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There’s something universal about a love of cars — whether you enjoy restoring classic cars or prefer to drive newer models, no matter where you live, there are places for you to enjoy your passion. As with most things, though, some locations are better than others. What’s the best state to live in if you love cars?
Best State for Driving
There are roughly 164,000 miles of highways in the United States, but all roads are not created equal. Some states are better than others when it comes to on-road driving.
Arizona ranks highest for highway driving — thousands of miles of highway, much of it through mostly empty desert, and relaxed laws where speeding is concerned. Getting caught speeding in other states, especially if you’re going way over the speed limit, usually results in a reckless driving ticket. Not so in Arizona!
It is more expensive to own a car in Arizona than in other states, but the sheer mileage of the highway makes up for it. You’ve also got no highway tolls and little to no emissions testing — some of the bigger cities like Phoenix and Tucson do require emissions testing but they’re the exception, not the rule.
Some runners-up for highway driving include:
- Florida — avoid the cities, but Florida has some of the prettiest highways in the country, especially if you head toward the south part of the state and head out toward the Florida Keys.
- Wyoming — A little out of the way, but some beautiful roads to enjoy.
- California – Driving up the coast… case closed.
You can find great highways in just about every state, so do some research before you pick your state.
Best State for Car Shows
It’s hard to pick just one state for car shows — there are so many amazing ones to choose from, but we had to just narrow it down to two. Our winners for best states for car shows are California and Michigan.
California is home to some of the most famous race tracks in the world, which makes it the perfect place to see both races and car shows. The Concorso Italiano, held every year in Monterey Bay, is the biggest Italian car show in the world — if you enjoy exotic cars, this is the show for you.
Michigan might not seem like a car-friendly state, but it’s also home to Detroit, the motor city and arguably one of the biggest car cities in the country. The Detroit Auto Show, for example, is often considered one of the biggest car events of any given year.
Best State for Off-Roading
The U.S. isn’t just a destination for highways and car shows — it also has some of the best offroading destinations in the world. We’ve already given California a crown, so we’re going to skip that state in favor of another great locale — Utah.
Moab, Utah is one of the most popular offroading destinations in the world — so popular that some of the trails have had to be marked off-limits for off-road vehicles because drivers were fighting with hikers and mountain bikers for trail space. You do have to pick up an off-road vehicle permit to drive here — they’re available for a fee for both state residents and visitors — but you’re in for a treat with some of the best off-road trails in the country.
Best State for Car Buying
Buying a car isn’t cheap, but there are some states that are better than others when it comes to car buying.
Oregon and Alaska are among the cheapest states for car buying, with the smallest percentage of taxes and fees on the purchase of a new car. Alaska isn’t the best place to own a car though — snow makes it difficult to drive and can be hell on a car’s undercarriage.
Oregon, though, is one of the best places — your new car fees are less than 1 percent of the cost of your car, averaging less than $150 for each car purchase.
If you’re buying a new car, skip Arizona or Florida — their new sale fees average between 11 and 14 percent of the cost of the new car, which can add up quick.
Best State to Live in if You Love Cars
We’re going to give the crown to California. It has great shows, amazing driving, and some of the best car culture you can find. The weather is usually nice as well. That doesn’t mean you want to park on the street though. Most CA car owners and collectors are going to keep the safe inside a garage, even without the worry of snow.
No matter where you own your car, you’re sure to be able to find great highways, off-road trails and car shows. We just took a look at some of the best states but don’t let that discourage you from picking a state that isn’t on our list. Wherever you end up, just take the time to really enjoy the open road — you’ve got hundreds of thousands of miles of highway to choose from, so you’re sure to find somewhere that you really love. If you’ve found the perfect off-road trail or highway that we’ve missed on our list, let us know! We’re always looking for new places to drive!