Ahh, ideal weather days. We all yearn for them. Days when it’s just pleasant to step outside, take a walk, putter in the garden, or sip lemonade on the porch.
But which cities in the United States have the most of them? Which have the fewest?
To find out, LawnStarter.com looked at 2019 weather data for cities with a population of 100,000 or more. We defined the ideal day as those with both a high temperature between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit and a humidity level from 40% to 60%. Those temperature and humidity numbers are within the “comfort zone” ideals in which the largest number of people feel comfortable. We then further weighted the data to value cities where the sun is out a lot and the wind is low. (See methodology at bottom of page.)
The results? The West Coast wins. Sorry, northern and eastern cities — you tend to be on the “worst” list.
Let’s start with the 20 best of the best.
Cities With the Best Weather
1. El Centro, Calif.
El Centro has the honor of being the No. 1 city on our list. The city needs some good news; El Centro has had it rough lately. In December 2019 it was named as one of the cities in the U.S. that has suffered the greatest job loss, chiefly due to an agricultural industry turndown. The largest city in the Imperial Valley has 50 ideal weather days a year. The average wind speed sits at 5.4 mph. The sky over the city is cloud-free 87.5% of the time.
Fun fact: Breathe deep. El Centro is the largest U.S. city to lie entirely below sea level.
2. San Jose, Calif.
The largest city in Northern California has 39 ideal days a year with wind speed hovering around 4.9 mph. Residents see sunny skies around 70% of the time.
Fun fact: In addition to its Silicon Valley affluence and fabulous climate, San Jose is home to the Winchester Mystery House, a sprawling architectural and spiritual wonder.
Arizona’s third-largest city, a suburb of Phoenix, has 35 ideal days a year with a wind speed of around 4.6 mph. The sky is cloud-free around 83% of the time.
Fun fact: If you’re visiting, you really should go to nearby Tonto National Forest and see the wild horses.
4. Fontana, Calif.
Fontana is first among the San Bernardino County cities to make our list. Founded by Azariel Blanchard Mille, Fontana has an average of 36 ideal days, with wind speeds hovering around 4.6 mph. The average cloud cover reaches 21.5%.
Fun fact: While it was known as an industrial area, Fontana is also where Ross Gelbert developed a well-known orchid that bears his name.
5. Rialto, Calif.
Rialto has an average of 36 ideal days, and while the Santa Ana winds are a seasonal pain, wind speeds average around 4.5 mph. The cloud cover sits around 21.3%.
Fun fact: Pyro Spectaculars, one of the world’s largest fireworks companies, is headquartered in Rialto.
6. Glendale, Ariz.
Home of the University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale has an average of 32 ideal days with wind speeds averaging around 4.6 mph. Low cloud cover with only 17.3% of the time.
Fun fact: Glendale has 20 properties on the National Registry of Historic Places, including the 1895 Sahuaro Ranch.
7. Burbank, Calif.
More than 100,000 people call this Los Angeles suburb their home. The average number of ideal days sits at 39, with wind speeds sitting around 4.4 mph. The cloud cover hovers around 23.1%.
Fun fact: Dr. David Burbank, a New Hampshire-born dentist, went west as a young man and turned into a developer, buying 4,600 acres of what is now Burbank for $1 per acre.
8. Sunnyvale, Calif.
Up the California coast in Silicon Valley, Sunnyvale has an average of 34 ideal days, and an average wind speed of 4.84 mph. Cloud cover sits at 30.4%.
Fun fact: Longstanding legend has it that ghosts of the city’s founders inhabited the local Toys R Us store. The legend endures, even though the store closed … and reopened as a Halloween goods shop.
9. Bend, Ore.
Sitting on the foothills of the Cascade range, Bend is widely renowned for its beauty, craft breweries and has the highest average number of sunny days in the state. The number of ideal days averages around 44 days, with winds staying around 5.3 mph, and cloud cover hovers at 33.8%.
Fun fact: In the early 1900s, fearless local legend Klondike Kate would enjoy Bend’s sunny days by strolling through downtown Bend in her showgirl costume, rolling a cigarette with one hand.
10. Gilbert, Ariz.
Gilbert, a Phoenix suburb, has 39 ideal days a year and wind speeds average around 4.3 mph. The average cloud cover sits at around 18%.
Fun fact: Gilbert was known as the “Hay Shipping Capital of the World” when it supplied U.S. horses in WWI.
Cities 11-20 on ‘Best Weather’ List
- Santa Clara, Calif.
Santa Clara, California, the ninth-most populous city in the San Francisco Bay Area, has 34 ideal days, with wind speed averaging 4.8 mph. The amount of cloud cover kept it out of the top 10, at 31%.
- Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
Just south of the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, Rancho Cucamonga, gets an average of 34 ideal days a year. With wind speeds at around 4.5 mph, it has the perfect breeziness. Its sunniness comes in at 78%.
- Surprise, Ariz.
Founded in 1938 by Flora Mae Statler, Surprise has an average of 31 ideal days a year, with winds sitting almost perfectly at a comfortable 5.4 mph. Cloud cover sits around 17.1%.
- Avondale, Ariz.
Avondale has an average of 32 ideal days, with wind speeds moving around 5.4 mph. The city has a total sunniness rating of 82.3%.
- Modesto, Calif.
With more than 200,000 residents, Modesto is one of the largest cities on our list. It has an average of 28 ideal days, with a near-perfect average wind speed of 5.1 mph. Average cloud cover came out to 23%.
- Jurupa Valley, Calif.
Jurupa Valley has an ideal humidity and heat 36 days a year we consider ideal, and wind speeds reaching around 4.1 mph. The average cloud cover sits at 21%.
- Santa Barbara, Calif.
Named in the early 1500s to honor an early Christian martyr and saint, Santa Barbara has 44 ideal days with wind speeds hovering around 4.1 mph. Cloud cover sits around 25%.
- Redding, Calif.
Redding has an average of 35 ideal days, with wind speeds reaching around 4.4 mph. Cloud cover is measured at 27%.
- West Covina, Calif.
Incorporated as a city in 1923, West Covina has an average of 40 ideal days a year, with wind speeds averaging around 3.9%. Cloud cover hovers around 27%.
- Santa Clarita, Calif.
Just outside of Los Angeles, Santa Clarita has an average of 30 ideal days a year, while wind speed sits around 5.5 mph. The last city on in our Top 20 has cloud cover sitting at just over 20%.
Now, let’s take a look at how the other side lives.
Cities With the Worst Weather
Our algorithm punished these cities chiefly for the scarcity of ideal weather days, for high winds, for cloudiness — or for all of them combined. We’ll start with the very worst, and conclude with the 20th worst.
1. Madison, Wis.
Madison has a lot going for it — it’s the state capital, it’s home to the University of Wisconsin and has a young, hip vibe. It has Frank Lloyd Wright architecture. It has big cute badger statues everywhere. What it doesn’t have? Good weather. It tops our list for “most uncomfortable weather.” Our research found residents never experience a single ideal day throughout the year. Wind speeds reach just above 8 mph.
2. Muskegon, Mich.
Things don’t get much better from here on out. Our research found a single ideal day in Muskegon. Wind speeds average 8.6 mph. Sunniness is low at 42%.
3. Lansing, Mich.
Once again, we have a city with no recorded ideal days. Wind speeds over around 7.9 mph and sunniness comes in at 44%.
4. Rochester, N.Y.
Sitting at the top of New York state, Rochester’s residents experienced a single ideal day in our research. Wind speeds in the city exceed 8.6 mph, and clouds cover the sky 54% of the time.
5. Fort Wayne, Ind.
The City of Churches experienced a single day of ideal weather. Average wind speeds are slightly lower in Fort Wayne than its peers on this list, sitting around 8 mph. Ideal sunniness measures at 48%.
6. Saginaw, Mich.
We found one day of ideal weather in Saginaw. Wind speeds in the city average at around 8.6 mph. Ideal sunniness was measured at 46%.
7. Round Lake Beach, Ill.
Round Lake Beach enjoyed a grand total of one day of ideal weather. Wind speeds average at around 8.5 mph. Clouds cover the sky 51% of the time.
8. Barnstable Town, Mass.
Barnstable Town had one recorded day of ideal weather. This Cape Cod home of more than 240,000 also has the harshest average wind speeds on this list at around 11 mph.
9. Rockford, Ill.
Rockford has one recorded day of ideal weather on our list. Clouds cover the sky 53% of the time, and wind speeds average at 8.3 mph.
10. Utica, N.Y.
Utica has no recorded ideal weather days in our data. Winds are slightly slower than other cities on this list, with speeds averaging at 6.9 mph. It has sunny days 43% of the time.
Cities 11-20 on ‘Worst Weather’ List
- South Lyon, Mich.
South Lyon residents experienced one ideal weather day. Wind speeds average at 7.9 mph, and cloud cover is measured at 53%.
- Ann Arbor, Mich.
Ann Arbor had one recorded ideal weather day. Wind speeds clock in at a 7.9 mph average. Ideal sunniness is measured at 46%.
- Aurora, Ill.
Aurora residents, experienced one day of ideal weather in our data. Wind speeds average at 8 mph, and cloud cover versus sun was a 50-50 proposition.
- Canton, Ohio
Canton had no recorded days with ideal weather on our list. Wind speeds average at about 6.5 mph, and overall cloudiness is measured at 52%.
- Buffalo, N.Y.
Buffalo is one of only three cities on the bottom 20 list to have more than one recorded day of ideal weather: It had two. The city also experiences wind speeds of 8.6 mph and a 45% ideal sunniness rating.
- Eau Claire, Wis.
Eau Claire has one recorded day of ideal weather. Wind speeds average out at 7.6 mph, and clouds cover the skies 51% of the time.
- Racine, Wis.
Racine has two recorded days of ideal weather. Wind speeds average more than 10 mph (the name of the nearby historic lighthouse is Windy Point). The city enjoys a 49% ideal sunniness rating.
- Binghamton, N.Y.
Binghampton has no recorded ideal weather days in our data. The wind reached an average speed of 6.2 mph. Cloud cover is measured at 56%.
- Dayton, Ohio
Dayton has no recorded ideal weather days. Winds reach an average of 6.8 mph, and cloud cover is measured at 49%.
- Grand Rapids, Mich.
The last city on our bottom 20 list had two recorded days of ideal weather in our data. Wind speeds average out at 7.9 mph, and cloud cover sits at 56%.
LawnStarter downloaded U.S. government weather data for all cities in the United States with a population of 100,000 or higher, for every day in 2019, looking for cities with the most days of “ideal weather.” We first counted up the days with a high temperature from 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit and relative humidity of 40% to 60%. Those are days solidly within the comfort zone that has been defined by researchers looking at when people are comfortable. The “comfort zone” concept is a standard used by building designers and HVAC technicians as that which the most people find comfortable. We then further weighted the data to favor cloudless, sunny days and low breezes.