The 15 Best Cities for Spring Outdoor Activities in 2021

Soloviova Liudmyla /

This story originally appeared on LawnStarter.

The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming and the vaccines are pouring in – spring and hope have finally arrived.

After a winter in which we all stayed much closer to home than we would have liked, we desperately need to get out into the sun, outdoors and into nature.

But where to go and what to do?

LawnStarter ranked the best cities for springtime outdoor activities by comparing the 200 largest U.S. cities across 17 key metrics — from the number of public gardens, trails, and campsites to ease of access to the amount of sunshine spring.

Discover our rankings and our methodology. Then grab a blanket, walk to the nearest park and get a breath of fresh air!

1. San Francisco, California

San Francisco
Maridav /

Overall score: 58.78

Classification of outdoor activities: 17

Usability ranking: 6

Spring climate classification: 51

2. Portland, OR

Hiking in Portland, Oregon
Rajat Chamria /

Overall score: 55.95

Classification of outdoor activities: 5

Usability ranking: 11

Spring climate classification: 103

3. Honolulu, Hawaii

Honolulu Hawaii
MNStudio /

Overall score: 55.62

Classification of outdoor activities: 11

Usability ranking: 101

Spring climate classification: 1

4.Mesa, AZ

Mesa, Arizona
Tim Roberts Photography /

Overall score: 54.71

Classification of outdoor activities: 93

Usability ranking: 3

Spring climate classification: 33

5.Washington, D.C.

washington d.c.
Sean Pavone /

Overall score: 54.27

Classification of outdoor activities: 13

Usability ranking: 8

Spring climate classification: 110

6.Tucson, AZ

Chris Rubino /

Overall score: 54.08

Classification of outdoor activities: 6

Usability ranking: 69

Spring climate classification: 46

7. Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles neighborhood.
Andriy Blokhin /

Overall score: 53.34

Classification of outdoor activities: ten

Usability ranking: 98

Spring climate classification: 4

8. Long Beach, California

Long Beach California homes
LA Nature Graphics /

Overall score: 52.77

Classification of outdoor activities: 32

Usability ranking: 33

Spring climate classification: 18

9. Huntington Beach, California

Huntington Beach California
f11photo /

Overall score: 52.05

Classification of outdoor activities: 44

Usability ranking: 34

Spring climate classification: 5

10. Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas in broad daylight
nito /

Overall score: 51.82

Classification of outdoor activities: 19

Usability ranking: 74

Spring climate classification: 26

11. Lincoln, NE

Lincoln, Nebraska Capitol Building
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Overall score: 51.41

Classification of outdoor activities: 3

Usability ranking: 23

Spring climate classification: 155

12. Salt Lake City, UT

Salt Lake City, UT
f11photo /

Overall score: 50.98

Classification of outdoor activities: 8

Usability ranking: 48

Spring climate classification: 89

13. New York, New York

New York Coast
IM_photo /

Overall score: 50.9

Classification of outdoor activities: seven

Usability ranking: 13

Spring climate classification: 174

14.Seattle, Washington

Seattle, Washington
kwest /

Overall score: 50.78

Classification of outdoor activities: 22

Usability ranking: ten

Spring climate classification: 153

15. Oakland, CA

Oakland Bridge
Micha Weber /

Overall score: 50.5

Classification of outdoor activities: 42

Usability ranking: 31

Spring climate classification: 51


A man studies financial data on his computer
NicoElNino /

We’ve ranked the 200 most populous US cities in descending order — best to worst — based on their individual scores in the list of metrics below. The city with the highest score was ranked #1, or “best.”

  • Number of rides
  • Number of public gardens per 100,000 inhabitants
  • Number of Arboreta per 100,000 inhabitants
  • Number of trails
  • Number of campsites
  • Average yard size (square feet)
  • Walk Score
  • Bike score
  • Pedestrian deaths per capita
  • Natural Hazard Index Score
  • Violent crime rate
  • Mean monthly spring temperature
  • Average Monthly Precipitation in Inches in Spring
  • Average sunshine in spring
  • Annual average number of very cold days in spring
  • Annual average number of very hot days in spring
  • Air quality

These scores were broken down into categories including outdoor activities, visitor friendliness, and spring weather.

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, US Environmental Protection Agency, Walk Score and Yelp.

Due to current public health restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, we have excluded spring festival and travel data from this year’s edition of our ranking.

Why this study is important

Happy couple run away to explore the outdoors during the coronavirus crisis /

This winter of our discontent has been compounded by social distancing, mask-wearing and working from home. With warmer temperatures and soon the smell of freshly mown grass, we have to get out.

A third of all American adults reported feeling stressedanxious or deeply sad during the pandemic.

And while spending time in nature isn’t a cure for pandemic-induced or worsened anxiety or depression, researchers at Harvard University have found that even a relatively a short walk outdoors can improve mental healthmood and even the physical health of the brain.

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

Yes, spring is here (almost in some parts of the US) and COVID-19 vaccinations are on the rise, but it’s still too early for mass tourism or travel. A increased travel could prolong the pandemic.

So what can you do now that spring has arrived? Go outside. Walk, run, bike or roller skate. According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s all about finding ways to exercise from a safe distance and with plenty of moving air.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click on links in our stories.


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