America’s Most Popular Leisure Activities 2021 Wrap-up

With 2022 almost upon us, it’s a good opportunity to take a look back at what the American public enjoyed doing with their leisure time during the past 12 months. Is there a divide between the sexes? Does the younger generation enjoy the same activities as their elders? We’ve had a look at the number from YouGov to find out what’s popular and what’s not.

Attending Sporting Events vs Watching TV

Watching TV remains hugely popular across all age groups with 76% of respondents saying they enjoyed it with just 6% having a negative opinion. That’s almost double the number of people (39%) who said they enjoyed attending sporting events. Sports fans may be more vocal in their support but they’re not as widespread as television viewers.

Attending sports events (39%) vs Watching TV at home (76%)

Americans prefer watching TV at home.

Eating Out at Restaurants vs Going to the Movies

Dining out and going to the movies are still popular ways for people of all ages to spend their leisure time. The former is the more popular of the two with 73% of people saying they enjoy dining out compared to 58% who like going to the movie theater. Eating out was especially popular with millennials in 2021 with 77% saying they enjoyed eating out.

Eating out at restaurants (73) vs Going to the movies (58%)

Americans prefer eating out at restaurants.

Gambling and Betting vs Playing Video Games

Gambling and playing video games are more niche pastimes. There are real age and gender splits in these pastimes too. 69% of millennial respondents said they liked playing video games compared to just 28% from the baby boomer generation. Gen-Xers were bang in the middle at 48%. There’s more of a gender split when it comes to gambling with 39% of men saying they enjoyed a bet compared to 26% of women. For those who enjoy gambling, explore our offers for US online casinos.

Gambling & Betting (32%) vs Playing video games (49%)

Americans prefer playing video games.

Spending Time with Friends vs Dating

Spending time with friends is extremely popular among all age groups and sexes. 80% of respondents said they enjoyed hanging out with friends compared to just 3% who disliked it (the rest were neutral). Dating is a far less popular leisure pursuit with just 40% of people saying they enjoyed it. Males found dating more enjoyable with 45% saying they liked it compared to just 34% of women.

Spending time with friends (80%) vs Love & dating (40%)

Americans prefer spending time with friends.

Using Social Media vs Spending Time with Family

Overall, people much preferred spending time with family (77% liked) than using social media (44% liked). Baby boomers enjoyed family time the most (81%) followed by Gen-Xers (79%) and millennials (71%). the least. The opposite was true when it comes to social media with millennials liking it the most followed by Gen-Xers and boomers.

Using social media (45%) vs Spending time with family (77%)

Americans prefer spending time with family.

Watching Movies vs Listening to Music

Not everyone seemingly enjoys going to theaters but people of all ages enjoy watching movies. The same is true of listening to music which is hugely popular with men and women of all ages. Listening to music topped the YouGov poll of the most popular leisure activities with 85% of people enjoying it and just 3% who didn’t. That high number was consistent among all age groups from millennials through to boomers.

Watching movies (80%) vs Listening to the music (85%)

Americans prefer listening to music.

Buying and Selling Online vs Gardening

There’s a real age divide when it comes to buying and selling online and gardening. The latter is far more popular with older people than youngsters. 72% of boomers had a gardener’s green thumb compared to 67% of gen-Xers and 61% of millennials. The opposite was true of online shopping and selling which was much more popular with the millennials and their older counterparts.

Buying and selling online (45%) vs Gardening & outdoors (65%)

Americans prefer gardening & the outdoors.

Shopping vs Traveling

There are big age and gender splits when it comes to shopping and traveling. 58% of respondents enjoyed shopping overall. That number was much higher with millennials (68%) compared to gen-Xers (55%) and boomers (50%). It proved more popular with women than men too with 67% enjoying shopping compared to just 49% of men. Traveling was consistently popular across all ages and sexes. 74% of boomers and gen-Xers enjoyed traveling which is just higher than the 72% of millennials.


Going shopping (58%) vs Travelling the world (72%)

Americans prefer traveling the world.

Concluding: Spending time with family and friends are the most popular among Americans

The pandemic has obviously had a big impact on leisure activities in the USA. Outdoor events have grown in popularity. As has entertainment you can enjoy in the comfort of your own home. Music and movies are enduring favorites. Rather reassuringly, spending time with family and friends is still among America’s most popular leisure activities.

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