2021’s Best Cities for Spring Outdoor Activities

Jefferson Memorial overlooking water framed by cherry blossoms

Birds are chirping, flowers are blooming, and vaccines are flowing — spring and hope have finally arrived.

After a winter in which we all stayed much closer to home than we would have liked, we’re desperate to get outside in the sun, fresh air, and nature. 

But where to go and what to do? 

LawnStarter ranked the Best Cities for Spring Outdoor Activities by comparing the 200 biggest U.S. cities across 17 key metrics — from the number of public gardens, trails, and campsites to walkability to amount of spring sunshine. 

Check out our ranking below, along with some highlights/lowlights, advice from the experts and methodology. Then grab a blanket, walk to your nearest park, and take a breath of fresh air!

Table of Contents

  1. City Rankings
  2. Highlights and Lowlights
  3. Ask the Experts
  4. Methodology
  5. Why This Study Matters

City Rankings 

See how each city fared in our ranking:

OVERALL RANKCityOverall ScoreOutdoor Activities RankVisitor-Friendliness RankSpring Climate Rank
1San Francisco, CA58.7817651
2Portland, OR55.95511103
3Honolulu, HI55.62111011
4Mesa, AZ54.7193333
5Washington, DC54.27138110
6Tucson, AZ54.0866946
7Los Angeles, CA53.3410984
8Long Beach, CA52.77323318
9Huntington Beach, CA52.0544345
10Las Vegas, NV51.82197426
11Lincoln, NE51.41323155
12Salt Lake City, UT50.9884889
13New York, NY50.9713174
14Seattle, WA50.782210153
15Oakland, CA50.5423151
16Tempe, AZ50.48772133
17Fort Collins, CO49.732519102
18Miami, FL49.61204970
19Riverside, CA49.1641995
20Lexington, KY48.63562163
21Knoxville, TN48.621151139
22Scottsdale, AZ48.23616533
23Irvine, CA48.22133405
24Phoenix, AZ47.872313133
25Escondido, CA47.83910892
26Ontario, CA47.7785755
27Santa Ana, CA47.63139455
28San Jose, CA47.6586748
29Louisville, KY47.58884159
30Nashville, TN47.334817134
31Oxnard, CA47.21128793
32Glendale, CA47.17154465
33Anaheim, CA47.05120705
34Santa Rosa, CA47.05130912
35Boise City, ID46.72702776
36Alexandria, VA46.712835110
37Richmond, VA46.581657146
38Austin, TX46.55269066
39Sacramento, CA46.471325430
40Sunnyvale, CA46.421712849
41Pasadena, CA46.416411819
42Garden Grove, CA46.41160565
43Henderson, NV46.391435126
44Chandler, AZ46.271524133
45Omaha, NE46.22895172
46Boston, MA46.1729165
47Fremont, CA46.021473651
48Gilbert, AZ45.851764433
49Elk Grove, CA45.781505330
50Glendale, AZ45.691197633
51Rancho Cucamonga, CA45.64148785
52Moreno Valley, CA45.58551475
53Denver, CO45.546026105
54Hayward, CA45.431723954
55Peoria, AZ45.391068345
56Lubbock, TX45.311243261
57Madison, WI45.22120194
58Providence, RI45.12981195
59Chicago, IL45.034015182
60Salem, OR44.965324144
61North Las Vegas, NV44.271459726
62San Bernardino, CA44.271421125
63Reno, NV44.262913465
64Albuquerque, NM44.193714460
65Minneapolis, MN44.191187178
66Vancouver, WA44.149229103
67Colorado Springs, CO44.122493123
68El Paso, TX44.19510057
69San Diego, CA44.13411586
70Fullerton, CA44.046515619
71San Antonio, TX43.935410464
72Tulsa, OK43.696638121
73Tampa, FL43.681155968
74St. Petersburg, FL43.571146168
75Eugene, OR43.569918161
76Orlando, FL43.454596100
77Baton Rouge, LA43.324153160
78St. Paul, MN43.2611312178
79Spokane, WA43.256842131
80Santa Clarita, CA43.171381365
81Corona, CA43.0516410929
82St. Louis, MO42.9215128157
83Plano, TX42.511694377
84Laredo, TX42.371955062
85Rochester, NY42.313637185
86Philadelphia, PA42.264763156
87Brownsville, TX42.191798758
88Norfolk, VA42.17818196
89Grand Rapids, MI42.14330193
90Orange, CA41.9716114619
91Virginia Beach, VA41.971255896
92Torrance, CA41.6918813719
93Fontana, CA41.611801495
94Bakersfield, CA41.5215513832
95Tacoma, WA41.4430106153
96Yonkers, NY41.410025167
97Raleigh, NC41.3738119128
98Dallas, TX41.357912077
99Pittsburgh, PA41.3218103190
100Irving, TX41.271826077
101Jersey City, NJ41.1719914167
102New Orleans, LA40.99677116
103Corpus Christi, TX40.8313513559
104Salinas, CA40.7614615047
105Modesto, CA40.7315314050
106Cincinnati, OH40.722107200
107Chattanooga, TN40.612177145
108Oceanside, CA40.568212986
109Garland, TX40.441907377
110Hollywood, FL40.421868574
111Dayton, OH40.3714143186
112Springfield, MO40.346105158
113McKinney, TX40.31629277
114Buffalo, NY40.298616198
115Atlanta, GA40.2127163107
116Fort Worth, TX40.169413277
117Stockton, CA40.1214015944
118Frisco, TX39.931818977
119Hialeah, FL39.871969470
120Amarillo, TX39.821578695
121Newark, NJ39.7918522162
122McAllen, TX39.7418311062
123Pomona, CA39.6917317019
124Aurora, CO39.5917071105
125Palmdale, CA39.5816517419
126Bellevue, WA39.5650124151
127Baltimore, MD39.536384166
128Oklahoma City, OK39.4710812394
129Des Moines, IA39.385962187
130Grand Prairie, TX39.3418410277
131Paradise, NV39.2916816740
132Houston, TX39.1774121130
133Durham, NC39.0757141118
134Charlotte, NC39.0549155109
135Arlington, TX38.9617511377
136Cleveland, OH38.936966184
137Port St. Lucie, FL38.9211214290
138Lancaster, CA38.8514118619
139Fresno, CA38.815616656
140Milwaukee, WI38.711652177
141Cary, NC38.5314988128
142Chesapeake, VA38.3313412596
143Chula Vista, CA38.2316612686
144Akron, OH38.178764191
145Fort Wayne, IN38.1710280170
146Pembroke Pines, FL38.0519412770
147Overland Park, KS38.0473130147
148Fort Lauderdale, FL37.9616314870
149Wichita, KS37.93129117124
150Newport News, VA37.8215812296
151Toledo, OH37.7511772173
152Arlington, VA37.69107139110
153Midland, TX37.6816717555
154Columbus, OH37.6710955192
155Sioux Falls, SD37.4913168175
156Clarksville, TN37.3651168135
157Aurora, IL37.215947182
158Sunrise Manor, NV37.0518918440
159Spring Valley, NV37.0120018040
160Huntsville, AL36.9131182143
161Fayetteville, NC36.8680161120
162Springfield, MA36.8104116164
163Greensboro, NC36.7983158122
164Jacksonville, FL36.7684164113
165Rockford, IL36.7133154180
166Bridgeport, CT36.5912295176
167Memphis, TN36.1135190125
168Cape Coral, FL35.78174133127
169Augusta, GA35.54126157126
170Mesquite, TX35.3118716591
171Killeen, TX35.2617817866
172Tallahassee, FL35.24136145152
173Columbus, GA35.1810318593
174Kansas City, MO34.9475171147
175Enterprise, NV34.8519119440
176Macon, GA34.539196108
177Worcester, MA34.510582199
178Syracuse, NY34.41111111196
179Murfreesboro, TN34.2678183138
180Lakewood, CO34.16137172114
181Paterson, NJ34.02193114171
182Miramar, FL34.0119718174
183Shreveport, LA33.99121173137
184Pasadena, TX33.52177162140
185Mobile, AL33.2167192142
186Detroit, MI32.69151152169
187Indianapolis, IN32.6590169181
188Thornton, CO32.4192176114
189Montgomery, AL32.39127187141
190Savannah, GA32.2591197101
191Joliet, IL32.23123160188
192Kansas City, KS32.23101189149
193Little Rock, AR32.1976195119
194Birmingham, AL31.6662198136
195Anchorage, AK31.5252179197
196Metairie, LA31.12198188116
197Jackson, MS30.7371200132
198Winston-Salem, NC30.497199133
199Olathe, KS30.24144193149
200Naperville, IL29.16110191188
Infographic showing the best cities for spring based on most and least days of sunshine or rain, most public gardens per 100,000 residents, most trails, highest and lowest walk score
 

Highlights and Lowlights

West Is Best

While the top 50 Best Cities for Spring Outdoor Activities are all over the map, nine of the top 10 are from Western and Pacific states. For example, Honolulu ranked high in climate categories, and Portland received high marks in a multitude of categories, including bike score and number of trails. 

Our top city for springtime outdoor activities is San Francisco, with an impressive walk score and number of attractions, among other attributes. With plenty of trails, activities, and sunshine, the West Coast really is the best region for enjoying the best this season has to offer.

The Nation’s Capital — of Walking

While most of our top cities are out west, there was one standout city back east: Washington, D.C. Washington is the most walkable city in America and outperformed in bike score, number of attractions, and number of public gardens. 

And don’t forget the cherry blossoms that draw people from all over in springtime to Washington, D.C. While the District was slightly held back by its crime rate and low amount of spring sunshine, it’s still a capital spot for an outdoor spring on the entire East Coast. 

Springing Out of the South

Cities across the South landed in the bottom of our ranking, often losing points on metrics in the weather and visitor-friendliness categories. 

Jackson, Mississippi, for example, ranks near the bottom on walk score and pedestrian fatalities. Metairie, Louisiana, has the second rainiest spring in the country. And Little Rock, Arkansas, has one of the worst bike scores of any U.S. city. 

Ask The Experts

As Americans look forward to traveling this spring, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to advise delaying trips. We asked a panel of experts to weigh in on the pandemic’s impact on travel this season and share their off-the-beaten-path ideas for outdoor activities. See what they had to say below.

  • What will spring travel look like this year, given the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and continued pandemic restrictions?
  • What are your top three tips for enjoying outdoor time safely this spring?
  • What creative ideas for fun and safe spring activities, if any, have you seen in different cities that could be duplicated in others?
  • For people who can’t leave home, what are your top three tips for enjoying spring break?
M. Jean Keller
Professor, Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation
Robert M. Sanford, PhD
Chair, Department of Environmental Science & Policy
David L Smiley, MS, CMP, PGA
Senior Lecturer, Coordinator Tourism, Hospitality, and Event Management Curriculum, Department of Health & Wellness Design
Jonathan R. Hicks, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Recreation, Parks, and Leisure Services
Andrew W. Bailey, Ph.D.
UC Foundation Associate Professor, Health and Human Performance
Louis Hodges
Associate Professor and Associate Head for Undergraduate Programs
M. Jean Keller
Professor, Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation
University of North Texas

What will spring travel look like this year, given the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and continued pandemic restrictions?

More people will stay closer to their homes, go camping, take day trips, and visit nearby family

The governors of Mississippi and Texas recently announced fully reopening their states and lifting mask mandates. If other states follow suit in the near term, what effect will this have on spring travel, if any, and COVID-19 cases?

People will travel more following safe protocols as restrictions are reduced.

What are your top three tips for enjoying outdoor time safely this spring?

Stay physically active, find less populated locations, and find meaning in what you do.

What creative ideas for fun and safe spring activities, if any, have you seen in different cities that could be duplicated in others?

Local bike ride tours, music in the parks with picnics by local restaurants and local food trucks (reservation and spacing provided), community gardens to help those in need from the winter storm.

For people who can’t leave home, what are your top three tips for enjoying spring break?

Go back yard camping, have outdoor scavenger nature hunts, and plant a few plants to support monarch butterflies.

Robert M. Sanford, PhD
Chair, Department of Environmental Science & Policy
University of Southern Maine

What will spring travel look like this year, given the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and continued pandemic restrictions?

A cautious re-entry, gradually accelerating but less than pre-pandemic

The governors of Mississippi and Texas recently announced fully reopening their states and lifting mask mandates. If other states follow suit in the near term, what effect will this have on spring travel, if any, and COVID-19 cases?

There will be an increase in travel in the south and west, gradually extending north and east. Hopefully, the mutations will not expand to create another wave with this pushing the reopening. It really depends on how the production of vaccines continues to increase and how solid the science behind their development, and the stability of potential variants.  

What are your top three tips for enjoying outdoor time safely this spring?

  1. Stick with family and your “pod” of contacts as much as possible.
  2. Continue to enjoy outdoor experiences.
  3.  Focus on relatively safe, non-crowd experiences where you are in control.

What creative ideas for fun and safe spring activities, if any, have you seen in different cities that could be duplicated in others?

Multiple pedal vehicles with a beer bar and a host/driver (like in Asheville) for touring city streets. The seats can maintain certain distances, which may be down to 3-feet by then, and allow a “control” to the experience compared to crowds roaming the streets with alcohol.

For suburbs, towns, and rural areas, continue to develop and enjoy your lawns–Americans have turned back to these as the seat of outdoor experience along with parks.

For people who can’t leave home, what are your top three tips for enjoying spring break?

Treat it as a personal recreational, rather than group recreational time. now that we see the light at the end of the tunnel we do not want to regress, so stay safe and take reasonable recommended precautions. enjoy your family and neighbors–your immediate “pod” of people.

David L Smiley, MS, CMP, PGA
Senior Lecturer, Coordinator Tourism, Hospitality, and Event Management Curriculum, Department of Health & Wellness Design
Indiana University, School of Public Health – Bloomington

What will spring travel look like this year, given the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and continued pandemic restrictions?

Spring travel especially in Bloomington, Indiana is projected to be very strong. The destination has the ideal mix of outdoor attractions and being a short drive-to destination for several large population centers. This is very important, as there is still a large reluctance for travelers to get on an airplane and fly to remote destinations.

Indiana is also far along in vaccinating the population with the new group eligible being those residents 40 and above.

The governors of Mississippi and Texas recently announced fully reopening their states and lifting mask mandates. If other states follow suit in the near term, what effect will this have on spring travel, if any, and COVID-19 cases?

While the lifting of mask mandates may encourage some additional travel, most people will still observe the use of masks as the best prevention from catching the virus.

The travel in those states will still be primarily drive-in tourists so we are still a way off from seeing the benefits of travelers from distant destinations.

It will remain to be seen the impact on the overall cases of COVID-19 in those states but they do run the risk of seeing increases and further delaying the large-scale resumption of tourism.

What are your top three tips for enjoying outdoor time safely this spring?

The top 3 tips I have for enjoying outdoor activities currently are:

1) Look for activities that still encourage social distancing (golf, hiking, tennis, biking)

2) Continue to wear a mask, as this will also continue to move us back to “normal” faster.

3) Get out of the house as often as you can.

Number 3 is especially important for the well-being of our mental health. The pandemic has affected us for one year now and we really need to take small steps to begin to reclaim our lives back.

What creative ideas for fun and safe spring activities, if any, have you seen in different cities that could be duplicated in others?

One creative idea that is appropriate for families is a “learning science camp.” This is an activity where you would take children camping and spend the days and evenings working on STEM activities. Creating experiments in nature for children to develop a deeper appreciation for science.

Another activity as the weather warms up would be to participate in a round of “night golf”. This activity involves playing golf in the dark using golf balls that glow and minimal lighting on the holes to guide the golfers. Both of these activities are another way to take advantage of the outdoors.

For people who can’t leave home, what are your top three tips for enjoying spring break?

My top three tips for those who can’t leave home are:

1) Get everyone in the house their vaccines as soon as they are eligible. With the new CDC guidelines, you would then be able to have gatherings with other vaccinated people.

2) Spend time outside in your own yard doing activities like gardening or landscaping.

3) Do a home project that you have been putting off for a while. Change the color of one of your rooms or even just rearrange the furniture. It will give you a fresh outlook on the space you have spent the last year in.

Jonathan R. Hicks, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Recreation, Parks, and Leisure Services
Minnesota State University, Mankato

What will spring travel look like this year, given the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and continued pandemic restrictions?

Spring travel will likely be a mixed bag with conventional tourist hubs such as Orlando and Las Vegas seeing increases in visitation relative to recent months. Regional and cooler climate destinations will likely not see the same increases until summer.

The governors of Mississippi and Texas recently announced fully reopening their states and lifting mask mandates. If other states follow suit in the near term, what effect will this have on spring travel, if any, and COVID-19 cases?

One of the truisms of recreation, leisure, and tourism is that people will not participate if they do not feel safe. As such, we will likely not see dramatic spikes in travel right away. They will happen more slowly and will be more closely tied to the rate of vaccination than the lifting of restrictions.

For instance, last fall when many states re-opened indoor dining, most restaurants reported that they rarely reached their diminished capacity. This is because even though restrictions had been minimized, many potential restaurant goers did not feel comfortable in that setting. Something similar will likely be true with potential travelers – at least at the outset.

What are your top three tips for enjoying outdoor time safely this spring?

  • Get vaccinated the first chance you get. The peace of mind that comes with knowing you are unlikely to catch or spread the virus will enhance your ability to enjoy your time in the outdoors.
  • Avoid traveling to National Parks during Memorial Day weekend. The annual spikes that occur during that holiday are both predictable and avoidable. Instead, consider alternatives such as National Wildlife Refuges, National Forests, or local and regional parks which are typically less crowded.
  • Be patient with both places and people. The world did not shut down overnight, and it will not re-open overnight.

What creative ideas for fun and safe spring activities, if any, have you seen in different cities that could be duplicated in others?

Large-scale events like full-capacity concerts, festivals, and sporting events will continue to be unlikely this spring in most places.

Enjoyable alternatives in many communities have included things like drive-in movies and bicycle riding events. These are low-cost, high-impact events that leave residents feeling active and more connected to their communities.

On an individualized level, participation in activities such as hiking, photography, and kayaking have all increased, as they allow people to spread out while still enjoying the company of others.

For people who can’t leave home, what are your top three tips for enjoying spring break?

  • Buy a bird feeder. Even in the busiest cities, birds are doing their best to carve out a living. By helping them in that process, the positive side effect is that you can see them up close and get to know the avian residents of your neighborhood. Birdwatching can be particularly fun with kids, as it offers an alternative to watching a screen.
  •  Plant a pollinator garden with native plants. Spring means the return of butterflies and other pollinators. As they travel, they look for food and refuge. In addition to supporting their life cycles, adding native plants such as milkweeds to your yard is a gift to yourself that will pay off all summer long, as unique butterflies and caterpillars visit.
  • Utilize local parks. If you don’t want to attract birds or butterflies to your own yard, you can still find them at your local parks. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is to appreciate the little things. Watching birds and butterflies fly through grasses and trees is certainly a good example of finding value in life’s little details.
Andrew W. Bailey, Ph.D.
UC Foundation Associate Professor, Health and Human Performance
University of Tennessee, Chattanooga

What will spring travel look like this year, given the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and continued pandemic restrictions?

We’ve actually been doing some research on park visitation and, for those park systems that remained open during the pandemic, some parks saw 200%+ increases in visitation.

The distance traveled from home was also much smaller, so we know people haven’t been going as far away for travel.

So, while cities and towns were seeing fewer visitors, outdoor places have been inundated. We expect that to continue through the summer, and for the overflow into towns and cities to increase, as well.

With vaccines rolling out and mask mandates being rescinded, people are, for better or worse, beginning to relax their standards. Our restaurants, gyms, and recreation centers are filling back up already, and when outdoor seating is more feasible in spring, it will only get busier.

The governors of Mississippi and Texas recently announced fully reopening their states and lifting mask mandates. If other states follow suit in the near term, what effect will this have on spring travel, if any, and COVID-19 cases?

The Tennessee governor made a public statement, as well, saying that TN is open for business and welcoming visitors for spring break. Honestly, since the response to COVID lacked uniformity from the beginning, this is just an extension of the norm.

We had many visitors last summer from states like MI and NY because their states were shut down and they were seeking places to play. I would expect to see spikes in cases, and an influx of variants that may or may not be reactive to the vaccines as a result.

The reality is that we have a robust debate in the U.S. about freedom and restraint, and we will have to see how it plays out. The fact that many universities have scrapped spring break (including UTC) will provide some relief, and many visitors will be seeking outdoor spaces to play in, which is less risky for everyone right now.

What are your top three tips for enjoying outdoor time safely this spring?

1) Find the diamonds in the rough. Every area has extremely popular trails and some that are off the beaten path. Now is the ideal time to explore the areas with less traffic and fewer crowds.

2) Keep masking and distancing. It’s really not that hard to wear a mask when you are close to people and eat your food at an outdoor table. Remember, a lot of these areas you are visiting might not have a great medical system. Your tourism dollars really aren’t helping if they bring sickness that causes stress in the local community.

3) Buy local. When you do go to the stores & restaurants in town, do what you can to support the local guys. Many towns depend on tourism dollars and small businesses took a major hit during the pandemic. Go out of your way to put your money directly into the local economy.

What creative ideas for fun and safe spring activities, if any, have you seen in different cities that could be duplicated in others?

We just created a food truck alley here in Chattanooga, which provides a place for local vendors to sell food without the concerns of indoor seating.

The Southeastern Climber’s Coalition is doing a distanced competition, where competitors have a span of weeks to complete as many boulder routes at a location as possible, and points are awarded at the end. This allows for competition without the crowds.

Any ideas that maximize time outdoors and allow for distance are great: outdoor movies in the park, distanced races & competitions, extended sidewalk space for restaurant seating, etc.

For people who can’t leave home, what are your top three tips for enjoying spring break?

You know, I’ve traveled to a lot of places, and each place is unique and beautiful in its own way. This pandemic is dragging on, but it will end, in time.

Instead of regretting everything you are missing out on, take this chance to really get to know your backyard. Most of us have parks and trails close to home that we’ve never explored. Take this time to make the most of what you can do where you are, and not focus on your limitations. And, be sure you get your recommended weekly dose of outdoor time (at least 2 hours).

Louis Hodges
Associate Professor and Associate Head for Undergraduate Programs
Texas A&M University

What will spring travel look like this year, given the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and continued pandemic restrictions?

Spring travel will increase, especially among the younger (college-age) population.  Unvaccinated older populations will probably be reluctant to engage in extensive travel until after they are fully vaccinated.

  However, it is clear that travel-related businesses are ready to open fully and will be actively promoting destination travel, perhaps with bargain rates initially.

The governors of Mississippi and Texas recently announced fully reopening their states and lifting mask mandates. If other states follow suit in the near term, what effect will this have on spring travel, if any, and COVID-19 cases?

Living in Texas, not being fully vaccinated, and a senior citizen, I think it is still a little bit early to lift all restrictions.  Fortunately, my workplace, my church, and most of the local businesses I frequent are not dropping the mask requirements, despite the governor having dropped the restrictions. 

If Covid-19 infections continue to drop, then spring travel will increase, but primarily on the local level initially.  Restaurants, bars, and movie theaters will be avidly advertising for customers to resume previous habits.  However, many attractions such as festivals and similar events will be slow to restart—and those are important for destination travel.  We will probably see the start of recovery in the summer.

What are your top three tips for enjoying outdoor time safely this spring?

Wear a mask in crowds (even if others are not) and maintain a respectable distance, even in outdoor areas.  If I lived up north, I would be wary of driving the highways in bad weather.  Since I live in Texas, I suggest planting a vegetable garden (now is the time) and enjoy the fruit trees which are now in bloom.

What creative ideas for fun and safe spring activities, if any, have you seen in different cities that could be duplicated in others?

The only thing new I have seen this spring is a wildflower viewing at a historical park/cemetery in the adjacent city.  It was canceled last year, but was a splendid affair the previous year.  Unfortunately, the recent freeze may delay the flowers or reduce the numbers.

For people who can’t leave home, what are your top three tips for enjoying spring break?

Read a book in the sunshine, plant your garden, do spring cleaning in your house and garage.   Can you tell I’m getting old?

Methodology

We ranked the 200 most populated U.S. cities in descending order — from best to worst — based on their individual score totals in the metrics list below.* The city that scored the highest ranked No. 1, or “best.”

MetricWeightingMin. ValueMax. Value
Number of Attractions301,290
Number of Public Gardens per 100,000 Residents30.002.69
Number of Arboreta per 100,000 Residents30.063.88
Number of Trails21235
Number of Camping Sites20128
Average Yard Size (sq. ft.)1274423951
"Outdoor Activities" Category Total14
Walk Score31398
Bike Score32497
Pedestrian Fatalities per Capita20.007.67
Natural Hazard Index Score2920
Violent Crime Rate264.241965.33
"Visitor-Friendliness" Category Total12
Average Monthly Temperature in Spring337.0077.70
Average Monthly Precipitation in Inches in Spring35.3765.28
Average Amount of Sunshine in Spring30.0085.00
Yearly Average Number of Very Cold Days in Spring20.0017.67
Yearly Average Number of Very Hot Days in Spring20.0011.67
Air Quality11977
"Spring Climate" Category Total14
Overall Total40

Sources: AllTrails, American Public Gardens Association, ArbNet, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Center for Disaster Preparedness, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, TripAdvisor, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Walk Score, and Yelp

* Due to current public health restrictions, we excluded spring-festival and travel data from this year’s edition of our ranking of the Best Cities for Spring Outdoor Activities. 

Why This Study Matters

This winter of our discontent was made worse by social distancing, mask wearing, and working from home. With warmer temperatures and soon the smell of fresh-mowed grass, we need to get outside.

Never before have people needed the mental relaxation of spring outdoor activities. A third of all U.S. adults have reported feeling stressed, anxious, or deeply sad during the pandemic. 

And while spending time in nature isn’t a cure for anxiety or depression brought on or made worse by the pandemic, Harvard University researchers have found that even a relatively short outdoor stroll can improve one’s mental health, mood, and even the physical health of their brain.

Just as Americans need time in nature to improve their health, outdoor industries and attractions (theme parks, zoos, outdoor dining at restaurants, etc.) need consumers to be healthy again. Maybe hike along the Grand Canyon and in Rocky Mountain National Park, as visits to national parks plummeted in 2020

Yes, spring is here (or nearly here in some parts of the U.S.), and vaccinations are increasing, but it’s still too early for mass tourism or traveling. An increase in travel could prolong the pandemic

So what can you do now that spring has sprung? Get outside. Walk, run, ride a bike, or roller skate (if that’s your thing). The whole point, according to the Mayo Clinic, is to find ways to exercise at a safe distance and with plenty of moving air.

Main Photo Credit: Needpix

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Staff Writer