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Staycate or Vacate? The Best (and Worst) Cities to Vacation at Home

A staycation might not be the most frugal option, especially for those who purchase big ticket amenities to enhance their home vacation. 

| BY Donald Liebenson

An improved economy, lower gas prices (compared to last year), and at long last warmer weather after the severe and prolonged winter are giving people more incentive to travel this summer. Global travel industry website Skift reports that U.S. airlines will carry an unprecedented 222 million passengers between June 1 and Aug. 31. Eight-in-ten Americans are planning a summer vacation this year.

All the more reason why, in the immortal words of Dorothy Gale on her return from Oz, “There’s no place like home” to spend a summer “staycation.”

From recreational to cultural opportunities, you may not have to look outside your own city limits to find your heart’s vacation desire. Certain cities, of course, are more conducive to a staycation than others. WalletHub has ranked the 100 most populated American cities for their staycationability. Do you live in one of them?

Here are the top 10 staycation cities:

  • Orlando, FL
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • Scottsdale, AZ
  • Boise, ID
  • St. Louis, MO
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Tampa, FL
  • Portland, OR
  • Las Vegas, NV

WalletHub ranked each city according to three primary categories, recreation activities, food and entertainment and rest and relaxation. If you want to swim, for example, head to Cleveland. Tennis? Norfolk, VA has the most courts per 100,000 residents, according to the WalletHub report. Scottsdale, AZ has the most public golf courses per 100,000 residents, while Orlando and New Orleans offer the most zoos and aquariums and museums, respectively.

There are some cities though that WalletHub suggests you vacate instead of staycate. The bottom 10, in descending order, are:

  • Laredo, TX
  • Newark, NJ
  • North Las Vegas, NV
  • Hialeah, FL
  • San Bernadino, CA
  • Jersey City, NJ
  • Fremont, CA
  • Anaheim, CA
  • Santa Ana, CA
  • Chula Vista, CA

Are staycations worth it? Do they foster cabin fever? Howard Adler, Professor of Hospitality and Tourism at Purdue University finds them to be a good way to save money so that down the road families can go on a longer, more expensive vacation. “It is helpful to have a budget even for a staycation,” he recommended to WalletHub. “It helps people to prioritize what they really want to do and accomplish, and at what cost.”

Staycations, in fact, might not turn out to be the most frugal option, observes David Kaufman, Director of the Parks, Recreation, and Tourism program at University of Vermont, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources. “There are plenty of people who stay home for vacation, but also enhance their ‘stay’ with new swimming pools, spas, backyard basketball courts, new camping gear to camp locally, new fishing tackle, new golf clubs and a country club membership. It is also possible to enjoy a staycation by simply relaxing in your own lawn chairs, walking or riding on local recreation paths, etc.” 



About the Author

Donald Liebenson


Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.  

A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.