What Every State in America Is Best—and Worst—At
From having the most dog-friendly cities to dealing with the highest obesity rates, here are the best—and worst—qualities of each of the 50 states.
Best: College football — “Roll Tide!” That’s what you’ll hear all across the state as they cheer on the University of Alabama’s football team, which has won the most national football championships of any college team (11) since 1936.
Worst: High infant mortality — However, the state definitely isn’t scoring any points when it comes to health care for pregnant women and infants. Alabama has the highest infant mortality rate, with 9.1 infant deaths out of every 1,000 live births.
Best: The great outdoors — Hiking, biking, canoeing… oh my! Between the breathtaking views of Denali National Park and the icy caps of Glacier Bay, Alaska is the state with the highest percentage of land set aside as national parks (it’s tied with Arizona).
Worst: Suicide rate — But despite the proven benefits of being in nature, the state has the highest rate of suicides, which sadly continues to increase year after year.
Best: Sunshine — Florida may be the official Sunshine State, but Arizona is the sunniest state. In fact, Yuma, located in the southwest corner of Arizona, is the sunniest place in the whole world, with a 90 percent chance of sun every day.
Worst: Teacher turnover — But the forecast for the state’s schools is much more gloomy. Arizona has frequently been named the worst state for teachers thanks to high turnover and teacher-to-student ratios. Find out 50 astonishing facts about the 50 states.
Best: Duck hunting — Arkansas is the real-life Duck Dynasty. Hunters come from all over the country to the state where the most ducks are harvested each season and where the World Championship Duck Calling Contest is held in Stuttgart.
Worst: Divorce — Residents of the Natural State may want to start prioritizing their marriages over mallards, though. Arkansas has the highest divorce rate in the United States of 23.4 divorces per 1,000 people.
Best: Diversity — Considered a “minority majority” state (meaning there is no single ethnic group or race that makes up the majority of the population), California has earned the title of the most diverse state in the United States.
Worst: Quality of life — However, it was also accused of having the worst quality of life based on a variety of social and environmental factors including sense of community and air pollution. Maybe that’s why in recent years, more people have been leaving California than moving there…
Best: Being active — Year after year, Colorado tops the list of the most physically active states with low obesity rates and some of the fittest residents.
Worst: Drug overdoses — But there’s a dark side to the sun-soaked state so beloved by outdoor enthusiasts—it has the highest rate of deaths from drug overdose. It’s a rate that has even doubled in some counties over the last decade due primarily to painkillers like Percocet and Oxycontin.
Best: Making money — Hey, must be the money… that’s giving Connecticut such a good reputation. Because it’s not the roads, that’s for sure. Connecticut has the highest per-person average income of $50,392.
Worst: Partying — First is the worst—at nightlife, that is. The first state was ranked 50 out of 50 for its lack of bustling bar scene.
Best: Small-town atmosphere — But what it lacks in trendy nightclubs, it makes up for in that “everybody knows everybody” vibe you can only get in the state with the least number of counties (only 3!) and no cities with more than 100,000 people. Check out the most charming small town in each state.
Best: Vacationing — It should come as no surprise to anyone that the Sunshine State was voted the country’s top vacation destination. After all, it’s home to Disney World, beautiful beaches, the Everglades, and more.
Worst: Treating HIV/AIDS — But with a slew of tourists and partygoers, comes something much more dangerous—drugs shared by infected needles. Hence why Florida (Miami in particular) is dealing with the highest rates of HIV diagnoses.
Best: Growing onions — Georgia may be nicknamed the Peach State, but its real claim to food fame is its Vidalia onions, which are some of the world’s sweetest onions—and they’re only grown in 20 counties in the Southern state.
Worst: Flu prevention — Georgians should be using some of those onions in one of these natural flu remedies. After all, Atlanta experienced some of the most severe levels of influenza in the United States this past winter.
Best: Beaches — Among the 33 miles of swimming beaches surrounding the islands of Hawaii, you’ll find Maui’s Kapalua Bay Beach, voted the best beach in America (with Hapuna Beach making it into the top ten, as well!).
Worst: Sleeping — Hawaiian adults must be spending all their time on the beach instead of in bed, though—43.9 percent of Hawaiian adults get less than seven hours of sleep per night on average.
Best: Homeownership — Home is where the heart is. And your heart will definitely want to be in Idaho when you realize it was recently ranked the number one state for home ownership thanks to its affordability and low foreclosure rates.
Best: Pumpkins — All those pumpkin-flavored treats you love in the fall wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for Illinois, where 95 percent of everyone favorite gourds in the United States are grown.
Worst: Bug bites — Just make sure you spray a lot of insect repellant on before you head out to the pumpkin patch. The Midwestern state has some of the highest rates of mosquito-related illnesses (including West Nile virus) and tick-borne diseases like Lyme’s.
Best: Renting — Why buy when you can rent? In Indianapolis, that question makes perfect sense. The city was deemed the best for renters last year, with high affordability and one of the lowest average monthly rents of just $806.
Worst: Pollution — As long as you don’t breathe too deeply in your new place, you’ll be fine. After all, the 40 million pounds of toxic fumes generated by Indiana’s coal plants make it the most polluted of the 50 states.
Best: Buying a house —Homebuyers may want to add Iowa to their list of possible locations—the state offers the most affordable housing in the country, with a median home price of $181,900.
Worst: Building bridges — Just be careful when you’re driving to go look at houses in Des Moines. Iowa was ranked the worst state for its bridges, 5,000 of which have been deemed “structurally deficient” by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association.
Best: Roads — Drivers, this state is for you. Kansas has the least amount of poor roadways in the nation. According to USA TODAY, less than 1 percent of roads in the Sunflower State are considered unserviceable.
Worst: Human trafficking — The Midwestern state isn’t all smooth sailing, though. It’s also the state where human sex trafficking has skyrocketed to new levels in recent years.
Best: Fried chicken — It’s called Kentucky Fried Chicken for a reason. Ever since Colonel Sanders (yes, he was a real person) started selling his fried chicken at a roadside restaurant more than 75 years ago, Kentucky has been the go-to spot for crispy golden chicken.
Worst: Lung cancer rates — Its residents may not be enjoying it for as long as they’d like, though. The state has the highest rate of lung cancer diagnoses, a disease that has only a 56 percent five-year chance of survival. Find out the best state fair or festival in each state.
Best: Dating — The people of Louisiana are (mostly) single and ready to mingle—the state has the highest number of unmarried adults.
Worst: Stress — To be honest, that probably explains why Louisianians are also the most stressed in the country (dating is hard!). Not to mention the high levels of poverty, crime, and the number of hours worked per week… phew.
Maine: Best at owning dogs, worst at Lyme’s disease
Best: Owning dogs —Fido will feel right at home in Maine, whether he’s an energetic pit bull or a lovable golden retriever. That’s because Maine welcomes all dog breeds (there are no restrictions) and has 76 dog-friendly beaches, making it the best place for pups in the United States.
Worst: Lyme’s disease — But dogs bring more than just cuddles and companionship. They can also carry ticks in from the outdoors, which could be why Maine has the highest rate of Lyme’s disease. Find out the most popular dog breed in every state.
Best: Making millionaires — Want to be a millionaire? Your best chance at making that happen might be in Maryland, the state with the highest rate of seven-figure salaries. One study found that as many as 1 in 12 households have $1 million.
Worst: Bed bugs — With all that money, wealthy Marylanders might be sleeping tight, but they probably are letting the bed bugs bite, too. For the second year in a row, Baltimore topped the list of cities with the most bed bug infestations.
Best: Being healthy — For the first time in five years, Hawaii was not the country’s healthiest state—it was replaced by Massachusetts. The state not only has a low obesity rate but it also the most mental health providers per population, according to the United Health Foundation’s annual ranking.
Worst: Traffic — And those therapists are probably in high demand given that Boston has the worst traffic in the United States. Its drivers spend 14 percent of their drive time sitting bumper-to-bumper. Don’t miss the strangest roadside attraction in every state.
Best: Golfing — Head to Michigan to play a few rounds, where they have the most golf courses and country clubs per capita.
Worst: Identity theft —But make sure you lock up your valuables during tee time. The state is the worst for identity theft. With over 15,000 reported cases last year (the majority related to government documents or benefits), it’s clearly much bigger than a stolen wallet.
Best: Credit scores — In St. Paul, the average credit score is 709 out of 850, making Minnesota the state with the highest overall credit scores.
Worst: Winters — Minnesotans might not be buried under bills, but they are buried under something else: snow. The state has been voted as having the most miserable winters in the country, and with some parts getting over 170 inches of snow each year and seeing temperatures of -60 degrees Fahrenheit, we don’t disagree.
Best: Cheap living — Perhaps for all the wrong reasons (one of the worst school systems and a failing economy, to name a few), Mississippi is the cheapest state to live in. In fact, after taxes and living expenses, residents of the Magnolia State keep 49 percent of their income.
Worst: Women’s health — But it clearly isn’t going towards female healthcare, as the state has the highest rates of death from heart disease, breast cancer, and diabetes in women. Don’t miss the best bucket list ideas for each state.
Best: Giving to charity — When it comes to giving back, Missouri is topping the charts, with St. Louis consistently ranking among the most charitable cities in the United States.
Worst: Drug use — But the amount of money donated to good causes isn’t the only thing that’s sky high. Missourians are getting a different kind of high more frequently than any other state, according to a study that puts them at No. 1 for drug use.
Best: Raising cats — Cat lovers should probably move to Montana right “meow.” In the Treasure State, cats live longer than they do anywhere else in the country, with an average lifespan of 14.3 which is over two years higher than the national average.
Best: Graduating high school — The nation’s high school graduation rate is at an all-time high, and it’s being led by Nebraska, with an incredible 93.7 percent of students graduating.
Worst: Road rage — But they must not teach good driving skills or anger management in the Nebraska public school system—based on data from social media, Nebraska is the worst state for road rage per capita.
Best: Rock climbing — With more mountains than any other state (there are 300 named ranges), Nevada is a premier destination for rock climbers from the sandstone of Red Rock Canyon to the summit of Boundary Peak.
Worst: Public schools — But unfortunately, the school system in the Silver State has not climbed to the top. Instead, it sits at the bottom, where it’s been dubbed the worst in the entire county thanks to lack of funding, poor test scores, and the second lowest graduation rate.
Worst: High college tuition — The student debt struggle is very real in New Hampshire, where college students face the highest average tuition costs in the nation.
Best: Low unemployment rate — Fortunately, they should be able to pay off those hefty loans fairly quickly after graduation. That’s because the state also has one of the lowest unemployment rates at a mere 2.7 percent so jobs are aplenty. Find out the best-kept secret in every state.
Best: Diners — Known as the “Diner Capital of the World,” New Jersey has over 500 nostalgic joints serving up our favorite comfort food like old-fashioned root beer floats and massive portions of chicken-fried steak and mashed potatoes.
Worst: Property taxes — But they’re paying a hefty price for setting up shop in the Garden State. New Jersey has the steepest property taxes in the country, with a whopping average cost of $8,696 compared to the national average of $3,399.
Best: Most doctorate degrees — What a bunch of smarty pants! While New Mexico may have the most PhDs per capita than any other state, they still can’t quite seem to figure out how to stop auto theft.
Worst: Car theft — For the second year in a row, the state has been guilty of the highest rate of stolen vehicles.
Best: Bagels — There’s nothing quite like a New York bagel, all fluffy dough inside and crusty outside. The first bagel shop in the United States opened its doors in the Big Apple in the early 1900s, and the city has been blessing us with the best breakfast ever since.
Worst: Food safety — But think twice before you take a cream cheese-filled bite—New York had the most cases of food poisoning last year, namely of norovirus.
Best: Millennial living — Duke basketball isn’t the only thing Durham is known for—it’s now also the best city for millennials. The No. 1 ranking factored in Durham’s increased job opportunities and low affordability, making it an ideal spot for young people.
Worst: STD rates — They might be bringing more than avocado toast and trendy eateries to North Carolina, though. STDs have been on the rise all across the state and it now has some of the highest rates of diseases including syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea.
Best: Saving money — Save it for a rainy day: That’s the motto of North Dakota, which boasts the highest number of adults who have savings accounts, according to a survey by WalletHub.
Worst: Binge drinking — The state ranks as the booziest in the nation with almost 25 percent of adults drinking excessively on a regular basis along with the most alcohol-related driving deaths.
Best: Deciding elections — Want to know who the next president of the United States will be? As Ohio goes, so goes the nation, per the popular saying of political pundits. The Buckeye State has voted for the winning candidate in every election since 1896 except 1944 and 1960.
Worst: Job creation —Too bad the same good record doesn’t apply to their job market. While Cleveland was ranked 15th for jobs just two years ago in 2016, it’s plummeted to the very bottom of the list this year. Be sure to check out these hidden gems in every state.
Best: Barbecue — Satisfy your cravings for a rack of sauce-slathered pork ribs in Oklahoma, the state with the most barbecue restaurants per capita.
Worst: Walking — Unfortunately, though, you won’t be able to walk off all that BBQ, since Oklahoma City received the worst walking score in the nation. With fast traffic and a lack of sidewalks, there’s definitely some, well, steps that need to be taken to improve the city’s walkability.
Best: Brewing beer — Pour a pint in Portland (say that five times fast!), the city with the most breweries in the whole world. And Oregonians aren’t just producing a lot of beer, they’re also enjoying it, if the fact that they spend more money on craft beer than any other state is any indication.
Worst: Rate of sex offenders — It isn’t all fun and (drinking) games in Oregon, though. The Beaver State has the highest number of sex offenders (676) per 100,000 people and a shocking 42 rapes per capita.
Best: Hunting — Hope you like camo if you live in Pennsylvania where you can find the most licensed hunters per capita. In fact, there are over 20 hunters per square mile!
Worst: Gas taxes — And what Pennsylvanians are saving on shooting their own dinner, they’re spending at the pump. The state suffers the highest gasoline taxes.
Best: Donuts — The state that has the most donut shops per capita—25 bakeries per 100,000 people, to be exact!
Worst: Depression rates — But, the state also has the highest rate of depression in the country.
Best: Sweet tea — It doesn’t get much more Southern than a tall glass of iced sweet tea. Not only is South Carolina the birthplace of the sugary sip, it also boasts the country’s only commercial tea plantation, owned by Bigelow on Wadmalaw Island.
Worst: DUI rates — Tea isn’t the only kind of brewed beverage that South Carolinians are enjoying, however. The state has the highest total number of deaths from drunk or impaired driving.
Best: Retirement — Everyone’s golden years are more, well, golden in South Dakota, where a combination of low taxes and happy residents makes it the best state for retirement according to Bankrate.
Worst: Child mortality rate — Unfortunately, the younger generation in the Mount Rushmore state isn’t faring so well. With 47 teen and child deaths per 100,000 people every year, it’s leading the nation in child mortality.
Best: Fast Wi-Fi — Good news: You can binge watch your favorite Netflix show much faster in Tennessee, where the Internet speed is 50 times quicker than the national average.
Worst: Childhood obesity rates — But are Tennesseeans spending too much time in front of their screens instead of staying active? Maybe so, when you consider that Tennessee is the top in child obesity, with 38 percent of its kids either overweight or obese.
Best: Starting businesses — Explosive job growth, a lot of venture capital, and a business-friendly community are just a few of the things that make the Lonestar State the best place for entrepreneurs to chase their dreams.
Worst: Dental health — Those teeth that they’re are sinking into their new ventures aren’t so clean, though. Texas has the highest percentage of adults whose poor oral hygiene negatively affects their life. Don’t miss the nicest place in every state.
Best: Low student debt — Graduate from college in Utah and you’ll likely leave with less of a student debt burden than most new grads. Last year, the state was the only one to have an average student debt of less than $20,000.
Worst: Workplace equality — But things aren’t so great in the workplace. Utah has the worst male to female executive ratio along with the highest gender pay gap.
Best: Being happy — The phrase “you are what you eat” definitely doesn’t apply to Vermont. Because the happiest state in the country isn’t consuming too many Happy Meals.
Worst: Fast food restaurants — That’s because Vermont has the lowest number of fast food restaurants per capita, with just 1.9 drive-thrus per 10,000 people. We bet the real reason residents of this New England state are always smiling is because they’re also the healthiest.
Best: Patriotism — It’s no secret that Virginians are proud of the red, white, and blue. Close to the nation’s capital and home to eight of America’s 45 presidents, it has been lauded as the most patriotic state.
Worst: Speeding tickets — But before you speed off to the polls to vote or weave your way through D.C. traffic, consider this: Virginia is famous for some of the country’s most expensive speeding tickets (the maximum is $2,500!). Can you guess the U.S. state by its state flag?
Best: Biking — Power to the pedal! You might want to trade your car for a bike the next time you’re in Washington, the most bike-friendly state in the nation thanks to Seattle’s bike-share program and an increased number of traffic laws protecting cyclists.
Worst: Air quality — If you’re gasping for air while you pedal, it might not just be because you’re getting a good workout—Washington often has some of the worst air quality because of how smoke from California’s wildfires carries up the coast.
Best: Pizza — Forget New York or Chicago—West Virginia is the spot to be when you’re craving a cheesy slice of pie. According to a study, it has the most pizza shops per capita.
Worst: Smoking — West Virginia is also the state with the most smokers. In fact, nearly 1 in 4 adults in the wild and wonderful state light up a cigarette on the regular.
Best: Raising a family — “Safety first” is clearly the motto of the Badger State, which is home to 32 percent of the nation’s safest cities for raising kids, based on factors like walkability and violent crime rates.
Worst: Racial equality — But just because the cities are safe, doesn’t mean they’re equal, at least when it comes to race. In Wisconsin, the unemployment rate for people of color is almost triple that of white people and people of color are 11 times more likely to be incarcerated, making it the worst state for racial inequality.
Wyoming: Best at avoiding crowds, worst at technology jobs
Best: Avoiding crowds — With just over 560,000 residents, Wyoming is the least populated state. There are more people in just the city of Nashville than there are in the entire Cowboy State.
Worst: Technology jobs — That could explain why it also has the lowest percentage of high-tech jobs, with the technology industry making up a measly 2 percent of the entire workforce. Next, find out the strangest laws in every state.