With an abundance restaurants and amusement parks, it’s little wonder California ranks No. 1 among most fun states.

With summer just around the corner and 85% of Americans planning to take a summer trip, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on 2023’s Most Fun States in America.

In California, you can visit the beach one day and the desert the next. There are amusement parks, sports parks, the zoo and museums.

To determine the states offering the greatest variety and most cost-effective options for enjoyment, WalletHub compared the 50 states across 26 key metrics. The data set ranges from movie costs to accessibility of national parks to nightlife options per capita.

Fun in California (1=Most Fun; 25=Avg.):

  • 1st – Restaurants per Capita
  • 1st – Movie Theaters per Capita
  • 15th – Golf Courses & Country Clubs per Capita
  • 1st – Amusement Parks per Capita
  • 1st – Performing-Arts Theaters per Capita
  • 1st – Fitness Centers per Capita
  • 9th – Casinos per Capita

Expert Commentary

Should states provide tax incentives to attract professional sports teams and other entertainment draws?

“Absolutely! State tax incentives to attract sports and other entertainment entities can be a significant boost to the economy. In my home state of Georgia, for example, the Georgia Film Tax Incentive offers up to a 30% tax credit to produce original content in the state. As a result, we now have ‘camera-ready communities,’ homeowners can list their properties as film locations, and there are countless new industry jobs. On the academic side, we have seen a marked increase in the number of students declaring the BS in Media and Entertainment major here at Kennesaw State University, and our faculty works closely with entertainment professionals to create a pipeline to the industry for our graduates. The state has definitely benefited from this incentive; the film and television industry spent over $4 billion in 2022 alone.”
— Erin Ryan (Ingersoll) – Associate Director of School of Communication & Media; Professor, Kennesaw State University

“I believe so. Governor Pritzker is doing that now for Illinois. These types of campaigns not only bring in new visitors, but depending upon how the state money is allocated, these campaigns allow for a wide variety of unique ideas to attract new visitors, broaden the diversity of the new visitors depending upon their interests, and provide an opportunity for residents to showcase distinctive and special aspects of their state that most visitors would not otherwise know about.”
— Jennifer M. Smith – Full Professor, Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University

Will tourism be affected by inflation this year?

“I can only speculate. On the one hand, high inflation should have a big impact on discretionary household spending, which would include travel and tourism. On the other hand, the high prices for airfare and other tourism-related items seem to be a result, in part, of pent-up demand from reduced travel during the pandemic. Also, there is definitely a segmented travel market. Travel by households at lower income levels may be affected a lot by inflation while higher income households may not be affected very much ”
—Samuel B. Stone, Ph.D. – Associate Professor, California State University, Fullerton

What are the pros and cons of states legalizing marijuana in terms of tourism?

“I think the focus here is on one specific scenario. You really see the effects when a state that has allowed marijuana sales borders one that has not. People will drive from the latter to the former to buy the product. You could argue it is not really tourism – the buyers drive in and out – but it does mean that money is spent in the legalizing state and it gets the tax revenue. This is not that different from the dynamic you see when you can get lower-taxed (and thus lower priced) alcohol across state lines. Some non-legalizing states have complained that their residents can now get marijuana so easily by driving across state lines, or that the nearby trade ends up affecting them in some other way. But as of now (and this might change) their legal arguments against the neighboring legalizing state are weak and have thus, so far, failed.”
— Nadav Shoked – Professor, Northwestern University School of Law

“It seems to me that the pros continue to greatly outweigh the cons. We have data because legalizing cannabis has been done here and abroad. Cannabis is the most heavily used ‘illegal’ substance in the United States and the world. The majority of Americans are in favor of legalizing it. In terms of tourism, Americans are using cannabis wherever they travel, despite whether it is legal or illegal. However, when you consider the data for cannabis-related tourism, especially the bottom line in tax revenue, cannabis is a plus. Many tourists consider the legalization of cannabis as a significant perk to visiting states. In addition, even non-users of cannabis often enjoy cannabis tours and other attractions that help them to learn more about cannabis. Also, when marijuana is not legalized, I believe it encourages tourists who use cannabis to seek the black market to purchase cannabis, which is dangerous for tourists and costly for the state. Those who use cannabis for medical conditions would also feel more at ease visiting states where they can continue to use cannabis for their medical conditions, especially those who believe it aids in their pain management and anxiety-related issues. As of now, a big con may be the added potential costs to the state where uses, particularly users unfamiliar with cannabis, encounter medical emergencies due to improper use. However, this will likely subside as the knowledge of cannabis and how to use it continues to grow. Some believe that legalization of cannabis use will increase crime in their states, but Colorado and other states have reported the opposite.”
— Jennifer M. Smith – Full Professor, Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University

For the full report, please visit:



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