NJ near bottom of U.S. rankings for summer road trips
The Garden State likes to tout itself as a "shore" destination for summer fun, but how traversable is New Jersey for those who just want to get in the car, roll the windows down, and explore the state?
Not so much, according to personal finance website WalletHub's 2022 compiling of the Best & Worst States for Summer Road Trips, which ranks New Jersey 45th overall.
WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez said the list was based on some 32 metrics that measured how fun, scenic, and wallet-friendly each state might be for summer visitors.
What the website found was that New Jersey mostly missed the mark by those parameters, particularly with regard to cost.
To begin with, New Jersey gas prices remain above the national average, and then once a traveler gets to their destination, lodging isn't cheap either.
"Even if you're camping, the cost of camping, to rent a lot, is expensive," Gonzalez said. "Vacation rentals are a lot of money. Cost of living, not cheap. So cost is really what got New Jersey here."
Can New Jersey improve its ranking?
While affordability might be able to be addressed in future summers, Gonzalez said, the record inflation of the first half of 2022 won't help matters over the next few months.
Another factor New Jersey can't change is its size, and other, smaller Northeast states suffered the same fate in the rankings: Delaware, Connecticut, and Rhode Island came in as the bottom three states.
However, New Jersey took the dead-last spot in terms of number of attractions, while to get to any of them, drivers must navigate a Gordian knot of highways and byways that are not always the smoothest ride.
"It's not necessarily a regional thing, it really is zoning in on activities, things to do, I think just how big a state is," Gonzalez said. "Right nearby, New York is actually No. 1. Similar cost, but so many things to do, and as far as safety goes, a lot of actually good roads."
Where else is the state lacking?
And just weeks after a troubling report on the state of New Jersey's state parks, Gonzalez said the amount of national parkland to roam, or lack thereof, is also a drawback.
"New Jersey doesn't have too many of those things for people to come and explore, and that's another area where it could have done a little bit better," she said.
While New Jersey and New York were at opposite ends of the rankings, Pennsylvania fell somewhere in the middle, at 17th overall.