During the past year, we’ve all spent a lot of time indoors. This has made us more appreciative than ever of the time we get to spend outside breathing in the fresh air.
Many people have seized every opportunity to get away from the restrictions of city life during the pandemic, taking refuge in the one place isolation brings comfort – nature.
So, which U.S. cities are most accommodating to those seeking an outdoors lifestyle? We conducted a study to find out, and the results are in.
San Francisco, CA
Los Angeles, CA
New York, NY
Grand Rapids, MI
San Jose, CA
Salt Lake City, UT
San Diego, CA
Santa Fe, NM
Narrowing down the list of best outdoor cities in the U.S. is no easy task.
In order to determine which cities come out on top, we collected information from multiple sources on several different factors we deemed the most relevant.
Well, it took us three weeks, copious amounts of coffee, and a lot of work, but we finally did it.
Our scoring system rates cities on a scale from 1 to 10 based on several different criteria:
- Number of parks within 10-minute walking distance
- Nearby hiking & biking trails
- Air quality
- National & state parks
- Population density
Although there will always be a degree of subjectivity in these ratings, we did our best to make it as data-driven as possible.
Each category was analyzed and assigned a score individually, using data from several different sources. The scores from each category were then added up to obtain the final score for each city, which was used to rank the cities in order.
The housing score indicates the median price of residential property in each city. Cities scoring highest are those with the most affordable housing, while those that are more expensive score lower. We took the median price of housing in each city and used that data to allocate an overall score on a scale of 0-10. This contributed 15% to the final score.
The local parks score indicates how many residents in each city have quick access to local parks. We took the percentage of the population in each city that has a park within 10-minute walking distance. Based on this data, each city was given a score on a scale of 0-10. This contributed 20% to the final score.
The climate score indicates how pleasant the weather is in each city. This is something that comes down to personal preference, but we based our scoring in this category on the general assumption that warm weather can be considered preferable to extremely cold or extremely hot weather conditions. Based on how many days each year one can expect fine weather, each city was allocated a score on a scale of 0-10. This contributed 15% to the final score.
The nearby trails score is based on how many hiking, biking, and walking trails each city has nearby. We collected data from several different sources to determine the length of the total number of the trails in each city. We then took these values and used them to allocate a score to each city on a scale of 0-10. This contributed 20% to the final score.
The air quality score indicates the level of air pollution in each city. We took the amount of days each city had good, clean air and divided by the total number of days recorded. The resulting values were used to allocate an overall score for each city on a scale of 0-10. This contributed 5% to the final score.
National and State Parks
The national and state parks score is based on the number of different national and state parks within the vicinity of each city.
Rather than including all the parks within the state each city is located in, we went one step further and isolated those that are close enough for residents to visit on a weekend trip.
We took all the national and state parks listed on different sources and looked at which ones fell within a 100 mile driving distance of each given city. These values were used to obtain an overall score for each city on a scale of 0-10. This contributed 20% to the final score.