25 beautiful US cities to live in if you love spending time outdoors

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It's too often assumed that moving to a big city — like San Francisco, New York, or Boston — means giving up your love for nature. Fortunately, that doesn't always have to be the case.

A recent ranking by Niche, a company that researches and compiles information on cities, revealed the best cities for outdoor activities in America, proving that city life and the great outdoors are not always mutually exclusive.

To compile its ranking, Niche gathered data on 227 US cities including local weather and air quality, access to natural amenities like beaches and state parks (counting those within 100 miles of the city), access to national parks and forests (counting those within 200 miles of the city), and general access to nearby outdoor recreation facilities. (Read the full methodology here.)

The resulting list reveals that some of the best cities to live in if you love spending time outdoors are in the Western US. In fact, 22 of the top 25 cities are in the West, with several located in the Pacific Northwest, specifically.

Below, check out the 25 best cities for outdoor enthusiasts:

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25 US cities to live in if you love the outdoors (BI)
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25 US cities to live in if you love the outdoors (BI)

25. San Francisco, California

Population: 829,072

Nearby state parks: 20

Nearby beaches: 70

Weather grade: A+

Sitting atop a peninsula flanked by the Pacific Ocean, the City by the Bay is considered one of the most walkable cities in the US. The city's most famous park is the 1,000-plus acre Golden Gate Park, which is home to several, smaller parks and a zoo, botanical garden, and golf course. 

Photo : Getty 


 

24. Aurora, Colorado

Population: 339,480

Nearby state parks: 4

Nearby beaches: 0

Weather grade: A-

Located just east of Denver, Aurora boasts more than 300 days of sunshine annually, making outdoor activities one of the premier draws for the area. The Aurora Reservoir is a popular destination with plenty of recreation opportunities like fishing, swimming, and boating.

Photo: Getty 

23. Roseville, California

Population: 124,250

Nearby state parks: 3

Nearby beaches: 2

Weather grade: A+

Roseville is situated just 30 minutes outside of California's state capital and a two-hour drive from scenic South Lake Tahoe. The park-laden city has been honored as a bike-friendly community and has more than 32 miles of off-street bike paths.

Photo: Getty 

22. Alexandria, Virginia

Population: 146,422

Nearby state parks: 20

Nearby beaches: 19

Weather grade: B

Located along the Potomac River just outside of Washington, DC, Alexandria is home to 940 acres of parks and recreation centers. In addition, there's the popular 17-mile Mount Vernon trail that ends at George Washington's home of the same name.

Photo: Getty 

21. Orange, California

Population: 138,980

Nearby state parks: 5

Nearby beaches: 43

Weather grade: A+

Orange sits at the edge of Santiago Oaks Regional Park, a 350-acre park with five miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails that lead to an additional 10 miles of trials in nearby Anaheim Hills.

Photo: Getty 

20. Salem, Oregon

Population: 157,967

Nearby state parks: 26

Nearby beaches: 3

Weather grade: B-

Salem, the capital of Oregon and the state's third-largest city, is located in the Willamette Valley just one hour east of Oregon's beaches and one hour west of the Cascade Mountain Range.

Photo: Getty 

19. Anaheim, California

Population: 342,973

Nearby state parks: 6

Nearby beaches: 46

Weather grade: A+

Anaheim is most famously home to America's favorite theme park, Disneyland. But Orange County's northern-most city has plenty more to offer for outdoor enthusiasts including 700 acres of community and neighborhood parks.

Photo: Getty 

18. Boston, Massachusetts

Population: 639,594

Nearby state parks: 41

Nearby beaches: 138

Weather grade: B

Boston is chock-full of public outdoor space including the 44-acre Boston Common, the oldest public park in the US, and neighboring Boston Public Garden. The city's harbor also provides space for boating and other water activities.

Photo: Getty 

17. Vancouver, Washington

Population: 165,554

Nearby state parks: 43

Nearby beaches: 9

Weather grade: B

Vancouver sits on the North bank of the Columbia River, just across the water from Portland, Oregon. The city is surrounded by some of the most scenic areas in the Pacific Northwest including the Cascade Mountain Range, Mount St. Helens, and the Columbia River Gorge.

Photo: Getty 

16. Lakewood, Colorado

Population: 145,880

Nearby state park: 4

Nearby beaches: 0

Weather grade: A-

This city of Lakewood is situated just outside of Denver and is a haven for nature lovers with 7,100 acres of parks and more than 180 miles of hiking, equestrian, and biking trails.

Photo: Getty 

15. Cambridge, Massachusetts

Population: 106,844

Nearby state parks: 43

Nearby beaches: 120

Weather grade: B

Separated from Boston by the Charles River, Cambridge is home to two of the most prestigious universities in the world, MIT and Harvard, which provide plenty of common outdoor space used by students and the city's residents.

Photo : Getty 

14. Long Beach, California

Population: 468,594

Nearby state parks: 9

Nearby beaches: 52

Weather grade: A+

Long Beach straddles Los Angeles and Orange counties stretching along four miles of uninterrupted beachfront on its Western border. There's a popular day trip out of Long Beach to nearby Catalina Island, one of California's Channel Islands, where diving, fishing, snorkeling, and sailing adventures abound.

Photo: Getty 

13. Los Angeles, California

Population: 3,862,210

Nearby state parks: 10

Nearby beaches: 52

Weather grade: A+

The largest city in Southern California is often characterized by its year-round sunshine and sprawling beaches, which includes popular destinations like Santa Monica, Venice, and nearby Malibu.

Photo: Getty 

12. Salt Lake City, Utah

Population: 189,267

Nearby state parks: 11

Nearby beaches: 5

Weather grade: A-

Nature lovers rejoice in Salt Lake City, where hiking, biking, skiing, river rafting, and exploring parks and forests are on the daily agenda. In fact, there are more than two dozen easily accessible hiking trails in the area ranging in difficulty from easy to strenuous.

Photo: Getty 

11. Torrance, California

Population: 147,181

Nearby state parks: 10

Nearby beaches: 53

Weather grade: A+

Located in Los Angeles County's South Bay, Torrance shares coastline with Redondo, Manhattan, and Hermosa beaches and is the starting point for a 22-mile coastal bike path called The Strand.

Photo: Getty 


 

10. Everett, Washington

Population: 104,708

Nearby state parks: 41

Nearby beaches: 24

Weather grade: C+

Just 25 miles North of Seattle, Everett rests alongside the largest public marina on the West Coast providing the city with ample waterfront views and usable space. 

Photo: Getty 

9. Denver, Colorado

Population: 633,777

Nearby state parks: 4

Nearby beaches: 0

Weather grade: A-

Denver is situated between the High Plains and the Rocky Mountains about one mile above sea level, earning it the nickname "The Mile High City." With more than 4,000 acres of traditional parks and an additional 14,000 acres of mountain parks, there are endless options for exploration.  

Photo: Getty 


 

8. Tacoma, Washington

Population: 201,794

Nearby state parks: 38

Nearby beaches: 16

Weather grade: C+

Tacoma is located on the banks of the Puget Sound and offers breathtaking views of nearby Mount Rainer National Park. The city's largest park, Point Defiance, is 700 acres and houses a zoo, aquarium, and several trails and beach fronts.

Photo: Getty 

7. Costa Mesa, California

Population: 111,635

Nearby state parks: 5

Nearby beaches: 47

Weather grade: A+

A short drive from the pristine beaches of central Orange County, Costa Mesa has access to a range of sprawling outdoor space. One of the area's most popular destinations during the summer months is the Orange County fairgrounds, which is home to a large outdoor concert venue and an annual county fair.

Photo: Getty 

6. Boulder, Colorado

Population: 102,002

Nearby state parks: 6

Nearby beaches: 1

Weather grade: A-

Boulder is nothing if not a natural wonder. Surrounded by distant mountain peaks and large sandstone slabs called the Flatirons, the city is inhabited by outdoor enthusiasts who consider mountain biking, hiking, and extreme sports among their favorite past times.

Photo: Getty 

5. Bellevue, Washington

Population: 132,268

Nearby state parks: 42

Nearby beaches:  17

Weather grade: B-

Just a hop and a skip from Seattle, Bellevue is an outdoor lover's paradise flanked by Lake Sammamish to the East and the Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park to the South.

Photo: Getty 

4. Kent, Washington

Population: 122,620

Nearby state parks: 39

Nearby beaches: 17

Weather grade: B-

Kent is nestled between Seattle and Tacoma and is graced with several of the same majestic views of nearby Mount Rainier. There are 26.2 miles of walking trails throughout the city and dozens of community parks for gathering.

Photo: Getty 

3. Portland, Oregon

Population: 602,568

Nearby state parks: 40

Nearby beaches: 8

Weather grade: B

Portland's Forest Park is one of the largest urban forests in the US covering a staggering 5,100 acres. A 90-minute drive outside of Portland, Mount Hood is considered the area's best winter sport destination.

Photo: Getty 

2. Provo, Utah

Population: 114,804

Nearby state parks: 8

Nearby beaches: 4

Weather grade: B+

Situated between the Wasatch Mountains and Utah Lake, Provo is home to the 30,000-studentBrigham Young University, largely considered the city's cultural and religious center. During the winter, residents flock to nearby mountain resorts for seasonal activities like downhill and cross-country skiing.

Photo: Getty 

1. Seattle, Washington

Population: 637,850

Nearby state parks: 44

Nearby beaches: 19

Weather grade: B-

Bordered by water on two sides, Seattle is the perfect setting for water-sport activities like kayaking, sailing, and boating. There's also plenty to do outside the city center, like an easy day or weekend trip to nearby Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, Snoqualmie Falls, or the San Juan Islands.

Photo: Getty 

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