When it comes to narrowing down which cities offer the best options for some much-needed down-time, travelers seek out those that offer a lengthy list of fun things to do. These American cities are usually the ones that people travel to for an extended vacation or a quick, fun getaway. Most adventure seekers agree that the best destinations have an energizing, invigorating vibe. Finding entertaining and enjoyable things to do doesn’t require a lot of planning in these fantastic party cities.
This gambler’s paradise has many names, but “Entertainment Capital of the World” seems to fit it best. The city ranks in the top five for the number of restaurants per capita and earns its highest marks for nightlife and parties. In Vegas, an adult beverage is never far from reach, and fun is always affordable. Not only do gamblers earn free drinks, but some casinos and hotels even offer free meals. Families love Vegas’ indoor skydiving, golf, and kid-friendly entertainment venues, including a superhero museum.
This top-rated entertainment mecca offers more than just theme parks, although fun here can be a bit pricey. The city’s nightlife comes in third behind Las Vegas and New York and hits fifth for the number of restaurants. The Kennedy Space Center is just one of the city’s options for technology, art, and history museums. Orlando, “The City Beautiful,” is also home to more than 100 lakes and 100 city parks where visitors can take a stroll or hang out. The Orlando Skate Park is a public park with 8000 square feet available for skateboarding, in-line skating, and BMX freestyle biking.
“The City That Never Sleeps” may be the most expensive place in America to have fun, but there’s certainly no shortage of entertainment choices here. New York is known for Broadway, Central Park, the Empire State Building, and of course, the dazzling Times Square. The city’s culinary offerings and nightlife scenes are legendary, but there’s plenty of healthy dining and vegan-friendly restaurant options, too. New York earned a first-place ranking, tying with Chicago, for the number of park playgrounds. Vacationing families have no trouble finding outdoor green spaces to enjoy.
Beautiful weather and golden sand beaches are no doubt big draws for Florida’s Magic City. Here, it’s all about fun in the sun and people-watching. The city of Miami comes alive at night with trendy little dive bars on every corner and famous nightclubs such as The Rockwell. The Wynwood neighborhood is home to several eclectic art galleries and is seen as one of the city's most happening areas. Little Havana is a top cultural and culinary hotspot offering mouthwatering Cuban cuisine and an impressive nightlife. For travelers considering new body art, Miami is home to some of the country's top tattoo artists.
Travelers may need to bring extra pocket cash if they choose to visit the Windy City for some fun and frolic. It ranks among the top ten American cities across the board for entertainment, recreation, and nightlife. Travelers seeking a bit of adventure can kayak along the city’s Riverwalk or head to the outdoor climbing walls in Maggie Daly Park. You can find unique cocktails and high-end dining in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. Or, grab a deep-dish, Chicago-style pizza from one of the city’s many pizzerias.
The Empire City ranks in the top ten for entertainment and a thriving nightlife that ranges from hookah bars to themed dance parties and underground hip-hop. Atlanta’s football, baseball, and soccer teams attract sports-loving crowds from all over the world. Visitors will find a long list of year-round free events at the site of the 1996 Olympics, Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park. Travelers can sample the city’s favorite local cuisine by visiting independently owned restaurants in Brookhaven and Virginia Highland neighborhoods. WIN-Initiative / Getty Images
When it comes to fun, San Francisco is truly a contender for top status. The city ties with Honolulu, New Orleans, Las Vegas, and Tampa for hosting the most festivals per capita. And, it’s second only to New York with the number of restaurants to choose from. Fans of authentic Chinese cuisine should visit Chinatown, home to the largest Chinese community outside of Asia. Travelers seeking a bit of culture can take a free swing dance lesson in Golden Gate Park or explore the Balmy Alley Murals in the Mission District.
Some travelers may feel surprised to learn that this famously green city also ranks 7th out of 180 American cities for its nightlife and parties. Visitors can sense Portland’s unique vibe and infectious energy the moment they arrive. Craft beer lovers will find an endless selection of delicious, fermented beverages in the “City of Roses.” Travelers can experience authentic cultural life in Portland in the eclectic Mississippi neighborhood — an area full of unique shops, quaint-but-quirky bars, and restaurants that serve sustainably sourced food.
Some call this “America’s Finest City.” San Diego is a Southern California gem. It’s a city that believes in fitness. In fact, it’s tied with four other cities for having the most fitness centers per capita. But San Diegans think outside of the box when it comes to physical activity. Ax throwing, paddleboard yoga, murder-mystery scavenger hunts, and indoor go-kart racing are just a few of the options. In this beautiful city, the weather is practically perfect year-round. There are miles and miles of beaches and trails to explore, bursting with breweries, cafes, and places where you can enjoy an adult beverage or a relaxing get-together with friends.
While LA falls on the more expensive end of destinations, it’s also one of America's most exciting cities. West Hollywood and Hermosa Beach are famous for their nightlife scene and energizing nature. For city visitors seeking something a little more low-key, try out one of the city’s drive-in theaters to enjoy a blockbuster movie or join others for a series binge. Outdoor lovers must visit Griffith Park, a 4000-acre sanctuary in the middle of the city. To see all of Los Angeles at once, drive or hike to the Art Deco dome for an amazing panoramic view.