We’ve selected the 10 US states boasting the most dynamic tourism websites to help you plan your next great American trip. After all, with a weakening US dollar, rising flight costs, and new passport and security measures at borders, 2008 may provide all the excuses you needed to see America. Turning travel lemons into lemonade has never been so...fruitful.
1. Travel Oregon
According to its tourism board, “Oregon is a place where people often find themselves roaming endlessly with no other goal than the next great meal, powdery slope, lighthouse view or salmon run.” Sign us up! We’ll figure out which activity to partake in first with the help of the excellent Travel Oregon Blog—after picking our vacation week using the interactive 365 Extraordinary Days in Oregon calendar.
2. Visit Florida
Ironically, retirement mecca Florida leads the pack in cutting-edge site features with youthful touches like videos, a tag cloud, RSS feeds, and no less than 10 niche-travel blogs. True to Florida’s RV roots, though, there’s also a roving Open Florida crew reporting back as they crisscross the state.
3. South Dakota Tourism
South Dakota’s flashy site beckons visitors to its mountains and prairies with a convenient Trip Planner that combines weather forecasts, maps, activities, fuel estimates, and more on one page. While we have no immediate plans to drive from Minneapolis to Mount Rushmore, we’re nevertheless oddly fixated on the fuel-facts matrix; roadtrippers are sure to find it very helpful. As a bonus, South Dakota Tourism is a sponsor of the Black Hills Travel Blog, a wonderful, up-to-date resource for visitors to that area.
4. Utah Travel Council
Utah’s tourism website is an easy portal to information on everything from its national parks to its Mormon heritage sites. And when you’re done researching online, there are handy printable maps of it all to bring with you. Just don’t head to the Beehive State without first checking the site’s Utah Travel Headlines Blog, which is updated several times a week with the most recent happenings of interest to visitors.
5. Wyoming Tourism
As befits railroad country, Wyoming’s website is full of bells and whistles. You can scroll around the homepage to hear sounds, see video clips, and change the seasons of photos. There are also podcasts and blogs, and an impressive amount of information on the state’s heritage and culture, from mountain-man rendezvous to powwows to yodeling. You’ll want to see all of this in person, of course, and the site tells you exactly where to do so.
6. Arkansas Tourism
Arkansas Tourism hosts local bloggers with big ideas for big visitors and a special site with big ideas for little visitors. For virtual visitors, there’s a video tour and photo gallery. And for in-person visitors with virtual wallets, a list of 101 Free Things To Do in the Natural State.
7. New York State Tourism
Snowmobiles, breweries, and inns probably aren’t the first things that come to mind in a free-association exercise about New York, but all figure prominently on this site: New York State does a great job of highlighting fun activities both near and far from The City. And like Arkansas, New York keeps its reputation family-friendly with a site especially for young visitors.
8. Minnesota Office of Tourism
Beautiful and quirky, the Explore Minnesota website promises that in this state, “you can immerse yourself in attractions and events that are guaranteed to make you ponder the question, ‘What do they put in the drinking water around here?’” This sense of humor permeates the site, including when the Office of Tourism turns it over to Minnesotans themselves.
9. New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism
This sleek website has you covered from your summer-camp days to your wedding day—or from your wedding day to your kids’ summer-camp days. These suggestions for spending time in New Hampshire, and many more (including maple sugaring), are varied and creative. And for a taste of New England before you get there, see the local chefs’ recipe cards.
10. North Carolina Tourism Services
Split into sections for the Piedmont, the mountains, and the coast, North Carolina welcomes visitors with ideas for all three regions, such as taking flight in the world’s largest indoor skydiving tunnel or taking a detour to the unlikely birthplace of Texas Pete hot sauce. There’s a handy RSS feed to keep you updated until the minute you leave home, and a video-centric "virtual magazine" to show you the high-flying fun you can expect when you get there.