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The Expert in Baby Boomer Travel

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I love Chicago -- in summer. Photo by Clark Norton

I love Chicago — in summer. Photo by Clark Norton

Did you know that Chicago, San Francisco, and Pittsburgh are the best places to celebrate Christmas in America?

And I’m sorry to have to tell you this, residents of Hialeah, Florida, but you finished dead last for Christmas cheer in a survey of the 100 biggest U.S. cities, conducted by the financial site Wallethub.

You Hialeahans might as well stoke up the coal furnace right now, because all you’ll get in your stockings are lumps of the sooty stuff.

But back to the merry cities of Chicago, San Francisco, and Pittsburgh, followed close behind by New York City and Seattle, all dubbed tops for Christmas joy — and affordability, although some might question the latter.

Orlando, Atlanta, Washington, DC, Las Vegas (NV), and Portland (OR) rounded out the top ten.

How These Results Were Determined

Wallethub surveyed “29 key indicators of a festive and affordable Christmas,” as they put it, such as “traditions and fun,” “observance,” “generosity,” “shopping,” and various costs, including the “lowest average price per Christmas party ticket” (not sure exactly what that means; I don’t remember ever buying a ticket to a Christmas party).

They also took into consideration such things as “most Christmas tree farms per capita,” “most toy stores and hobby shops per capita,” and “most online giving per capita.”

The number of churches available for Christian worship was also tossed into the mix.

My memories of Hialeah.

My memories of Hialeah.

Winning Factors 

The top cities, as you might imagine, fared well in most categories, with some exceptions.

Chicago, the overall winner, finished in the top ten in traditions and fun, observance (which reflects the number of churches, I think), and shopping, but fell to number 15 in generosity.

Second-place San Francisco scored like gangbusters in traditions and fun, shopping, and generosity, but fell all the way to number 33 in observance.

Third-place Pittsburgh finished near the top in observance, generosity, and shopping, but didn’t come up to snuff in the traditions and fun department.

Fourth place New York City scored the highest in traditions and fun, as you might imagine, but fell out of the top 10 in shopping — sorry, Tiffany’s!

And fifth-place Seattle was the most generous city of all, but only 50th in observance. Read into that what you will.

Poor Hialeah

It’s not really my place to dump on Hialeah, especially in the Christmas season, but I have to report the results or I would be failing in my duties as a scribe.

Hialeah finished dead last in observance, number 98 in traditions and fun, number 96 in shopping, and redeemed itself only a little by scoring number 89 in generosity.

My advice to Hialeah residents: head to Orlando.

(My own experience in Hialeah was not the greatest: after an unsuccessful afternoon at the racetrack there many years ago, I got a flat tire on my way back to Miami, where I was living at the time. The racetrack’s pink flamingos, though, were quite attractive, and I managed to get the tire changed — though I never returned.)

To be fair to Hialeah, though, North Las Vegas, NV, fared almost as poorly, finishing last in shopping, next to last in observance, and pretty badly in the other categories.

But my guess is that residents of North Las Vegas simply head down to ninth-place finisher Las Vegas and soak up the Christmas spirit there.

Tucson, where it's warm(ish) all year.

Tucson, where it’s warm(ish) all year.

As for my current home city — Tucson, AZ — it finished a mid-range 55th, scoring its best in the shopping category (36th) and lowest in generosity (69th).

But there’s at least one thing the Wallethub survey didn’t include: climate. I don’t know the temperatures where all of you, my dear readers, live, but here in Tucson I can go for a walk wearing shorts and a T-shirt much of the winter.

White Christmases? I had plenty of those in New York, thanks.

And for me, that outranks Christmas-crazy Chicago in winter, as much as I love the city on the lake — in summer.

No matter where you live — even (or maybe especially) in Hialeah — I wish all of you a very merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Coming next: Wallethub’s take on where to best celebrate New Year’s Eve!

And special thanks to GettingOnTravel for naming to its List of 2018 Best Baby Boomer Blogs!


Note to readers: Start your Tucson bucket list fresh in 2018 with your copy of my book 100 Things to Do in Tucson Before You Die!

To order directly from me, you can send payment of $19.35 (which includes sales tax and postage) to or send a check, if you prefer to:

Clark Norton

1026 E. Miles St.

Tucson, AZ 85719

Be sure to send me an email at with your own name and shipping address.

And thanks to everyone for helping to make 100 Things to Do in Tucson Before You Die such a rousing success!



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According to government and private surveys:

  • Leading-edge baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1955) and seniors account for four out of every five dollars spent on luxury travel today.
  • Roughly half the consumer spending money in the U.S.--more than $2 trillion--is in the hands of leading-edge baby boomers and seniors.
  • Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) travel more than any other age group.
  • When asked what they would most like to spend their money on, baby boomers answered “travel” more than any other category, including improving their health or finances.

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