th best
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $111.4 million — 5th lowest

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36. Nebraska
> Total score: 28.57
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 15th worst
> Nightlife rank: 23rd worst
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $254.5 million — 13th lowest

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

35. North Dakota
> Total score: 28.74
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 18th worst
> Nightlife rank: 22nd worst
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $324.1 million — 17th lowest

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Source: benedek / E+ via Getty Images

34. Wyoming
> Total score: 29.38
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 20th worst
> Nightlife rank: 6th worst
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $132.7 million — 8th lowest

Source: volvob12b / Flickr

33. Alaska
> Total score: 29.42
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 19th worst
> Nightlife rank: 9th worst
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $129.2 million — 7th lowest

Source: KudicM / Getty Images

32. Iowa
> Total score: 30.05
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 14th worst
> Nightlife rank: 17th best
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $378.1 million — 19th lowest

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Source: JMichl / Getty Images

31. South Dakota
> Total score: 30.81
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 17th worst
> Nightlife rank: 16th best
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $161.2 million — 9th lowest

Source: AUDREY SCRIPP / iStock via Getty Images

30. New Jersey
> Total score: 31.01
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 21st worst
> Nightlife rank: 21st worst
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $657.3 million — 22nd highest

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Source: Wilsilver77 / iStock via Getty Images

29. Virginia
> Total score: 31.09
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 23rd worst
> Nightlife rank: 16th worst
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $1.1 billion — 14th highest

Source: vkbhat / Getty Images

28. Idaho
> Total score: 31.81
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 24th worst
> Nightlife rank: 20th worst
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $210.8 million — 10th lowest

Source: johnnya123 / Getty Images

27. Utah
> Total score: 32.49
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 23rd best
> Nightlife rank: 4th worst
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $521.9 million — 24th lowest

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Source: benedek / Getty Images

26. Tennessee
> Total score: 33.24
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 22nd worst
> Nightlife rank: 18th best
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $640.5 million — 23rd highest

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

25. Oklahoma
> Total score: 33.78
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 25th worst
> Nightlife rank: 21st best
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $528.1 million — 25th lowest

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Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

24. Georgia
> Total score: 33.96
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 22nd best
> Nightlife rank: 15th worst
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $1.2 billion — 11th highest

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

23. Massachusetts
> Total score: 34.06
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 25th best
> Nightlife rank: 23rd best
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $512.0 million — 23rd lowest

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

22. South Carolina
> Total score: 34.38
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 21st best
> Nightlife rank: 19th worst
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $623.8 million — 24th highest

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Source: kyletperry / Getty Images

21. New Mexico
> Total score: 35.28
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 20th best
> Nightlife rank: 25th worst
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $344.1 million — 18th lowest

Source: maximkabb / iStock

20. Hawaii
> Total score: 35.62
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 16th best
> Nightlife rank: 14th worst
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $312.5 million — 16th lowest

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Source: Davel5957 / Getty Images

19. Michigan
> Total score: 36.77
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 19th best
> Nightlife rank: 22nd best
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $1.1 billion — 12th highest

Source: Kruck20 / iStock via Getty Images

18. North Carolina
> Total score: 37.22
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 15th best
> Nightlife rank: 24th worst
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $1.2 billion — 10th highest

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

17. Maryland
> Total score: 38.49
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 13th best
> Nightlife rank: 25th best
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $1.1 billion — 13th highest

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Source: tonda / Getty Images

16. Arizona
> Total score: 39.04
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 12th best
> Nightlife rank: 24th best
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $836.8 million — 16th highest

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

15. Wisconsin
> Total score: 39.53
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 24th best
> Nightlife rank: 2nd best
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $756.9 million — 17th highest

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14. Missouri
> Total score: 39.59
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 14th best
> Nightlife rank: 14th best
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $751.1 million — 18th highest

Source: AndreyKrav / Getty Images

13. Ohio
> Total score: 39.91
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 17th best
> Nightlife rank: 10th best
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $1.5 billion — 7th highest

12. Louisiana
> Total score: 41.28
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 18th best
> Nightlife rank: 6th best
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $741.2 million — 20th highest

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Source: mdurson / Getty Images

11. Oregon
> Total score: 41.39
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 10th best
> Nightlife rank: 15th best
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $741.9 million — 19th highest

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

10. Pennsylvania
> Total score: 42.47
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 11th best
> Nightlife rank: 9th best
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $1.1 billion — 15th highest

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Source: LIKE HE / Getty Images

9. Minnesota
> Total score: 46.82
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 9th best
> Nightlife rank: 7th best
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $1.4 billion — 8th highest

Source: RoschetzkyIstockPhoto / Getty Images

8. Texas
> Total score: 46.83
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 8th best
> Nightlife rank: 12th best
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $2.7 billion — 5th highest

Source: Pung / Shutterstock.com

7. Washington
> Total score: 46.99
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 7th best
> Nightlife rank: 13th best
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $1.3 billion — 9th highest

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Source: MargaretW / iStock via Getty Images

6. Colorado
> Total score: 49.14
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 6th best
> Nightlife rank: 11th best
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $1.6 billion — 6th highest

Source: lhongfoto / Getty Images

5. Illinois
> Total score: 53.71
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 5th best
> Nightlife rank: 3rd best
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $3.0 billion — 4th highest

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Source: Terabass / Wikimedia Commons

4. New York
> Total score: 55.61
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 3rd best
> Nightlife rank: 4th best
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $3.1 billion — 3rd highest

Source: f11photo / Getty Images

3. Nevada
> Total score: 56.24
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 4th best
> Nightlife rank: the best
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $717.9 million — 21st highest

Source: Meinzahn / iStock

2. Florida
> Total score: 58.09
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: 2nd best
> Nightlife rank: 8th best
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $3.5 billion — 2nd highest

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Source: pedrosz / Flickr

1. California
> Total score: 60.81
> Entertainment & Recreation rank: the best
> Nightlife rank: 5th best
> Annual state spending on parks and recreation: $6.8 billion — the highest

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