Traveling for a vacation isn't always in the budget. Sometimes it's both easier and more affordable to stay at home when you have time off. The trick, however, is figuring out how to make that time special and fun. Some cities offer a lot of options to play tourist while vacationing at home. These are the best at keeping you busy without having to travel far on your staycation.
The staycation evolved somewhere between 2007 and 2010 when the economy took a turn that led people to spend less money. Whether you stay at home or overnight at a hotel, you're remaining in the area — and it's a staycation.
Staycations save money, are easier to plan and don't necessarily require you to take a lot of time off work. You avoid the hassle of packing, driving or flying to another destination that's unfamiliar. You, ideally, then have more time to relax since you're not adjusting to somewhere new and dealing with the potential aggravations of travel. They also work in any season, whether it's the summer, winter break or even a fall weekend “away."
Another bonus of taking a staycation is its impact on the local economy. Instead of spending money abroad or in another state, you're putting those funds back into your local shops, restaurants, museums and other attractions. At the same time, you're rediscovering the local beauty of where you live, which often goes unnoticed during the daily grind.
There are so many benefits to sticking closer to home for your time off. It's worthwhile to consider at least one staycation every now and then to reconnect with all there is already around you.
When thinking about the best cities for a staycation, what criteria come to mind?
For our list, it's all about comfort, relaxation and activity. This breaks down into factors like average apartment size, the average cost of a bottle of wine, the city's walk and bike scores and the number of hotels, spas and tourist activities in the area. It's all the important stuff that really adds that something extra.
Here are the 10 best cities if you're planning a staycation.
More than a state capitol, Austin is a great place to live if you're into live music. The scene there is so robust, you can catch a show featuring blues, rock and, of course, country.
For those who thrive in a place where there's plenty of outdoor activity, Austin also has you covered. There are multiple parks for hiking and biking, as well as lakes for boating and swimming. You can even spend a day outside as a spectator, watching cars speed by at the Formula 1 Circuit of the Americas raceway.
As the home of the University of Texas, Austin, the city has a good mix of college students, young professionals and families. It also means there's usually a lot of options when it comes to renting. On average, you'll find a two-bedroom apartment for $1,634.
With a mix of historic architecture and modern activity, Tampa is a city infused with Cuban and Spanish flavors. Its culture and community make it a beautiful and lively place for a staycation. You not only find plenty of urban parks, but scenic waterways to enjoy year-round in the temperate Florida weather.
Tampa is a great city for all ages, providing activity to suit an entire family alongside hotels for any staycation budget. You can customize your staycation for an outdoor adventure, focus on the cultural roots of the city or simply enjoy the local cuisine.
Downtown is where the young professionals congregate, but this is a family-friendly town designed for leisure and fun. Prepare to pay $1,624 per month, on average, to rent a two-bedroom apartment.
What an ideal place for a staycation. San Diego boasts such amazing weather and so many beaches that every day could feel like a vacation. It also tops our list with the highest number of spas around the city. With more than 580, you could turn your entire staycation into one long spa day.
There's no shortage of other activities, as well. This coastal city offers a great collection of museums, a stylized nod to its history and more delicious dining experiences than you can count. Regardless of how your staycation plays out, make sure to grab some fresh seafood and put the city's signature fish tacos on your to do list.
Depending on where you live in San Diego, the community feel can differ. With a few local colleges and universities, a thriving downtown and excellent suburbs, there's plenty of variety. Across San Diego though, the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $3,299.
One of the Twin Cities, you can recognize Minneapolis from its parks and lakes. Out of all our top 10 staycation cities, it received the highest bike score of 83. Parked alongside the Mississippi River, there's no shortage of waterfront views either. Outside may be where it's at in this city, but what happens when things cool off?
Winter weather is no deterrent for a fun staycation thanks to the Minneapolis Skyway. This indoor pedestrian walkway links seven miles of downtown buildings together for warm and easy access. The system goes through 69 blocks and is the longest continuous skyway system in the world.
A friendly, Midwestern city, Minneapolis offers jobs in a range of industries, including finance, healthcare, transportation and manufacturing. The average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment here will cost you $2,142.
Another city located alongside the Mississippi River, St. Louis is most known for its barbecue and blues music. It's an ideal staycation city because it offers more free major tourist attractions than any other city, excluding Washington, D.C. You can see most of the museums, the zoo and the science center without spending a cent.
A major part of the Inland Waterway system, the city is the northernmost point on the Mississippi that stays free of ice all year. That makes it a huge inland port and a big attraction for many corporations.
It's not all business in St. Louis, though. The city also houses one of the oldest orchestras in the United States and has an opera company and multiple theater companies. Living here lets you balance work and play with a little history tossed into the mix. The average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment will cost you $2,199.
Already a popular vacation spot, Miami caters to tourists of all types, even those not traveling far from home. There are plenty of beaches to enjoy, not to mention the large volume of clubs, shops and restaurants. You could easily take your staycation to a local resort and get the feel of a vacation while still around the corner from home.
Spend your break doing all the touristy beach stuff like scuba diving, snorkeling or windsurfing. Or, go in a sporty direction and go to a game or two to watch the Marlins, Dolphins or Heat, depending on the season.
With a variety of neighborhoods, Miami has a diverse culture and community. Living here will cost you an average of $3,161 per month in rent for a two-bedroom apartment.
With its dramatic hills and windy waterfront, San Francisco is a great staycation for all the walkers out there. The city's walk score tops out at 93, and you can pretty much see the entire city on foot. From parks to bridges, shopping squares to wharves, a walk through San Francisco can put you in your happy place.
It's also a great city to do your staycation away from your actual home. A hotel staycation lets you enjoy the rest and relaxation of not being at home without the cost of travel, and with nearly 400 different hotels in the city, you'll have your pick at any budget.
It's important to note that San Francisco is a city full of fast-movers. Apartments change hands quickly, and it can sometimes be a challenge to find the perfect place to live. Rent is also a little on the higher side, making it even better to save a little with a staycation. The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $4,034 per month.
Thinking of places with big tourist attractions, certain cities like Las Vegas or New York City may come to mind, but New Orleans is right up there, too. There are dozens of attractions around the city, many steeped in the unique culture and history that makes New Orleans such a fun staycation location.
Make your staycation all about the nightlife, staying up until all hours to experience the live music and lively clubs. After all, New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz. If you like your sleep, there's plenty to do by day, as well.
For those who call New Orleans home, expect to pay around $2,260 per month in rest for a two-bedroom apartment.
A little haven in the desert, Scottsdale is the perfect city for a chill staycation. With so many sunny days, you can spend time outside all year-round. Just be careful about taking a summer staycation in the sun, it gets hot.
If not hitting the trails or scaling rocky cliffs, Scottsdale is well-known for its spas and golf courses. Happy hour is also a worthwhile activity for your staycation here. The city wins out for the cheapest average price, per bottle, of wine at $5.36.
While the average age of Scottsdale residents is a little older than most other places, it's an active community that occupies kids as much as adults. For those renting, the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $2,231.
You might feel inclined to devote your Denver staycation to skiing or snowboarding, but take a different route this time. See what the city itself has to offer. Downtown is one of the most walkable city centers in the country with three major sports stadiums, colleges, museums and more.
The Mile High City really does give you a special experience. At this altitude, alcoholic drinks hit harder and the sun feels warmer. This is good news since Denver has about 300 sunny days each year.
Get outside in Denver without the snowy slopes thanks to an incredible park system that includes 20,000 acres of parks. Within, you'll find Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater, as well as a city-owned buffalo herd. Living here gives you so many opportunities to customize your staycation, but expect to pay around $2,788 in monthly rent for a two-bed place.
In reality, any place you call home will have some attractions or historical sites worth seeing that can easily make you a tourist in your own town. Vacationing at home is the new trend, take advantage of it wherever you live.
Did your hometown make the top 10? No worries if it didn't. Here, we expand the list to include the 50 best cities for staycationing.
|Rank||City||Population||2-BR Average Rent||Comfort Rank||Relaxation Rank||Activities Rank|
|3||New Orleans, LA||390,144||$2,260||1||64||3|
|4||San Francisco, CA||881,549||$4,034||21||26||2|
|6||St. Louis, MO||300,576||$2,199||6||10||30|
|8||San Diego, CA||1,423,851||$3,299||32||5||28|
|11||Long Beach, CA||462,628||$2,276||56||14||14|
|22||Los Angeles, CA||3,979,576||$4,249||42||51||22|
|24||Las Vegas, NV||651,319||$1,495||20||13||55|
|28||Baton Rouge, LA||220,236||$1,166||12||30||59|
|36||Santa Ana, CA||332,318||$2,849||34||37||42|
|38||Jersey City, NJ||262,075||$3,647||53||83||12|
|41||St. Petersburg, FL||265,351||$1,326||80||37||25|
|42||Virginia Beach, VA||449,974||$1,712||24||23||62|
|44||New York, NY||8,336,817||$5,461||53||92||10|
|47||San Jose, CA||1,021,795||$3,089||73||40||38|
To determine the best cities for a staycation, we looked at the 100 most populated cities in the country according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2019 estimates and then ranked each city by the following factors:
Each of these factors was weighted equally, and the cities with the best overall score were determined to be the best cities for staycations.
Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com's multifamily rental property inventory of two-bedroom apartments. Data was pulled in November 2020 and goes back for one year. We use a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.