2021’s Best Cities for Naked Gardening

Gardener wearing yellow gardening boots with no pants, seen from the knees and down, and standing amidst flowers in a garden

Enjoy gardening in your birthday suit? Hey, we’re not judging — just be careful when picking tomatoes, pulling weeds, and trimming your bushes on World Naked Gardening Day.

Why? Not all U.S. cities allow naturists and nudists to tend to their flowers and vegetables in the flesh. So, where can you bare your green thumb (and the rest of your body) outdoors on May 1 (or any other day) — without getting snagged by thorny legal issues?

LawnStarter exposes 2021’s Best Cities for Naked Gardening by comparing the 100 biggest U.S. cities across nine key metrics. Among the factors we looked at: The share of the nudist population, local legality of nudity, gardener-friendliness, and whether it’s likely to be sunny and warm on May 1.

Dig into our totally NSFW ranking below, followed by highlights, lowlights, and insights from our panel of fully clothed experts.

(PSA: Make sure to load up on sunscreen for those parts where the sun usually doesn’t shine, and avoid going near your roses — or your prickly pear cactus if you’re from the Southwest.)

Table of Contents

  1. City Rankings
  2. Highlights and Lowlights
  3. Ask the Experts
  4. Methodology
  5. Final Thought

City Rankings 

See how each city fared in our ranking:

OVERALL RANKCityOverall ScoreNudist-Friendliness RankGardener- Friendliness RankPopularity RankWeather RankSafety Rank
1Miami, FL75.9625335779
2Austin, TX68.01347731634
3Seattle, WA64.98167227216
4Atlanta, GA64.3863227389
5Portland, OR63.0154351697
6Anaheim, CA62.18454101523
7Orlando, FL61.2277375499
8Riverside, CA60.033710102439
9Irvine, CA59.7151810262
10Santa Ana, CA59.18619101930
11Long Beach, CA58.614213103542
12Sacramento, CA58.531327161793
13Los Angeles, CA58.38303210924
14Philadelphia, PA56.61485378956
15Chula Vista, CA55.926014371815
16New York, NY55.7482616113
17Scottsdale, AZ55.526723414
18Cincinnati, OH55.11830426684
19San Diego, CA54.472029374122
20Glendale, AZ54.2173174626
21New Orleans, LA54.22122603047
22Fremont, CA53.36571242639
23St. Louis, MO53.361815526098
24Chandler, AZ53.047724426
25Tampa, FL52.956211297178
26Phoenix, AZ52.6869314750
27San Francisco, CA51.91618429819
28Honolulu, HI51.12628704753
29Stockton, CA51.035542164572
30Houston, TX50.712548332877
31Mesa, AZ50.6471414528
32Gilbert, AZ50.527940423
33Dallas, TX49.261456523375
34Fresno, CA49.023933873667
35Tucson, AZ48.93652076860
36Irving, TX48.365050522320
37Hialeah, FL48.26891334912
38Winston-Salem, NC47.95816649651
39Bakersfield, CA47.24438992074
40Plano, TX46.764764522511
41St. Petersburg, FL46.5872297783
42Jersey City, NJ46.4811919318
43Denver, CO46.031090274865
44Buffalo, NY461152708470
45Arlington, TX45.95260523735
46Fort Worth, TX45.744959523976
47Corpus Christi, TX45.664646923481
48Durham, NC44.944137799429
49Garland, TX44.685672522246
50Charlotte, NC44.672269427827
51Raleigh, NC44.161958796791
52Paradise, NV44.07912164111
53Albuquerque, NM43.914379523138
54Greensboro, NC43.513545649952
55Cleveland, OH43.441280298595
56Washington, DC43.241753947640
57Kansas City, MO43.22771813888
58Las Vegas, NV42.536455641097
59Virginia Beach, VA42.098024249236
60Jacksonville, FL41.97536605064
61Pittsburgh, PA41.76988906866
62Lexington, KY41.683376607532
63Laredo, TX41.465966100421
64Columbus, OH41.242895426543
65Louisville, KY41.143677637463
66Aurora, CO40.855497275369
67Norfolk, VA40.797439249185
68Madison, WI40.751587915558
69Lubbock, TX40.73878972162
70Henderson, NV40.188549641131
71Boston, MA39.766654339010
72Omaha, NE39.613192874068
73Chicago, IL39.172399508325
74El Paso, TX38.925382972744
75North Las Vegas, NV38.879051641157
76Wichita, KS38.854084846280
77Colorado Springs, CO38.762998814682
78Chesapeake, VA38.728644248754
79Toledo, OH38.532486847971
80Minneapolis, MN38.37688918428
81Richmond, VA38.0463347388100
82Newark, NJ37.08846519748
83Oakland, CA37.081006428149
84Tulsa, OK36.667068754317
85Anchorage, AK35.6134100945894
86Arlington, VA35.497670189514
87Milwaukee, WI34.1332947610092
88Baltimore, MD33.767257848661
89St. Paul, MN33.53889318565
90San Jose, CA33.279935426441
91Oklahoma City, OK32.738274765945
92Nashville, TN32.79361184455
93Reno, NV31.947881932990
94San Antonio, TX31.79663491459
95Detroit, MI30.258396378096
96Memphis, TN28.39762703286
97Indianapolis, IN26.639475298237
98Fort Wayne, IN23.759573877033
99Boise, ID23.319283945287
100Lincoln, NE21.779891815173
Infographic for the Best Cities for World Naked Gardening Day, based on nudist population, gardener-friendliness, and more

Highlights and Lowlights

Fun in the Sun(shine State)

Florida cities sit at the top(less) spots of our Best Cities for Naked Gardening ranking. Miami is No. 1 overall, with high scores in the nudist- and garden-friendliness categories. 

But a deeper dive into the data is even more revealing: Orlando, Miami, and Tampa claim three of the top four spots in nudist populations per 100,000 residents. It’s no wonder then that the Florida legislature is working to increase legal protections for nudists

Flashy West

Six of the top 10 cities in our ranking are on the West Coast: Seattle at No. 3, Portland at No. 5, and California cities — Anaheim, Riverside, Irvine, and Santa Ana — in the other four spots. Seattle and Portland boast nudist-friendly laws, landing at Nos. 1 and 5 in that category, and both cities host annual naked bike rides. Clearly the Pacific Northwest doesn’t mind a little skin. 

The Golden State cities in our top 10 surprise us with this strange paradox: While their state and local policies aren’t the most favorable toward nudists, these cities performed well on Google search volume for “nudist” and “World Naked Gardening Day.” Apparently, California residents in these cities, especially those with a green thumb, don’t mind the rules and can’t wait to take their clothes off in the garden.

Un-bare-ably Cold

Here’s a big tip for the would-be naked gardener: Always check the weather. While the Worst Cities for Naked Gardening are spread throughout the country, many experience relatively chilly conditions into early May. 

Our bottom city is Lincoln, Nebraska, which ranked low in gardener-friendliness (No. 91) and weather metrics like wind speed (No. 70). Other cooler spring cities include Detroit, Indianapolis, and Milwaukee. Residents of these cities might be more likely to bundle up instead of stripping down on World Naked Gardening Day.

Ask The Experts

Nudity can be a sensitive area for polite society. For better visibility, we reached out to a panel of experts to uncover the naked truth about safely gardening in the buff. See what they had to say below.

  1. In many European countries, nudity is socially acceptable. Why is nudity treated as taboo in America by comparison?
  2. Does public nudity support the body positivity movement? Why or why not?
  3. Public nudity is allowed in very few U.S. cities. What do these cities have in common, if anything?
  4. What are three benefits and three dangers of gardening in the nude?
  5. What are your three best tips for first-time nude gardeners?
Tessa West
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology
Leslie Gielow Jacobs
Director, Capital Center for Law & Policy, Professor of Law
Tessa West
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology
New York University

In many European countries, nudity is socially acceptable. Why is nudity treated as taboo in America by comparison?

America has a complicated history with puritanism. Social conservatism — and with that a belief that people should dress conservatively and not show their private bits to the world — still runs strong through our American veins.

The places where public nudity is illegal tend to be more conservative places. In Alabama (a conservative state), for example, the publishment for public nudity can include a year in jail, $6,000 in fines, and being forced to register as a sex offender.

Does public nudity support the body positivity movement? Why or why not?

This probably depends entirely on where you live. In places where public nudity is socially unacceptable (even if legal), there is probably such a strong norm against it that the simple act of doing it would lead to social ostracism, which isn’t exactly good for the body positive movement. But in places where being barely clothed or not-at-all clothed is socially acceptable (think South Beach in Miami), it certainly could.

Beliefs about what is beautiful take time to change, so my guess is one act of public nudity won’t move the needle, but lots of it — coupled with positive messages about the benefits of public nudity — definitely could. Modeling behavior is important. If people see different types of bodies out there and people feeling truly comfortable in their own skin, that could make them realize, “Hey, I look beautiful in the nude, too.”

Public nudity is allowed in very few U.S. cities. What do these cities have in common, if anything?

Social conservatism. Politically liberal places are much more likely to allow nudity than conservative ones.

What are three benefits and three dangers of gardening in the nude?

For benefits, I would say an increase in vitamin D, learning to feel comfortable in your skin, and exploring new physical sensations.

Dangers include sunburn, accidental injury if you’re not careful (hint: don’t sit down in the dirt!), and bug bites where you don’t want them.

What are your three best tips for first-time nude gardeners?

  1. Wear sunscreen — everywhere! Remember, some of these body parts have never seen the sun, so they are very vulnerable. This is true for all skin tones and races.
  2. Make sure you aren’t using any chemicals (like weed killer) that might come in contact with your body. If you need gloves to handle your gardening chemicals, it might not be a good time to go nude.
  3. Bring a towel or blanket. Crouching down over your plot of land to dig out beans is fine, but most of us naturally sit down when our legs get tired — it’s an automatic behavior we don’t think about. Think proactively, and put something down on the ground that will be kind to your behind.
Leslie Gielow Jacobs
Director, Capital Center for Law & Policy, Professor of Law
University of the Pacific

In many European countries, nudity is socially acceptable. Why is nudity treated as taboo in America by comparison?

Different attitudes in different countries about public nudity stem from their different histories and cultural values. Attitudes in the United States likely stem in part from various religious doctrines that equate nudity with sexual desire and sexual desire with shame.

The U.S. Constitution permits states and cities to restrict public nudity so long as it is only conduct, not a form of speech. Interestingly, the U.S. Constitution more severely limits the ability of governments to restrict nudity that is part of speech, including pornography and live nude dancing, than do the free-speech guarantees of most other countries. So, European countries may allow more public nudity but also restrict more pornography than in the United States.

Also, U.S. women have successfully challenged public nudity restrictions that apply unequally, prohibiting them from displaying their breasts and nipples, for example, when men may do so.

Methodology

We ranked the 100 largest U.S. cities from best to worst based on their overall scores, averaged across the nine weighted metrics listed below. 

The city that earned the highest overall score — out of a possible 100 points — ranked No. 1, or “best.”

MetricWeightingMin. ValueMax. Value
Nudist-Friendliness
Nudist Population per 100,000 Residents30509.56
Legality of Public Nudity301
Legality of Toplessness302
Gardener-Friendliness
Rank in LawnStarter's "Best Cities for Urban Gardening" Report32150
Popularity
Google Search Interest in "Nudist" and "World Naked
Gardening Day"
2061
Weather
Forecasted Temperature on Naked Gardening Day (May 1)153102
Forecasted Rain on Naked Gardening Day (May 1)10%50%
Forecasted Wind Speed on Naked Gardening Day (May 1)1621
Safety
Sex Offenders per 100,000 Residents112.342866.89

Sources: City-Data.com, The Frisky, LawnStarter, Refinery29, True Nudists, U.S. Census Bureau, Weather Underground, World Population Review

Final Thought: Garden Like Adam and Eve?

May 1 marks the 16th annual World Naked Gardening Day, and we’ve seen all kinds of signs that it will be even bigger this year:

  • Spring came early in some parts of the U.S.
  • Vaccinations are flowing (more than half of Americans have received at least one shot).
  • Millions of Americans discovered their green thumb during the pandemic. 

So what’s stopping you — besides the law — from stripping it all off and going out there to literally smell the roses?

Editor’s Note: LawnStarter pros who are working this weekend won’t be celebrating this made-up holiday by dressing down.

Main Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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Staff Writer