Andrew Parker

25 Ugly American States to Skip On Your Next Road Trip

Traveling across the USA, you’re definitely going to notice just how beautiful our great nation is. You’ve got waterfalls, forests, plains, and so much more. But not every place is going to win a beauty contest at first glance. Today, we’re looking at 25 states that aren’t exactly the prettiest, shall we say.

New Jersey

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If you drive through New Jersey, you might come across the infamous Turnpike. It’s got character, that’s for sure, but it’s far from beautiful. That industrial skyline isn’t going to appear in any art galleries, and it’s more of an eyesore than anything worth looking at. It’s a shame because there are some nice places in New Jersey, like Liberty State Park.


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Nevada has got some pretty huge stretches of land that seem to go on forever…and that’s it. There’s not much in them aside from dust and the occasional tumbleweed. Away from the glitz of Vegas, some places are so bare that you’ll be wondering if you’re still on planet Earth. City of Sin? More like City of Dust.


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In Alaska, winter is an absolute challenge, and you’ll spend most of it just hoping to survive. And then there’s the isolation. Some areas are so far away that getting access to basic services like grocery stores or medical care is a major challenge. Unless you’re up for an adventure, this state’s not worth it.


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After a tornado, Oklahoma looks just like a demolition derby, and it’s normal to find bits of trash flung all over the place. Sure, it’s not the Oklahoman’s fault, but that doesn’t make it any less appealing. Mother Nature’s got a mean streak, and she seems to be taking it out on Oklahoma, especially since they get more than 50 tornadoes each year.


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Traveling through Mississippi feels like you’re going back in time, but not necessarily in a good way. The deltas are rich with musical history and do have a bit of charm around them, but there’s also a ton of neglect and infrastructure that needs more attention. Its ugliness is a sad sign of the issues in the state.


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Like some of the other states on this list, Alabama’s industrial areas aren’t easy on the eyes. Especially in Birmingham, there are a ton of factories and smokestacks that won’t win any awards. Some might say they show the state’s industrial power, but we think they’re just unattractive. And the air quality? It’s just as bad.


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The cities in Connecticut will probably give you and your eyes a bit of whiplash. One second, you’ve got modern and sleek buildings, but the next, some look like they’ve been left behind. Let’s not forget some of the roads, which could double up as obstacle courses. It’s a place where you can go from “wow” to “whoa” in just a few blocks.


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Okay, we’ll admit that parts of Hawaii can look like paradise, but not all of it. Thanks to its volcanoes, the state has plenty of uglier edges as entire communities have had to pick up the pieces. Rebuilding is slow, and the eruptions have destroyed a lot of the state’s beauty. You’d be forgiven for thinking you were on the moon instead of a tropical gateway.

West Virginia

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In West Virginia, the coal mining industry has left some areas looking pretty rough around the edges, while the streams aren’t what we’d call inviting. Keeping the lights on comes with some serious consequences for the environment and aesthetics. Even World Population Review agrees, and they claim the lack of greenery is one of the state’s biggest flaws.


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There’s no denying that Louisiana’s bayous are unique, but sadly, they’re going through some hard times that are making them unattractive. A ton of oil spills and erosion have turned some spots into barren places. In some areas, it’s easy to see that the water’s not quite right, and it’s affecting the state’s once-natural charm.


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Like Louisiana, Florida is suffering from development and pollution problems that are making it look uglier by the day. The swamps and Everglades should be teeming with colors. Unfortunately, many animals are literally struggling to keep their heads above water. All of this is making the state look worse and worse.


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The biggest issues for California’s aesthetics are definitely tourists and extraction industries. Many of the deserts and natural places used to look majestic, but now? They’re a little more Mad Max. And let’s not forget about that brutal heat, which could even make the Mona Lisa’s smile look like a child’s drawing.


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Ohio is essentially a collection of silent factories and ghostly warehouses. Some areas look frozen in time and have left behind an industrial ghost town that’s far from beautiful. The state is filled with these relics of the past that, if they were entering a competition for looking the most rusted, would easily win.


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Honestly, Kentucky’s outdoors has seen better days, and that’s putting it nicely. Between the logging and mining, everything looks patchy and a little sad. The streams should be sparkling, but they look more stagnant than anything. Visiting here is one heck of a reality check on some of the state’s numerous issues.


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In Missouri, the Ozarks are a mix of natural beauty and unchecked development. If you’re looking for some beautiful lakes, good luck. They’re more like dirty swimming pools and dumping grounds filled with murky bathwater. One recent report even found that some of the lakes contain radioactive waste, thanks to a local uranium plant.


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Texas might as well put oil rigs on its postcards as these metallic monsters have filled the state. They’ve turned the natural beauty of the Lone Star State into something that looks more like a mechanical forest. You can practically taste the iron in the air. And the water? Let’s just say you wouldn’t want it in your sweet tea.


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Pennsylvania is another state where the industry has pretty much destroyed its beauty. The towns are covered in dirt and decay that’d fit right into a post-apocalyptic movie. The state still has some nice spots and a very interesting history, but do you want to sift through all that grime to get there? Didn’t think so.


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Arizona’s deserts are feeling the squeeze, thanks to the increase in urban development. What used to be living and breathing ecosystems have become sandy suburbs that are nowhere near as nice to look at. It’s a place where you can watch the battle for survival in real life, just so long as you’re wearing SPF 5000.


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Who doesn’t love a bit of snow and ice? Well, in Minnesota, the emphasis is on the word bit. Here, the winter quickly wears out its welcome and makes your daily commute a survival challenge. Forget about winter wonderlands because, looking at how much snow Minnesota gets, you’ll be wondering why you ever came there.


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Iowa has corn and soy, that’s for sure, but it doesn’t really seem to have much else. Yes, there’s definitely something beautiful about its rolling fields, although this gets a little boring when it’s all you see for miles. According to the Department of Agriculture, the number of Iowan farms is reducing, and honestly, we don’t think that’s a bad thing.

South Dakota

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A trip into South Dakota’s Badlands is like a trip to another planet, where the plants haven’t been watered for a couple of millennia. There’s not much here aside from the rock formations and feelings of hopelessness. It’s called the Badlands for a reason. If you’re into that dead planet look, then this is the state for you.


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In Indiana, you’ll learn to appreciate the simple things. Namely, you’ll be over the moon when you see a new type of crop after seeing miles of the same old farmland. Are you struggling to sleep at night? Then head over to Indiana, where the dull views make watching paint dry feel like an extreme sport.


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Between the runoff and pollution of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, you’d half expect to see the three-eyed fish from the Simpsons. The Bay desperately needs cleaning up because, right now, it looks pretty disgusting. The state government is trying to fix these issues, but it’s a losing battle at the moment.

New York

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Is there a concrete jungle that’s uglier than New York? We don’t think so, as the lack of green spaces makes this state an eyesore. The only “wildlife” you’ll get here are pigeons and freakishly big rats, which are hardly nice to look at. It’s the state where dreams are made, but also nightmares, too.


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If you stick to the windy city of Chicago, then Illinois doesn’t look so bad. But as soon as you step outside, everything looks…flat. That’s not always a bad thing, but most of the towns here are run-down or absolutely horrible to look at. Illinois is a state that keeps it simple and perhaps a little too simple. 

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