Livability 2014: Entertainment—What You Lose in Rent, You Gain in Fun

Dec 09, 2014 at 9:08 AM ET

A quick look at this list of the best cities for entertainment likely inspires a response along the lines of, “Well, of course big cities have more entertainment options!” But when Vocativ decided what makes up this category—the cost of movie tickets, and the number of concerts and festivals, sports arenas, stadiums and pro teams—affordability was just as important as scale. OK, there’s no Austin on this top 10 list, but that’s because the Texas capital really only excels in music (and frankly, outside of ACL or SxSW, it offers much more in the way of local acts than huge bands coming through on tour). And these 10 cities have it all. With the exception of Vegas, each has pro sports teams—plus lots more. You might have to pay through the nose to rest your head, but when you venture outside that overpriced home, won’t have any issue finding something to do.

TOP 10 CITIES FOR ENTERTAINMENT: Cheap movies, plentiful concerts, sports venues and pro sports teams

  1. Chicago, Illinois
  2. Atlanta, Georgia
  3. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  4. Houston, Texas
  5. New York, New York
  6. Los Angeles, California
  7. Las Vegas, Nevada
  8. Nashville, Tennessee
  9. Denver, Colorado
  10. Cleveland, Ohio

Chicago takes the No. 1 spot on our entertainment list because it ties NYC with five pro sports teams and has plentiful arenas and stadiums to catch even AAA ball, MLS and concerts. It’s home to Lollapalooza and is a stop on most bands’ national tours (could be the deep-dish pizza?). And though its $12 ticket doesn’t sit in the top 10 for cheapest movie stubs—that privilege belongs to Lexington, Kentucky, with 7 bucks a ticket, on average!—it doesn’t bust your wallet like New York’s $17 fee. (And that’s not even for a 3D show.) While rent, gas, transportation and other costs don’t factor into this ranking, life is all about context. Your entertainment choices are better in big cities, but can you afford to live in one? Take Los Angeles—not a lot is cheap there. Chicago’s $1,754 average two-bedroom rent is about 1,000 bucks less than L.A.’s, but still nearly twice that of Cleveland ($895) and Las Vegas ($924). And the Windy City can’t lay claim to LeBron or Celine Dion.