Personal finance website WalletHub.com looked at the 150 largest cities across the country to help Americans find the cities with the greatest number and variety of cheap, fun activities. The website’s data crunchers compared the cities across three categories: entertainment and recreation, nightlife and parties, and cost, and looked at 58 key metrics within those categories, ranging from fitness clubs per capita to movie costs to average open hours of breweries.
Data wonks will want to know that each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the greatest number and variety of fun and cost-effective activities. For some, the square root of the population was used to calculate the population size in order to avoid overcompensating for minor differences across cities.
Finally, WalletHub determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its total score and used the resulting scores to rank-order the cities in its sample, which considers only the city proper in each case and excludes the surrounding metro area.
Here’s what the survey showed.
Top 20 Most Fun Cities in America:
- Las Vegas
- Orlando, Fla. *
- New York
- Miami *
- Portland, Ore.
- San Francisco
- New Orleans
- San Diego
- Los Angeles
- St. Louis
- Tampa, Fla. *
- Austin, Tex,
- Houston *
• Scottsdale, Ariz., has the most public golf courses per capita, 38 times more than in Cleveland, the city that has the fewest.
• New York has the most restaurants per capita, with 48.4 times more than in Winston-Salem, N.C., the city with the fewest.
• San Francisco has the highest percentage of the population with walkable park access, 99.5 percent, which is 4.8 times higher than in Louisville, Ky., the city with the lowest at 20.6 percent.
• New York has the most park playgrounds, with 17.4 times more than in Hialeah, Fla.,* the city with the fewest.
• San Francisco has the most performing-arts theaters, with 54.1 times more than Brownsville, Texas, the city with the fewest.
• San Francisco has the most fitness centers, with 26.8 times more than in Newark, N. J, the city with the fewest.
• New York has the most bars, with 40.7 times more than in Fontana, Calif., the city with the fewest.
• San Francisco has the most dance clubs, with 106.6 times more than in Anchorage, Alaska, the city with the fewest.
• Albuquerque, N.M. has the lowest average beer price (per six-pack), $6.71, which is 1.7 times lower than in New York, the city with the highest at $11.53.
• Port St. Lucie, Fla., * has the lowest movie costs, $6.21, which is 2.4 times lower than in Los Angeles and Oxnard, Calif., the cities with the highest at $14.81.
The full report with the ranking of all 150 cities is available here.
* Editor’s note - The cities with an asterisk (*) were hit by major hurricanes Harvey and Irma after the completion of this survey. Many of the facilities considered in the rankings may have been destroyed or damaged.
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