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Chinatown, Honolulu, Oahu
Shutterstock Chinatown in Honolulu, Oahu

Revealed: The best (and worst) US cities for a staycation

Somehow, Hawaii is on the top and bottom of the list.

Erika Mailman
Written by
Erika Mailman

This summer, rising airline and gasoline prices have us all looking at our hometown or nearby cities with fresh eyes. The year of the staycation continues (for the third year in a row now?) and we're betting there's still plenty of new things to do nearby. After all, how many New Yorkers have never visited the Statue of Liberty and how many San Franciscans have never taken a joy ride on the cable cars? A staycation can be fun if you actively seek out the things in your area that visitors would.

A new list of the best and worst staycation cities, released by WalletHub, lets you see how 182 US cities compare in terms of access to recreation, food and entertainment, and relaxation spots like spas and beaches. If your hometown didn't make the list, maybe a nearby city did. 

To create the list, researchers started with the 150 most populated US cities, then added at least two of each state’s most populated cities. From there, they crunched the data with 44 different comparison points such as how much movies cost in that city, what the average cocktail price is, how many public beaches there are per capita and the ‘idealness of summer weather.’

This resulted in a ranked list in which Honolulu, Hawaii came in first for the best overall city to staycation in. It’s hard to beat Honolulu, which came in first for recreation, 26th for food and entertainment, and fifth for rest and relaxation.

The city that came in first for food and entertainment is the second best city overall, Orlando, Florida. It also earned 19th place for recreation and 18th place for rest and relaxation.

And coming in third best is Chicago, Illinois at fifth for recreation, 23rd for food and entertainment, and 11th for rest and relaxation.

The city that came in first for rest and relaxation is West Valley City, Utah, although it earned just the #37 spot overall. Other fun data points include: Cleveland, Ohio, having the most swimming pools per capita; Honolulu having the most tennis courts and the most spas; Peoria, Arizona having the most public golf courses; Orlando with the most zoos and aquariums—and the most ice cream/froyo spots; Portland, Oregon with the most beer gardens; Salt Lake City, Utah with the most coffee shops; and New Orleans with the most museums, all per capita.

It’s a fun list, but now we feel compelled to list the worst five cities to staycation in, according to this ranking. Hawaii’s Pearl City comes in last overall, ranked last in recreation and food and entertainment, and #153 in rest and relaxation. The other four worst cities are in California, in order by worst to slightly better, are Chula Vista, Moreno Valley, Rancho Cucamonga and Oxnard. If it makes California feel any better, it has two cities in the top ten: San Francisco at #7 and San Diego at #9.

Take it all with a grain of salt. Your city is as fun as you make it and booking yourself in a local hotel to see things with a new perspective can be a game changer.


1. Honolulu, HI

2. Orlando, FL

3. Chicago, IL

4. Fort Lauderdale, FL 

5. Portland, ME 

6. Las Vegas, NV

7. San Francisco, CA 

8. New York, NY 

9. San Diego, CA 

10. Seattle, WA 


173. Fremont, CA 

174. Garland, TX 

175. Irving, TX 

176. Fontana, CA 

177, North Las Vegas, NV 

178. Oxnard, CA 

179. Rancho Cucamonga, CA

180. Moreno Valley, CA 

181. Chula Vista, CA 

182. Pearl City, HI 

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