2014′s Best & Worst Cities for Staycations

by John S Kiernan

2014 Best and Worst Cities for StaycationWith the economy showing begrudging signs of improvement following an especially tumultuous winter, travel is trending upward as consumers can’t seem to wait for an escape.  More than 36 million people ventured at least 50 miles from home over Memorial Day weekend, according to AAA, and 75% of Americans are planning a summer vacation this year, according to American Express.

But the 2014 summer travel season is also expected to be rather expensive.  Vacationers plan to spend an average of $1,246 per person this summer – a 9% increase from 2013 – due in part to a rise in hotel and airfare costs in popular destinations.  If you don’t feel like you can afford such a hefty tab, you aren’t alone.  The average household still has roughly $7,000 in credit card debt hanging over their head, we have yet to solve our student loan problems, and full employment is still two years away.

Where does that leave us?  Exploring expert tips for saving on summer travel is a great way to help stretch a budget, but if you’ve got bigger savings goals in mind a staycation might be in order.  Certain cities are obviously more conducive to a staycation than others, though.  From recreation opportunities to the cost of relaxation, there are a number of factors to consider when evaluating whether or not you can bring the benefits of a vacation to your front door.

With that in mind, WalletHub considered 20 of the most important factors – from the number of public golf courses and swimming pools per capita to the cost of maid services – in ranking the 100 largest U.S. cities based on their staycation suitability.  Hopefully our findings can help frugal-minded consumers who are on the fence about staying home or taking a trip make the best decisions for their wallets and enjoy a bit of fun this summer.

Main Findings

Rank City Name Recreation Activities Rank Food & Entertainment Rank Rest & Relaxation Rank Weather Rank
1 Buffalo, NY 7 10 1 31
2 Minneapolis, MN 4 7 51 9
3 Cincinnati, OH 2 13 20 33
4 Pittsburgh, PA 32 4 6 16
5 Portland, OR 14 6 45 7
6 Omaha, NE 10 29 12 8
7 New Orleans, LA 11 3 29 35
8 Tampa, FL 20 18 8 25
9 Orlando, FL 39 1 3 68
10 Seattle, WA 8 9 73 13
11 St. Petersburg, FL 5 38 7 63
12 Lexington, KY 17 28 18 29
13 St. Louis, MO 17 5 14 90
14 Cleveland, OH 29 19 9 41
15 Atlanta, GA 6 17 33 67
16 Boise City, ID 65 14 4 24
17 St. Paul, MN 12 33 63 12
18 Winston-Salem, NC 24 58 5 15
19 Honolulu, HI 1 8 89 66
20 Raleigh, NC 23 45 16 25
21 Madison, WI 3 34 62 65
22 Greensboro, NC 12 51 53 19
23 Reno, NV 47 11 65 10
24 Denver, CO 21 22 28 74
25 Richmond, VA 9 30 34 51
26 Austin, TX 42 16 13 72
27 Baltimore, MD 19 26 61 50
28 Lincoln, NE 41 42 43 6
29 Tulsa, OK 26 44 1 73
30 Sacramento, CA 27 48 40 23
31 Las Vegas, NV 67 2 57 54
32 Baton Rouge, LA 34 20 25 85
33 Washington, DC 16 25 49 84
34 Tucson, AZ 30 23 15 98
35 Kansas City, MO 33 27 10 90
36 Albuquerque, NM 15 49 56 62
37 Boston, MA 34 15 80 43
38 Scottsdale, AZ 37 24 53 58
39 San Francisco, CA 25 12 81 64
40 Nashville, TN 55 31 42 31
41 Indianapolis, IN 49 54 26 30
42 Milwaukee, WI 66 20 69 21
43 Fort Wayne, IN 36 37 83 25
44 Toledo, OH 81 43 19 38
45 Durham, NC 45 62 36 25
46 Chicago, IL 50 41 17 76
47 Virginia Beach, VA 21 68 76 22
48 Louisville, KY 31 40 88 39
49 Philadelphia, PA 68 34 64 39
50 San Diego, CA 57 49 87 11
51 Norfolk, VA 28 77 68 34
52 Memphis, TN 53 32 60 89
53 Wichita, KS 46 46 67 71
54 Anchorage, AK 38 39 90 70
55 Charlotte, NC 71 70 47 18
56 Long Beach, CA 44 76 93 4
57 Dallas, TX 56 52 46 78
58 Oklahoma City, OK 69 53 22 93
59 El Paso, TX 89 61 11 42
60 Corpus Christi, TX 60 60 69 59
61 Lubbock, TX 63 64 27 92
62 Irvine, CA 54 98 82 1
63 Miami, FL 74 56 24 86
64 Chesapeake, VA 40 81 84 61
65 Plano, TX 51 92 30 75
66 Columbus, OH 43 55 71 83
67 Irving, TX 52 95 21 81
68 Los Angeles, CA 82 71 77 4
69 San Bernardino, CA 96 88 52 17
70 Colorado Springs, CO 64 36 79 97
71 Henderson, NV 77 79 36 47
72 Detroit, MI 57 47 72 87
73 Glendale, AZ 62 78 75 57
74 Garland, TX 57 89 44 76
75 Jacksonville, FL 70 75 32 80
76 Newark, NJ 73 87 66 49
77 Mesa, AZ 76 80 49 53
78 Aurora, CO 48 85 41 93
79 New York, NY 60 65 97 44
80 Santa Ana, CA 99 94 92 1
81 Stockton, CA 77 97 86 3
82 Chandler, AZ 84 84 38 54
83 San Antonio, TX 83 67 39 79
84 Oakland, CA 72 66 94 69
85 Hialeah, FL 90 86 31 82
86 Riverside, CA 97 91 53 20
87 Bakersfield, CA 98 56 78 36
88 Phoenix, AZ 88 62 48 95
89 Arlington, TX 79 82 35 96
90 North Las Vegas, NV 91 83 74 44
91 Fort Worth, TX 75 59 91 99
92 Houston, TX 87 69 59 87
93 Gilbert, AZ 100 72 58 54
94 Jersey City, NJ 94 74 85 44
95 San Jose, CA 85 93 95 60
96 Fresno, CA 92 90 100 36
97 Anaheim, CA 93 96 99 14
98 Laredo, TX 86 73 23 100
99 Fremont, CA 80 100 96 48
100 Chula Vista, CA 95 99 98 51
Best & Worst Cities for Staycations

Ask The Experts:  The Pros & Cons of Staycations

There are certainly arguments to be made for and against taking a staycation.  Saving money is a virtue, but a change of scenery can also do the mind, body and, ultimately, the wallet some good.  With that in mind, we turned to a panel of experts in the fields of leisure studies, travel and psychology for their take on the benefits and drawbacks of staycations.  You can check out their bios and responses below.

Are staycations a good money-saving idea?

Staycations are an excellent money saving idea. I often recommend them to individuals and families who are having a financial crisis due to a job loss or other personal casualty. They are often for short periods of time (daytrips, long weekends, etc.) and are much more economical than formal vacations.

Formal vacations often require advance notice and bookings with huge deposits. I once booked a place for a week at a fancy resort and ended up spending most of the time in my room due to terrible weather conditions. Since staycations are usually for a short duration, you can likely do four or five staycations for the price of one regular vacation.

- John Grigsby, Pennsylvania College of Technology


Whether staycationing is for you or not depends on where you live. If you happen to live in a major metropolitan hub and your city is rich in culture, events and sights then a staycation might help you not just save on travel (no airfare to pay!) but it offers a terrific opportunity to get to know your home town better.

Being a tourist in your home town may not necessarily lead to loads of savings if you compare a staycation to vacationing at an affordable, low-priced resort, however the expenses on accommodation and travel will still be a fraction of a vacation's if it involves long-haul flights and hotels. So yes, it is money saving that way, but if you choose to go out each day to pricey restaurants, take in a number of shows and spend on visiting most attractions, your expenses can become considerable.

- Gabor Forgacs, Ryerson University


From an economic perspective, staycations are a viable means of savings in that the bulk of travel costs tend to stem from transportation (airline, in particular), lodging and food / beverage.  The staycation affords travelers the opportunity to take advantage of amenities that are within a drivable radius, allowing for a series of day-trips.  Their funds can be concentrated on the activities themselves, and they accrue considerable savings by staying in their own homes and consuming some of their meals at home.

- Margaret Daniels, George Mason University


I think staycations are a great way to have a fun-filled vacation and save money.  There are many free options—like local (and in many states) state parks.  Even if people do spend money on a staycation, by enjoying local or regional attractions, they are usually avoiding many of the trip-associated costs of far-away vacations, like air travel, lodging or several tanks of gas for a vehicle.  Plus, people who choose to spend money on a staycation are usually supporting local businesses, which supports the local economy.  Supporting local businesses is always a good thing. Oftentimes, when we think of a vacation, we don’t think about being a tourist in our own backyard or in our own community.  But most communities have a wealth of opportunities to have fun, be entertained, or step out of our normal routine.  Libraries, local parks, and recreation departments often have free or very affordable fun and educational activities that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

Also, I think it is possible to have a vacation at home.  While most people tend to associate a vacation with travel, the travel is usually a means to an end.  People go on vacations to relax, spend time with family, get away from the stresses of work, have an adventure, or mark a special occasion.  All of these benefits can be achieved at home or in our community, without having to spend a lot of money.  For example, a family could have a picnic in the back yard, stargaze at night, or cloud watch during the day.  Backyard or living room camping is always another fun option.

- Stacy R. Tomas, Tennessee Tech University


Staycation money-saving tips

Plan ahead and use Internet sites to search for bargains on lodging and admission fees. State parks often have very inexpensive places to stay such as cabins and yurts and the admission to state parks is usually free.

Stay at a place that has a refrigerator and microwave for storing and cooking food instead of eating every meal out which adds up quickly. Buy groceries and fuel away from resort areas where prices are often inflated.

If possible, combine a business trip with a vacation by staying a few extra days before or after the business event. That way, your travel could be partially paid by your employer and if you are self-employed, your travel could potentially qualify for a tax deduction.

- John Grigsby, Pennsylvania College of Technology


If saving money is a strong consideration here is an idea: finally you can catch-up with all the local friends and relatives! Organize pot-luck get-togethers and barbecues in parks or backyards to meet and spend time with people. Take advantage of 'open doors' events if your city offers that, to visit places that you otherwise couldn't.

- Gabor Forgacs, Ryerson University


Remember that time is money.  As such, plan in advance, as you would for any other vacation and do not use your precious vacation time sitting at the computer trying to figure out what you want to do on any given day.  I recommend that travelers put as much forethought into a staycation as they would for an international vacation.

If they are golf enthusiasts who want to play all of the prestigious courses within a 75-mile radius, they should have the tee times set up in advance and go to one of the many online golf resources for deals.

For a family of four that is interested in having an adventurous week of hiking and geocaching, the same logic applies.  Create an itinerary and have a backup plan for each day, in particular if the vacation relies on favorable weather conditions.

- Margaret Daniels, George Mason University


Just like any other vacation, plan in advance. Decide what you want to do on your staycation. Do you want to visit a museum or theme park? If so, try to book tickets in advance – it could save you anywhere from $5 - $20 dollars. You can also plan a family outing to a park, ride bikes and enjoy a nice picnic lunch. Find out what free summer events are going on in your community during your staycation. Check out the local library or farmers market. Create a nice dinner that the whole family helped prepare. Play board games together as a family or watch old home movies with a giant tub of popcorn. Whatever you decide to do, remember to make a spending plan or budget for it!

- Sasha Grabenstetter, University of Illinois Extension


Check out the local recreation department, libraries, or local/regional parks.  They often have opportunities for free or low-cost fun and educational opportunities.

If you are traveling, or plan to be gone for an afternoon or for several days, try to buy all that you need (for example, snacks, drinks, sunscreen, bug spray, etc.) before you leave.

If you do spend money, try to spend it with locally-owned businesses.  Supporting local businesses helps keep money in the local economy, and helps local businesses be more successful.  Helping local businesses be successful helps ensure that they will stay in business.  Additionally, local businesses help make our communities unique from other places and contribute to the local sense of place.

- Stacy R. Tomas, Tennessee Tech University


What is the best way to determine a vacation budget?

Review your budget and determine how much you can realistically afford to spend. Once you have decided on a specific amount, stick to it and plan for unexpected items that are likely to crop up. Build a cushion into your plan for such contingencies.

Everyone deserves a break so look at a vacation as an investment in your health. Find ways to accomplish more than one objective on your vacation such as combining your vacation with a business trip, visiting a potential college or going on job interview.

- John Grigsby, Pennsylvania College of Technology


Do your research in advance, then set a budget and stick to it.  Choose a destination that works within your income.  You do not want to undermine the social and psychological benefits of travel with post-vacation buyer’s remorse.  If your family operates on a tight budget from month to month, establish a vacation fund that is protected for this use.  Each family member should get a pre-designated amount for a personal splurge while on vacation, and once that amount is spent, the impulse to throw caution to the wind and get into debt should be contained.

Even if personal budget is not an issue, I believe that vacations are an excellent opportunity to teach children economic restraint. By focusing on experiences rather than the acquisition of material goods, the likelihood of positive social outcomes increases.  For instance, when we brought our young son to a theme park recently, we established in advance that he could purchase one souvenir.  Between activities and rides, we would race through various shops and I let him take photos of items of interest.  At the end of the day, we went through all of the images and he picked out the one he liked best.  The documentation process ended up being a fun and memorable part of the visit!

- Margaret Daniels, George Mason University


Before you determine how much you can afford, you will need to decide on where you want to go, whether it is a staycation, city trip or weeklong vacation. Figuring out your destination first will help determine how much you need to spend to get there. After that, you’ll want to create a spending plan which will help you figure out how much you can afford on your vacation. Lastly, remember to budget an extra 5 – 15 percent extra in the event that an unexpected expense comes up like a flat tire or lost luggage.

- Sasha Grabenstetter, University of Illinois Extension


I’m a traveler and I believe that we should consume experiences not material things.  So, I don’t spend a lot of money to have nice clothes, accessories, or other such materialistic items.  However, I do save my money to have experiences and will take any opportunity to travel—whether it be local, regional, national, or international.  We only live once, and there is a great big world out there.  I want to experience as much of it as I possibly can!

- Stacy R. Tomas, Tennessee Tech University


Do "staycations" reflect our habit of turning luxuries into necessities?

This depends on the persons involved. I have heard people comment that staycations are often more fun and like an adventure since you can plan to do things as you go. Unlike a formal vacation to a resort for a week or more, you don’t feel obligated to visit every attraction and attend every prescheduled event and can simply relax.

Staycations are not a sacrifice since there is nothing that prevents you from staying at a luxurious hotel or eating at a fine restaurant along the way.

- John Grigsby, Pennsylvania College of Technology


There is no reason to be embarrassed when you choose to staycation in a given year, however this choice is more likely than not, out of necessity.

Real vacation involves a change of scenery for a variety of reasons: we unwind, relax and rejuvenate ourselves much better in a new environment that is different from our usual habitat. Learning, exploring and discovering is enriching and refreshing the mind and the body.

If we staycation we should go to places and see sights even in our own city that we never visited before. That way we can gather new experiences, even if we sleep in our own bed every night.

- Gabor Forgacs, Ryerson University


There is more and more talk of people feeling more overworked and overstimulated by the demands of a busy schedule, work, family obligations etc. In a way, a ‘staycation’ because it doesn't involve the extensive planning and expense of a vacation, may actually end up being more restful (and easy on the wallet).

- Emma Seppälä, Stanford University


Americans as a whole spend far too little time relaxing.  If you compare the average vacation time taken by families in the United States to European countries, we have fallen behind considerably.  Conspicuous consumption is not a new term and staycations tend to be more modest than national or international travel; as such, the poor planner may feel slighted by a staycation.  However, staycations need not be a sacrifice.  I find that those who are most likely to be disappointed by their staycations are those who do not set clear goals regarding what they hope to get out of their time off and stick to them.

My primary recommendation (or challenge) to staycationers is to unplug from work.  I believe one of the drawbacks of staycations is the tendency to not let go of the typical workweek.

- Margaret Daniels, George Mason University


A staycation is all about exploring the place where you live and getting to enjoy the ‘little things in life’ that you do not get to on a regular basis. Things like going to the movies, fishing, hiking or checking out that new restaurant everyone is talking about in town. A staycation is the best way to get to know the place where you live better than before.

- Sasha Grabenstetter, University of Illinois Extension


There is probably a thrift factor in many instances of staycation, and the idea of sacrifice in the only major annual holiday one may have is central to some people’s motive. A staycation can be a lot of fun but many people may discount it as a lesser experience than an away vacation.

- Frank Farley, Temple University


It probably depends on how people define ‘vacation.’  For some it means going to another state, for some to see family, for some it means going overseas, or for some it means not going to work.

I think it's true, in our global society, that many people probably don't think of a staycation as a vacation.   It really takes deliberate time and planning to actually make it into a vacation since when one is at home, there are so many everyday things that can pull you out of vacation mode (i.e. laundry, preparing food, mowing the lawn, answering emails and cell phones).

People need to plan their staycation just as they would their vacation away from home.  For some it might mean only answering emails once a day or not at all, planning for meals whether it is prepared at home or in a restaurant, cell phone use, etc.   For others the staycation can be a way to catch up on things at home – for example, those little projects that never seem to get done.  The key is to being deliberate about what you want to do on your staycation.

- Kim G Brenneman, Eastern Mennonite University


Finding time for leisure and recreation (including vacations and staycations) is required for us all to lead healthy, balanced lives.  You’ve all heard the saying about ‘all work and no play….’.  We need leisure time to help recharge us, to help us feel connected, and bring about a sense of renewal.

As such, I do not think of vacations/staycations/leisure as a luxury, but a true necessity in our life.  If you compare the average amount of American vacation time (both vacation days provided by companies, and the number of actual vacation days taken) to non-American vacation time (particularly by Western Europeans), Americans do not enjoy nearly the amount of vacation time as citizens of similar countries.

- Stacy R. Tomas, Tennessee Tech University


Are there any psychological drawbacks to a staycation?

There can be some drawbacks to staycations, especially for some couples/families.

(1) Couples/families often stay in the same ruts or family patterns if they are at home, on a staycation, as they do in their typical routine. Getting away may offer them an opportunity to engage in more positive interactions.

(2) Often times if people stay home it is easier for them to get pulled back into work, either by individuals at their place of employment (e.g., employers) or by their own involvement in their work.

(3) Many times, staycationers spend their time with household projects, errands, etc., rather than playing and enjoying one another’s company, and as a result, they do not feel relaxed or get much pleasure out of the experience.

- Nadine J. Kaslow, Emory University


Research shows that a change of environment can alter our perspective. And sometimes it may take leaving our usual four walls to also be able to forget about the responsibilities, duties and 'to-do's' that weigh us down on a daily basis. Finally, it may be hard to not fill your days with household errands on a staycation and actually rest. Staycationers need to be very deliberate and conscious to actually rest and stay away from work even though they are at home.

- Emma Seppälä, Stanford University 


There are negatives and positives. A negative is the lack of the ‘broadening experience’ of travel beyond one’s neighborhood or hometown. This broadening experience can be one of the most important ingredients in the value of travel. A positive aspect is the 1) cost, and 2) realizing/discovering the fun experiences under one’s own nose, the interesting local experiences one can have if you look.

- Frank Farley, Temple University


I don't see any drawbacks.  Certainly, staying home will not be as financially draining as planning a trip somewhere.  Relaxing in your own home can perhaps be even more relaxing than in a hotel room and eating out every meal.

However, if people are unable to disengage from the day-to-day mundane activities if on a staycation, then perhaps going somewhere else can help them do just that.

- Kim G Brenneman, Eastern Mennonite University


Does adding kids to the equation change things at all?

There are many fun activities to do on staycations with children. However, unless you are careful in the planning, a staycation with children and lots of activities can become quite costly, which defeats the purpose of saving money. In addition, children may be disappointed and angry that you are not getting away and it may be hard for them to grasp the reasons why that decision was made. Moreover, children may feel deprived of new experiences and learning opportunities and you may feel a sense of guilt that you are depriving them. So children make the equation more complex.

- Nadine J. Kaslow, Emory University


Kids are a joy but can also add complexity when it comes to travel. A staycation, in which the environment remains the same but you make the time to relax, participate in activities you usually don't have time for together, and focus on your family, may be an even more restful way to vacation with kids.

- Emma Seppälä, Stanford University


Adding kids can make travel and vacations more difficult and stressful than staycations. On the other hand, kids’ disappointment in not having a vacation can make a staycation problematic.

- Frank Farley, Temple University


Kids can usually have fun anywhere!  I think that if you are planning a staycation, then plan activities that the children can participate in with you, the parents/guardians.   Vacations are usually good memory-makers!  You can create as many memories at home as you can on vacation somewhere, but again the key is to be deliberate about your activities.

Check out day trips or the local zoo or bike trails.  Take pictures!  Eat out!  Eliminate the day-to-day chores if possible so the kids feel that it is a vacation.  Everyone might sleep better anyway in their own beds at the end of the day!

- Kim G Brenneman, Eastern Mennonite University


Methodology

The inherent objective of a staycation is to simultaneously save money and enjoy time off from work and the grind of everyday life – without leaving town, of course.  We approached our evaluation of the 100 largest U.S. cities with that in mind, taking into account one’s access to free or reduced-cost recreational activities and attractions as well as the cost-effectiveness of dining out and certain other indulgences.

In all, we considered the following 20 key metrics in ranking the cities, and used the corresponding weights to do so.  The three overall categories under which the metrics are listed – 1) Recreation Activities; 2) Food & Entertainment 3) Rest & Relaxation 4)Weather – were used for organizational purposes only and had no bearing on the overall rankings.

Recreation Activities

  1. Public Golf Courses per Capita 1.0
  2. Tennis Courts per Capita 1.0
  3. Number of Parks per Capita 1.0
  4. Miles of Bicycle Lanes, Paths and Routes per Square Mile  0.5
  5. Number of Shopping Centers per Capita 1.0 

Food & Entertainment

  1. Movie Costs 0.5
  2. Bowling Costs 0.5
  3. Number of Nightlife Options per Capita 1.0
  4. Number of Museums per Capita 0.5
  5. Number of Zoos and Aquariums per Capita:  0.5
  6. Number of Cultural Attractions per Capita 0.5
  7. Number of Live Performances per Capita 0.5
  8. Prevalence of Affordable 4.5+ Star Restaurants 0.5

 Rest & Relaxation

  1. Swimming Pools per Capita 1.0
  2. Cost of a Maid Service 1.0
  3. Wellness & Spa Centers per Capita 0.5
  4. Beauty Salon Costs 0.5

Weather 

  1. Difference Between the Historical Average Temperature for July 15 & Ideal Temperature (75°):  1
  2. Historical Average Precipitation for July 15:  1
  3. Historical Average Humidity for July 15:  0.5

 

Source: Data used to create these rankings is courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau, the Council for Community and Economic Research, the Trust for Public Land, the Alliance for Biking & Walking, HomeAdvisor, Tripadvisor, Weather Underground and Yelp.

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John Kiernan is Senior Writer & Editor at Evolution Finance. He graduated from the University of Maryland with a BA in Journalism, a minor in Sport Commerce & Culture,…
1180 Wallet Points
And some of this information is moot if a person's version of a staycation is staying at home and fixing up the place or knocking around the garage working on a favorite antique car. Our favorite staycations are mostly doing things never mentioned in the article and thus unmeasured. In addition we've camped, hiked, biked, and visited shops and restaurants we have never been to right here in our little town. We like being outdoors when the weather is mild.
We like to visit state parks and national parks located in our state. There and back in a day or overnight with the family tent. Along the way we've "discovered" little historical spots along the way too which can be interesting and free. There is a small river town an hour from here where we've attended antique car shows and which has a museum with all sorts of pictures and memorabila from their town. Free. And we can sit under a tree and fish if we want. That's free too. We don't automatically go where the crowds are like Disney.
Jun 18, 2014  •  Reply  •  Flag
I call BS! Who needs more than one World Famous Zoo, like San Diego? Buffalo is hot and muggy in the summer. Our big tourist trip was to the falls, picnics at Ellicott Creek Park, big deal!!! I was born there and moved when the blizzards got to be too much for my parents we moved to San Diego. What better place to staycation than a warm sunny beach, more types of restaurants than you can shake a stick
at from any country you like. Golf courses are plentiful and if the beach doesn't suit your fancy hiking and camping in the near by mountains is just as enjoyable. Or just go for a drive along the coast or into the back country. A day trip to Baja Mexico can add some spice as well as a trip up the coast to LA, Disneyland, Getty Museum, etc. San Diego has Sea World, the Zoo, Wild Animal Park, Lego Land, Maritime Museum with 5 different ships to explore, peaceful grassy areas by the bay, vast Pacific views from Point Loma, Historic Hotels on the beach in Coronado. Huge 1,200 acre Balboa Park in the middle of the city complete with museums, theaters, restaurants, grassy picnic areas, recreation areas for baseball, Frisbee golf, golf, famous 100 year old Carousel which also left the Buffalo area (North Tonawanda). There is just NOTHING in Buffalo like San Diego! We use to remind ourselves to go out and enjoy the wonders of San Diego because people pay big bucks to visit the paradise that we lived in! Nothing beats the weather there, summers are a comfortable 80 degrees most days. Winters can be chilly but not freezing like Buffalo. No thanks I'll take San Diego any day over Buffalo or any of the others listed.
Jun 10, 2014  •  Reply  •  Flag
I strongly oppose the methodology used in this assessment. I've lived in 7 of these cities and the reality of living there and the staycation options is much different than what you're proposing. Less than 10% of Americans play golf and of those 80% are men. The percent who play tennis is even smaller but is close to 50-50 men & women. The per capita thing isn't relevant either. If you want it to be relevant you need to get
much closer to a micro-view. Food is subjective. Weather isn't objective. You just can't say 75 is ideal and make it so! Maid service & beauty salons? Ridiculous.
Jun 7, 2014  •  Reply  •  Flag
Oakland has the 69th best weather and 66th best food? Spent much time in California, wallethub? (Here ya go: http://www.weather.com/weather/tenday/Oakland+International+Airport+CA+OAK:9)
Jun 6, 2014  •  Reply  •  Flag
Not sure why Dallas ranks above Houston. Houston's museums, performing arts and dining are superior in quality and quantity. Houston has more culture, more history (more historical architecture, the Battle of San Jacinto site where Texas gained its independence, the Battleship Texas, NASA Mission Control/Space Center Houston), is a short drive from Galveston/Moody Gardens/Boardwalk (if you include cities within a 40 mile radius like Dallas always does for its stats). Dallas might have better weather and maybe more pools and
golf courses per capita in its sprawling metro area, but people from Dallas brag about how great they are all the time and are insanely annoying. A dumb tv show and cheerleaders dont automatically make a city great.
Jun 5, 2014  •  Reply  •  Flag
ok, so you didn't include nice beaches in your methodology for nice places for summer vacations, but you included BIKE PATHS?!?!
Jun 5, 2014  •  Reply  •  Flag
Indianapolis should rank far, far higher than #41 on this list. As New Englanders and New Yorkers discovered during the Super Bowl in 2012, Indy has much to offer. Live theatre and music venues, restaurants and nightlife, professional sporting events, museums and a state park - all within easy walking distance downtown! As one who has lived in more than a dozen states and major metro areas, Indianapolis has to rank as one of my all-time favorites!
Jun 5, 2014  •  Reply (3)  •  Flag
@relhab: superbowl is during winter. they are pretending to compare summer spots, and their methodology is weird.
Jun 5, 2014  •  Reply  •  Flag
In all due respect, Indy is featureless and landlocked, i.e. not typically what one looks for in a vacation spot. In addition, its dining scene (dominated by chain restaurants) and places that seem to close by 7pm, leaves much to be desired. Crime has also been an issue as of late for residents. The bottom line is that Indy is an affordable place and I also like its children's museum. However, i would actually place it
much lower on the list as a vacation or staycation destination.
Jun 11, 2014  •  Reply  •  Flag
18 of the top 25 cities on this list are landlocked, so clearly that is not a barrier to being a great place to vacation or staycation - or better yet, to live. Also, your claim that Indy basically closes down at 7pm couldn't be further form the truth. As a major convention city, downtown Indy is lively every night as thousands of locals as well as visitors explore the restaurants, bars, live entertainment venues, professional sports, and
museums. Doubt me? Indy was named as having one of the best downtowns in American this year (http://livability.com/top-10/top-10-best-downtowns-2014?utm_campaign=Top%2010%20Best%20Downtowns%20-%20Indianapolis%2C%20IN%20Press%20Release&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_content=Top%2010%20Best%20Downtown%2C%202014&utm_source=emma&utm_medium=pressrelease&utm_campaign=best%20downtowns). If you can't find great things to do in Indy, you're not looking very hard.
Jun 12, 2014  •  Reply  •  Flag