2017’s Best and Worst Cities for a Staycation

By  | 
Tony Maples Photography


A staycation is the answer when you are looking to save some money but still want to enjoy your time off. Whether your city has great features for a staycation depends on several things. Since it would be difficult for you to calculate the availability of options in your city, WalletHub did it for you. Is your city in the top 10? How awesome will your summer be if you stay in town this year?


To find the best and worst cities for staycations, WalletHub’s analysts looked at 36 criteria for 150 different cities across the U.S. The overall score was based on evenly weighing three subscores for each city. Recreation scores included the numbers of basketball hoops, hiking trails, and swimming pools. The number of museums, beer gardens, theaters, and restaurants contributed to the food and entertainment score. Analysts used summer weather conditions, the number of beaches, and massage costs to calculate the rest and relaxation score.

Best and Worst Staycation Destinations

Orlando Florida City Skyline Best Staycation City

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The top city overall for a staycation in 2017 was Orlando, Florida. With numerous attractions and a high number of restaurants, this central Florida vacation destination ranked high in the three subcategories, as well. It came in first for food and entertainment, and in the top 20 for the other subcategories. Chula Vista, California ranked 150 on the list, overall, which put it into last place. It also did not rank high in any of the three subcategories, resulting in its low total score.

Rankings in Subcategories

People on a Beach

Photo: Flickr/Ronald Saunders

If your city isn’t at the top of the list overall, it may still have placed well in one of the subcategories.  Chicago, Illinois took the top recreation spot while Augusta, Georgia ranked last in that category.

Orlando, Florida also took the top spot for food and entertainment. The city tied for first for the most ice cream shops per capita. The last place city in this category, Greensboro, North Carolina, had 28 times fewer ice cream shops per capita.

In the rest and relaxation category, Jackson, Mississippi took a surprise lead, though it does not rank among the six cities tied for first in number of spas per capita. Oakland, Calififornia came in last in this subcategory.

Fun Facts to Share

Field Museum in Chicago

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Learning about the best and worst staycation cities overall is only part of why studies such as this interest people. Facts about museums and beaches in a given city may also help you plan a vacation away from home.

Looking for the most museums per capita? You might want to check out New Orleans, San Francisco, or Washington D.C., which all tied for first and had 92 times that of Aurora, Colorado, which came in at 150 on the museums list. Love swimming? Hopefully, you live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, or Cleveland, Ohio, because those cities tied for first for the most swimming pools per person. Need to relax? The six cities that tied for first in spas per capita – New York, Orlando, San Francisco, Honolulu, Las Vegas, and Fort Lauderdale—all had 96 times more spas than Toledo, Ohio, which came in last.

Where Do Texas Hill Country Cities Fall?

Austin Texas Skyline

Among cities from the Texas Hill Country, only Austin and San Antonio made the list. For rest and relaxation, Austin came in at 86 and San Antonio came in at 74. For food and entertainment, Austin outranked San Antonio, 17 to 27. In the recreation subcategory, Austin also came in ahead at 22, while San Antonio ranked 81. Overall, for staycations, Austin ranked 16th best in the country of the cities surveyed, and San Antonio came in at 45th best. This still puts these major Texas Hill Country cities in the top third of cities that rank best for staycations.