America’s Best and Worst Cities for a Summer Staycation

best and worst cities staycation hero kyle glenn 601172 unsplash
Kyle Glenn/Unsplash

America’s got a problem. Okay, maybe it’s got a few, but we’re talking about one in particular: workaholism.

Did you know that last year, over 50 percent of Americans reported having unused vacation days? Sure, not everyone can or wants to plunk down a hefty chunk of change on plane tickets, hotel suites, and expensive getaways, but everybody deserves a break occasionally. With the rise of the staycation, you don’t have to leave town to leave your worries behind.

But first, what makes a great stay-cay? The best thing about staycationing is that, without being bound by things like travel costs and a specific destination’s amenities, you can basically do whatever you damn well please. Feel like playing video games in your underpants for three straight days without shame? Go for it. Want to fill your time catching up on errands or projects you haven’t had time for lately? Do it. Want to treat yourself to a movie and dinner date? Go ahead.

So, what should you plan for your stay-cay and how much is your local scene equipped for a truly relaxing time off? With the help of WalletHub’s recent study on the Best and Worst Cities for Summer Staycations, we’re here to tell you to make the most out of your free time and stop leaving those leftover vacation days on the table.

Category Cities
Best City for a Staycation Orlando, Florida
Worst City for a Staycation Lubbock, Texas
Best City for Rest and Relaxation Cape Coral, Florida
Worst City for Rest and Relaxation Oakland, California
Best City for Food and Entertainment Orlando, Florida
Worst City for Food and Entertainment Oxnard, California
Best City for Recreation Chicago, Illinois
Worst City for Recreation Casper, Wyoming

Did your town make the top 10? Or did it fall behind and end up at the bottom of the list? Check out these stats to find out where your city ranks:

10 Best Cities for Staycations

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Orlando, Florida Wikimedia Commons
  1. Orlando, Florida
  2. Honolulu, Hawaii
  3. Chicago, Illinois
  4. Seattle, Washington
  5. Portland, Oregon
  6. Tampa, Florida
  7. Las Vegas, Nevada
  8. San Francisco, California
  9. San Diego, California
  10. Charleston, South Carolina

10 Worst Cities for Staycations

best and worst cities staycation lubbockskyline2013
Lubbock, Texas Wikimedia Commons
  1. Lubbock, Texas
  2. Warwick, Rhode Island
  3. Aurora, Illinois
  4. Anaheim, California
  5. Nashua, New Hampshire
  6. Yonkers, New York
  7. Fremont, California
  8. San Bernardino, California
  9. Bridgeport, Connecticut
  10. Oxnard, California

10 Best Cities for Rest and Relaxation

In addition to overall rankings, WalletHub has also ranked the best and worst cities in three specific categories. The “Rest and Relaxation” category focuses on factors like the cost of house-cleaning services, public beaches per capita, spas and wellness centers, and idealness of summer weather.

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Cape Coral, Florida Wikimedia Commons
  1. Cape Coral, Florida
  2. Tampa, Florida
  3. Scottsdale, Arizona
  4. Honolulu, Hawaii
  5. Charleston, South Carolina
  6. Virginia Beach, Virginia
  7. Casper, Wyoming
  8. Nampa, Idaho
  9. Jackson, Mississippi
  10. Fargo, North Dakota

10 Worst Cities for Rest and Relaxation

best and worst cities staycation oaklandcalifornia
Oakland, California Photo via Good Free Photos
  1. Oakland, California
  2. Warwick, Rhode Island
  3. St. Paul, Minnesota
  4. Yonkers, New York
  5. Irvine, California
  6. Nashua, New Hampshire
  7. Worcester, Massachusetts
  8. Fremont, California
  9. Bridgeport, Connecticut
  10. Anaheim, California

10 Best Cities for Food and Entertainment

The “Food and Entertainment” category is all about getting out of the house and enjoying some good old-fashioned fun (and tasty eats), focusing on factors like movie and bowling costs; nightlife options and festivals per capita; the number of zoos, aquariums and museums, restaurant diversity, beer gardens and coffee shops per capita; and the average price of a party ticket.

best and worst cities staycation epcotdome
Epcot Center, Disneyworld, Orlando, Florida Patrick Hunt on Unsplash
  1. Orlando, Florida
  2. Las Vegas, Nevada
  3. Seattle, Washington
  4. Portland, Oregon
  5. San Francisco, California
  6. Miami, Florida
  7. Chicago, Illinois
  8. Honolulu, Hawaii
  9. Austin, Texas
  10. New York, New York

10 Worst Cities for Food and Entertainment

best and worst cities staycation dover delaware
Dover, Delaware Wikimedia Commons
  1. Oxnard, California
  2. Fontana, California
  3. Brownsville, Texas
  4. Aurora, Illinois
  5. Rancho Cucamonga, California
  6. San Bernardino, California
  7. Bridgeport, Connecticut
  8. Dover, Delaware
  9. Ontario, California
  10. Lewiston, Maine

10 Best Cities for Recreation

Finally, the “Recreation” category focuses on factors like public golf courses, tennis courts, swimming pools, and other sports facilities per capita; the prevalence of water and amusement parks, boat tours, and water sports; and the amount of bike trails per square mile.

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Chicago, Illinois Sawyer Bengtson/Unsplash
  1. Chicago, Illinois
  2. Washington, D.C.
  3. San Diego, California
  4. San Francisco, California
  5. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  6. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  7. Seattle, Washington
  8. Portland, Oregon
  9. Honolulu, Hawaii
  10. New York, New York

10 Worst Cities for Recreation

best and worst cities staycation casperwyomingheroimage
Casper, Wyoming Visit Casper
  1. Casper, Wyoming
  2. Brownsville, Texas
  3. Shreveport, Louisiana
  4. Mobile, Alabama
  5. Las Cruces, New Mexico
  6. Jackson, Mississippi
  7. San Bernardino, California
  8. Augusta, Georgia
  9. Fayetteville, North Carolina
  10. Dover, Delaware

Notable Numbers

  • Zoos and aquariums make for fun day trips that won’t cost an arm and a leg. Who’s got the best hometown for enjoying these animal attractions? North Las Vegas has the most with 62.3 times more than New York City (which has the fewest). If museums are more your flavor, Yonkers, New York, is the place to be with the most per capita.
  • For those who love to spend their idle time in the great outdoors, Portland, Maine, has the most parks per capita with 22.4 times more than Hialeah, Florida, which sits at the bottom of the parks list.
  • To get the most out of your staycation, you might be thinking about outsourcing your household chores for a while. If you live in South Burlington, Vermont, you can enjoy the lowest price at just $103 for average house-cleaning services compared to St. Paul, Minnesota, which tops the list at $539.
  • You might as well get some exercise in while you’ve got the time to spare. In Chicago, there’s no shortage of places to enjoy some tennis time. The city has the most tennis courts per capita with nearly 26 times the amount in Gilbert, Arizona, which has the fewest. Warwick, Rhode Island, boasts the highest number of public golf courses per capita with 44 times more than the bottom spot, which goes to Laredo, Texas. Cleveland, Ohio, is the place to be if you’d rather get your workout in on the water — it has the most swimming pools per capita.
  • If you’d rather get your drink on while you’re away from the office, Portland, Oregon, has the most beer gardens per capita. You might have some dry days in Detroit, Michigan, though because it has 16 times fewer per capita. If you like to get your liquid courage a different way, you can head over to your local coffee shop: New York, New York, has the most per capita, beating out last place (Pearl City, Hawaii) 29 times over. Rather eat than drink? Orlando, Florida, has you covered on sweet treats with the most ice cream/frozen yogurt shops per capita, over 21 times the city with the lowest (Lewiston, Maine).

WalletHub calculated their rankings based on 40 different factors, including coffee shops per capita, prevalence of different attractions, various sporting facilities per capita, and even the availability of ice cream (it is summer, after all). You can check out the complete criteria and methodology by viewing the full study.