2014′s Best & Worst Cities for Staycations
With 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.
|Rank||City Name||Recreation Activities Rank||Food & Entertainment Rank||Rest & Relaxation Rank||Weather Rank|
|7||New Orleans, LA||11||3||29||35|
|11||St. Petersburg, FL||5||38||7||63|
|13||St. Louis, MO||17||5||14||90|
|16||Boise City, ID||65||14||4||24|
|17||St. Paul, MN||12||33||63||12|
|31||Las Vegas, NV||67||2||57||54|
|32||Baton Rouge, LA||34||20||25||85|
|35||Kansas City, MO||33||27||10||90|
|39||San Francisco, CA||25||12||81||64|
|43||Fort Wayne, IN||36||37||83||25|
|47||Virginia Beach, VA||21||68||76||22|
|50||San Diego, CA||57||49||87||11|
|56||Long Beach, CA||44||76||93||4|
|58||Oklahoma City, OK||69||53||22||93|
|59||El Paso, TX||89||61||11||42|
|60||Corpus Christi, TX||60||60||69||59|
|68||Los Angeles, CA||82||71||77||4|
|69||San Bernardino, CA||96||88||52||17|
|70||Colorado Springs, CO||64||36||79||97|
|79||New York, NY||60||65||97||44|
|80||Santa Ana, CA||99||94||92||1|
|83||San Antonio, TX||83||67||39||79|
|90||North Las Vegas, NV||91||83||74||44|
|91||Fort Worth, TX||75||59||91||99|
|94||Jersey City, NJ||94||74||85||44|
|95||San Jose, CA||85||93||95||60|
|100||Chula Vista, CA||95||99||98||51|
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.
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.
- Public Golf Courses per Capita 1.0
- Tennis Courts per Capita 1.0
- Number of Parks per Capita 1.0
- Miles of Bicycle Lanes, Paths and Routes per Square Mile 0.5
- Number of Shopping Centers per Capita 1.0
Food & Entertainment
- Movie Costs 0.5
- Bowling Costs 0.5
- Number of Nightlife Options per Capita 1.0
- Number of Museums per Capita 0.5
- Number of Zoos and Aquariums per Capita: 0.5
- Number of Cultural Attractions per Capita 0.5
- Number of Live Performances per Capita 0.5
- Prevalence of Affordable 4.5+ Star Restaurants 0.5
Rest & Relaxation
- Swimming Pools per Capita 1.0
- Cost of a Maid Service 1.0
- Wellness & Spa Centers per Capita 0.5
- Beauty Salon Costs 0.5
- Difference Between the Historical Average Temperature for July 15 & Ideal Temperature (75°): 1
- Historical Average Precipitation for July 15: 1
- 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.