Most Fun Cities in America

Sep 17, 2018  |  Adam McCann, Financial Writer

Everyone likes to have fun. But we all prefer our personal brand of a good time. Some people like trying new restaurants, traveling, going to bars and clubs or playing outdoor sports. Others enjoy riding roller coasters, going to the movies, or playing video games. But having fun can be expensive – the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average American spends nearly $3,000 on entertainment per year.

With such different preferences, what, then, makes a fun city? At WalletHub, we define such a place as one that packs a little bit of everything for everyone — except maybe people seeking the most extreme of thrills. In a city with enough variety, you won’t have to compromise with your friends, your family or even yourself about the next fun activity to do alone or together.

To help Americans find the cities with the greatest number and variety of fun yet cost-effective options, WalletHub compared more than 180 U.S. cities based on 65 key metrics. They range from fitness centers per capita to movie costs to average open hours of breweries. Read on for the winners, money-saving advice from experts and a full description of how we ranked the cities.

1MAIN FINDINGS2ASK THE EXPERTS

3METHODOLOGY

Main Findings

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Most Fun Cities in America

Overall Rank

(1 = Most Fun)

City

Total Score

‘Entertainment & Recreation’ Rank

‘Nightlife & Parties’ Rank

‘Costs’ Rank

1

Las Vegas, NV

70.37

6

1

81

2

Orlando, FL

61.31

4

3

21

3

New York, NY

55.29

1

2

182

4

Atlanta, GA

54.11

13

4

91

5

Miami, FL

53.53

10

5

123

6

Chicago, IL

51.38

7

9

147

7

Portland, OR

50.53

14

7

128

8

San Francisco, CA

50.44

5

8

178

9

New Orleans, LA

49.43

23

6

120

10

San Diego, CA

48.89

3

19

144

11

Denver, CO

48.42

15

12

87

12

Honolulu, HI

48.07

2

21

163

13

Los Angeles, CA

47.88

8

16

151

14

Austin, TX

47.49

19

13

54

15

Washington, DC

47.39

11

10

165

16

Seattle, WA

47.13

9

11

172

17

Philadelphia, PA

45.79

18

15

100

18

Houston, TX

45.72

31

14

29

19

St. Louis, MO

45.63

30

17

11

20

Tampa, FL

45.56

12

23

55

21

Cincinnati, OH

44.15

17

28

12

22

San Antonio, TX

41.43

38

24

6

23

Salt Lake City, UT

40.99

24

34

77

24

Sacramento, CA

40.82

25

18

141

25

Pittsburgh, PA

40.82

20

33

102

26

Fort Lauderdale, FL

40.81

16

29

124

27

Dallas, TX

40.06

44

20

56

28

Tucson, AZ

39.78

28

61

3

29

Minneapolis, MN

39.62

21

48

76

30

Scottsdale, AZ

39.39

29

37

65

31

Nashville, TN

39.17

43

25

70

32

Milwaukee, WI

38.91

39

41

19

33

Jacksonville, FL

38.72

33

45

30

34

Reno, NV

38.72

41

35

41

35

Raleigh, NC

38.47

59

26

49

36

Indianapolis, IN

38.23

56

39

7

37

Omaha, NE

38.21

37

52

13

38

Charleston, SC

37.78

26

72

62

39

Cleveland, OH

37.30

35

54

36

40

Portland, ME

37.30

63

31

108

41

Henderson, NV

37.29

61

30

68

42

Richmond, VA

37.00

34

51

88

43

Phoenix, AZ

36.97

48

60

5

44

Columbus, OH

36.90

55

53

9

45

Birmingham, AL

36.90

78

42

22

46

Oklahoma City, OK

36.71

76

49

2

47

St. Petersburg, FL

36.19

32

67

58

48

Knoxville, TN

36.14

65

47

60

49

Tempe, AZ

36.05

52

57

67

50

Louisville, KY

35.81

62

63

18

51

Mobile, AL

35.81

125

36

46

52

Boston, MA

35.79

22

32

179

53

Kansas City, MO

35.41

73

43

37

54

Charlotte, NC

35.35

68

44

51

55

Rochester, NY

35.30

36

62

104

56

Fort Worth, TX

35.10

83

27

101

57

Buffalo, NY

34.88

46

58

90

58

Baton Rouge, LA

34.74

60

65

48

59

Boise, ID

34.69

66

102

4

60

Lincoln, NE

34.63

70

55

79

61

Albuquerque, NM

34.46

45

99

42

62

Virginia Beach, VA

34.40

42

74

105

63

Baltimore, MD

34.36

49

40

139

64

Detroit, MI

34.27

82

50

38

65

Springfield, MO

34.26

114

80

1

66

Colorado Springs, CO

34.04

53

85

32

67

Columbia, SC

33.54

64

82

78

68

Madison, WI

33.39

40

79

110

69

Oakland, CA

33.17

69

22

168

70

Memphis, TN

33.05

106

69

8

71

Tulsa, OK

32.92

75

66

75

72

Grand Rapids, MI

32.69

98

83

25

73

El Paso, TX

32.21

77

116

17

74

Irvine, CA

32.19

27

88

173

75

Chattanooga, TN

32.18

89

64

109

76

Huntsville, AL

32.02

142

59

66

77

Spokane, WA

32.01

87

98

40

78

Long Beach, CA

31.88

50

56

152

79

Garden Grove, CA

31.66

67

68

133

80

Providence, RI

31.65

84

46

142

81

Gulfport, MS

31.64

170

71

20

82

Wichita, KS

31.54

136

70

15

83

Greensboro, NC

31.43

85

100

16

84

Sioux Falls, SD

31.33

135

75

72

85

Overland Park, KS

31.19

127

122

31

86

Arlington, TX

31.15

115

38

127

87

Norfolk, VA

31.09

51

109

121

88

St. Paul, MN

31.02

54

114

95

89

Durham, NC

30.98

97

95

64

90

Mesa, AZ

30.89

92

132

23

91

Rapid City, SD

30.77

119

81

59

92

Chandler, AZ

30.68

101

104

24

93

Lexington-Fayette, KY

30.58

93

101

43

94

San Jose, CA

30.54

47

73

159

95

Tallahassee, FL

30.53

122

76

93

96

Akron, OH

30.46

120

107

35

97

Missoula, MT

30.43

100

78

113

98

Billings, MT

30.07

117

91

73

99

Corpus Christi, TX

29.71

80

127

71

100

Glendale, AZ

29.54

91

93

53

101

North Las Vegas, NV

29.30

86

84

114

102

Wilmington, DE

29.17

72

96

136

103

Des Moines, IA

29.14

158

130

33

104

Newark, NJ

29.04

88

124

118

105

Huntington Beach, CA

28.99

58

94

158

106

Shreveport, LA

28.94

164

112

34

107

Anaheim, CA

28.93

71

77

162

108

Chesapeake, VA

28.88

108

153

80

109

Las Cruces, NM

28.87

133

171

27

110

Tacoma, WA

28.80

129

89

99

111

Modesto, CA

28.68

145

90

116

112

Bakersfield, CA

28.65

113

115

83

113

Winston-Salem, NC

28.64

107

118

97

114

Jersey City, NJ

28.31

105

87

130

115

Fayetteville, NC

28.30

148

128

69

116

Little Rock, AR

28.27

153

126

47

117

Hialeah, FL

28.15

81

121

137

118

Toledo, OH

27.90

123

142

26

119

Cape Coral, FL

27.82

94

135

39

120

Newport News, VA

27.64

165

92

111

121

Plano, TX

27.64

90

86

146

122

Glendale, CA

27.58

79

111

154

123

Amarillo, TX

27.52

172

175

10

124

Fort Smith, AR

27.40

168

146

63

125

Augusta, GA

27.36

162

123

98

126

Peoria, AZ

27.30

141

129

89

127

Huntington, WV

27.30

154

167

50

128

Gilbert, AZ

27.22

143

119

44

129

Fort Wayne, IN

27.18

118

154

52

130

Aurora, CO

27.05

130

108

112

131

Fargo, ND

26.99

149

150

82

132

Pembroke Pines, FL

26.87

95

152

132

133

Riverside, CA

26.79

103

113

135

134

Montgomery, AL

26.75

176

145

61

135

Manchester, NH

26.68

161

103

126

136

Stockton, CA

26.37

102

148

122

137

Burlington, VT

26.36

112

110

150

138

Columbia, MD

26.31

128

125

138

139

Lubbock, TX

26.28

116

151

74

140

Santa Ana, CA

26.25

96

105

160

141

Fresno, CA

26.10

121

138

86

142

Cedar Rapids, IA

26.09

174

136

84

143

West Valley City, UT

25.89

150

147

107

144

Salem, OR

25.68

151

97

129

145

Port St. Lucie, FL

25.63

160

159

45

146

Casper, WY

25.58

159

179

57

147

Oceanside, CA

25.51

124

141

131

148

Irving, TX

25.42

138

156

119

149

Jackson, MS

25.37

179

165

96

150

Columbus, GA

25.35

169

170

92

151

Grand Prairie, TX

25.21

157

158

125

152

Garland, TX

25.16

146

143

117

153

Worcester, MA

24.96

143

117

155

154

Anchorage, AK

24.95

57

172

170

155

San Bernardino, CA

24.84

140

120

145

156

Charleston, WV

24.44

166

169

115

157

Nashua, NH

24.32

137

133

140

158

New Haven, CT

24.27

152

137

143

159

Ontario, CA

24.23

131

149

134

160

Chula Vista, CA

23.98

132

134

148

161

Warwick, RI

23.84

134

106

169

162

Bismarck, ND

23.73

177

173

103

163

Santa Clarita, CA

23.70

110

131

174

164

Vancouver, WA

23.46

126

140

156

165

Fremont, CA

23.12

104

157

171

166

Nampa, ID

23.06

180

166

94

167

Cheyenne, WY

22.97

181

174

85

168

Laredo, TX

22.79

156

181

14

169

Lewiston, ME

22.62

173

180

106

170

Brownsville, TX

22.31

182

182

28

171

Aurora, IL

21.88

171

163

153

172

Dover, DE

21.67

147

177

161

173

Moreno Valley, CA

21.46

163

139

164

174

Juneau, AK

21.42

74

168

180

175

South Burlington, VT

21.18

99

178

157

176

Rancho Cucamonga, CA

20.82

139

155

166

177

Yonkers, NY

20.67

111

160

177

178

Fontana, CA

20.60

175

162

149

179

Santa Rosa, CA

20.07

109

144

181

180

Bridgeport, CT

19.36

178

164

167

181

Oxnard, CA

19.34

155

161

175

182

Pearl City, HI

17.55

167

176

176

 

Artwork-2018-Most-Fun-Cities-in-Final

Ask the Experts

Fun doesn’t have to mean expensive. For money-saving ideas and advice to city leaders on attracting fun lovers to their cities, we asked a panel of experts to share their thoughts on the following key questions:

  1. What tips do you have for having fun while on a budget?
  2. What should people be looking for when choosing a fun and affordable city?
  3. Should cities allow drinking in public — either during certain times or in specially designated “entertainment districts” — to make their cities more fun?
  4. What can local authorities do to make their city a more fun destination to visit?

Methodology

In order to determine the most fun cities in the U.S., WalletHub compared 182 cities — including the 150 most populated U.S. cities, plus at least two of the most populated cities in each state — across three key dimensions: 1) Entertainment & Recreation, 2) Nightlife & Parties and 3) Costs.

We evaluated those dimensions using 65 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. 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 metrics marked with an asterisk (*), the square root of the population was used to calculate the population size in order to avoid overcompensating for minor differences across cities.

Finally, we determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample. Our sample considers only the city proper in each case and excludes the surrounding metro area.

Entertainment & Recreation - Total Points: 40

Nightlife & Parties - Total Points: 40

Costs - Total Points: 20