Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is ridiculous in a lot of ways, from its gaudy trappings to its laissez-faire attitude towards...well, most of human behavior. But the city has a surprising number of spas, zoos, and aquariums, not to mention the nightlife. There isn't a better place to people-watch anywhere in the country. And of course, if you are staying at home, there's a ton of incredible food options.
When you can have an authentic cheesesteak anytime you wanted, why would leave Philly? The city has a ton of American History; it's home to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall – where the Declaration of Independence was drafted and adopted! But don't think about channeling your inner Nic Cage and stealing it, because the real one is in Washington DC now. Sorry.
Home of the weird deep dish pizza with the sauce on top, widespread corruption and the only river in the world that flows backward - Chicago just has their own way of doing things. As such, there's no reason for Chicago residents to leave their comfort zone for their vacation. Stay put for a week and splurge! Take your family to the theater, your favorite restaurants, park - or all of the above.
Okay, this might actually be a better spot to people-watch than Las Vegas. There are also countless local coffee shops for the morning, microbreweries for the nighttime, and all kinds of places for the day in between. If you love gardens, you're more than covered. The city has the Rose Test Garden, home to an array of roses, one of the largest and loveliest Japanese gardens outside of Japan, the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, and the Lan Su Chinese Garden. There's also a beautiful river gorge, the stunning Multnomah Falls, and all kinds of interesting local businesses and music to check out.
WalletHub ranked Tampa number one for their "rest and relaxation" category in their "Staycation" study and placed #16 overall as one of the "Most Fun Cities." Tampa offers things like swimming pools, spa centers, beauty salons, and low-cost maid services. It also has some nice weather. Tampa stands out for attractions like the manatee viewing center, the Big Cat Rescue, and the escape room game centers. There are also several local movie theaters that offer dinner and drinks with a show, like Studio Movie Grill and Pitcher Show.
New York, New York
New York, New York is one of the most populated cities in the country - rich with culture, entertainment, and amazing food. It also has one of the best transportation systems in the country. When you need to get around, most people take the subway, because it's inexpensive and a lot more convenient. If you live In New York already, you know you have easy access to food delivery, so even if you are staying at home, you can still enjoy yourself on vacation. And of course, there is plenty to do outside the house, such as hanging out at Central Park, going to a museum, or enjoying the nightlife.
Scottsdale is overrun with golf courses and spas, which is great news for your vacation. The town is sitting amidst gorgeous desert scenery. There's an Old West reconstruction town minutes away, a railroad museum, a butterfly garden, and a couple of wineries in town. Don't overlook the town's classic car culture, which includes a high-performance driving school. In addition to being one of the most fun cities in the country, it's also #1 for "rest and relaxation." So whatever kid of vacation you are going for, Scottsdale has its residents covered.
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis has a high concentration of golf courses. It also has a lot of museums, from City Museum, which has upcycled the city's history into an enormous playground, to the Saint Louis Science Center, with its interactive labs and planetarium. Don't forget about the stately Cathedral Basilica, the Botanical Garden, and of course, the Gateway Arch. St. Louis is a particularly excellent place for its nightlife. So if you are away from the kids, or have no kids to worry about, there's a ton of fun to be had at the bar or nightclub - at least when everything opens back up.
Seattle, Washington is another city with a tremendously rich culture. There are various parks nearby that you can enjoy, museums like the Museum of Pop Culture, and even an aquarium. Whale-watching, a seaplane tour, and even boat rides are great activities for a staycation. Many locals, and tourists alike, love to shop around at Pike Place Market.
Boise has a lot of public recreation spaces, and many of those center around the city's natural beauty. Check out the Greenbelt along the river, Julie Davis Park, or the World Center for Birds of Prey. There's also skiing or hiking in Bogus Basin, where you can rent a yurt. The Old Penitentiary, which is fascinating historically, may be a little chilling depending on what you want out of your vacation.
Santa Clarita, California
Santa Clarita, California was once a barren desert, but this fast-growing city has quickly become an oasis. Offering plenty of activities in town and fairly affordable dining, there are few better places for a staycation when you are on a budget. And because everything is spread apart, the city with a population of about 212,000 is fairly quiet. Go to a spa, a park or the mall. And if you want to do something fun with the whole family, Six Flags Magic Mountain is right there.
Cincinnati's attractions are broad. The city is home to the Great American Ballpark, of course. For those wanting some culture in their staycation, there are several museums, from the Taft Museum of Art to the American Sign Museum to the Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Nature lovers will be thrilled with the conservatory, stargazers can visit the observatory, and thrillseekers have Coney Island nearby.
Georgia ranks high in rest and relaxation. The prevalence of swimming pools is a plus, as is the cost of living. Of course, Georgia has its aquarium, the High museum, the Fox Theater, and the World of Coca-Cola museum. There are numerous local tourist attractions dedicated to the city's place in history, especially during the civil rights movement. If all you do is venture out at night and take in the rap scene, that would almost be enough for a vacation, right there.
Pittsburgh has a surprising number of zoos, aquariums, and swimming pools. It also has a strong art music scene that spills out into the streets. Last year, guerilla performances of the bar-based opera Happy Hour! took the city by surprise as what seemed like fights broke out into arias in front of bewildered patrons at bars around the city, all thanks to composer Roger Zahab and the Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh.
(image via Opera Theater of Pittsburgh)
It seems unfair that the home of Disney World tops the list, but there are a few things to consider here. The first is that a person's relationship to Disney parks is very different when they live close enough that a yearlong pass is an option. But while Disney World may be closed now, there are plans to open it back up by March 2021. On top of this, there are a lot of local-minded, more affordable entertainment options that have sprung up in the Mouse's shadow. Orlando leads the country in zoos and aquariums per person, and it comes in second for both golf courses and spas. The city was built for entertainment, which makes it a great place for people trying to vacation in town.
On Wallethub's "Best Cities for a Staycation," Plano, Texas ranks #1, in part, not only because it is second-best for "rest and relaxation," but it also has plenty of activities nearby for when you need to get out of the house. Take a drive and experience the rural landscape of Plano, then head over with the whole family to the Crayola Experience amusement park. There are plenty of excellent restaurants to try with moderately priced food.
Fort Smith, Arkansas
Fort Smith is the second-largest city in Arkansas with a modest population and has a rich history. It was occupied for thousands of years by indigenous tribes and then became a center for fur trading. The Fort Smith military post was established back in 1817. Today, you can check out various historical museums and an incredibly active music scene. It also has Central Mall – one of the largest indoor mall in the state.
Washington, DC has a ton of things for locals to do if they don't feel like leaving home. There are, of course, the magnificent government buildings like the White House and the Capitol building, as well as the presidential monuments. Additionally, there is the Smithsonian museum and the National Museum of American History. With so much to do, you really don't need to skip town to have fun. Plus, many of DC's monuments are all outside, so you can still play it safe for COVID's sake.
Grand Prairie, Texas
If you are looking for a relaxing staycation, Grand Prairie is more than suitable enough. It ranks as one of the best in the country in this regard. There's not a ton to do around town, but there's fantastic scenery all around, and you can always grab a bite to eat and have a romantic night at home.
What better place to enjoy a modest vacation at home than Modesto? There may not be a whole lot to do but you'll find ample rest here in Modesto. The city ranks #3 in that regard, even though it only ranks #116 for overall best staycation cities. It's also pretty affordable too, ensuring your hard-earned dollars are going a long way. If you don’t live there and are looking for a feel for just how laid back the city is, you may want to check out, if you haven't already seen it, George Lucas's American Graffiti.
Gilbert, Arizona also offers a relaxing stay for locals, but there's also plenty going on in the city. It has a population of over 208,000 - and growing - which means its thriving. And there are some brand-spanking new parks to check out too. But even with a decent-size population, it's not hard to find some peace and relaxation. The city is currently ranked #5 for "rest and relaxation" and #33 overall for best staycation cities.
Tulsa, Oklahoma is the second-largest city in the state and the twelfth best city in the country for rest and relaxation. There are dozens of museums you can check out, public art displays and outdoor attractions, including the Tulsa Zoo. In autumn, there's the Tulsa State Fair that may also be worth your time. If you like golfing, the Southern Hills Country Club would be a great spot for a relaxing vacation. Enjoy southern cuisine and barbecue. There's also an array of bike trails and plenty of places to go for a walk.
Bakersfield is a city that is booming thanks to agriculture and energy production. But it’s a city that is mostly laid back, making it ideal for "rest and relaxation," where it ranks #8. Beat the heat in one of five multi-screen cinemas or take advantage of the music scene. Believe it or not, Bakersfield is widely considered the birthplace of country music.
Chandler has a population estimated to be around 261,165 as of 2019. There it hosts the annual Ostrich Festival, commemorating the ostrich farms in the area. There are numerous parks and recreational amenities to engage it, which in part, makes it one of the least costly places for a staycation for when you just want to have fun.
Henderson, Nevada, just 16 miles from Las Vegas, is a lovely city away from all the glitz and glam of Vegas. So, if Vegas is just not your scene, Henderson has your back. It's the home of about 320,000 residents, including Brandon Flowers - lead singer of The Killers. In terms of cost, the city ranks #12 in the country, so you can get more bang for your buck there. Movie theaters, malls, concert venues and casinos are available for your leisure.
Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock, Arkansas is one of the best cities for "recreation." Little Rock is brimming with art and culture, making it a terrific spot for a staycation. If you live in Little Rock, there's always something new to discover. The Arkansas Arts Center is the largest of its kind in the state, showcasing visual and performance art. The Museum of Discovery features exhibits dedicated to science, history and technology. But these are just some of the things you can do in Little Rock.
If you love American history, Boston is pretty much where everything started. This old town was the site of the infamous Boston Massacre, home to numerous revolutionary figures, old buildings and churches, and the very first city park in the United States. Check out various statues and monuments, including the Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Regiment Memorial as seen in the film Glory. Not far from city, you can venture off to Lexington/Concord where the first shots of the American Revolution were fired. Many people who live in the city, never take the time to experience these things, but a staycation is a perfect opportunity. You can also find quaint cafes, bars and restaurants where you can relax for a bit.
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles is simply one of the best cities in the country, offering so much to see and do, so it's no surprise to learn that it's one of the best places for a staycation if you happen to live there. There are tons of restaurants to go to, especially now that the stay-at-home orders have been rescinded. Additionally, there are art galleries like the famous Getty Center, concert venues like the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and of course, there's Dodger Stadium for sports fans. Shop around town, get a massage or stay home and dine - in LA, you have endless options.
If you live in Honolulu, Hawaii, you are already living in paradise, so why would you want to go anywhere else? Honolulu offers enough entertainment, recreation and nightlife to keep you entertained around the clock. Even if you don't care to hit the beach, you've got art museums, zoos, performing arts centers and a ton of tourist attractions.
One of the most prominent cities for retirement, it's no surprise to learn that Miami is one of the hottest staycation spots. Miami is a haven for entertainment and nightlife. The city hosts numerous annual festivals and attracts some of the most famous artists, musicians and performers from all over the world. Rather than spend a ton of money to seek out fun in another state or country, in Miami, you just let the fun come to you. Go to the beach and if you really want a change of scenery, check-in at a hotel and pamper yourself.