• WalletHub analyzed the top 150 cities in the U.S. based on 51 entertainment factors, including nightlife, outdoor space, restaurants, sporting events and costs.
  • Las Vegas secured first place overall and in the nightlife category.
  • Miami ranked no. 3, scoring notably high for parties but low in entertainment affordability.
  • New York City was dead last in entertainment affordability and received surprisingly mediocre scores for recreation and nightlife.

Fun: it’s a a broad term, but something everyone wants. Few, if any, homebuyers look at map and say, “I want to move somewhere boring.”

Financial advice website WalletHub evaluated 51 key entertainment metrics to determine the most fun cities across the nation, measuring variety, nightlife, dining, weather and costs and more elements among the 150 largest U.S. cities.

Source: WalletHub

Known for its famous gambling and club scene, Las Vegas was first in overall fun factor. However, Sin City also ranked third best in recreation outside of the casino-crowded Strip. But high costs for food and parties put Las Vegas at no. 103 out of 150 cities for affordability.

Fun around the country

With picturesque beaches during the day and a vibrant club scene at night, Miami’s no. 3 rank among most fun cities isn’t a shocker to most who have visited. Magic City ranks no. 2 for nightlife and no. 8 for extracurriculars. The South Florida metro tied for first in most fitness centers and restaurants per capita, but it fell in the bottom five for green space acreage. Miami’s entertainment costs are the 95th most expensive in the U.S.

At no. 15 overall, San Francisco tied for first in fitness centers and dance clubs and took second for most festivals per capita. Placing fifth in activities and no. 12 in nightlife, steep extracurricular costs put the Bay Area metropolis in the bottom ten for entertainment affordability.

Washington D.C. offers pricey but praised diversions.  At no. 21 overall, D.C. scored in the top five for access to bars. The Nation’s Capital also placed no. 22 for recreation and no. 13 for nightlife. However, all that fun isn’t cheap: D.C. placed at no. 127 for entertainment affordability.

Popular among millennials, Austin ranked no. 32 overall, scoring higher in nightlife compared to its sports scene. The expenses of having fun in Austin fall within the top 50 most affordable locales, the report says. Houston, on the other hand, came in 75th place, with mediocre affordability and a slightly better nightlife score. Despite Space City offering a mild winter climate, day-to-day recreation came in at no. 113

Bigger cities, fewer options?

WalletHub’s study found Chicago’s entertainment costs as some of the most expensive in the nation (no. 130), particularly in movie costs and average beer price. But the Windy City’s nightlife (no. 59) and recreation scores (no. 49) helped keep it afloat, at no. 81 among fun cities overall.

Los Angeles fell toward the bottom, at no. 110 overall, scoring notably low in affordability. Although L.A. offers year-round sunshine and Hollywood stargazing, it received mid-range rankings for both recreation (no. 69) and nightlife (no. 76). At no. 126 for entertainment costs, L.A. isn’t the most practical place to visit or live on a tight lifestyle budget.

New York City ranked dead last in entertainment affordability, with WalletHub’s analysis pegging the Big Apple in the top five for highest movie costs and average beer prices, dragging its overall rank down to no. 121 out of 150. Although frequently called the City that Never Sleeps, NYC appears borderline ordinary in recreation and nightlife on the list, at 54th and 55th place, respectively.

Email Jennifer Riner

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