10 Best Cities for a Staycation
If there is one thing 2020 taught us, it's how to make the most of our local surroundings. When the term "staycation" was first coined back in 2010, it was a way to save money during an economic downtown. Today, it's a way to feel like you are traveling, even if it's just around the block.
The people at Apartment Guide know all about what makes a city tick and analyzed data to find the best cities for a staycation. Looking at the number of tourist activities, spas, hotels, walking areas and even the cost of a bottle of wine, the following are the 10 cities found to be the best.
If you live in one of these cities, explore like a newcomer. Or, if you're a bit farther away and looking for a destination to visit, you'll soon discover what makes these cities so great.
10. Austin, Texas
The capital of Texas is renowned as a growing artistic community, and that's especially true for musicians. If you're into live music, this city has everything from rock to blues to country — and you can't forget the Gospel Brunch at Stubb's BBQ. While the music scene is robust, the surrounding area is also ripe with outdoor activities.
Take a swim or a spin around a lake, hike and bike in the hills, and even spend a day watching cars speed by at the Formula 1 Circuit of the Americas raceway.
Blanton Museum of Art: One of the largest university art museums in the country, this University of Texas hotspot features more than 18,000 pieces, including contemporary Latin American art.
Zilker Metropolitan Park and Barton Springs Pool: This 351-acre park offers a local "pool" from the natural springs believed to possess spiritual healing powers.
Sixth Street: Whether you decide to visit the more touristy downtown location or the more local east-side one, this street runs through the heart of Austin, offering live music, restaurants and line dancing aplenty.
Staying in Austin
Whether you live down the street or made a special trip from a nearby city, enjoy a night at The LINE, one of the most luxurious boutique properties in the city.
The restored building harkens back to the 1960s when it served as a jazz club.
9. Tampa, Florida
Tampa is one of the older cities in Florida, with a rich history of Cuban and Spanish cultures.
While it doesn't get the recognition of other big-name cities in the Sunshine State, it has it all: ideal weather, beaches, amusements and outdoor activities.
Busch Gardens: Most people think of amusement parks only in Orlando, but Busch Gardens in the city's Terrace Park neighborhood provides serious thrills. Filled with coasters as well as more than 200 animal species, the park will soon debut Iron Gwazi — the tallest hybrid roller coaster in North America.
Ybor City: It's pretty impossible to skip Ybor City, where the Cuban and Spanish cigar factory workers lived and worked. Renowned for its Latin flair, the vintage shops, dining and nightclubs make it an all-day destination. Don't miss the Ybor City State Museum.
Tampa Riverwalk: The 2.5-mile path along the Hillsborough River passes parks, a history center, an activity-filled wharf and an aquarium that can fill your entire day.
Staying in Tampa
Enjoy a stay in the Epicurean Hotel, part of the Autograph Collection, and feel like you've really escaped on your staycation.
Located in the Hyde Park district, you'll be within walking distance of more than 50 local restaurants.
8. San Diego, California
So many people want to get away to San Diego, so if you live here, you probably already know that you live in paradise.
Perfect weather, sun-filled beaches and nearly 600 spas across the city ... what more do you need?
San Diego Attractions
Belmont Park: This beachfront amusement park in Mission Beach has thrills galore, including the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster, which travels along curves at up to 48 miles per hour.
La Jolla: The beachy suburb north of San Diego is filled with art galleries, boutiques and restaurants. Head over to La Jolla Cove to check out the tide pools and seals sunbathing.
Downtown San Diego: Of course, the historic Gaslamp Quarter and Little Italy offer an array of dining spots. Plus, downtown is home to the USS Midway, Seaport Village and Old Town.
Staying in San Diego
Maybe you aren't lucky enough to have ocean views in your home, but a stay at Barsala will provide them while making you feel at home.
The property is good for extended stays with condo-style accommodations.
7. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis received the highest bike score from Apartment Guide, with trails running alongside the Mississippi River providing gorgeous waterfront views.
During winter months, the Minneapolis Skyway offers a break from the cold as a 69-block indoor pedestrian walkway that connects 7 miles of downtown buildings together for warm and easy access.
Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden: Visit this contemporary art museum in Loring Park and the adjacent sculpture garden.
Mall of America: The Mall of America in the suburb of Bloomington is more than a mall — it hosts more than 400 events a year. Inside, there is also mini-golf, a movie theater and an aquarium.
Minnehaha Falls: Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow made this 53-feet-tall waterfall within the 193-acre Minnehaha Park famous.
Staying in Minneapolis
A great staycation is one spent in the city for a delicious dinner, fabulous show and a stylish place within walking distance that allows for that extra glass of wine and throwing a bit of caution to the wind.
When you do this, stay at Le Meridien Chambers, a boutique property in the heart of the theater district.
6. St. Louis, Missouri
Another city located alongside the Mississippi River, St. Louis is dubbed the Gateway to the West. Popular for its baseball, barbecue and blues music, Apartment Guide notes it has more free major tourist attractions than any other city outside of Washington, D.C. You can see most of the museums, the zoo and the science center without spending a penny.
The city also houses one of the oldest orchestras in the U.S. and has an opera company and multiple theater companies.
St. Louis Attractions
Gateway Arch: Built to honor the explorers Lewis and Clark and America's westward expansion, the Gateway Arch lets visitors see almost 30 miles in any direction on a clear day.
City Museum: This giant playground contained within a 100-year-old warehouse is built from salvaged architectural and industrial objects. Installations include pieces of recycled materials used to build tunnels, slides, bridges and castles in old cities, with secret passages to discover.
Grant's Farm: Home to Anheuser-Busch, visit Grant's Farm to see the signature Clydesdale horses. Special events take place year-round.
Staying in St. Louis
Perhaps you have driven past the Arch so often that it doesn't phase you anymore. But do you think the French no longer honor the Eiffel Tower? Of course not.
Book a stay at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at The Arch and request a room with a view overlooking the river and her belle.
5. Miami, Florida
The diversity and culture found in Miami have made it not only a popular place to travel but a popular place to live as well.
A staycation here is easy to enjoy. Just pretend to be a tourist for the day, and visit the many places you've been meaning to visit when the beach didn't beckon you away.
Jungle Island: Just minutes from downtown on Watson Island, this interactive animal experience gives visitors a sense of adventure and discovery in Treewalk Village.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens: Located between Coconut Grove and Brickell, this Renaissance-style villa styled with European furniture and art dating back to the 15th century is a lovely museum with beautiful gardens.
Miami Seaquarium: Seaquarium on Key Biscayne rescues and rehabilitates marine animals, welcoming visitors to mammal shows and sea life exhibits.
Staying in Miami
While many want to stay on Miami Beach, several instead go for the sleek and stylish high rises of Brickell. That includes the SLS Lux Brickell Miami.
The poolside retreat with high-end dining will make you feel like one of any number of celebs caught passing through its doors. Maybe you'll even spot one yourself?
4. San Francisco, California
The City by the Bay is certainly a romantic one with its dramatic hills and windy waterfront.
Apartment Guide gave it the highest ranking for being a walkable city because you can pretty much see the entire city on foot, from parks to bridges, shopping squares to wharves.
San Francisco Attractions
Alcatraz: You can spend the day in prison with a visit to Alcatraz Island, the former home of well-known criminals like Al Capone.
Ghirardelli Square: Get your chocolate fix at Ghirardelli Square near Fisherman's Wharf with plenty of restaurants, hotels and other stores within steps of the former chocolate factory.
Golden Gate Park: At more than 1,000 acres, Golden Gate Park has lakes, picnic areas, monuments, playgrounds and gardens to keep visitors busy. Don't miss tea at the Japanese Tea Garden or a visit to see the park's very-own herd of bison.
Staying in San Francisco
There are nearly 400 hotels to choose from in San Francisco, but for a real treat, stay at the Fairmont San Francisco and be sure to enjoy its world-famous Tonga Room.
The tiki bar features a lagoon with a barge from which the house band performs top-40 hits. There are also periodic thunderstorms that bring a refreshing tropical rain indoors.
3. New Orleans, Louisiana
The best time for a New Orleans staycation is when the tourists cannot cram the streets of the French Quarter in drunken celebration. While the city is sleepier during these times, you can delve deeper into the unique culture and history that makes New Orleans so much fun.
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, though, there's also plenty to do by day.
New Orleans Attractions
Garden District: Take a walking tour around some amazing homes and the lush gardens of the Garden District. Or, ride the trolley to get a peek.
French Quarter: It doesn't matter that the French Quarter is touristy, it is also quintessential New Orleans.
Swamp Tour: You may have to drive a little to get to the bayou, but taking a boat tour through this special ecosystem is worth seeing.
Staying in New Orleans
Experience the French side of New Orleans at the Maison de la Luz, an elegant boutique property with resplendent suites and private sanctuaries.
With a guest-manor feel, you can take to breakfast or afternoon tea in the shared common spaces on the first floor.
2. Scottsdale, Arizona
Another warm destination travelers cannot wait to escape to is this luxe city in the desert, where golf courses, spas and oversized swimming pools ensure that R&R happens as often as you want it.
If you want something a little more strenuous, just take to the surrounding hills for a hike among the cacti.
Butterfly Wonderland: Get up close and personal with delicate butterflies in a conservatory where you can see butterflies and reptiles.
Old Town: With 90 restaurants, 320 shops and more than 80 art galleries, you can spend days in Old Town.
McDowell Sonoran Preserve: This preserve is the largest urban wilderness area in the country, with more than 180 miles of trails within the desert.
Staying in Scottsdale
A perfect home away from home, even if you live here, is The Phoenician.
This is a true resort with a goal of pampering and indulging you at every turn — something you don't get at home.
1. Denver, Colorado
Apartment Guide's No. 1 staycation destination is the Mile High City. It notes that most hit the slopes and mountains for winter and summer fun but that downtown is more than enough to serve as a vacation spot.
There are 20,000 acres of parks here for the outdoor lover as well as three major sports stadiums, museums and Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater, providing plenty of playtime as well.
Elitch Gardens: Within the Auraria neighborhood is a theme and water park with more than 50 rides and rollercoasters. It's open from April through October.
Denver Mint: Each year, 10 billion coins get produced from the mint that first began operating in 1906. You can see how it's done with a free, guided tour at the mint inside the Civic Center.
Echo Lake Park: Located along the Mount Evans Scenic Byway, Echo Lake Park offers easy hiking trails, a crystalline lake, campgrounds and a lodge.
Staying in Denver
The Brown Palace in downtown has a long and storied past, which makes its way through the halls in the form of ghosts, according to hotel staff.
A stay here won't be spooky, however. Instead, you'll find fine dining and an easy walk to the theater and attractions.