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Study Ranks Florida the Best Value Vacation Destination in US

A recent study commissioned by Cloudbeds, a leading hospitality management software provider for independent properties, found that Florida offers the best value vacation options in the U.S.

Researchers analyzed data from travel review sites, online travel agencies, and official government reports to measure factors including average cost of accommodation, availability of public transport, number of attractions, and average weather conditions. According to Cloudbeds, the report considered 30 factors overall, including the average price of 92,342 hotels across all 50 states, the average temperature, and the number of bars and clubs by land area in each state, to determine the best value vacation destinations. The factors were split into four categories: attractions, transport, hotels, and weather. 

Below is the study’s list of the top states, with explanations behind the rankings:

Florida tops the list as the best-value vacation destination in the U.S., achieving an overall score of 74.41/100. It ranks number one for hotels, boasting 14,751 three-star hotels with an average nightly rate of $175 for stays between June and August 2024. The Sunshine State also has more attractions by land area than any other state, with 286 beaches, 205 shopping malls, and over 580 different outdoor activity options.  

California is in second place, with an overall score of 71.19/100. It ranks number one for weather, considering average temperature, cloud cover, wind speed, and probability of rain. It also scored highly for hotels, with 7,678 three-star hotels taking bookings between June and August 2024, averaging $221 per night.  

New Jersey follows closely with a score of 68.67/100. For bookings between June and August 2024, a three-star hotel in this state costs $208 per night, while a five-star costs $354 on average, placing it fourth overall for hotels. The state also ranked number one for public transport.  

Fourth on the list is New York, with a score of 67.46/100. It ranks second overall for public transport, thanks to its inexpensive and reliable rail and bus system. It ranks sixth for number of attractions by land area, offering 3,046 tours, 317 historic sites, and 5756 bars and clubs. 
Massachusetts secures fifth place with a score of 64.38/100. This state ranks third overall for number of attractions by land area, boasting 334 bars and clubs, 88 shopping malls, and nine theme parks.  

Next is Hawaii, with a score of 63.92/100. It has 271 beaches, 602 outdoor activity options, and 621 spa and wellness locations, ranking fourth overall for attractions by land area.

Rhode Island follows in seventh place with a score of 61.76/100. The state has the second-highest number of attractions by land area in the US. Despite being a smaller state, there is something to do on every corner, with 66 bars and clubs, 10 water parks, and 54 historic sites.  

Connecticut ranks eighth, with a score of 60.83/100. It holds fourth place for best public transport and seventh place for attractions by land area, offering 101 game and entertainment centers, 13 arenas and stadiums, and 18 shopping malls. 

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Maryland is in ninth place, with a score of 60.46/100. On average, a three-star hotel in this state costs $171 per night between June and August 2024, while five-star hotels cost $446. Overall, Maryland ranks second in the hotels category and fifth for transport. 

South Carolina rounds out the top ten with a score of 57.81/100. It has the third-best weather overall, with an average summer temperature of 81° F and a 5.3% daily chance of rain.  

In previous studies, Cloudbeds also analyzed its internal data to reveal that Americans’ preferred hotel booking method is connecting directly with lodging providers. In 2023, 52% of reservations originated from sources such as the hotel’s website, phone, email, and walk-in. Bookings made through OTAs accounted for 48%. 

For more information about booking trends and data on independent properties worldwide, Cloudbeds also publishes an annual State of Independent Lodging Report and Analysis of Online Travel Agencies

Methodology  

1. Indicator data was taken from the sources below 

2. We aimed to normalize the indicator data by the size of the land area of each state. However, to prevent the index from being dominated by states with very large or small sizes, the land area was scaled to the power of 2/3. This transformation (referred to as sub-linear scaling) reduces the impact of extreme land areas, bringing them closer to a middle range.

3. All indicators were then transformed using the Yeo-Johnson transformation, if they were not already adequately normally distributed. This is done to stabilize variance and make the data more closely conform to a normal distribution. 

4. The data was then min-max scaled from 0 to 10, where 0 and 10 represent the worst and best values present in the data, not the worst and best possible. Negative indicators, such as “Average Daily Probability of Precipitation (%)”, and “Average Cloudcover (%)”, were subtracted from 10 to invert their scoring.  

5. Following this, the indicators were grouped into “Attractions”, “Transport”, “Weather”, “Hotels”. An index and ranking was generated for each group based on the weightings in the Operations tab. Lastly, an overall index and ranking was generated using all of the indicators with their corresponding weightings. 

Sources  

Attractions data: tripadvisor.com 

Transport data: apta.com 

Weather data: visualcrossing.com/weather 

Hotels data: booking.com 

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Ed Dean is a leading radio and news media personality including hosting the #1 statewide radio talk show in Florida. Contact Ed.Dean@FloridaDaily.com

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