DESTINATION: HAPPY PEOPLE Visit the Happiest Places in theWorld — It’s Contagious
Testimonial Next in line is a state that has little in common with the Aloha State. Alaska came in second place for the third consecutive year. This represents a regional pattern. States with more access to nature are happier than industrial or urbanized states. With eight national parks, including Denali, Glacier Bay, and Gates of the Arctic, Alaska’s 663,000 square miles are filled to the brim with the wonders of nature. Visit a hustling, bustling tourist trap and what do you get? Crowds of competitive travelers and a local population that is sick to death of them. Visit a place with happy people, and you get good service, friendly faces, and you’ll learn firsthand what Harvard researchers affirmed in a 2012 study: Happiness is contagious. Luckily for the average traveler, the places that topped a nationwide Gallup poll and the United Nations’ annual World Happiness Report have plenty to offer in addition to cheerful locals. The Happiest States in the U.S. If we were to tell you that Hawaii is the happiest state in the country, you probably wouldn’t be surprised. And sure enough, Hawaii ranked first in overall happiness for the sixth consecutive year. The sunny beaches, rich culture, and great weather give tourists a taste of paradise that the natives enjoy all year long.
The Happiest Country in the World Denmark has long been the standard bearer in this category. This year, it relinquished the title to its Scandinavian sister, Norway. In fact, icy nations in Northern Europe made up each of the top five in the UN report. Cold conditions have little bearing on the outlook of happy people. Norway is home to some of the most breathtaking vistas on earth, most notably its western fjords like the world-famous Geirangerfjord and Nærøfjord. For the city wanderer, you’ll find choice seaside restaurants and walkable streets in towns like Bergen, the country’s second-largest city, which sports rainbow architecture and a 15th- century waterfront. If you visit any of these places, you’ll be reminded what any world traveler knows from experience: Knowing the heart of a destination begins and ends with its people. Tack on beautiful scenery and daydream-worthy activities, and you just found yourself the perfect vacation.
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