When theaters, sporting events, and concerts all shuttered, more Americans took to the outdoors for entertainment. A recent study found 43% of Americans aged 13 and older said they would be more likely to hike, visit a park, and fish as a result of social distancing. For this reason, SmartAsset analyzed 96 cities across nine key criteria to identify the best places to live for outdoor enthusiasts. Western states stole seven out of the top 10 spots on the list while the other three were spread across the US. Seattle claimed the top spot for best place for outdoor enthusiasts to live and work, while Anchorage, Alaska rounded out the list at number 10.
Western states fare well in terms of parkland and recreation economies. Eight of the cities in this study’s top 10 are in the Western states of Washington, California, Colorado, Nevada, Idaho, Oregon and Alaska. The big, open spaces in these states might make them ideal for an adventurer, as seven of the eight Western cities rank within the top third of the study for nature parks and campgrounds per 100,000 residents, a state-level metric. The same number of Western cities are in states that rank within the top third of the study for state outdoor recreation economy.
Top-ranking cities have good air quality. Getting a literal breath of fresh air is an integral part of enjoying the great outdoors, especially amid so much quarantine time indoors. So attention to air quality is of the essence when considering outdoor activities: With the exception of Boise, Idaho, all of our top 10 cities for outdoor enthusiasts to live and work rank within the top 40 (out of a total of 96) for low air pollution.