Watch Out for the Toughest Vacation Cities in America

Chicago, Los Angeles, and Newark rank high for difficult vacation spots

Not withstanding the smog and traffic, Los Angeles is one of the most unfriendly cities in the world.
George Rose/Getty Images News

Every year, travelers dedicate hours to researching their perfect vacations. This includes considering activities, understanding when to purchase airfare, and utilizing points and miles to reduce costs on travel expenses, to save money for food and activities. However, not all destinations are the same when it comes to tourist entertainment. Which destinations offer the least amount of fun for travelers across the United States?

The team at WalletHub took a close look at over 100 American cities, and ranked them for the amount of entertainment they offer throughout the year. Not surprisingly, many of these cities were also among the rudest cities in the country, along with the areas with most crime in the country.

When planning a vacation, there are places that travelers – and their wallets – may be better served removing from their destination list. Based on the WalletHub survey, these cities are among the toughest vacation cities in America.

Fewest Festivals Per Capita: Corpus Christi, Texas

It seems that every city in America is known for a festival or event that brings people in every year. Unfortunately for Corpus Christi, Texas, that designation is non-existent. According to WalletHub, this coastal Texas city has the least amount of festivals every year per capita, followed closely by Toledo, Ohio, and Lincoln, Nebraska.

Complicating things is the high crime rate that affects the town. According to Texas Monthly, Corpus Christi ranked seventh in Texas for violent crime, as reported by the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting statistics. In 2013, the city had an annual murder rate of 5.4 people per 100,000 residents, and an overall violent crime rate of 523.4 incidents per 100,000 residents. In addition to the murders, the FBI reported over 2,000 burglaries, 1,384 aggravated assault cases, and 487 motor vehicle thefts during the same period of time.

Should circumstances end up taking travelers to Corpus Christi, there are events to take part in throughout the area. The limited number of festivals every year include the Hot Air Balloon Glow in neighboring Robstown, the annual Hot Tamale Festival, and the Wings over South Texas air show in April. However, those who are considering taking a vacation in this coastal town may want to consider the pros and cons before planning their next Texas vacation. 

Fewest Restaurants Per Capita: Santa Clarita, California

Every country offers a unique cuisine that reflects the local flavors, which can be sampled at nearly any restaurant in the areas. However, some areas offer more dining opportunities than others – and some destinations don’t offer any dining options at all.

Just north of Los Angeles, Santa Clarita, California offers the fewest restaurants per capita in the United States. Other American cities found to have the lowest number of restaurants per capita include North Las Vegas, Nevada, Grand Prairie, Texas, and the Chicago suburb of Aurora, Illinois.

While Santa Clarita has one of the lowest crime rates in the United States according to Neighborhood Scout, the same cannot be said for greater Los Angeles County. According to the FBI, the entire county had a violent crime rate of 402.9 crimes per 100,000 residents, including a rate of 5.4 murders per 100,000 residents, and a rate of 212.6 aggravated assaults per 100,000 residents. Travelers who are looking for great places to eat in Los Angeles should be aware of their surroundings at all times, and carefully consider the safest places to visit throughout the city.

Fewest Parks and Playgrounds Per Capita: Hialeah, Florida

Families looking for their next adventure may find an easy escape through open space. While many parts of the world offers plenty of green space in parks and playgrounds, not every destination is made equal when it comes to park availability.

When it comes to the worst destinations for parks, one destination ranks below the worst. The Miami suburb of Hialeah, Florida was discovered to have the fewest acres of parks per capita in the United States, and the third fewest available playgrounds in the nation. Newark, New Jersey, considered one of the rudest cities in the world, came in close behind on both lists, with the fourth fewest acres of parkland per capita in the country, as well as the fourth fewest available playgrounds in the country.

When it comes to crime, the greater Miami area has their share as well. In 2013, the FBI reported a violent crime rate of 538.9 per 100,000 residents, one of the highest in the United States. For murders, the FBI reported a rate of 6.6 per 100,000 residents – higher than both Corpus Christi and Los Angeles. For aggravated assaults, the area had an assault rate of 311.9 crimes per 100,000 residents.

Although there is plenty to see and do in Miami and throughout Florida, there are some destinations that are friendlier for families than others. Smart travelers should do their due diligence when researching a destination, including the type of activities they want to achieve while they are on vacation.

Highest Average Beer Price: Chicago, Illinois

For the traveler of the legal age, visiting local bars and microbreweries can be a trip in of itself. When it comes the best destination for a libation, the Second City does not rank first.

The cities of Chicago and its suburb, Aurora, rank the worst for average beer prices in the United States, according to the WalletHub survey. The Second City shared this designation with America’s largest media market, New York City. Santa Rosa, California, and Yonkers, New York rounded out the top five most expensive cities to get a beer.

In addition to being an expensive place to get a beverage, Chicago has also had a litany of other problems, including a rash of violence that has garnered international attention. According to the FBI, Chicago reported a high murder rate of 6.4 killings per 100,000 residents. Furthermore, residents in the area reported over 40,000 larcenies and thefts in 2013, for a crime rate of 421.4 thefts per 100,000 residents.

Equally dangerous in its own respects, New York also reported a high rate of violent crime throughout the geographic area. Considering the five boroughs of New York and surrounding areas, the violent crime rate was 422.9 per 100,000 residents. For violent assaults, the entire area reported a crime rate of 271.2 incidents per 100,000 residents.

Although having a beer with friends at a destination may not seem like a major criminal problem, having more than one drink can lead to much bigger problems. On an international level, alcohol use contributes to more tourist deaths every year than sharks. Moreover, lowered inhibitions can lead to problems for travelers. Those who are looking for the perfect microbrewery or local neighborhood bar should not only keep their money close, but also make sure they understand their neighborhood well, and have a plan to get back to their hotel at the end of the night. 

Highest Movie Costs: Vancouver, Washington

Finally, there are many great places to catch up on the latest blockbuster films and great independent hits at movie theatres. However, the west coast may not be the greatest destination for those catching up on the hottest box office hits.

Of all the places to see a film, WalletHub determined the most expensive place to catch a movie was Vancouver, Washington. Los Angeles, commonly known as the “Entertainment Capital of the World,” came in a close second, followed by Oxnard, California, New York City, and Greater Chicago.

Unlike some of the other destinations making it on this list, Vancouver and the surrounding areas had some of the lowest crime rates in the world. FBI data shows the city only reported two murders in 2013, with the entire area having a murder rate of 1.4 per 100,000 residents in the area. When it comes to aggravated assault, the overall area only reported around 140 incidents per 100,000 residents.

Even though the crime rate is low, every traveler opens themselves up to an inherent amount of risk as they see the world. Those who plan on being away from their personal goods for any period of time – whether to sight see or see a film – should consider practicing proper safety habits for their most valuable items. This includes hiding items in the trunk of a rental car, and utilizing the hotel safe to secure items.

While traveling to the world’s toughest vacation spots may be a difficult process, travelers who go in aware can make the most out of every trip. With an understanding of local issues and traveler concerns, every traveler can see the world like a seasoned veteran – even if there isn’t much to see at their final destination.

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