Best Places for a Staycation
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The 10 Best Cities for a Summer Staycation — and the 10 Worst

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Best Places for a Staycation
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Relaxing in Place

Staycations have become an increasingly popular approach to vacationing in recent years, particularly among those who aren’t inclined to drive or fly long distances for a getaway or simply can’t afford a pricey escape. For those looking to unwind closer to home, the personal finance website WalletHub has just ranked the best and worst cities across the country for indulging in the staycation trend. The site compared more than 180 cities using 43 key indicators of a fun-filled yet wallet-friendly staycation. The research covered everything from bowling and movie costs to spas and wellness centers per capita. Here’s a look at what they found, starting with the 10 best. 

Related: 26 Summer Tourist Spots to Avoid — and Where to Go Instead

Honolulu, Hawaii
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Honolulu

If tennis is your thing, Honolulu just may be the ideal place for staycationers. WalletHub found that the city has the most tennis courts per capita, which was 24.1 times more than in Gilbert, Arizona, the city with the fewest. Honolulu ranked No. 1 in recreational opportunities in the study and also fared well in the rest and relaxation opportunities category, with a ranking of No. 4. It also ranked No. 1 overall. 

Related: 20 Tips for Visiting Hawaii on a Budget

Orlando, Florida
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Orlando, Florida

Orlando, a destination that’s practically the theme park capital of the world, has the most zoos and aquariums per capita, 45 times more than in New York, the city with the fewest, according to WalletHub. Other legendary attractions that helped put this city in the No. 2 slot include Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, and SeaWorld Orlando. 

Related: 26 Ways to Do Disney on a Budget

Cloud Gate in Chicago, Illinois
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Chicago

A fascinating urban metropolis filled with museums and outstanding dining, Chicago came in No. 3 on the WalletHub ranking. The city’s best score was for recreational opportunities, but it also did well in the food and entertainment category. Some of the city’s most iconic attractions include its Magnificent Mile, Navy Pier, and the stunning Art Institute of Chicago.

San Diego
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San Diego

There's so much to do in San Diego, why would one need to leave? The beaches, a surging culinary scene (particularly in the Little Italy neighborhood), the endless hiking opportunities and the mild weather, all make San Diego a great place to staycation. The city received an overall fourth-place ranking on the WalletHub list, and came in eighth place for rest and relaxation.

Portland, Oregon
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Portland, Oregon

While Portland ranked No. 5 overall in the WalletHub study, the Pacific Northwest came in third for food and entertainment, which is no surprise. In recent years, the city’s food scene has been exploding. (Bon Appetit magazine named Portland its “Restaurant City of the Year” in 2018.) Food aside, the city is also home to the Portland Japanese Garden, Oregon Zoo, and the Portland Art Museum.

Charleston, South Carolina
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Charleston, South Carolina

This Southern charmer has become an increasingly popular destination among travelers over the past several years, so it’s no wonder it ranks well as a staycation option, too. Founded in 1670 and known for its cobblestone streets and antebellum houses, there are plenty of ways to fill a staycation here. Top attractions include Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, Fort Sumter National Monument, and also the Historic Charleston City Market. 

Related: 19 Free or Cheap Things to Do in Charleston

Seattle, Washington
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Seattle

A destination that has become increasingly touristy in recent years, Seattle comes in seventh on the WalletHub staycation ranking. It scored best in the food and entertainment category, earning the No. 4 slot. Restaurants have been opening at an unprecedented rate in the hip city for years now. And the dining offerings here are known for celebrating the bounty of the Pacific Northwest. (There’s also a constantly evolving beer scene.)

Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Today
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Fort Lauderdale, Florida

A sunny city that ranks No. 2 for recreation in the WalletHub study, Fort Lauderdale also came in second for rest and relaxation. The city on Florida’s southeastern coast is known for its many popular beaches as well as for its boating canals. Additional popular attractions include Hugh Taylor Birch State Park and also the upscale East Las Olas Boulevard shopping district.

Tampa, Florida
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Tampa, Florida

Another Florida city making it into the top 10 places for a staycation, Tampa earned its best score, No. 5, in the rest and relaxation category and also did well for food and entertainment, coming in seventh. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, the Florida Aquarium, and the Tampa Riverwalk are just some of the attractions here.

San Francisco
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San Francisco

Rounding out the top 10, San Francisco is yet another city with a legendary dining scene, countless cultural attractions and endless opportunities for recreation. The city got its best ranking in the WalletHub study for recreation, coming in fifth place, and earned sixth place for food and entertainment. 

Related: 20 Free and Cheap Things to Do in San Francisco

Jersey City, New Jersey
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Jersey City, New Jersey

Among the worst cities for a staycation according to the WalletHub list, Jersey City received an overall ranking of No. 173. It fared the worst in the rest and relaxation category, with a ranking of 170. That doesn’t mean the northeastern New Jersey city has nothing to offer. Liberty State Park offers panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The Liberty Science Center is another option.

Lewiston, Maine
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Lewiston, Maine

Coming in behind Jersey City is the Lewiston, Maine, a place WalletHub ranked particularly poorly for its food and entertainment offerings at No. 169. The second-largest city in Maine, the city also ranked poorly for recreation.

Aurora, Illinois
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Aurora, Illinois

If you live in Aurora, perhaps it’s best to focus your staycation activities on recreation, as the city did best in this category, earning a rank of 83. It scored dismally in the food and entertainment (177) and rest and relaxation (159).

Santa Ana, California
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Santa Ana, California

A city in Orange County, Santa Ana is yet another destination that didn’t earn high marks for staycation opportunities. Its worst ranking was for rest and relaxation (175), followed by food and entertainment (151). If staycationing here is on your radar, perhaps consider spending some time at the Bowers Museum or visiting the hands-on science center Discovery Cube Orange County, if you have little ones to entertain.

Pearl City, Hawaii
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Pearl City, Hawaii

A city that scored terribly for food and entertainment (179), Pearl City tied itself in the categories of recreation and rest and relaxation, ranking 140 for both. A census-designated place in Hawaii, Pearl City is located along the north shore of legendary Pearl Harbor. Area attractions include the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum and also Waimano Falls.

Irving, TX
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Irving, Texas

Ranked No. 178 overall and 180th for rest and relaxation, perhaps it’s best to skip the staycation in Irving. The city, just northwest of Dallas, is, however, home to the notable Irving Arts Center, which offers changing art exhibitions, outdoor installations, theater productions, and concerts.

Bridgeport, Connecticut
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Bridgeport, Connecticut

A historic seaport city, Bridgeport is apparently not an ideal place for rest and relaxation, according to WalletHub. (It ranked 178.) The city did slightly better for food and entertainment, earning the 163rd slot. The city’s top attractions include Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo and also the Discovery Museum and Planetarium.

Yonkers, New York
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Yonkers, New York

Yonkers actually scored a respectable 78 out of 182 for recreation. But the Hudson River city was brought down by its absolute last-place ranking for food and entertainment. Yes, Yonkers came in at 182 in this category, shocking for a city so close to the Big Apple. Its rest and relaxation ranking was 171.

Oxnard, California
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Oxnard, California

A city along California’s legendary coast, Oxnard did not score well in the food and entertainment category, earning a ranking of 181 out of 182 cities studied. It also did poorly in rest and relaxation with a ranking of 164. Perhaps your best bet here is recreation: The city ranked 154th.

Chula Vista, California
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Chula Vista, California

A city that exists somewhat in the shadow of downtown San Diego, Chula Vista received the worst ranking on the WalletHub list, coming in at 182. It was abysmal in the food and entertainment category, earning a ranking of 176. The city didn’t do much better in the rest and relaxation category, earning a 172. The second-largest city in the greater San Diego metropolitan area, Chula Vista is home to the Living Coast Discovery Center, which features stingrays, turtles, and sharks.