The 10 Best Cities for a Summer 'Staycation'

NEW YORK (TheStreet) - Despite lower gas prices and a strong dollar making travelling at home and abroad more economical, some could decide to spend their summer breaks at home, saving travel dollars. Let's call it #Staycation2015, a hashtag you should look for on Facebook's (FB) Instagram this summer.

A "staycation" is a recently popularized term used to mean a vacation spent in one's home country or local area, choosing instead to catch up on home-improvement projects, day trips or relaxation, for instance.

Of course, some cities are more conducive to a staycation than others. From recreational opportunities to the cost of relaxation, there are a number of factors to consider when ranking the best cities for staycations, according to a report by WalletHub.

WalletHub considered three key categories: recreation activities; food and entertainment; and rest and relaxation in ranking the 100 most populous U.S. cities in terms of staycation prospects. Within those categories there are 17 factors for each city, such the number of public golf courses per 100,000 residents; the number of parks per 100,000 residents; miles of bike lanes and paths; movie and bowling costs; nightlife options; the number of cultural attractions and a city's summer weather, among other things.

So take in the sights and pleasures of these top 10 cities to not leave when you take a vacation. And when you're done, be sure to check out the 10 worst cities for staycations.

Sources used by WalletHub: the U.S. Census Bureau, the Council for Community and Economic Research, the Trust for Public Land, the Alliance for Biking & Walking, TripAdvisor, Yelp, Golf magazine, ImproveNet, and WalletHub Research.

 

10. Las Vegas
Recreation Activities Rank: 48
Food & Entertainment Rank: 1
Rest & Relaxation Rank: 14

Las Vegas has worked hard to change its brand from Sin City to a place where the whole family can have fun. And the city has tons of family-friendly activities. A few favorites include the Discovery Children's Museum; the CSI: The Experience exhibit at MGM Grand hotel; and, if you're willing to drive a few hours southeast of Vegas, there's always room for a visit to the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

Of course, if it's your thing, you can always try your luck at the city's numerous casinos.

9. Portland, Oreg.
Recreation Activities Rank: 16
Food & Entertainment Rank: 3
Rest & Relaxation Rank: 38

Probably best known as a city for crunchy hipsters, yet one of Portland's most enticing offers is its proximity to the great outdoors. Enjoy a day trip or a weekend exploring the Lewis & Clark historic trail, the John Day Fossil Beds or Crater Lake.

8. Tampa, Fla.
Recreation Activities Rank: 25
Food & Entertainment Rank: 18
Rest & Relaxation Rank: 1

Visitors may first think of Miami when considering a trip to Florida, but Tampa, only a few hours to the north, has it all. Beach aside, purchase a Tampa Bay CityPass to get admission for five family-friendly attractions: Busch Gardens Tampa, The Florida Aquarium, the Lowry Park Zoo, The Clearwater Marine Acquarium and the Chihuly Collection or its Museum of Science & Industry.

Looking for something more cultural? Check out the Phoenix Glass Studio & Gallery or just one hour to the south to visit the Ringling Museum of Art, which includes the Circus Museum. 

7. Pittsburgh
Recreation Activities Rank: 9
Food & Entertainment Rank: 2
Rest & Relaxation Rank: 24

Conde Nast Traveler named Pittsburgh one of the top 15 places to go for 2015. Why? Because of the Steel City's impressive art exhibits. "The Carnegie Museum of Art, The Warhol, Mattress Factor and Wood Street Galleries have been on a curatorial tear in recent years," the article states.

As well, Pittsburgh restaurant scene is on fire. And no visitor or local should leave the city without a visit to the old-school Primanti Brothers "for the best sandwich of your life," the article says.

Pittsburgh was ranked No. 3 when it comes to most swimming pools per 100,000 residents and No. 5 for most zoos and aquariums per 100,000 residents and No. 5 for most museums, according to WalletHub.


6. St. Louis, Mo.
Recreation Activities Rank: 6
Food & Entertainment Rank: 9
Rest & Relaxation Rank: 12

"Journey to the top of the Gateway Arch, interact with butterflies, try your hand at some science experiments or immerse yourself in a little arts and culture - it's all in a day's fun in St. Louis, Missouri," according to Explore St. Louis, a Web site run by the tourist bureau in the midwestern city. 

St. Louis was ranked No. 3 for most museums per 100,000 residents and No. 5 for most public golf courses per 100,000 residents, according to Wallet Hub.


5. Boise City, Idaho
Recreation Activities Rank: 2
Food & Entertainment Rank: 20
Rest & Relaxation Rank: 7

If the capital city of Idaho seemed far down the list on places to vacation (or staycation), think again. Just a couple of hours east of the Oregon border, this picturesque city has plenty of attractions. First up a visit to the Old Idaho Penitentiary site. Be sure to check out the World Center for Birds of Prey or the Idaho Botanical Gardens. Looking for more natural activities? Try the Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation area, featuring hiking and mountain biking in the summer and skiing in the winter.

4. Scottsdale, Ariz.
Recreation Activities Rank: 21
Food & Entertainment Rank: 4
Rest & Relaxation Rank: 5

In need of some serious pampering and relaxation? Phoenix suburb Scottsdale is the place to be. It ranks No. 4 in most spas per 100,000 residents of the 100 cities ranked. But the city also offers plenty more. Take Scottsdale's Sonoran Desert, where visitors can hike, horseback ride, take off-road tours, even ride in a hot air balloon, among other things. A visit Scottsdale's Old Town is also a must, with "original buildings from the late 1800s to the early 1900s, this block is where Scottsdale was founded," according to Scottsdale's Convention & Visitors Bureau.

3. Cincinnati, Ohio
Recreation Activities Rank: 1
Food & Entertainment Rank: 22
Rest & Relaxation Rank: 2

While taking in a Cincinnati Reds baseball game may be first up on a staycation in the Ohio city, the Kentucky Speedway is one of two dozen speedways in the country to host NASCAR events. Looking for some alternative sports events? How about checking out roller derby with the Cincinnati Rollergirls?

Are you a bourbon or whiskey drinker? Just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati is the New Riff Distilling in Newport, Ky., where bourbon enthusiasts can hop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour to experience Kentucky Bourbon and Rye Whiskey distilleries.

Additionally, Cincinnati was ranked No. 3 for the most public golf courses and No. 2 for the most public swimming pools by WalletHub.


2. Atlanta
Recreation Activities Rank: 4
Food & Entertainment Rank: 22
Rest & Relaxation Rank: 2

Georgia's capital has no shortage of attractions. From a historical perspective, the city was the birthplace of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. (you can visit MLK's national historic site) as well as the hometown to Coca-Cola (KO). Purchase an Atlanta CityPass for admittance to the Georgia Aquarium; the World of Coca-Cola; the Inside CNN Studio tour; the Atlanta Zoo or Center for Civil and Human Rights; and the Fernbank Museum of Natural History or College Football Hall of Fame.

Additionally, Atlanta was ranked No. 5 for the most public swimming pools by WalletHub.

 


1. Orlando, Fla.
Recreation Activities Rank: 13
Food & Entertainment Rank: 7
Rest & Relaxation Rank: 4

Orlando is known for its Disneyworld mecca but the list of theme parks spans far and wide. From Universal Orlando to SeaWorld Orlando to LEGOLAND Florida, be sure to check out at least one in this northern Florida city. Not into theme parks? Take in the Kennedy Space Center, Gatorland or a mystery dinner show.

Orlando was ranked No. 2 for public golf courses; No. 1 for most zoos and aquariums and No. 2 for most spas per 100,000 residents, according to WalletHub.

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