Cincinnati near the top of ‘staycation’ spots

Best Cities for Staycations

  1. Orlando, FL
  2. Fort Lauderdale, FL
  3. Tampa, FL
  4. Salt Lake City, UT
  5. Scottsdale, AZ
  6. Atlanta, GA
  7. Las Vegas, NV
  8. Minneapolis, MN
  9. St. Petersburg, FL
  10. Honolulu, HI
  11. Springfield, MO
  12. Cincinnati, OH
  13. Spokane, WA
  14. St. Louis, MO
  15. New Orleans, LA
  16. Jackson, MS
  17. Portland, OR
  18. Reno, NV
  19. Boise, ID
  20. Knoxville, TN

Source: WalletHub

Those not planning to shell out big bucks for a vacation overseas or even somewhere outside Ohio can take solace that Cincinnati is ranked one of the best places to take a staycation.

Nearly 66 percent of Americans are not planning to take a vacation this year, according to WalletHub, a personal-finance website that this week released its report on 2016’s Best & Worst Cities for Staycations.

Cincinnati placed 12th overall in the report, which compared the 150 largest cities based on 28 key metrics to find “the most enjoyable and wallet-friendly staycation spots in America.”

“The ranking reinforces that greater Cincinnati is a fantastic place both live and vacation with a great variety of attractions, recreation opportunities, restaurant options, interactive experiences and fun things to do year-round,” said Mark Hecquet, executive director of the Butler County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Data used to create the rankings were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Council for Community and Economic Research, Trust for Public Land, Alliance for Biking & Walking, Tripadvisor, Yelp, Golf, ImproveNet, and WalletHub research.

The metrics fell under three categories: Recreation, Food & Entertainment and Rest & Relaxation.

Cincinnati, which 126th in terms of Relaxation and 16th in Food & Entertainment, managed to rank third in Recreation, just behind Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and Salt Lake City, Utah.

That category takes into account the number of public golf course and tennis courts per 100 residents, the number of swimming pools, basketball hoops, baseball diamonds, parks, hiking trails, shopping centers, water parks, boat tours and water sports per capita, as well as the number of miles of bike lanes, paths and routes.

Cincinnati tied other cities for most public golf courses per capita, most swimming pools per capita.

Staycations continue to ride a wave of popularity even after the nation has emerged from the doldrums of the recession because no matter the state of the economy, “people are always looking for affordable options for entertainment and fun,” Hecquet said.

“Staycations remain popular because people often look in their own backyard to find creative, fun and economical ways to connect as a family without spending money on lodging or transportation,” he said.

Joy Dickerson, an assistant dean and associate professor in the Center for Hospitality Management at Widener University, said a staycation can give an individual, couple or family he financial flexibility that a traveling vacation cannot.

“The travel and lodging costs become relatively fixed costs of a vacation. You have to incur them,” said Dickerson, a contributor to the WalletHub study. “With the staycation, you can determine how many days you want to do things and to what degree you want to engage in fee-driven activities.”

Cincinnati outpaced numerous other cities in Ohio and the tri-state area, including Cleveland (48th), Akron (71st), Toledo (105th), Columbus (111th), Louisville, Ky. (112th) and Indianapolis, Ind. (116th).

Numerous staycation options in the region during the prime staycation season of May through October include Kings Island and The Beach at Adventure Landing in Warren County, as well as Cincinnati Reds games, the Cincinnati Museum Center and the riverfront in Hamilton County

Butler County’s staycation options for summertime and weekend entertainment include Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park and local parks, both of which are consistent favorites for “locals wishing to be a tourist in their own community,” Hecquet said.

There's also EnterTRAINment Junction in West Chester Twp., Jungle Jim's International Market in Fairfield and the newly created Butler County Donut Trail, he said.