WalletHub editor Christie Matherne broke down the differences between big cities and small towns and explained the impact of entertainment and cost of living on ranking America’s most fun cities in an interview with Fox News Digital.
In a list of over 180 cities, personal finance company WalletHub has found that Las Vegas, Nevada, Orlando, Florida, Miami, Florida, and Atlanta, Georgia, are among the best places to go for a good time.
“I am definitely not surprised that the top spot goes to Las Vegas,” Matherne said. “It’s always kind of synonymous with entertainment and excitement, but it makes sense to me personally that a lot of people would find it fun and exciting, too, and it would hit the top spot in all of our metrics.”
The list gave a total score to cities, ranking them on their “entertainment & recreation,” “nightlife & parties,” and cost of living, among 65 other key metrics that included “fitness centers per capita” and “average business hours of breweries.”
“Las Vegas has a lot of attractions,” the editor said. “It has a lot of highly rated restaurants and a pretty vibrant nightlife, of course, making it a top destination.”
But Las Vegas doesn’t rank high on entertainment just because of its world-famous casinos, Matherne said. The city also “offers a dynamic mix of music festivals, water sports” and other activities. “So even though it might not be the cheapest [city], it definitely delivers a unique and fun experience for residents and visitors all over the world.”
Matherne explained that cities appearing at the bottom of the list — Oxnard, California, South Burlington, Vermont, and Pearl City, Hawaii — tended to rank low in all three categories of entertainment, nightlife and cost of living.
“As far as the entertainment categories or entertainment metrics, Oxnard comes in 170th [place] for coffee and shops per capita. And the same for South Burlington and for Pearl City, Hawaii,” Matherne said. “They have less entertainment overall and less things to do, less places to go.”
But each city offers different attractions for different clientele, the editor said, explaining that some of the lowest rated cities are actually known for golf courses and beaches.
When asked if the list criteria for America’s most fun cities tended to benefit larger cities, Matherne acknowledged that smaller localities do have trouble competing in certain entertainment categories.
“If you live in a small town, the likelihood that you’ll have a bunch of bike rental facilities per capita is pretty low,” she said. “So yes, small towns probably do take a hit here as far as what we measure.”
Las Vegas, which was ranked as the most fun city in the country, is “known for partying” and is one of the only cities on the list where “public drinking is allowed in most or all places,” per WalletHub’s new study. Orlando, the “second-most fun city” in the U.S., was highly ranked for its relatively cheap hotel rooms and “low average prices for staple foods like pizza and burgers.”
Miami, number three on the list, has a good balance of public beaches, natural wonders like the Everglades and an array of local sports teams, like the Miami Dolphins, who are enjoying a successful 2023 season, WalletHub said.