While working during the festive season might feel a bit like a nightmare before Christmas, the good news is that many remote workers can now make the best of it by embarking on a workcation and sneaking a little relaxation and holiday cheer in between their tasks and projects. But, with so many enticing destinations — whether beachy or winter wonderlands — it might be hard to pin down an exact location on the map as to where to put in your best work, while also enjoying some quality leisure time, good food and holiday entertainment.
For this reason, we analyzed more than 400 locations across the U.S. and compared them based on various relevant metrics to determine the best flexcation destination for this year’s holiday season. Specifically, we considered factors like the number of leisure establishments that ensure quality entertainment, as well as the number of restaurants and the regional price parity to determine affordability. Then, to weigh the work factor into the equation, we also looked at the number of coworking spaces available in each location to help remote workers, digital nomads and freelancers work in a professional and well-equipped environment even while traveling for the holidays.
1. Fort Lauderdale, FL – 83.4 Points
Holding onto its leading position from last year’s ranking, Fort Lauderdale managed to score even more points in 2023 due to great performance across all metrics. Those looking to trade in Frosty for a sandcastle will be happy to know that Fort Lauderdale has 25 leisure establishments available per 10,000 residents for a total of 458 (the highest number among all the locations analyzed). These include art, entertainment, recreation and personal care venues, like theaters, sports venues, museums, amusement parks or spas. Not only that, but this sunny Florida destination also boasts more than 1,800 restaurants for residents and tourists to choose from and that are bound to cater to any and every taste. And, when the time comes to get in some work in between tanning sessions, there are a total of 27 coworking spaces available to workers. Arrangements vary from hourly desks or meeting rooms to weekly or monthly subscriptions.
2. Greenville, SC – 82 Points
Like Fort Lauderdale, Greenville also maintained its position from last year only to score more points than before thanks to even higher numbers across the metrics. With almost as many restaurants as Fort Lauderdale per 10,000 residents (97, as opposed to 99 in Fort Lauderdale), this idyllic city also provides plenty of entertainment and recreation options with more than 120 establishments ranging from sports and museums to spas and personal care services. Plus, more great news for professionals who are considering Greenville for a holiday workation hotspot is that prices here are among the lowest of all of the cities analyzed. Even when it comes to mixing in some work during the holidays, it’s (still) a wonderful life in Greenville as the city checks all of the boxes for a successful flexcation.
3. Spring, TX – 80.3 Points
A new entry in the top holiday destinations this year, Spring is the perfect spot for those looking to enjoy the warm weather and Southern hospitality during the festive season — and possibly even trade the traditional turkey for some of the best barbecues in Texas. That’s also reflected in the high number of restaurants per 10,000 residents — 101, which is the most of all of the cities we analyzed. And, with Old Town Spring hosting a variety of Christmas festivities, it’s easy to enjoy some jolly good entertainment after work hours, whether you want to attend the tree-lighting event or take a free carriage or wagon ride.
4. Miami, FL – 73.2 Points
Maybe not the first option to come to mind when thinking of a traditional white Christmas, Miami kept its fourth position in our ranking due to its timeless beachy charm, even during the holiday season. Apart from its beautiful beaches and thriving entertainment and business scenes, Miami has one of the highest numbers of restaurants on our list (more than 3,600), which are bound to satisfy any taste and budget. Additionally, Miami is home to one of the largest coworking markets in the country with a total of 86 flex workspaces available for residents and tourists alike. And, with the Winterfest Boat Parade taking place here during the festive season — among many other seasonal concerts or tree-lighting events — there’s something for everyone in this vibrant and sunny holiday destination.
5. Boca Raton – 71.4 Points
Even after falling two positions from last year’s ranking, Boca Raton still makes the top five best flexcation destinations as yet another Florida hotspot that’s ideal for solo or family trips alike. Despite having a much smaller population than Miami, Boca Raton still claims a higher number of leisure establishments per capita, which goes to show that those who choose this spot for a holiday workation will have plenty of entertainment options at their fingertips. And, due to its many gorgeous beaches, golf courses and the Boca Holiday Festival — which includes ice skating, live shows, thrilling rides and family-friendly activities — it’s easy to see why making Boca Raton home for the holidays is an inspired choice.
6. Atlanta, GA – 70.5 Points
The most populous city among the top 10, Atlanta has plenty to offer to tourists and vacationers during the holiday season. More precisely, with almost 3,000 restaurants that cover varied cuisines and styles — as well as more than 620 leisure establishments that guarantee fun, exciting or relaxing activities — Atlanta is one destination that checks all of the boxes. Moreover, there are also 110 coworking spaces in the city, thereby making it easy for workers to find an ideal space, if even for just a few days. At the same time, the city is more affordable than the previous Miami hotspots and even Spring, Texas. As for things to do in Atlanta during the most wonderful time of the year, the dazzling lights at the Atlanta Botanical Garden and Callaway Gardens are a public favorite, as are the special projections at the Georgia Aquarium or the Nutcracker performance by the Atlanta Ballet.
7. Wilmington, DE – 63.7 Points
For those looking to combine a cozy, small-town feel with big-city perks, Wilmington is the perfect choice this year. While coworking spaces are more scarce here than they are in other locations, Wilmington has a lower price parity, which makes it more affordable to rent a place here and buy any type of goods and services. Interestingly, the city also has more leisure establishments per 10,000 residents than places like Miami or Atlanta, which might come as a surprise given its size. Here, residents and tourists can fully embrace the festive spirit by attending holiday markets, lighting festivals or meeting with Santa.
8. Orlando, FL – 60.7 Points
Despite dropping two positions in the ranking this year, Orlando is still a perfect workation destination for the holiday season, especially for those looking to trade the snow for some fun in the sun. Granted, the theme park capital of the world is home to a hefty number of leisure establishments that guarantee both fun and relaxation, but it also features more than 2,300 restaurants for every foodie. And, with more than 30 coworking spaces available throughout the city and a regional price parity that makes goods and services more affordable than in other Florida hotspots, it’s easy to see why Orlando is a great place to be this holiday season among Christmas parades, holiday markets and, of course, theme parks dressed in festive cheer.
9. Santa Monica, CA – 56.6 Points
It’s not only the famous Santa Monica pier that makes this a perfect destination for any type of trip but also the holiday events taking place here during the winter months. Apart from many free activities that take place in this sunny California destination, the city is also hosting SantaCon — the biggest nationwide Santa bar crawl. Or, if that doesn’t sound like everyone’s exact cup of eggnog, tourists here will be happy to learn that more than 160 leisure establishments are available throughout the city, as well as more than 400 restaurants. All of these ensure fun or relaxing activities and extra-full bellies — just as they should be during the holiday season.
10. St. Louis, MO – 55.9 Points
Previously taking the 13th place in the holiday destination ranking, St. Louis now rounds out the top 10 due to higher scores across the board. With an impressive 1,800+ restaurants and more than 340 venues that are ideal for leisure and entertainment, meeting up in St. Louis sure sounds like a good idea during this holiday season. Furthermore, between lighting festivals, Christmas music concerts and even festive rooftop parties, there’s no shortage of fun experiences to be enjoyed after a day’s work in “the Gateway to the West.”
Having lost two positions from last year, Newport Beach, CA misses the top 10 but still stands out due to consistent rankings across the board. The Christmas boat parade taking place here attracts many visitors during the holiday season, as well as the gorgeous beaches and the 19 coworking spaces make it easy for those on a workation to find a comfortable and well-equipped place to put in some work.
Next, Salt Lake City, UT, makes number 12 in our top, as opposed to falling to 16th place in 2022. This ideal winter destination for sports fans and the unofficial home to the "greatest snow on Earth", Salt Lake City offers over 1,000 restaurants for every taste and a plethora of fun, wintery activities to enjoy, like skiing or snowboarding, among others.
Yet another snowy destination, Boulder, CO, gains one position this year and is the perfect place for those looking to enjoy winter sports. The city also boasts over 100 leisure establishments and 17 coworking spaces, helping residents and tourists to perfectly balance their work activities with some well-deserved fun.
In North Carolina, Asheville is the place to be this holiday season for those looking to enjoy natural wonders, milder winters and great food. As such, the city stands out with a relatively low regional price parity, which makes it more affordable than other locations and almost 550 restaurants, a higher share per 10,000 residents than the previous year, which helped boost its place in our ranking.
At a tie with Asheville in terms of total points, Miami Beach also checks over 500 restaurants throughout the city and 100+ leisure establishments, perfect for exciting activities or relaxation. Plus, spending Christmas on one of its many beautiful beaches is reason enough for many to choose this Florida hotspot as their destination for the holiday season.
Rounding out the top 15 is Pittsburgh, PA, where almost 300 leisure establishments are available for the enjoyment of residents and tourists, as well as almost 1,800 restaurants. And, with a more affordable price parity applied to goods and services and 37 coworking spaces available throughout the city, Pittsburgh stands out as a solid option for remote workers on a holiday workcation.
To compile this study, we used the following sources:
- City population: Census 2022.
- Leisure establishments per 10,000 residents (directly proportional) - 30% of the total index - Census CBP 2021. Data available on zip code level.
- Restaurant establishments per 10,000 residents (directly proportional) - 30% of the total index - Census CBP 2021. Data available on zip code level.
- Coworking spaces per 10,000 residents (directly proportional) - 30% of the total index - CommercialEdge October 2023.
- Regional price parity for goods (indirectly proportional) - 10% of the total index - BEA 2021. Data available on MSA level. The cities in our ranking have a population of over 70,000 residents.
- Leasure venues include: performing art companies, spectator sports, museums, historical sites, amusement parks and arcades, other recreation industries, other personal care services such as spas
- The numbers regarding restaurant establishments per 10k residents encompass food services and bars with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
- We included the number of coworking spaces per capita, to determine the availability of flexible workspaces among residents and tourists.
- Regional Price Parities (RPPs) measure the differences in price levels across states and metropolitan areas for a given year and are expressed as a percentage of the overall national price level. All items RPPs cover all consumption goods and services, including housing rents. Areas with high/low RPPs typically correspond to areas with high/low price levels for rents. The national average is 100.
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