Find out which summer vacation destinations offer the most fun at the best prices. WalletHub’s 2017 Best Summer Vacation Spots ranks 80 locales. Las Vegas comes in as the most cost-effective destination with the most opportunities for fun in the U.S. Use WalletHub’s guide to plan your summer trip or to add another budget-friendly getaway.
WalletHub’s “worst” locations for moderately priced fun are Cleveland-Elyria, Ohio, in 78th place, Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut, in the 79th spot ,and the New Haven-Milford, Connecticut area, dead last at number 80.
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To come up with the rankings, WalletHub, a personal finance review site, compared 80 of the most popular U.S. vacation destinations, according to 38 indicators across the following six key categories: travel costs and hassles, local costs, attractions, weather, activities and safety.
As with any study, especially those driven by big data, be sure to apply common sense. Las Vegas does offer an abundance of shows, restaurants, and activities. However, the really good shows and restaurants can be pricey and so are rooms at the top hotels. Yes, you can find inexpensive entertainment and cheap eats, but to savor Vegas, you’re going to want to splurge, at least a little. Also, remember that WalletHub’s analysis does not include the average donation Sin City’s visitors make at the gaming tables.
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Florida, makes sense as a top-ranking — number two — destination for the area’s abundance of attractions. While it’s possible to eat and stay inexpensively, I’ve always found that a theme park visit is a money-eating monster. The rides and attractions are fun for kids and create nice family memories, but the visit is costly, especially in summer.
Years ago when water bottles could be purchased for around $2 at Walt Disney World, I remember spending $12 in about 20-minutes while walking from one attraction to another within the same park. My daughter and I each drank 1.5 bottles and we poured the rest over our heads because the temperature hovered above 90 degrees. Beverages and food add up in theme parks and the special experiences, often the most interesting things to do, rocket up the cost. So use WalletHub’s results as a guide, but always factor in how you and your family would experience the destination.
WALLETHUB’S TOP 10 SUMMER VACATION DESTINATIONS
· Las Vegas, Nevada, with a score of 73.97 out of a possible 100
· Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, California, with a score of 73.58
· Orlando-Kissimmee-Sandford, Florida, 72.28
· Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, 71
· San Diego-Carlsbad, California, 68.69
· Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Georgia, 68.07
· Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas, 66.58
· Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas, 65.66
· Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, California, 65.33
· New York-Newark-Jersey City, New York, New Jersey, 65.24
ADDITIONAL WALLETHUB FINDINGS
· The average flight to a popular summer destination costs $337 and lasts 3 hours and 56 minutes.
· The Miami metro area has the lowest nightly rate for a three-star hotel room: $25 per night.
· The Salt Lake City metro area offers the most diverse attractions.
· Akron, Ohio, is the metro area with the least diversity of attractions.
Follow Candyce H. Stapen on Twitter: @FamilyiTrips