Top 25 US Cities For An Outdoorsy Lifestyle

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.

Seattle thumb

Seattle,
WA

Boston thumb

Boston,
MA

Minneapolis thumb

Minneapolis,
MN

San Francisko thumb

San Francisco,
CA

Los Angeles thumb

Los Angeles,
CA

New York thumb

New York,
NY

Aurora thumn

Aurora,
CO

Irvine thumb

Irvine,
CA

Chicago thumb

Chicago,
IL

Portland thumb

Portland,
OR

Denver thumb

Denver,
CO

Vancouver thumb

Vancouver,
WA

Grand rapids thumb

Grand Rapids,
MI

San Jose thumb

San Jose,
CA

Washington Dc Thumb

Washington,
D.C.

Salt Lake City Thumb

Salt Lake City,
UT

boulder thumb

Boulder,
CO

Miami thumb

Miami,
FL

San Diego thumb

San Diego,
CA

Santa Fe thumb

Santa Fe,
NM

Boise thumb

Boise,
ID

Reno thumb

Reno,
NV

Charleston thumb

Charleston,
SC

Honolulu thumb

Honolulu,
HI

Durango thumb

Durango,
CO

Methodology

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:

  1. Housing
  2. Number of parks within 10-minute walking distance
  3. Weather
  4. Nearby hiking & biking trails
  5. Air quality
  6. National & state parks
  7. 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.

Housing

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.

Sources:

Zillow

Realtor

U.S. Census

Local Parks

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.

Sources:

The Trust For Public Land

Google Maps 

Climate

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.

Sources:

U.S. Climate Data

Weather Spark

NOAA 

Nearby Trails

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.

Sources:

The Hiking Project

AllTrails

TrailLink

Air Quality

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.

Sources:

EPA

IQAir

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.

Sources:

National Park Service

State Parks

Population Density

The population density score indicates the ratio between space and people. In other words, how crowded each city is. We took data from several sources in order to allocate a score to each city on a scale of 0-10. This contributed 5% to the final score.

Sources:

Governing

U.S. Census

#1

Seattle, WA

#1

Seattle, WA

Median House Price

$ 804 504

Residents Close to Local Parks

96%

Climate Score

5.15

Nearby Trails (mi)

4 452

Days With good air quality

236

National & State Parks

83

Pop. Density (per sq.mi.)

8 391

Top Score

7.68

Median House Price

Residents Close to Local Parks

Climate Score

Nearby Trails (mi)

Days With Good Air Quality

National & State Parks

Pop. Density (per sq. mi.)

Total Score

$ 804 504

96%

5.15

4 452

236

83

8 391

7.68

#2

Boston, MA

#2

Boston, MA

Median House Price

$ 653 632

Residents Close to Local Parks

100%

Climate Score

5.61

Nearby Trails (mi)

534

Days With good air quality

291

National & State Parks

128

Pop. Density (per sq.mi.)

13 943

Top Score

7.64

Median House Price

Residents Close to Local Parks

Climate Score

Nearby Trails (mi)

Days With Good Air Quality

National & State Parks

Pop. Density (per sq. mi.)

Total Score

$ 653 632

100%

5.61

534

291

128

13 943

7.64

#3

Minneapolis, MN

#3

Minneapolis, MN

Median House Price

$ 304 961

Residents Close to Local Parks

96%

Climate Score

5.72

Nearby Trails (mi)

815

Days With good air quality

214

National & State Parks

32

Pop. Density (per sq.mi.)

7 664

Top Score

7.58

Median House Price

Residents Close to Local Parks

Climate Score

Nearby Trails (mi)

Days With Good Air Quality

National & State Parks

Pop. Density (per sq. mi.)

Total Score

$ 304 961

96%

5.72

815

214

32

7 664

7.58

#4

San Francisco, CA

#4

San Francisco, CA

Median House Price

$ 1 385 625

Residents Close to Local Parks

100%

Climate Score

7.85

Nearby Trails (mi)

750

Days With good air quality

254

National & State Parks

78

Pop. Density (per sq.mi.)

18 851

Top Score

7.41

Median House Price

Residents Close to Local Parks

Climate Score

Nearby Trails (mi)

Days With Good Air Quality

National & State Parks

Pop. Density (per sq. mi.)

Total Score

$ 1 385 625

100%

7.85

750

254

78

18 851

7.41

#5

Los Angeles, CA

#5

Los Angeles, CA

Median House Price

$ 794 935

Residents Close to Local Parks

61%

Climate Score

9.06

Nearby Trails (mi)

2518

Days With good air quality

66

National & State Parks

50

Pop. Density (per sq.mi.)

8 848

Top Score

7.17

Median House Price

Residents Close to Local Parks

Climate Score

Nearby Trails (mi)

Days With Good Air Quality

National & State Parks

Pop. Density (per sq. mi.)

Total Score

$ 794 935

61%

9.06

2518

66

50

8 848

7.17

#6

New York, NY

#6

New York City, NY

Median House Price

$ 660 001

Residents Close to Local Parks

99%

Climate Score

5.79

Nearby Trails (mi)

629

Days With good air quality

169

National & State Parks

62

Pop. Density (per sq.mi.)

28 211

Top Score

7.13

Median House Price

Residents Close to Local Parks

Climate Score

Nearby Trails (mi)

Days With Good Air Quality