You don’t have to go away to really “get away” if you’re in need of a summer escape. And we don’t mean getting lost in your imagination or a gripping novel, however far those things can transport you. Rather, a “staycation” might be in order, especially if you aren’t inclined to drive or fly long distances or simply can’t afford to use your vacation time, the unfortunate reality for many
Americans who work.

There are certain places that offer plenty of options for entertainment and relaxation at the right price point, making those cities the perfect spots for staying local.

To help you decide whether to leave home or bring vacation to your front door, WalletHub compared more than 180 cities based on 43 key indicators of a fun-filled yet wallet-friendly staycation. Read on for the full ranking, our methodology and useful staycationing tips from experts.

Main Findings

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Best Places for a Staycation

Overall Rank
(1 = Best)
City Total Score ‘Recreation’ Rank ‘Food & Entertainment’ Rank ‘Rest & Relaxation’ Rank
1 Honolulu, HI 64.63 1 9 4
2 Orlando, FL 59.21 21 1 48
3 Chicago, IL 58.26 3 11 26
4 San Diego, CA 57.51 10 13 8
5 Portland, OR 56.57 6 3 57
6 Charleston, SC 56.36 7 20 9
7 Seattle, WA 56.27 9 4 32
8 Fort Lauderdale, FL 55.22 2 81 2
9 Tampa, FL 55.10 25 7 5
10 San Francisco, CA 55.04 5 6 81
11 Virginia Beach, VA 53.89 28 62 1
12 Las Vegas, NV 52.33 46 2 58
13 Atlanta, GA 51.75 27 15 18
14 Portland, ME 50.98 4 38 47
15 Austin, TX 50.93 22 5 83
16 New York, NY 50.23 11 23 105
17 Salt Lake City, UT 50.10 19 17 72
18 Minneapolis, MN 49.91 20 30 25
19 Miami, FL 48.60 31 8 93
20 Denver, CO 47.56 18 28 91
21 Boise, ID 47.39 38 42 17
22 Washington, DC 47.34 8 18 179
23 Boston, MA 46.98 12 46 112
24 Philadelphia, PA 46.27 15 22 161
25 Tucson, AZ 46.16 42 14 101
26 St. Louis, MO 45.87 55 10 99
27 Scottsdale, AZ 45.69 49 43 24
28 Cincinnati, OH 45.32 24 27 126
29 Los Angeles, CA 45.29 48 33 43
30 Springfield, MO 45.01 126 35 12
31 Pittsburgh, PA 44.99 52 12 115
32 Knoxville, TN 44.82 47 39 66
33 Norfolk, VA 44.78 26 113 23
34 Nashville, TN 44.74 51 32 46
35 Columbia, SC 44.50 138 25 34
36 Reno, NV 44.39 75 19 59
37 St. Petersburg, FL 44.35 43 69 30
38 Rapid City, SD 44.28 122 67 6
39 Madison, WI 44.06 14 79 132
40 Sacramento, CA 43.79 58 37 49
41 New Orleans, LA 43.78 36 16 160
42 Burlington, VT 43.23 17 78 100
43 Jacksonville, FL 43.10 44 47 84
44 Richmond, VA 42.67 39 24 151
45 Spokane, WA 42.66 96 68 20
46 Colorado Springs, CO 42.52 65 31 68
47 Omaha, NE 42.29 29 56 128
48 Cleveland, OH 42.24 50 52 79
49 Lincoln, NE 41.92 30 73 111
50 Cape Coral, FL 41.41 56 137 13
51 Albuquerque, NM 41.40 57 34 127
52 Milwaukee, WI 41.32 45 44 130
53 Long Beach, CA 41.02 71 98 19
54 Tempe, AZ 40.97 64 66 85
55 Chattanooga, TN 40.94 85 53 76
56 Amarillo, TX 40.90 164 74 22
57 Huntington Beach, CA 40.77 16 114 117
58 Glendale, CA 40.50 33 147 32
59 Grand Rapids, MI 40.46 89 60 80
60 Baltimore, MD 40.35 34 57 158
61 Tacoma, WA 39.93 150 51 50
62 Tallahassee, FL 39.74 61 72 116
63 Houston, TX 39.67 62 26 162
64 San Antonio, TX 39.65 100 21 129
65 Rochester, NY 39.40 104 29 152
66 Greensboro, NC 39.34 68 58 103
67 Kansas City, MO 39.19 99 65 63
68 Columbus, OH 39.07 84 48 97
69 Gulfport, MS 39.00 115 120 16
70 Raleigh, NC 38.60 82 36 133
71 Corpus Christi, TX 38.59 80 116 31
72 Dallas, TX 38.43 77 45 131
73 Peoria, AZ 38.34 23 158 69
74 Birmingham, AL 38.32 168 55 54
75 Overland Park, KS 38.27 133 106 42
76 West Valley City, UT 38.22 70 155 3
77 Little Rock, AR 38.19 93 86 92
78 Modesto, CA 38.07 163 112 15
79 Tulsa, OK 38.04 108 84 51
80 Jackson, MS 37.82 176 111 11
81 Charlotte, NC 37.79 79 59 123
82 Bismarck, ND 37.75 157 101 36
83 Sioux Falls, SD 37.73 171 76 37
84 Louisville, KY 37.71 66 50 150
85 Fargo, ND 37.58 161 91 56
86 Des Moines, IA 37.45 160 70 89
87 Huntsville, AL 37.43 87 90 106
88 Akron, OH 37.20 139 108 39
89 Indianapolis, IN 37.20 103 41 144
90 Shreveport, LA 36.91 180 82 40
91 Las Cruces, NM 36.87 178 126 14
92 Columbus, GA 36.82 116 136 28
93 Oklahoma City, OK 36.68 149 64 55
94 Nampa, ID 36.67 174 167 7
95 Henderson, NV 36.57 117 93 60
96 Wilmington, DE 36.57 124 103 77
97 Buffalo, NY 36.56 72 49 168
98 Chesapeake, VA 36.55 59 122 108
99 Rancho Cucamonga, CA 36.47 32 174 52
100 Lexington-Fayette, KY 36.36 125 87 67
101 Plano, TX 36.33 63 131 87
102 Providence, RI 36.33 73 77 163
103 Baton Rouge, LA 36.32 111 54 139
104 Cedar Rapids, IA 36.31 159 107 44
105 Anchorage, AK 36.21 53 85 173
106 Vancouver, WA 36.02 152 105 53
107 Mobile, AL 35.97 175 61 107
108 El Paso, TX 35.84 134 75 98
109 Casper, WY 35.79 181 124 10
110 Salem, OR 35.74 147 97 102
111 Newport News, VA 35.67 137 133 41
112 Billings, MT 35.54 151 63 153
113 Phoenix, AZ 35.44 97 71 147
114 Santa Clarita, CA 35.43 13 153 169
115 Fontana, CA 35.42 41 178 27
116 Winston-Salem, NC 35.34 102 121 71
117 Chandler, AZ 35.03 101 110 95
118 Glendale, AZ 34.80 54 149 136
119 Oceanside, CA 34.76 81 132 104
120 Missoula, MT 34.72 86 104 134
121 Garden Grove, CA 34.62 60 165 75
122 Juneau, AK 34.60 35 143 148
123 St. Paul, MN 34.50 37 100 181
124 Memphis, TN 34.45 130 80 124
125 Arlington, TX 34.37 94 129 94
126 Durham, NC 34.32 90 89 157
127 Columbia, MD 34.23 95 162 61
128 Mesa, AZ 34.23 105 88 137
129 Wichita, KS 34.08 153 40 156
130 Fort Worth, TX 33.78 131 95 125
131 Dover, DE 33.74 107 152 90
132 Stockton, CA 33.73 129 127 78
133 Toledo, OH 33.71 156 96 88
134 Bakersfield, CA 33.48 169 92 82
135 Fayetteville, NC 33.44 166 134 65
136 Ontario, CA 33.29 88 173 62
137 Manchester, NH 33.29 114 130 120
138 Montgomery, AL 33.24 172 135 64
139 Detroit, MI 33.23 112 109 135
140 Riverside, CA 33.13 119 117 121
141 Grand Prairie, TX 33.12 74 180 45
142 Irvine, CA 33.12 40 148 177
143 San Bernardino, CA 33.05 132 166 21
144 Augusta, GA 32.91 179 119 86
145 Charleston, WV 32.74 69 142 143
146 Huntington, WV 32.68 113 144 118
147 Moreno Valley, CA 32.62 76 159 119
148 Laredo, TX 32.49 109 161 73
149 Fort Smith, AR 32.48 177 145 29
150 South Burlington, VT 32.43 92 128 146
151 North Las Vegas, NV 32.29 144 168 38
152 Pembroke Pines, FL 32.26 118 172 70
153 Fort Wayne, IN 32.09 135 94 154
154 Fresno, CA 31.69 170 99 96
155 San Jose, CA 31.64 120 102 167
156 Gilbert, AZ 31.61 98 140 142
157 Garland, TX 31.52 136 156 74
158 Aurora, CO 31.46 110 139 141
159 Anaheim, CA 31.39 143 123 110
160 Newark, NJ 30.70 146 138 113
161 Santa Rosa, CA 30.66 67 160 155
162 Lubbock, TX 30.63 141 125 138
163 New Haven, CT 30.36 165 141 122
164 Cheyenne, WY 29.98 173 150 114
165 Warwick, RI 29.88 91 146 166
166 Brownsville, TX 29.73 182 175 35
167 Port St. Lucie, FL 29.31 148 115 174
168 Oakland, CA 29.31 128 83 182
169 Hialeah, FL 29.15 142 170 109
170 Fremont, CA 28.29 121 171 149
171 Worcester, MA 28.22 123 157 165
172 Nashua, NH 28.13 106 154 176
173 Jersey City, NJ 28.07 158 117 170
174 Lewiston, ME 27.75 162 169 145
175 Aurora, IL 27.48 83 177 159
176 Santa Ana, CA 26.70 145 151 175
177 Pearl City, HI 26.38 140 179 140
178 Irving, TX 26.18 127 164 180
179 Bridgeport, CT 25.42 167 163 178
180 Yonkers, NY 25.10 78 182 171
181 Oxnard, CA 24.08 154 181 164
182 Chula Vista, CA 23.93 155 176 172

Ask the Experts

There’s a difference between a staycation and business as usual in the context of staying local. And it all has to do with how you spend your time in the city you call home. For advice on making the best of your staycation, we asked a panel of experts to share their thoughts on the following key questions:

  1. What are some tips for having a truly relaxing staycation?
  2. What activities can families do locally without breaking the bank?
  3. What is the best time of year to have a staycation?
  4. In evaluating the best cities for staycations, what are the top five indicators?

Methodology

In order to determine the best staycation spots, WalletHub compared 182 U.S. cities — including the 150 most populated U.S. cities, plus at least two of the most populated cities in each state — across three key dimensions: 1) Recreation, 2) Food & Entertainment and 3) Rest & Relaxation.

We evaluated those dimensions using 43 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for staycationers. For metrics marked with an asterisk (*), the square root of the population was used to calculate the “Number of Residents” in order to avoid overcompensating for minor differences across cities.

We then determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.

Recreation – Total Points: 33.33

  • Public Golf Courses per Capita*: Full Weight (~2.30 Points)
  • Tennis Courts per Capita*: Full Weight (~2.30 Points)
  • Swimming Pools per Capita*: Full Weight (~2.30 Points)
  • Basketball Hoops per Capita*: Full Weight (~2.30 Points)
  • Baseball & Softball Diamonds per Capita*: Full Weight (~2.30 Points)
  • Parks per Capita*: Full Weight (~2.30 Points)
  • Playgrounds per Capita*: Full Weight (~2.30 Points)
  • Bike Rental Facilities per Capita*: Full Weight (~2.30 Points)
  • Hiking Trails per Capita*: Full Weight (~2.30 Points)
  • Running Trails per Capita*: Full Weight (~2.30 Points)
  • Walking Trails per Capita*: Full Weight (~2.30 Points)
  • Shopping Centers per Capita*: Full Weight (~2.30 Points)
  • Water & Amusement Parks per Capita*: Full Weight (~2.30 Points)
  • Boat Tours & Water Sports per Capita*: Full Weight (~2.30 Points)
  • Miles of Bicycle Lanes, Paths & Routes per Square Mile: Half Weight (~1.15 Points)

Food & Entertainment – Total Points: 33.33

  • Movie Costs: Full Weight (~1.63 Points)
  • Average Price for Two Tickets to the Theater: Full Weight (~1.63 Points)
  • Bowling Costs: Full Weight (~1.63 Points)
  • Average Price of Party Ticket: Full Weight (~1.63 Points)
  • Average Cocktail Price: Full Weight (~1.63 Points)
  • Nightlife Options per Capita*: Full Weight (~1.63 Points)
  • Casinos per Capita*: Half Weight (~0.81 Points)
  • Festivals per Capita*: Full Weight (~1.63 Points)
  • Museums per Capita*: Full Weight (~1.63 Points)
  • Zoos & Aquariums per Capita*: Full Weight (~1.63 Points)
  • Paintball Fields per Capita*: Full Weight (~1.63 Points)
  • Arcades per Capita*: Full Weight (~1.63 Points)
  • Presence on TripAdvisor’s “Top 25 Amusement Parks” List: Full Weight (~1.63 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the presence and prevalence of a city in TripAdvisor’s “Top 25 Amusement Parks” List.
  • Theaters & Concert Halls per Capita*: Full Weight (~1.63 Points)
  • Coffee & Tea Shops per Capita*: Full Weight (~1.63 Points)
  • Ice Cream & Frozen Yogurt Shops per Capita*: Full Weight (~1.63 Points)
  • Beer Gardens per Capita*: Full Weight (~1.63 Points)
  • Restaurants per Capita*: Full Weight (~1.63 Points)
  • Restaurant-Meal Costs: Full Weight (~1.63 Points)
  • Prevalence of Affordable Restaurants with 4.5+ Stars: Full Weight (~1.63 Points)
  • Diversity of Restaurants: Full Weight (~1.63 Points)

Rest & Relaxation – Total Points: 33.33

  • Cost of House-Cleaning Service: Full Weight (~4.76 Points)
  • Spas & Wellness Centers per Capita*: Full Weight (~4.76 Points)
  • Massage Costs: Full Weight (~4.76 Points)
  • Beauty-Salon Costs: Full Weight (~4.76 Points)
  • Public Beaches per Capita*: Full Weight (~4.76 Points)
  • Presence on TripAdvisor’s “Top 25 Beaches” List: Full Weigh (~4.76 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the presence and prevalence of a city in TripAdvisor’s “Top 25 Beaches” List.
  • Idealness of Summer Weather: Full Weight (~4.76 Points)
    Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s Cities with the Best & Worst Weather ranking.

Videos for News Use:

Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Council for Community and Economic Research, Public Courses, Under Armour, Eventbrite, Numbeo.com, MassageBook, Trust for Public Land, League of American Bicyclists, TripAdvisor, Yelp, Expatistan, ImproveNet and WalletHub research.

Image: Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock.com

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