If you’re a lover of Mother Nature and enjoy spending time outside with your family, then you probably prefer cities that offer accessibility to the great outdoors year round. Here are 10 U.S. cities where you can enjoy beautiful scenery while engaging in outdoor adventures.
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Portland is known as the nation’s top bike-friendly city as well as one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world. Portland’s 180 miles of bike lanes and 79 miles of off-street bike paths (click here to find a bike trail) are convenient for riding along the Willamette River and commuting to work. The Portland Bureau of Transportation states that it works to make bicycling an integral part of daily life by planning, implementing and maintaining a bikeway network (click here for Portland’s bike and walk map). It is common for Portland residents to use cycling as a mode of transportation. Portland is also a great place to ski in the winter, surf on the Oregon coast in the summer and hike year round.
Salt Lake City, Utah
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Voted as one of the best hiking cities in the U.S. according to National Geographic, Salt Lake City is a great place to enjoy hiking and biking in the local canyons and is referred to as nature’s playground. From snowmobiling to skiing and snowboarding at ski resorts, Salt Lake City has plenty of winter activities for those who don’t mind the cold weather. Families can also enjoy Salt Lake City’s great outdoors while kayaking or rafting. Added bonus: Salt Lake City ranked No. 2 in Prevention’s 25 happiest, healthiest cities in America because of having the best cancer survival rates, as well as outdoorsy residents who keep their weight in healthy ranges.
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
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Don’t be fooled or put off by the cold winter weather; this metropolitan area is great for outdoor enthusiasts. The Twin Cities ranked No. 1 for the third consecutive year for being the fittest and healthiest city in the U.S., according to the American College of Sport Medicine’s annual American Fitness Index. It scored excellent in having more dog parks, park playgrounds and park units per capita and is also known to have more parks per square mile than any major city in the nation. It was one of the first U.S. cities to add bike trails, and it sets a high percentage of the city as parkland. Residents can also enjoy paddling on the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers, hiking at Pike Island and engaging in snow sports during the winter months.
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Burlington has outdoor recreation activities all year round with easy access to trails for walking and biking. From snowboarding and skiing to canoeing or paddling down the Winooski River, this city offers something for everyone. Residents can find nearby mountains with short hiking trails that are recommended for families or beginner hikers. Another bonus for residents: Burlington is located only minutes away from trailheads found in the Adirondacks and Green Mountains. Numerous outdoor exercise options is one of the reasons this city made Prevention’s 25 happiest, healthiest cities in America list.
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Known for its greenery scenery, the Emerald City is a treat for those who love nature and are environmentally conscious. You can view wildlife and take advantage of the walking and biking trails found at popular parks like the Alki Beach Park or Discovery Park, explore temperate rain forests or take day trips to hike, and camp or go mountain climbing at Olympic National Park or Mount Rainier National Park. Seattle ranked No. 8 on the American Fitness Index.
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More than 100 miles of bike paths and 36,000 acres of nature preserves and recreational open space surround Boulder, making it a popular place for outdoorsy types. Ranked as the best city to raise an outdoor kid by Backpacker, Boulder is also a popular place for rock climbers. Many people who engage in this sport often visit the nearby and world-famous Eldorado Canyon.
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Residents can enjoy Maine’s beautiful scenery and its more than 100 miles of nature trails. Kayaking, sailing and motorboating are all popular outdoor excursions in Maine and a relaxing way to enjoy the scenery. Land activities include surfing on one of the beaches or hiking. Take a family day trip to one of the sandy beaches or a wildlife park, or spend the day in one of the Greater Portland region’s popular amusement or water parks.
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The Mile High City ranked No. 5 for being the fittest U.S. city, according to the American Fitness Index. The Colorado Front Range Trail is located nearby; this popular 876-mile trail stretches from Wyoming into New Mexico and includes trails for hiking, rock climbing and mountain biking. The nearby Rocky Mountains can provide outdoor adventures for families that include camping in Rocky Mountain National Park, hiking, white-water rafting and horseback riding. Denver also has 850 miles of biking trails, a dream for cycling enthusiasts.
Asheville, North Carolina
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If you enjoy camping and hiking, this quaint city is located near the Great Smoky Mountains and is surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. Residents and visitors can explore the mountains by zip-lining or taking scenic drives. If you’re feeling adventurous and up for fun, you can visit the Pisgah National Forest and slide down Sliding Rock, a 60-foot natural waterslide. Other popular outdoor adventures in Asheville include biking through the Pisgah Mountains, hiking and golfing.
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Known for skiing, fishing and its proximity to Yellowstone National Park, Bozeman offers stunning views. Visit national forests surrounding the city and enjoy the nature and beauty of Bozeman while camping, biking, hiking, canoeing or skiing.