Elevate your mood and open your mind with a tour of the happiest states in the U.S.
Whether you’re sightseeing, enjoying a sunny beach or getting in touch with your adventurous side, one of the perks of traveling is the instant mood boost it provides. Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index recently released its ranking of the happiest states in 2014. If you’re looking to plan a trip that’s all smiles, consider checking out the top five states that made the list and all the activities they have to offer.
Forget visions of endless ice and snow. Alaska made the top of the list in 2014 and a trip there promises unparalleled beauty and sights you won’t find anywhere else. If you want to maximize your sun exposure, visit between May and September, when the days are longest. However, if you’re willing to brave the darker days of winter, the Northern Lights are one of the most incredible natural phenomenon to visit. Alaska is also home to several national parks, including Denali and Kenai Fjords, which are home to North America’s highest peak and a fleet of glaciers respectively.
It’s not hard to imagine why the United States’ own little slice of paradise makes the top ten list.Who wouldn’t be happy sunning themselves on a Hawaiian beach? If you’re a surfer or looking to try out the sport, there are excellent surfing spots for any level of experience, particularly on the island of Oahu. There are also quirky ways to enjoy nature on the islands. On the island of Hawaii (often called the Big Island), you can visit the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park and see an active volcano. Or, cool off and take a snorkeling trip off Molokini Crater, a small island off the coast of Maui.
3. South Dakota
Nothing inspires a good mood quite like an endorphin rush, which is exactly what you will get during your trip to South Dakota. Be sure to pack your hiking boots, as many of the state’s most popular spots include walks or trails where you can enjoy breathtaking sights. Hike the Presidential Trail for a prime view of the iconic Mount Rushmore. If you’re looking to spend a night in the open air, Badlands National Park and Black Hills National Forest both offer campgrounds for those who can’t get enough of the natural beauty.
Though all the states offer gorgeous national parks, Wyoming is home to what may be the most iconic one: Yellowstone. With an array of wildlife and opportunities to hike, bike, boat and more, a trip to Yellowstone is a must if you’re heading to Wyoming. Or, get your blood pumping in a different way and check out the rodeo. If you visit at the end July, you can see the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo, a festival that celebrates not just the rodeo, but the traditions of the Old West with sites like an old frontier town and a saloon. In addition to the rodeo itself, there is also a carnival, musical performances, parades and more.
If you don’t get to the Yellowstone in Wyoming, you can always visit it during your trip to Montana, which is also home to part of the park. However, Montana is better known for Glacier National Park, a beautiful destination along the Rocky Mountains. If you’re looking to learn more about the mountain range during your trip, be sure to plan a visit to the Museum of the Rockies, located in Bozeman. This is a perfect place to bring the whole family, as the museum brags one of the world’s largest collections of dinosaur fossils.