Work-life balance isn’t always easy to achieve, especially if it feels like you live half of your life in transit on business travel. However, with more than 35 percent of millennials currently in the workforce, a group known to value experiences and travel over other perks, employees are taking it upon themselves to create their own work-life balance by extending business trips to include some leisure time. These trips have been called ‘bleisure’, a combination of ‘business’ and ‘leisure.’ And, it’s a rising trend. A 2014 report from BridgeStreet found that 83% of business travelers use free time on business trips to explore the city they’re visiting.
At TravelBank, we highly encourage business travelers to fit a little adventure in each business trip, which is why we decided to analyze the top U.S. cities for bleisure travel. These are the top U.S. cities that make it easy for travelers to squeeze in a little bit of fun while still taking care of business.
1. Average Hotel Rates – Determined using proprietary data from the TravelBank Travelator tool that helps users book hotel rooms. The average price was calculated during Q3 2018 from the rates of hotels within a 15-mile vicinity of each airport. An indicator that a few days of personal travel wouldn’t put too large of a dent in business travelers’ wallets, making a business trip extension more appealing.
2. Walkability – Data published by Walk Source in 2017 that analyzed over 10,000 neighborhoods and hundreds of walking routes to nearby amenities and awarded points based on the distance to amenities in each category. Walkability makes it easy for business travelers to squeeze in some time between meetings to enjoy local attractions.
3. Entertainment – Data sourced from Wallet Hub’s ranking in 2018 of the Most Fun Cities in America comparing more than 180 U.S. cities for entertainment, recreation, nightlife, parties, and costs. Festivals and nearby recreation are a great excuse to spend a few extra days experiencing a destination.
4. Cities for Foodies – Data sourced from Wallet Hub’s 2018 ranking of the Best Foodie Cities in America comparing more than 180 U.S. cities for affordability, diversity, accessibility, and quality. Food experiences have become a top draw for leisure travelers selecting their next destination, and it’s one of the simplest ways for business travelers to fit in personal exploration of a city. They have to eat after all!
Out of the 25 largest U.S. cities by population, here are the top 7 U.S. cities for bleisure travel:
Does it come as any surprise that the city that never sleeps would be the best destination for working and playing hard? Of the cities ranked in our study, the 25 largest cities in the U.S., New York City had the best walkability score meaning visitors have great access to all the amenities the city could offer and rarely have to go far to find what they are looking for.
The city also received some of the best entertainment and restaurant scores, with seemingly endless options for things to do and places to eat, from setting up shop with a cup of jo at Shakespeare and Co. to grabbing dinner at the Piccola Cucina. Although the city is lacking in one area — it has one of the higher average nightly hotel rates — New York City has so much to offer it sits at the top of our list of best bleisure travel destinations. For recommendations of what to do on your next bleisure trip to New York, see our New York City guides.
Chicago comes in as our second best bleisure travel destination and offers the lowest average nightly hotel rate of the seven destinations that made our list. At an average of $230 per night, Chicago’s rates are comparable to rates in smaller cities like Charlotte and Detroit yet offer the cool hotel experiences you’d expect of a big city.
Visitors to Chicago will benefit from a walkable downtown, nearly as many events as New York City to keep things entertaining, and dozens of delicious restaurants to boot.
San Francisco may have some of the highest nightly hotel rates, averaging at over $390 per night, but it’s walkability score and restaurants ranking keep it near the top of our ranking. With the highest number of restaurants per capita in the U.S. jam-packed into the relatively small seven by seven mile city, visitors will never run out of places to eat.
And in Wallet Hub’s ‘Most Fun Cities in America,’ San Francisco ranked fifth for entertainment and recreation. A ranking well deserved considering the variety of urban and green spaces to explore around the city by the bay – so many in fact, that you may find yourself extending your business trip to experience a few of these getaways.
Philadelphia comes in as the fourth best destination for bleisure travel for good reason. Hotel rooms won’t set you back too much, at $260 a night, which is especially nice when you decide to tack on a few extra days to your business trip.
And for those getting their exploration done between meetings, Philly has a great walkability score. You can take care of business and soak in some national history all in the same day. Philadelphia may not have as many restaurants as other cities, but what they lack in variety they certainly make up for in local must-try favorites, like the Philly cheesesteak.
While Los Angeles isn’t as walkable as other cities, it sits at number five on our ranking of the best bleisure destinations because of it’s restaurants. The city offers diverse, high quality options that are accessible and relatively affordable.
Average hotel nightly rates aren’t as high as some other major cities, and considering its the home of Hollywood, there are tons of entertainment options and events. To make the most of this bleisure destination, visitors can stick to one neighborhood for work, and hop over to another, perhaps more sandy, locale for the leisure portion of their trip.
Seattle scores well for restaurants, and it’s no wonder when you consider the abundant seafood and fresh options available to the destination. The city is known for its famous Pike Place Market after all. With a walkable downtown and an average hotel nightly rate of $313, it’s an affordable way to visit an urban oasis on the west coast.
Entertainment options may not be as plentiful as NYC or LA, but don’t forget this city gave birth to the grunge rock movement, so why not enjoy a live show at one of Seattle’s famed music venues. Or alternatively, Seattle is a great bleisure destination for those who love the outdoors and want to take on a few extra days, or even a weekend, to explore beyond the city pavement.
Speaking of destinations seeped in the outdoors, Denver has plenty of natural wonders and outdoor experiences. You may need a car to navigate beyond Denver’s downtown, as it’s less walkable than the other destination that have made the list, but the city is extremely affordable.
And in terms of things to do and places to eat, Denver has recently been revitalizing its downtown neighborhoods adding tons of new restaurants, breweries, hotels, art exhibits, and office buildings. Continuing development is making the downtown area more and more attractive for business and leisure travel alike.
In the table below, see the full data set on the top 25 U.S. cities based on population:
|Rank||City||Population||Average hotel rates||Hotel price score||Walk Score Walkability||Walkability Score||Wallet Hub Entertainment Rank||Entertainment Score||Wallet Hub Restaurant Rank||Restaurants Score||TOTAL SCORE|
|1||New York, NY||8,622,698||$366.15||20||89||4||55||16||68||13||53|
|3||San Francisco, CA||884,363||$392.02||21||86||5||50||18||68||13||57|
|5||Los Angeles, CA||3,999,759||$314.40||17||67||11||48||19||68||13||60|
|9||San Diego, CA||1,419,516||$275.10||15||51||17||49||18||60||16||66|
|12||San Antonio, TX||1,511,946||$223.51||12||38||21||41||21||51||19||73|
|17||El Paso, TX||683,577||$151.29||8||42||20||32||25||39||24||77|
|19||Fort Worth, TX||874,168||$191.31||10||34||22||35||24||41||23||79|
|22||San Jose, CA||1,035,317||$343.94||19||51||17||31||25||45||21||82|
TravelBank analyzed the four factors below in order to score and rank the top U.S cities for bleisure travel, a term used to describe a trip that includes both business and leisure time. Each city’s rank by category was evenly weighted out of a score of zero to 25, with zero being the best possible score and 100 being the worst possible score. The study analyzed the top 25 U.S. cities based on population, according to the 2017 U.S census. In the event of a tie, the city with the larger population was given the better ranking.
The average hotel price was determined using proprietary data from the TravelBank Travelator tool that predicts how much a trip will cost, including various categories such as airfare, hotel, and ground transportation, based on real-market rates. The average hotel price for the TravelBank Rank study was calculated during Q3 2018 using the rates of hotels within a 15-mile vicinity of each airport.
The walkability scores were sourced from Walk Score’s 2017 ranking. Through the use of a patented system, Walk Score measured the walkability of any address and ranked the largest 3,000 cities and over 10,000 neighborhoods across the United States, Canada, and Australia. For each address, Walk Score analyzed hundreds of walking routes to nearby amenities and awarded points based on the distance to amenities in each category. They also measured pedestrian friendliness by analyzing population density and road metrics such as block length and intersection density.
The entertainment scores were sourced from Wallet Hub’s 2018 Most Fun Cities in America ranking. They compared more than 180 of the most populated U.S. cities across three main themes, entertainment and recreation, nightlife and parties, and costs. Key metrics in those three categories including the range from fitness centers, movie costs, and average open hours of breweries, among a total of 65 different factors.
The restaurant scores were sourced from Wallet Hub’s 2018 Best Foodie Cities in America ranking. They compared more than 180 of the most populated U.S. cities across two main themes, affordability and diversity, accessibility and quality. Key metrics in those two categories include the range from food-friendliness, cost of groceries to affordability and accessibility of high-quality restaurants to food festivals, and coffee and tea shops per capita, among a total of 30 different factors.
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