2017 Best Cities for Outdoor Activities in America

Explore the best cities for outdoor activities based on weather, air quality, and access to parks, forests, and recreational opportunities. Ranking based on data from the U.S. Census, NOAA, and other sources.

See how this ranking was calculated
Viewing 1-25 of 100
  1. 1

    San Francisco

    • City in California
    • 196 reviews
    Current Resident:San Francisco is a historical city with plenty of touristic landmarks to visit. What I love about this city is its diverse community and friendly environment. People are very open minded and it feels like a welcoming environment. Small businesses are able to thrive due to the curiosity of San Franciscans who enjoy trying new types of food. You can literally find small local businesses in every corner. Are you in the mood for Peruvian food? Maybe you're in the mood for Chinese, Japanese, or Indian food? San Francisco offers a variety of places to eat, with plenty of these places enriched with cultural dishes, traditions, and art. Enjoy the wonderful atmosphere in this little big city. Enjoy learning about the abundant amount of history behind its breathtaking landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, lombard street, and much more!
    More about San Francisco
  2. 2


    • City in California
    • 96 reviews
    Current Resident:Oakland is richly diverse, and a hub of activity. It's libraries, business, and artistic communities are world renowned. Additionally, Oakland is nestled within close proximity to the University of California at Berkeley, and itself boasts quality academic institutions such as the California College of the Arts. Family and community friendly it is a good place to settle and build a life and a career, whatever your goals and objectives might be. And if you like sports, Oakland is home to undefeated, world champion, boxing Olympian Andre Ward; the famed Oracle Arena; and the world champion Oakland Athletic baseball and Golden State Warrior basketball teams! Oakland California come check it out!
    More about Oakland
  3. 3


    • City in Oregon
    • 318 reviews
    Current Resident:I very much appreciate Portland's bustling transportation system! Avid in the rejection of unnecessary fossil fuels, Portland has allowed me to reduce my carbon footprint by allowing me to easily bike around town, sustaining & fulfilling my preferred way of life. Portland makes it easy to support small business, acquire local farm fresh food & participate in our close-knit community. Portland, its people and eclectic energy, have served me the confidence to move forward in my personal and professional goals. I enjoy Portland’s unique edge, however, gentrification, the elimination of landmarks, the rising costs of rent, and our ever-increasing homeless population sadden me. To be as progressive as we claim, we must band together as a true community to begin to take care of our disenfranchised residents.
    More about Portland
  4. 4


    • City in California
    • 104 reviews
    Current Resident:Irvine is a very clean master planned community. I love all the walking and biking trails that have been intergrated so thoughtfully through the communities in Irvine.Irvine using recycled water for the parks and green areas creating what appears to be drought free landscape. In addition, the shopping centers are charming with music pumped through outside sitting areas. All of this creates a resort living experience!
    More about Irvine
  5. 5


    • City in California
    • 44 reviews
    Current Resident:I moved here from Houston, Texas where you need a car to get everywhere. At first, the city does provide a bit of a culture shock because people are so eccentric, and almost too friendly! Over time though, this feeling wears off and you realize how invitng the people fo the city are. The city itself has wonders of food and entertainment for those keen on local treats. The amount of cultural food is absolutely insane and more diverse than any other city I have been to. Unfortunately, the only downside is that the cost of a house of apartment is extraordinarily high. Your best bet is t live near the outskirts of Berekley, away from campus. With this in mind, the bike safety rules are super strict and commutng via bike is safer than any oter city I have visited.
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  6. 6

    Santa Rosa

    • City in California
    • 250 reviews
    Current Resident:I've lived in Santa Rosa for 23 years. The segregation between the vast latino population and the anglo population is very strong. The latino population is very predominant on the west side of town while the anglo population is predominant in the east side of town. Although the segregation keeps both cultures apart, there is an overall sense that there is no racism here. Most people respect each other, most just mind their business and don't try to provoke altercations. On the other hand, there is a small drug user population and homeless population. While the homeless are harmless, the drug user population can damage your property or you may see altercations on the street. I have personally never been attacked nor has my property ever been damaged.Schools are decent, people are decent in general, theres definitely a small nightlife in downtown area plus it is close to everything!
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  7. 7


    • City in California
    • 139 reviews
    Current Resident:Sunnyvale is a gem in the South Bay for those who are looking for quaint, family friendly, safe neighborhoods with great schools. The historical downtown Sunnyvale area has a myriad of great shops and restaurants. The best part about Sunnyvale is that it's right in the middle of everything. Apple's new headquarters is being built in Cupertino, it's right around the corner from Santa Clara's new Levi Stadium. Hop on the freeway for a short ten minute drive and you'll find yourself in Mountain View or Palo Alto, homes to Stanford University, Stanford Shopping Center, Google, Facebook, and more.
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  8. 8


    • City in Washington
    • 71 reviews
    Current Resident:Coming down the street you notice every corner Hispanic and Thai restaurants and markets; the local downtown area houses buildings created in the 1800's still standing and being used today. During the summer is the greatest! Every weekend a farmers market opens up and for almost two miles downtown every small business and upcoming business and artists sell their wares and share their experiences and joy of living and working in this area. The local high school has been named the most diverse in the nation; between Grandma's Thai restaurant and a small local Japanese couple taking only cash for their amazing sushi rolls Kent has always been a wonderful place to live and enjoy. Outside of the cozy downtown you will notice a large 20 mile square area of professional businesses and a local Amazon warehouse offering many jobs opportunity's for any locals in the area.
    More about Kent
  9. 9


    • City in Massachusetts
    • 20 reviews
    Current Resident:Cambridge is for those who wish to explore more than lines on a map. It’s for diving into history and traveling beyond "The New World." Embodying all there is to learn, explore, breathe, create, and dream big dreams. Where your children will arrive bright-eyed, their knowledge expanding well beyond the typical classroom. Harvard, MIT, BU and Lesley all within a stones' throw, Cambridge was built to develop minds and encourage creativity. Rowing, Biking, Reading and Writing, farmers markets, an endless search for healthy alternatives, and clean living, reside here. Competition, debate and success, one’s sole goal. Sugar-coating moments are rare, for we are fierce in our convictions. Politeness, decorum, an ever-changing residency, leave behind a youthful spirit. Whether a young couple on the move or a senior learning to move again, Cambridge will energize you in ways you 've never imagined.
    Bring your body and mind to Cambridge... You can only GROW from here!
    More about Cambridge
  10. 10


    • City in California
    • 320 reviews
    Current Resident:I was born and raised in this city, it is a very small world inside of such a large state surrounded by nothing but awesome counties. Oxnard is a place that you will never forget once you have been here, whether it is because you are a military brat such as I or you just stumble across it by sheer chance. Oxnard is starting to turn into a tourist spot and the locals are very accepting. Surrounded by cities that are closer to the beach than a fat boy to his cotton candy (no offense to those, for I'm a fat boy my self). Overall I love it here and so will anyone who comes.
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  11. 11


    • City in Massachusetts
    • 266 reviews
    Current Resident:Boston is a fantastic city with a ton of different activities at any given time! In the summer time, there are loads of free events (concerts, park performances, museum openings, and sports events) for people of all ages, and the city really comes to life when the weather gets warm. The city is incredibly walkable, and the public transportation (though sometimes inconsistent and a little pricey) makes getting around really easy. Each neighborhood has a unique atmosphere, and the local bars and restaurants definitely add to those. Prices for rent and drinks in the city can be a little high, but for a young adult the night life is pretty great.
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  12. 12

    San Jose

    • City in California
    • 244 reviews
    Current Resident:Definitely a perfect fit for anyone looking for quintessential suburban life mixed with lots of diversity! Despite being labelled as one of the largest cities in the US, San Jose definitely maintains a small-town feeling, as it consists mostly of numerous suburban neighborhoods clustered around a rather small (and underwhelming) downtown area. Being in the Silicon Valley, cost of living is steep, as homes are in high demand due to the concentration of job and education opportunities. People are super friendly, though, and the weather is almost always great (gotta love being in California!). Traffic is generally a non-issue outside of rush hour times (during which it is definitely borderline horrific at times).
    More about San Jose
  13. 13


    • City in Colorado
    • 161 reviews
    Former Resident:Spray paint decor, a homeless person with dreadlocks on every other corner, bicycling, bright colors, and the jagged foothills that line the west end of the sky: This is Boulder. If anything is gorgeously unusual, you can find it here. The homes are expensive, but the historical district is beautiful enough to make you consider spending your entire savings account. There are activities for everyone. If you like nightlife, Pearl Street offers a variety of bars. There is hiking, bicycling, aerial circus, and rock climbing for the adventurous. The artists can take art classes at the local college, stroll though parks full of sculptures, or spend hours painting along boulder creek. The only disadvantage is that fast food is scare. Numerous Whole Foods and local groceries offer healthy choices for health nuts, vegetarians, vegans, and more!
    More about Boulder
  14. 14


    • City in Washington
    • 208 reviews
    Current Resident:Seattle--what a wonderful place! When you arrive in Seattle, visiting or for living, it's very likely you will see overcast skies and/or rain; that's given. After a while, you adjust, adapt and learn to accept the weather as part of your identity, as if it were tattooed onto your heart. You find a sense of commonality in a city of over 0.5 million people, most of whom you may never know. However, the 0.0001 % of people you may meet and make friendships with is the part of Seattle that unlocks the magic because beyond the Space Needle, Starbucks, flying fish and other common attractions are the true intimacies of the city. When you wander into Fremont and find some of the best coffee and some of the friendliest people, when you meander into Queen Anne without know and find the homiest Turkish cuisine, when you discover Wedgewood and its enticing serenity, when you voyage to tucked away neighborhoods and find some of the most intriguing street art, that's when you've found Seattle.
    More about Seattle
  15. 15

    Costa Mesa

    • City in California
    • 47 reviews
    Current Resident:I recently moved to the area of Costa Mesa in order to attend Orange Coast College. First off, I would like to say what a beautiful and spectacular area this is. I am fifteen minutes maximum away from a variety of beaches, the schools here are spectacular, and the homes always leave me in awe. The city is extremely clean and there are so many job opportunities here. Even though this looks and feels like an extremely safe area, there always seems to be an accident or cops dealing with situations that seem pretty ugly. However, I prefer seeing jobs doing their job than feeling unsafe in this city. Love calling this city home!
    More about Costa Mesa
  16. 16


    • City in California
    • 91 reviews
    Former Resident:Torrance is the place to be! Close by to several beaches, 15 minute drive to Los Angeles. Torrance is a city that carries all, they have great neighborhoods with all sorts of activities such as; bowling, movie theaters, extravagant malls, and hiking trails! Very nice clean city that is perfectly located close to Hollywood, Long Beach, and Downtown L.A.
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  17. 17


    • City in California
    • 58 reviews
    Current Resident:Hayward is a welcoming city. It is home to my university, California State University - East Bay (CSUEB). It serves a diverse community that cares about the environment and works to keep the city green. The Keep Hayward Clean and Green organization lends a helping hand by voluntarily picking up trash and waste around the city. CSUEB students also take a part volunteering for that effort as well every October for Make a Difference Day. The city has potential to thrive given the downtown area is undergoing a transformation by bringing new and fantastic things, such as a new library and an enhanced shopping center. Currently, there are many housing properties in development. However, given the city rests directly on a fault line, it is extremely earthquake prone and there is a need to remodel and retrofit older housing complexes, as evident in appearance. Other than this, the city is beautiful!
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  18. 18

    Salt Lake City

    • City in Utah
    • 237 reviews
    Current Resident:Salt Lake City is one of the best destinations for people to live. It offers numerous outdoor activities within minutes, as well as a safe urban area to shop, dine and explore in. We offer one of the best places for business, whether starting your own, or joining a large corporation. In addition, the quality of living is very high for the cost of living. The only downside of Salt Lake City, is the large LDS-based culture, although that too is evolving (there are about 50% LDS residents and 50% non-LDS residents). Come here for skiing/snowboarding in the winter, and hiking, biking and camping in the spring and summer!
    More about Salt Lake City
  19. 19

    Santa Ana

    • City in California
    • 137 reviews
    Former Resident:The culture located in Santa Ana, California is amazing! You can find delicious affordable food in every corner. The people residing or working in Santa Ana are friendly and welcoming, but not overly so. It's a great place to visit when you are in the Orange County area. I would say if you're looking for nightlife entertainment, scout downtown Santa Ana, but during the day exploring the rest of the city will allow you to see its beauty. It's a very family friendly cities with many parks, mall playgrounds, and a zoo. Because it's centrally located, traffic in the mornings or evening can be a bit rough, but throughout the day you can cruise through the city without hitting the brake so often. Go check it out! You won’t be disappointed =)
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  20. 20


    • City in Utah
    • 863 reviews
    Current Resident:Provo offers a wide variety of entertainment, food options, and fun activities. Anyone who is looking for an up-paced lifestyle should find themselves in Provo. With live music, a diverse food range offered, Provo can quickly become a romantic get away for you and your significant other. As for the children, Provo offers many family oriented activities such as museums, water-parks, ice skating, and with the mountains so close, a hike up the Provo canyon trail can cure the wiggles in any young child. Looking for a relaxed evening? Look no further than Provo Center street. With its iconic antique style buildings, including the newly refurbished LDS Provo City Center Temple, a walk to remember is just in reach. So, to all those who wish to increase their love for life, the city of Provo waits for you!
    More about Provo
  21. 21

    Thousand Oaks

    • City in California
    • 217 reviews
    Nearby Resident:I grew up in this area and I absolutely love it! Thousand Oaks is a very safe, family friendly community with a wonderful sense of community. The only thing that concerns me with Thousand Oaks is that the cost of living has spiked considerably since I first moved here. Thousand oaks Is my ideal place for me to raise my future family, but It may not be possible due to the hefty price tag.
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  22. 22

    Los Angeles

    • City in California
    • 225 reviews
    Current Resident:As a Southern California girl born and raised I do have a slight biased towards loving Los Angeles. Still, every city has pros and cons and LA is not excluded. To start, the public school system is a bit of a joke and there is a very widely accepted notion that if you can afford to not send your kids to LAUSD, don't! On that sour note, general safety is questionable depending on which area of LA you're in.

    Switching gears to LA's well-deserved praise starts with the incredible diversity--diversity in people, sub-sets of the city, cuisines, cultures, art, architecture! It creates in incredible ambiance that cannot be described via words alone. Lastly, and arguably one of LA biggest perks is its healthy-lifestlye promoting restaurants, gyms, and wellness centers that are found in just about every part of the city.
    More about Los Angeles
  23. 23

    Long Beach

    • City in California
    • 227 reviews
    Current Resident:I am grateful to come from such a diverse and inclusive city! Long Beach has people of every background, affiliation, and ability. Public services do their best to accommodate the diverse needs of the citizens. Free and affordable programs are offered through parks, libraries, senior centers, public agencies, and more. Long Beach is a large city that has a plethora of dining options as well as an array of activities. We also have access to major nearby cities through public transportation. Long Beach is an ocean front city with several mountains and lakes close enough to visit for a day trip. Anything you can imagine, from intimate social activities to extreme sports, can be found in Long Beach, California.
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  24. 24


    • City in California
    • 222 reviews
    Current Resident:Salinas is a wonderful city filled with a rich agricultural history. John Steinbeck was from Salinas, and there have been many businesses that have flourished here. Taylor Farms, for example, is the number one producer of value added foods in North America currently. The city is fairly large at nearly 200.000 citizens, which may or may not be accurate according to the census. There are many good Mexican restaurants in the city, as well as the Northridge Mall which was a Forever 21, Macy's, JC Penny, DSW, H&M, etc. The city is notorious for gang violence, teen pregnancy, and poor education, but much of this is merely dependent upon good parenting. People here are friendly, nice, and old fashioned. Most people here are involved in some way with agriculture, and people take pride in the fact that Salinas is the lettuce capital of the world.
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  25. 25


    • City in California
    • 79 reviews
    Current Resident:Anaheim, CA is a relatively peaceful city, though over the years, it has become more car-heavy. Much of the city has gone through road repairs, and the weather is relatively warm throughout the year. The people for the most part are nice, and you don't constantly see shootings, car collisions, or disruptive behavior. There are plenty of K-12 schools in the city, and for the most part they provide a good education for children. There aren't many notable higher-education institutions in the city; however the city is near several colleges and universities which are in the surrounding cities, including Fullerton College, CSU Fullerton, and Cypress College. If you're planning to rent, it has lower prices than if you were to live closer to the LA area, generally around $1500 for a small apartment. There have been plenty of new home and new apartment complex projects throughout the city, so there are always new homes being constructed and available for people looking for something new.
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