With the travel and tourism industries gutted by COVID-19 and travelers opting to stay close to home this summer, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on 2020’s Best & Worst Cities for Staycations.

To identify the best spots for staying local, WalletHub compared more than 180 cities across 15 key indicators of a fun-filled yet wallet-friendly staycation. Their data set ranges from parks per capita to the average home square footage and the idealness of summer weather. Two key dimensions were recreation and rest and relaxation.

Overall, Fort Smith ranked No. 6 and Little Rock ranked No. 22. Fort Smith came in No. 1 on the category for “Lowest Average Price of Pizza and Burgers” and at No. 4 for “Lowest Average Beer and Wine Price.”

“There are some very impressive cities all down this list,” Claude Legris, executive director of the Fort Smith Convention & Visitors Bureau, said. “WalletHub really did a great job of setting up this criteria. We’re pleased to get the recognition and let the world know."

According to a press release from the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism, Fort Smith has always been known for its Wild West appeal. True West magazine selected Fort Smith as the Top True Western Town for 2013 and it has remained high in the rankings each year since. Fort Smith celebrates its Wild West history at museums like the National Historic Site, with an impressive 25-foot-statue of U.S. Deputy Marshall Bass Reeves, through preservation of numerous historic homes and with annual festivals such as its Old Fort Days Rodeo, held each spring.

Fort Smith also boasts one of the most unique Welcome Centers in the country. The turn of the century Victorian mansion is a former bordello from frontier days and is on the National Registry of Historic Places.

“The National Historic Site is the number one attraction,” Legris said. The historic site contains the remains of two frontier forts, Federal Court for the Western District of Arkansas, Federal Judge Isaac C. Parker’s courtroom, re-created 1886 gallows, “Hell on the Border” jail, and exhibits on the army, Trail of Tears, federal court, marshals and outlaws.

In addition to its frontier spirit, Fort Smith offers a modern art movement that people can enjoy via self-guided tours. More than 30 large murals can be seen downtown on the sides of buildings, plus there are several sculptures.

One of the newest attractions is Riverside Rides, a new bike rental facility along the Greg Smith River Trail that opened May 29. The trail runs along the river and wraps around to a park in the northern part of the city for a length of 7.5 miles.

With plenty of outdoor activities and nearby wineries in the surrounding areas, Fort Smith makes for one fantastic Staycation close to home.

See the complete report on Wallethub's Best and Worst Cities for a Staycation.

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