Access to green spaces and outdoor adventure can turn an 'average' place to live into an exceptional one. No matter how committed you are to the urban pleasures of the city, we all need to escape the hustle and bustle from time to time.
Whether it's by hiking through state parks, white-water rafting down rapids, or biking through mountain ranges, there's a lot to be said for the outdoor lifestyle. If you're the type of person who would happily give up shopping malls and bars for a lake and a fishing rod, you'll find plenty of great options to consider.
But which rank as the best? Which of the U.S's many fine cities and towns offer nature lovers the best chance to enjoy the great outdoors? Although everyone has their own opinion, we're laying our bets on these 20 great places to live for the outdoors.
20. Los Angeles, CA
There's more to Los Angeles than traffic jams and movie stars. While LA probably isn't the first place that springs to mind when you think of outdoor living, the city is actually a playground for outdoor adventurers.
With several state parks on its doorstep and dozens of glorious beaches, there are plenty of opportunities for the city's residents to escape the hustle and bustle and enjoy some nature.
19. Langley, WA
Located just an hour north of Seattle in Puget Sound, tiny Langley is an outdoor lover's dream. Thanks to its gorgeously sunny climate, residents can enjoy year round access to the stunning outdoor attractions that lie on the town's doorstep.
Its location in Puget Sound allows easy access by ferry to the dozens of islands that dot the area, making it a great jumping-off point for a weekend adventure. Top attractions include the fascinating Eart Sancturay and the equally intriguing Putney Wood Trails.
If you like to balance your outdoor adventures with urban pleasures, you'll be pleased to know Langley offers a clutch of extremely enticing restaurants, plenty of boutiques, and a very vibrant arts scene.
18. Salida, CO
Regardless of the season, Salida, CO has a ton to offer. Drive just 30 minutes from the city and you'll land on Monarch Pass, a place that uncovercolorado.com describes as 'one of the most breathtaking and fun to visit high elevation mountain passes in Colorado.'
Along with a weather station, a gift shop, and an aerial tram, the Pass also boasts the Monarch Mountain Ski Resort, one of the best places in the state for outdoor adventure. If the attractions of the Monarch Pass weren't enough, the city also offers great mountain biking action at S Mountain and plenty of fun paddling, white water rafting, and fishing at the Arkansas River.
17. Salt Lake City, UT
Salt Lake City has a total of ten ski resorts all within an hour's drive of its center, making it a great base for those who enjoy mountain biking, hiking, and winter sports. Nearby Great Salt Lake, meanwhile, offers the chance to explore around 1,700 square miles of calm waters.
Over at Millcreek Canyon, you can trek through miles of pristine forest and steep hills. Jordan River Parkway is a 40-mile paved route that's perfect for biking. If all those outdoor recreational opportunities weren't enough to tempt you, Salt Lake City just so happens to rank as one of the most affordable cities in the US, not to mention one of the best cities for jobs.
16. Seattle, WA
If you love spending time outdoors, Seattle is a dream come true. Venture over to Puget Sound Island for amazing hiking and camping opportunities; fish for your supper at Seattle All Star Fishing Charters; paddleboard on Lake Union; rock climb at the legendary Exit 38; or explore the natural beauty of Mount Rainier National Park and Olympia National Park.
Even leaving aside the awesome array of outdoor fun to get involved with, Seattle is still a great place to call home thanks to a sturdy job market and a high standard of living.
15. Roseville, CA
Roseville is 47% safer than most US cities. Considering its residents are all too busy having fun in the great outdoors to waste time on high jinx and naughtiness, it's little wonder. Although its inland location puts beachside activities off the menu, it's surrounded by enough forests and national parks to make up for it.
And thanks to its spectacular climate, residents get to enjoy the area's natural beauty all year-round. Top attractions include biking through Miners Ravine Preserve, swimming at Folsom Lake State Recreation Park, hitting the slopes at Heavenly Mountain Resort, and camping in Yosemite National Park. If you're particularly adventurous, you could even try scaling the heights of the infamous El Capitan.
14. Boston, MA
Boston might be best known for its big-city thrills and spills, but the city also offers easy access to some of the best outdoor attractions in Massachusetts. With 41 state parks and 138 beaches on its doorstep, Boston residents have no shortage of ways to enjoy the great outdoors.
Chief highlights of the area include the trail studded expanse of Blue Hills Reservation, the amazing skiing at McIntyre Ski Area and Pats Peak Ski Area, whale watching around Cape Cod Bay, and kayaking down the Charles River.
13. St Paul, MN
As rei.com points out, St Paul has a lot to offer outdoor recreationists. Boasting nearly 400 miles of paved bike trails, easy access to the Mississippi River, and dozens of lakes, there's more than enough to keep you entertained.
Even better, the park system is immense: over 98% of the city's residents live less than a ten-minute walk away from a green space... something that may well explain why St Paul earned a mention among the top 50 cities listed on the Urban Outdoor Access Analysis.
12. Denver, CO
If outdoor recreation is what you want, outdoor recreation is what you'll find in Denver. Thanks to its stellar location along the Rocky Mountain range, the city boasts everything from world-class skiing to first-rate mountain biking.
Regardless of the season, there's always something to do in the Mile High City, whether it's fishing for Rainbow Trout at Sloan's Lake, hiking the jaunty Butler Gulch, taking a snowmobile tour in the Rookies, or camping under the stars at Rocky Moutain Park.
If all the wasn't enough to entice you, the city's booming job industry and affordable cost of living just might.
11. Grand Haven, MI
As southernliving.com says, anyone who spends their summers at the Great Lakes knows that each shore has its own unique charms. Thanks to the eastern's shore old-fashioned spirit, historical storefronts, and bustling centers, gems like Grand Haven stand out from the crowd.
This is a town where every possible variation of maritime life is explored, whether that's fishing, swimming, or boating. If you want to live in the kind of place which marries small-town living with lakeside pleasures, you'll find few better places to do it.
10. Alexandria, VA
If you want to live in Alexandria, you'll need to have plenty of money in the bank: the cost of living here is a whopping 51% higher than it is in most cities across the US. But there's a reason it's so expensive.
The school are outstanding, the crime rate is tiny, and the job market is booming. If all that wasn't enough, it offers a smorgasbord of outdoor activities for residents to get involved in. Whether it's biking the Mount Vernon Trail, exploring one of the surrounding 15 state parks, hiking the Dora Kelley Nature Park, or fishing for catfish on the Potomac River, the options are endless.
9. Santa Rosa, CA
Santa Rosa is home to the Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve, an 805-acre park packed with picnic groves, nature trails, and some of the oldest and tallest Redwoods in California. If you love open space and miles and miles of clear sky, the city is a dream come true.
8. Daniel Island, SC
Daniel Island is a 4,000-acre island located in the city of Charleston. While Charleston might be known for its urban delights, life over on Daniel Island is a little different. Here, nature rules supreme. Studded across the island are 25 miles of running and walking trails that take you through maritime forests and marshes.
The Copper and Wando rivers that border the town are ideal for fishing and kayaking. A tennis center and two golf courses provide plenty by way of leisurely outdoor activity. Best of all, downtown Charlestown is just 15 miles away, making it the perfect base for those looking to enjoy the great outdoors without straying too far from the comforts and conveniences of the city.
7. Spokane, WA
The Spokane River meanders through the city of Spokane, offering tons of water-based fun for the city's residents. If fishing, kayaking, and boating aren't enough to whet your appetite, try the 100-acre Riverfront Park, the 37 mile Spokane River Centennial Trail, or the 100 acre Riverside State Park for size.
6. Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs has tons to offer, and not just for lovers of the great outdoors. Its low unemployment rate, low cost of living, and abundance of entertainment and recreational opportunities make the city a great place to call home. For outdoor enthusiasts, the city's close proximity to the ski resorts of Vail and Aspen makes it an even more attractive proposition.
5. Portland, OR
As www.extraspace.com points out, there's a lot more to Portland than just trendy microbreweries and hip coffee shops. The city is an outdoor enthusiasts dream, with four national parks and the stunning Mt. Hood all within striking distance of the city center. For wildlife lovers, Forest Park's 100 plus species of birds and mammals is a dream.
Multnomah Falls offers scores of hiking opportunities, while the water skiing at Columbia River Gorge is a dream. If skiing is your bag, the ski resort of Mt. Hof Meadows is a guaranteed winner.
4. Talkeetna, AK
If you like hiking, you'll love Talkeetna. Ringed by a thick fringe of spruce trees and overlooked by the majestic Alaska Range, the town is a dream for the kind of people who prefer Gore-Tex jackets to suits. If exploring the forests and mountains wasn't enough to leave you chomping at the bit, the nearby attractions of Byers Lake and Talkeetna Riverfront Park definitely will be.
3. Boulder, CO
Nestled snugly against the foothills of the Great Plains is Boulder, a city that's managed to milk every single opportunity afforded by its divine location. Wellness and healthy living are key to the city's ethos. Almost every building seems to house a spa, an alternative health studio, or some other kind of center dedicated to a healthy mind and an even healthier body.
There are fitness classes of every description, organized parkour, aerial dancing, and even city-led forest bathing. And then, of course, there's the usual line up of hiking, climbing, biking, and horse riding. If you like to keep active, living in Boulder is a no brainer.
2. Park City, UT
Mensjournal.com ranks Park City as one of the top 20 best mountain towns in America, a ranking that speaks volumes about the city's outdoor-loving lifestyle. While most people think of the glitzy Sundance Film Festival or swanky, big-name restaurants when they think of Park City, it actually has just as much to offer hikers, bikers, and trail runners as it does jet setters.
1. Haleiwa, HI
According to matadornetwork.com, Haleiwa is one of America's 20 coolest towns for outdoor adventure. It's not hard to see what's grabbed their attention. Located about a one-hour drive from Waikiki, Haleiwa is known as the surfing capital of the world. If you want to spend the next decade or two chasing the perfect wave, it'd be hard to find a better spot.
Other than ocean based fun and games, Haleiwa has a lot to offer, including hiking and biking along the North Shore bike path, tackling the Ehukai Pillbox Hike, and camping beneath the stars at Haleiwa Beach Park.
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Written by Liz Flynn
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