Wrong. Ranking of Two Montana Towns For Staycations is Backward.
It should probably go without saying, but I'll say it anyway, this is my opinion.
Recently, a listing of cities across the U.S. that are ideal for staycations was published by Wallethub. It's timely because summer is days away, and some are reporting this will be an unprecedented year for travel. That might entice more than a few people to stay close to home for a vacation. Of course, the downside of a staycation just about anywhere in Montana is that you'll likely be where all the tourists are. But I have faith in you, Montana, that you can find those spots for rest and relaxation that tourists don't know about.
When I saw that the list had two Montana cities, I wasn't surprised. My surprise came when I saw how the cities were ranked.
One Montana city ranked 23rd overall with a score of 118 for recreation, 59 for Food & Entertainment, and 9 for relaxation.
The other Montana city ranked 37th overall with a score of 51 for recreation, 103 for Food & Entertainment and 24 for relaxation.
First, it's nice that these cities are even included because they appear alongside major metropolitan areas. Both cities also appeared in the top 50, so we can pat ourselves on the back for living in Montana. Again, this is about staycations, meaning it's a ranking for Montanans, not those visiting Montana.
Here's the kicker. The city that ranked 23rd is Billings. The city that ranked 37th is Missoula. Data be damned, I think this is backward.
A disclaimer. I have lived in both Billings and Missoula. I have love for both cities. So let's look at the subcategory scores that contributed to these overall rankings.
Missoula wins in this category and rightly so. With closer proximity to rivers, lakes, and mountains, and arguably more walking and biking trails, despite its smaller size, Missoula makes sense.
Food & Entertainment
If there was going to be a tie, this category might bring the two cities close, but I still think that Missoula has Billings beat. Sure, there are huge music acts that visit MetraPark, but there are more major music venues of varying size in Missoula, and both Washington Stadium and the Adams Center have accommodated large musical acts. As far as food goes, this one's pretty subjective, but based on their ranking, a lot of it had to do with pricing and yes, Missoula is more expensive. But in general, I'd say the food is better in Missoula (I mean, Billings doesn't have Paul's Pancakes. Just saying). Also, Billings has a zoo, so that gives them more points. But who needs a zoo when you can have a black bear in your backyard?
The study includes "idealness of summer weather" as one of the indicators and I'm going to say that while Missoula has more wildfire smoke than Billings, it also doesn't get as hot as Billings. As for other measures of relaxation, your opportunity for spa treatments and the like, I'd like to think the cities are comparable.
Tell me I'm wrong. Is Billings better for a staycation than Missoula?