The Best U.S. Cities for a Summer Staycation

How can you have an amazing vacation without paying for airfare or spending hours in transit? Just stay put—if, that is, you're lucky enough to live near one of these 20 action-packed cities. According to a recent poll, these cities ranked the highest for their staycation value—a score based on their options for recreation (like parks, hiking trails, and golf courses), food and entertainment (such as nightlife, zoos, and museums), and rest and relaxation (public beaches, spas, and ideal summer weather). So, before you plan your next trip, look around—you may already be exactly where you want to go. Here are the 20 best cities for a satisfying staycation.

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  1. Orlando, Florida

    Orlando staycation

    It comes as no surprise that the home of Disney World takes the top spot for best staycation location! But this sunny locale also tied its competitor cities for the most public golf courses, most zoos and aquariums per capita, most ice cream and frozen yogurt shops per capita, and most spas per capita. What’s not to love?


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  2. Chicago, Illinois

    Chicago staycation

    The Windy City has a little something for everyone: Miles of parks, awe-inspiring public artwork, lakefront activities from biking to amusement parks, and some of the country’s best museums, theaters, and restaurants. Plus, it tied for the most ice cream and frozen yogurt shops per capita. Visiting every last one is goal enough for a staycation!


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  3. San Diego, California

    San diego staycation

    Natural and man-made attractions abound in this sunny spot! Enjoy breathtaking ocean views along the San Diego Bay Walk, Mission Beach Boardwalk, Point Loma, or La Jolla Cove. Get a little wild at the San Diego Zoo or Sea World, or take a historical spin through the Mormon Battalion Historic Site—and much more.


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  4. Seattle, Washington

    Seattle staycation

    If you haven’t taken the kids to the Space Needle or Pike Place Market yet, it’s time to rediscover these classic attractions! Plus, Seattle has some way-cool museums, like Chihuly Garden and Glass, The Museum of Flight, and the Museum of Pop Culture, and it's a day trip away from amazing hiking near Mount Rainier. Plus, Seattle, the home of Starbucks, tied for the most coffee and tea shops per capita, so you can start every morning with a new and different cup of joe.


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  5. Tampa, Florida

    Tampa staycation

    It may not be as famous as Orlando, but Tampa has its own major amusement park: Busch Gardens. For culture, visit one of the city’s art museums or check out an IMAX movie at the Museum of Science and Industry. Then, go hunt for some animals at The Florida Aquarium or the Big Cat Rescue sanctuary.


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  6. Las Vegas, Nevada

    Las vegas staycation

    Yes, it’s known for its casino culture and nightlife, but did you know Las Vegas is also tied for the most spas, most zoos and aquariums, and most ice cream and froyo shops per capita? While the over-the-top architecture, fountains, restaurants, and museums in the always-sunny city are worth a visit, it’s also just a short drive away from marvels like Red Rock Canyon and Hoover Dam.


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  7. Atlanta, Georgia

    Atlanta staycation

    This big Southern city has all the culture you’d expect from a business hub: great restaurants and bars, theaters, and museums, to start. Plus, it’s firmly rooted in the past, with historic sites like the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum, and the Atlanta History Center.


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  8. Portland, Oregon

    Portland staycation

    This quirky city is tied for most beer gardens and most coffee and tea shops per capita, so you know Portlanders like to chill! Check out unique spots like Voodoo Doughnut or Powell’s City of Books, or spend your day outside enjoying one of Portland’s many parks. Plus, the art and music scenes have lots to offer no matter your tastes.


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  9. San Francisco, California

    San francisco staycation

    This spirited city boasts diverse neighborhoods from the Upper Haight to Chinatown to the Mission, each with its own personality. Visit historic Alcatraz Island, take a selfie by the Golden Gate Bridge, or drive a little farther out to explore the neighboring seaside towns.


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  10. New York, New York

    New york staycation

    The City That Never Sleeps has it all: bustling, bright-light Broadway, miles of trails and paths in Central Park, the medieval splendor of the Cloisters. Iconic museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, and the American Museum of Natural History as well as historic sites like the Statue of Liberty and newcomers including the National September 11 Memorial & Museum and the High Line will keep you busy.


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  11. Scottsdale, Arizona

    Scottdale az

    This desert locale is tied for both most public golf courses and most zoos and aquariums per capita. Find breathtaking landscapes at Taliesin West and in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, get a little history in Old Town Scottsdale or the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park, or just relax at one of the city’s many spas or restaurants.


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  12. Honolulu, Hawaii

    Honolulu staycation

    Does it get any better than Waikiki Beach? Honolulu may be known for its pristine oceanfront, but it also boasts amazing hiking up to the top of Diamond Head volcano or through lush inland preserves. Take in a little culture at the Honolulu Museum of Art or the Bishop Museum, and finish each day with a tropical cocktail and sunset view.


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  13. Denver, Colorado

    Denver staycation

    This laid-back big city is the gateway to some of Colorado’s best hiking and skiing, but the city itself has a great mix of museums, quaint neighborhoods, and spots to enjoy delicious food or sample whiskey or beer. Plus, Denver offers some unexpected must-sees, like the United States Mint.


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  14. Minneapolis, Minnesota

    Minneapolis staycation

    In summer, explore The City of Lakes by hiking, biking, and boating; in winter, travel the city’s many glass-enclosed skyways to navigate downtown attractions. In any season, experience great art museums, including the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Institute of Art, or kid-centric spots like Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium or the Science Museum of Minnesota. And don't miss the Mall of America!


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  15. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Philadelphia staycation

    This quaint city boasts tons of historic sites, including Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and Eastern State Penitentiary, plus cool museums like The Franklin Institute, the Please Touch Museum, and the Rodin Museum—and so much more!


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  16. Austin, Texas

    Austin staycation

    This intentionally “weird” Texas city prides itself on its eclectic culture, so plan to explore diverse neighborhoods, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, art galleries, and quirky shops. Beyond downtown, find great natural highlights like the Barton Springs Pool and Lady Bird Lake Hike-and-Bike Trail. Plus, this South by Southwest locale boasts great music year-round.


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  17. Boston, Massachusetts

    Boston staycation

    This all-American town has tons of history, from the Paul Revere House to the Bunker Hill Monument. Explore quaint, eccentric neighborhoods, such as Back Bay, the North End, Newbury Street, and the areas around MIT and Harvard University. Plus, Boston's home to great museums, including the USS Constitution Museum and the Mapparium, and of course, baseball at Fenway Park!


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  18. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    Pittsburgh staycation

    Steel City has had a renaissance in recent years and offers tons of cool sites like the Andy Warhol Museum, Carnegie Science Center, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, and the Frick Art and Historical Center. If you like animals, check out the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium or the National Aviary. Or poke around downtown with the help of free public transportation.


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  19. Fort Lauderdale, Florida

    Fort lauderdale staycation

    Nicknamed "the Venice of America," this town boasts miles of beachfront, charming canals, and eclectic restaurants with cuisines from Irish to Mexican and everything in between. Explore the waterways through various boat tours, and check out natural places (other than the beach) at Tradewinds Park, Sawgrass Recreation Park, or Fern Forest Nature Center.


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  20. Tucson, Arizona

    Tucson staycation

    This Southwestern city has a distinct point of view, thanks to its Mexican and Native American roots. Experience nature in Sabino Canyon, Mt. Lemmon Scenic Byway, or the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, or check out historical architecture in San Xavier Plaza or the Mission San Xavier del Bac. There are also tons of museums (the fourth most per capita in the United States!), including the International Wildlife Museum, Children’s Museum Tucson, and the Franklin Museum.


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