To describe the United States as "breathtaking" would be putting it mildly. There's an enormous variety of natural and human-made wonders alike contained within the country's borders. But those borders span some 3.8 million square miles, and unless you have a few months to spare for a serious road trip, it can be tough to see as much of the U.S. of A. as you might like.
With that in mind, travelers tend to choose carefully, prioritizing states where they can get the most out of a short jaunt, and a few states consistently top the ranks in terms of things to see and do. As a result, these locations tend to draw the highest percentages of international visitors every year, and it's not hard to see why. With unique terrains, one-of-a-kind cultural landscapes, delicious eats, and much more, these states represent some of the most diverse and fascinating parts of the country.
Airalo sorted through data collected by the International Trade Administration to learn which states were most visited by international travelers in 2022. For additional context, data on how much of the international travel market each state makes up was also included, plus how much these numbers have changed since the previous year.
From Texas to Florida, the top five states to visit for international travelers account for a whopping 90.8% of all international travel to the U.S. Whether you're visiting from abroad or from within the country, these states should be on just about everyone's travel radar.
- International visitors: 1,289,000
- Market share: 5.4%
- Volume change since 2021: 107.5%
Everything is bigger in Texas, as they say, and that includes the number of international visitors in 2022, up more than 100% since 2021. Within its 268,597 square miles, the Lone Star State encompasses everything from dense forests to deserts and prairies, as well as thriving metropolises like Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio.
Visitors come for attractions like the Alamo and Space Center Houston, but Texas has so much more to explore. You can canoe the Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park, swim in the Gulf of Mexico, and venture deep belowground in natural caverns, all while getting a true taste of the American West. Just don't forget to grab a few slices of Texas brisket along the way (with some white bread, pickles, and onions on the side, if you want to blend in with the locals).
- International visitors: 1,722,000
- Market share: 7.2%
- Volume change since 2021: 489.8%
Among the top five states for international visitors, Nevada saw the most dramatic increases in travelers from abroad during 2022, up nearly 500% from their 2021 numbers. Home to Las Vegas, aka Sin City, and the Lake Tahoe-adjacent city of Reno, Nevada is a state unlike any other in the U.S.
A stop by Las Vegas is a must for most visitors—between famous casinos, world-class live performances, and unusual museums, you'll find plenty to keep you busy within city limits. But you shouldn't sleep on everything else Nevada has to offer. The state also features gorgeous national and state parks and several fascinating pieces of American history, including former gold mining towns and the Hoover Dam.
- International visitors: 4,455,000
- Market share: 18.6%
- Volume change since 2021: 300.3%
In 2022, California drew close to 4.5 million international visitors (a roughly 300% increase from 2021) looking to explore the state's beaches, rugged mountains, and bustling cities. From iconic parks like Yosemite to major urban hubs like Los Angeles and San Francisco, California will more than satisfy visitors seeking a balance of scenery and city life.
With so many different things to do all over the Golden State, most travelers will need to spend a significant amount of time here to see the best of California. Whether you want to hike the great outdoors or ride roller coasters at Disneyland, you'll have no shortage of different areas worth visiting. Since the state receives an average of 258 clear days per year, it's almost always sunny and warm, and you'll have plenty of opportunities to go out and about.
- International visitors: 7,133,000
- Market share: 29.8%
- Volume change since 2021: 239.8%
In 2022, just over 7 million international travelers came to New York, and almost all of them stopped by New York City. In fact, NYC had the most overseas visitors out of any city in the country. This sprawling metropolis sees so many international tourists thanks to its world-famous dining scene, cultural sites like the Statue of Liberty, and so much more.
The public transportation system here is also considered among the best in the country, so you can get around quite easily without needing to drive a car (unlike most destinations in the rest of the U.S.). Beyond the Big Apple, visitors to New York also flocked to Niagara Falls. These famous cascades lie on the state's northern border with Canada and receive upwards of 20 million visitors each year.
- International visitors: 7,145,000
- Market share: 29.8%
- Volume change since 2021: 74.6%
Florida saw just a nearly 75% increase in overseas travelers between 2021 and 2022, but it consistently ranks as one of the most popular states in the U.S. for international visitors. That's mostly due to the cities of Miami and Orlando, the latter of which hosts both Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. Featuring thrilling rides, food, and other attractions, these globally renowned theme parks typically get tens of thousands of visitors per day.
Outside of Orlando and Miami, Florida also has the major tourist draws of Fort Lauderdale and Tampa, as well as 825 miles of sandy coastline. The weather can get humid during the summer months, but in the winter, visitors are more than happy to soak up Florida's famous warmth and sunshine.
Data reporting by Luke Hicks. Story editing by Carren Jao. Copy editing by Tim Bruns. Photo selection by Lacy Kerrick.
This story originally appeared on Airalo and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.