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The Cost of Concert Travel in America’s Largest Cities [2024 Data Study]

Alex Miller's image
Alex Miller
Alex Miller's image

Alex Miller

Founder & CEO

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Founder and CEO of Upgraded Points, Alex is a leader in the industry and has earned and redeemed millions of points and miles. He frequently discusses the award travel industry with CNBC, Fox Business...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

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With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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Concert tourism, or “gig tripping,” is on the rise, mostly fueled by Taylor Swift’s record-breaking Eras Tour. With more mega tours scheduled for summer 2024, this travel trend seems to be here to stay as fans turn these concerts into mini-vacations, traveling across cities and states to catch their favorite artists live. While the gig trip phenomenon is undoubtedly exhilarating, it also comes with a hefty price tag. 

As we approach peak travel season, we wanted to shed more light on the actual costs of a weekend concert vacation in 50 of America’s largest cities, examining everything from concert ticket prices to flight and accommodation expenses. Whether you’re a seasoned concert-goer or planning your first musical jet set, understanding these costs can help you better budget for those unforgettable live music experiences.

Additionally, we took a look at the tour dates for 30 of the most popular 2023/2024 tours, from Taylor Swift to Drake to Olivia Rodrigo, to see which U.S. cities get the most and least concerts from major artists. 

The Most and Least Wallet-Friendly Cities for Gig Tripping

U.S. map highlighting the most and least wallet-friendly cities for concert travel
Image Credit: Upgraded Points

When planning travel around a tour stop, the costs can hit as many high notes as your favorite singer, especially when considering the steep costs of flights, Airbnbs, Ubering, tour merchandise, and booze at the concert venue.

The 5 most expensive U.S. cities for a weekend concert vacation are:

  1. New York, New York –- $1,793
  2. San Francisco, California — $1,692
  3. Los Angeles, California –- $1,516
  4. Boston, Massachusetts –- $1,454
  5. Seattle, Washington — $1,407

It’s no surprise that New York City is the least wallet-friendly tour stop for concert travel, costing $1,793 for a 2-night concert trip for 1 tourist. In New York, the average concert ticket price at Madison Square Garden is a whopping $231.06. Flying into John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)? Prepare to shell out an average of $441.34 round-trip. Additionally, an Airbnb for 2 nights averages $430.70, while ride-share and meal costs in NYC total $114.23 and $198.00, respectively. 

San Francisco isn’t far behind at $1,692. Concert tickets here rack up to $244.33 on average, while flights into San Francisco International Airport (SFO) average $465.68, and a 2-night Airbnb stay averages $388.06. Even the booze carries a heavy price tag, with 2 16-ounce domestic beers at a concert setting you back nearly $40 ($38.02). Factor in ride-share, meals, and a $43 tour t-shirt, and you’re looking at a pricey getaway. 

Los Angeles, Boston, and Seattle round out the top 5 most expensive cities for concert travel. A weekend concert trip costs over $1,400 in each of these cities. 

While some cities may be expensive for the gig tripper, others offer the chance to enjoy the music without the financial hangover. 

The 5 least expensive U.S. cities for a weekend concert vacation are:

  1. Lexington, Kentucky — $1,037
  2. Cleveland, Ohio –- $1,073
  3. Cincinnati, Ohio –- $1,097
  4. Memphis, Tennessee — $1,123
  5. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania –- $1,128

Lexington tops the list as the most wallet-friendly concert destination, where a full weekend of live tunes comes in at just over $1,000. Cheaper flights ($247.34 round-trip), reasonable Airbnb rates (2 nights for $260.45), and lower food and beverage prices both in and out of concert venues make Lexington perfect for the concert junkie on a budget. 

Not far behind are Cleveland and Cincinnati, with costs hovering around $1,073 and $1,097, respectively. Cleveland concert-goers benefit from low beer prices at venues, where 2 16-ounce beers cost just $11.74 — compare this to the $39.74 charged in Seattle. In Cincinnati, the average concert ticket price is just $132.90, ranking ninth lowest in the study.

Memphis and Pittsburgh also make the list of the 5 cheapest concert destinations. Offering rich musical heritages without plundering your savings, these cities sneak in under $1,130 for the entire weekend. In Memphis, the average concert ticket price is just $132.90 at FedExForum –– the fourth lowest in the study, while Pittsburgh earns its spot on the list with its affordable Airbnb rates, at just $214.53 for a 2-night stay. 

The True Cost of Traveling to See Your Favorite Artists on Tour

With “gig trips,” the concert ticket cost is just the tip of the iceberg. Once you tally up flights, accommodations, transportation, and meals, the total cost of your trip can skyrocket. We’ve compiled our full data study for all 50 U.S. cities analyzed into the interactive table below. Search for your concert destination of interest and click on the heading of each column to sort by specific cost categories. 

When we zero in on concert ticket prices specifically, prices are highest in Austin, Texas, and Las Vegas, Nevada. In these hotspots, the average concert ticket at the top-grossing venues hits a whopping $279.03 in Austin and $260.52 in Vegas. Whether it’s the eclectic music vibe of Austin or the glitzy shows of Vegas, these cities are setting the bar — and the price — sky high for live tunes.

Hot Tip:

The cost of concert-going can quickly add up — from tickets to flights to accommodations. However, savvy travelers can mitigate some of these expenses by choosing the right credit card that offers cash-back on concert tickets, flights, and hotel stays. For a deeper dive into how you can optimize your spending and enjoy some serious perks along the way, check out our guide to the best credit cards for concert tickets.

How Much Is Concert Parking in 2024?

Graphic highlighting the most and least expensive U.S. cities for concert parking
Image Credit: Upgraded Points

Planning to park at premier concert venues such as Red Rocks Amphitheater near Denver or The Sphere in Las Vegas? Be prepared to pay a premium. Parking pass prices at these locations and others can be steep, especially for shows of top artists. In certain scenarios, the price of a parking pass may even exceed $50. 

If you plan to see a concert in San Francisco, brace yourself — parking alone will cost you an average of $89.11, making it the priciest city for concert parking. Not too far behind, Los Angeles averages $79.50 per parking pass. Rounding out the top 5 most expensive cities for concert parking are Austin, Boston, and Miami, where parking passes average $56 to $66. Concertgoers in these metros might want to consider ride-share or public transit when seeing Justin Timberlake or Blink 182 on tour this summer. 

Which Cities Get the Most Concerts?

Some cities seem to have all the luck when it comes to hosting the hottest names in music. By analyzing tour dates for 30 of the most popular 2023/2024 tours, we’ve uncovered which cities are concert capitals and which ones are left wanting more. 

Not surprisingly, cities like New York City (89 shows) and Los Angeles (70 shows) top the list, serving as frequent stops for major tours thanks to their larger-than-life venues and massive fan bases. 

Despite its relatively modest population of just 499,127, Atlanta, Georgia, punches way above its weight on the concert circuit, ranking fourth with a whopping 39 shows. Tampa, Florida, too, defies expectations with its smaller crowd of 398,173 residents, yet it boasts an impressive lineup of 20 major concerts. These cities are proof that size isn’t everything when it comes to live music — it’s all about the vibe and the fans.

On the flip side, Jacksonville, Florida, isn’t feeling the concert love. Despite having a substantial population of 971,319, it only received 1 tour stop. Similarly, Memphis, Tennessee, known for its rich musical heritage and a sizeable population of 621,056, surprisingly is host to just 4 shows.

Methodology

In this study, we calculated the total of 8 cost factors in 50 of the largest U.S. cities to find the cost of a weekend concert trip for 1 tourist across the U.S., where a weekend equals a 2-night stay, flying in on a Friday night and flying out on a Sunday morning.

The cost factors are as follows:

SCROLL FOR MORE
FactorQuantitySource
Average Concert Ticket Cost1 ticketVivid Seats
Average Cost of Airfare (Round-Trip)1 flightBureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS)
Average Airbnb Nightly Price2 nightsAirbnb
Average Ride-Share Costs2 ridesUber
Average Cost of Beer (At the Venue)2 16-ounce beersUSA Today, VinePair, Stadium Journey
Average Cost of Alcohol (Outside the Venue)4 drinksExpatistan
Average Meal Costs5 mealsNumbeo
Average Cost of Tour T-Shirt (At the Venue)1 t-shirtIndividual Artist Websites

The concert ticket and parking pass prices in this study represent an average resale cost across 2024 concerts at each city’s top-grossing venue, sourced from Vivid Seats. Please note that actual prices will vary depending on the artist. Prices on resale platforms like Vivid Seats are determined by supply and demand dynamics, so factors like the popularity of the event, the availability of tickets, and the proximity to the event date can all influence prices.

Lastly, we looked at the city tour dates across 30 of the most popular 2023/2024 tours to see which cities get the most and least concerts from major musical acts. The 30 tours we analyzed were Alanis Morrisette, Bad Bunny, Beyoncé, Billy Joel, Blake Shelton, Blink 182, Drake, Eagles, Enrique Iglesias, Foo Fighters, Green Day, Hozier, Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Kacey Musgraves, Kid Cudi, Madonna, Maggie Rogers, Melanie Martinez, Mitski, Nicki Minaj, Noah Kahan, Olivia Rodrigo, P!nk, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Taylor Swift, The Rolling Stones, Usher, Zach Bryan. 

Final Thoughts

As concert tourism and other pop culture travel trends gain momentum (both in the U.S. and internationally), our study uncovers the stark reality behind the excitement: the significant costs. In all 50 cities examined, you won’t find a weekend concert getaway for less than a grand.

Every destination offers a different financial tune for gig trippers. Concert-goers can save over $750 by seeing their favorite artists in Lexington, Kentucky, instead of New York City. Whether you’re a concert veteran or a newbie to the live music scene, understanding these expenses is crucial for planning your next concert vacation. 

Alex Miller's image

About Alex Miller

Founder and CEO of Upgraded Points, Alex is a leader in the industry and has earned and redeemed millions of points and miles. He frequently discusses the award travel industry with CNBC, Fox Business, The New York Times, and more.

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