By Charis Rebecca Brown, clarkhoward.com
Let’s face it: Money is tight for a lot of people. Although you might be able to take the time off, you might not really have a budget for going anywhere very far.
Or, maybe you do have the money, but the bigger priorities might be funding your retirement account, doing value-boosting improvements to your home or saving up a good sized rainy-day or emergency fund.
Regardless of the reasons, there’s a lot to be said for staycations: Enjoying activities and excursions locally or within driving distance of where you live allow you to avoid paying for lodging, flights or the other bigger expenses that come with a traditional vacation. Plus, you’ll save the time it takes to travel somewhere — allowing you to enjoy whatever it is you’ll be doing more quickly!
Luckily, if you live in one of these cities — or close enough for a quick road trip — you’ll have plenty of fun things to do! Here are the top 10 cities for staycations in 2016, according to a new report by WalletHub.
Top 10 cities for staycations
1. Orlando, FL
Ranking #1 for food and entertainment, Orlando was the top spot for staycations overall. Located in central Florida, Orlando is home to the Walt Disney Resort, Universal Studios Florida, SeaWorld, Gatorland and Wet ‘n Wild water park. Orlando also ranks as the as the fourth most popular American city based on a 2009 Pew Research Center study. Located just about an hour from great Atlantic beaches, Orlando is a staycationers’ paradise!
2. Fort Lauderdale, FL
Located on the southeast Florida coast, Fort Lauderdale attracts beach lovers and boaters alike. Its sunny warm climate is home to the Florida Everglades, the Bonnet House, a historic home, and the world’s largest drive-in movie theater. In addition, the International Swimming Hall of Fame is located in Fort Lauderdale, as well as the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park — a 180-acre park along the beach, with nature trails, camping and picnicking areas and canoeing.
3. Tampa, FL
Tampa is located on the western end of Florida and is is the fourth most popular city where people want to live according to a 2009 Pew survey. Attractions include over 165 parks and beaches, the Lowry Park Zoo, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, the Florida Aquarium and Adventure Island, a local water park,.
4. Salt Lake City, UT
Fortunately, there are plenty of other great staycation cities that aren’t in Florida! Such is the case with Salt Lake City, Utah. Home to the beautiful mountain landscapes of the Wasatch Range and adjacent to the Great Salt Lake, Salt Lake City, has many hometown attractions, including several world-class ski and summer resorts, such as Snowbird, Alta, Brighton, Solitude, Park City Mountain Resort, and Deer Valley. Additionally, the Red Butte Garden and Arboretum, hosts many exhibits and musical concerts, while the Bonneville Shoreline Trail is a popular 90-mile hiking and biking trail on the Wasatch Front where you can enjoy the great outdoors.
5. Scottsdale, AZ
Scottsdale, Arizona, “The West’s Most Western Town,” is home to festivals, museums shopping, and more than 125 professional art galleries and studios — the highest concentration of galleries, studios and museums that are open to the public. Nightlife is also a big part of the culture of the cowboy town; The New York Times named Scottdale one of the “hippest and most happening” places in the country, with high-end nightclubs, restaurants, hotels, lounges and bars. Rock climbing and hiking are also very popular in Scottsdale. Camelback Mountain is a famous hiking landmark located in east Phoenix.
6. Atlanta, GA
The city of Atlanta has a ton to do around town for staycationers. With great restaurants, the World of Coke, the Atlanta Aquarium, the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, the High Museum of Art, Zoo Atlanta, Six Flags and Stone Mountain park, there are plenty of activities to suit any preference. If you’re into history, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, National Center for Civil and Human Rights, the Atlanta Cyclorama & Civil War Museum, Carter Center, Margaret Mitchell House and Museum, (site of the writing of the best-selling novel Gone with the Wind) and College Football Hall of Fame are must-visits. And if you enjoy seeing shows, check out what’s happening at the Fox Theater off of Peachtree Street.
7. Las Vegas, NV
You probably could have guessed that this city would have been on the list of best cities to staycation in. But although Las Vegas is known best for gambling, nightlife, shows and the famous Grand Canyon, there might be a few other things around town you might not know about. Las Vegas is home to museums such as the Neon Museum, Mob Museum, the Las Vegas Natural History Museum, the DISCOVERY Children’s Museum and the Nevada State Museum, in addition to the Smith Center for the Performing Arts located downtown in Symphony Park.
8. Minneapolis, MN
The birthplace of late rock superstar Prince, Minneapolis sits just north of the Mississippi River’s confluence with the Minnesota River. Minneapolis has a thriving theater and arts scene; its live theater per capita is second only to New York City. USA Today voted the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District as the best in the country in 2015, and the Walker Art Center is one of the five largest art museums in the U.S. Restaurants are also an important part of Minneapolis’ culture; four Minneapolis-based chefs have won James Beard Foundation Awards, recognizing excellence in cuisine. Finally, the Minneapolis park system has been called the best-designed, best-financed, and best-maintained in America, comprising the the city’s Chain of Lakes and the 52-mile Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway and facilitating bike, running, and walking paths used for swimming, fishing, picnics, boating, and ice skating
9. St. Petersburg, FL
St. Petersburg, also known as St. Pete, has many attractions, including beaches, restaurants, shopping, museums and parks. “The Sunshine City,”so named because of its 361 average days of sunshine each year is home to the Fort De Soto beach, rated the number one beach in America in 2005 by Dr. Beach rankings, and rated number one by TripAdvisor in 2008. Museums include the St. Petersburg Museum of History (which has a full-size replica of the first commercial plane ever to be used), a Holocaust Museum, the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Fine Arts Holocaust Museum, the Salvador Dalí Museum and the Great Explorations Children’s Museum. Boyd Hill Nature Park is located on Lake Maggiore and hosts many of the endangered plants and rare wildlife of Tampa Bay.
10. Honolulu, HI
If you live in Hawaii, you’re probably aware that many people on the mainland are envious of you! With beautiful landscapes, beaches and museums, Honolulu has much to offer staycationers. The Bishop Museum is Honolulu’s largest museum with the world’s largest collection of Hawaiiana and Pacific culture artifacts, while the Honolulu Zoo, Waikiki Aquarium, Foster Botanical Garden, Liliʻuokalani Botanical Garden, Walker Estate, Honolulu Symphony, Diamond Head Theatre, Honolulu Museum of Art are other great points of interest.
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