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
Overall score: 58.78
Classification of outdoor activities: 17
Usability ranking: 6
Spring climate classification: 51
2. Portland, OR
Overall score: 55.95
Classification of outdoor activities: 5
Usability ranking: 11
Spring climate classification: 103
3. Honolulu, Hawaii
Overall score: 55.62
Classification of outdoor activities: 11
Usability ranking: 101
Spring climate classification: 1
Overall score: 54.71
Classification of outdoor activities: 93
Usability ranking: 3
Spring climate classification: 33
Overall score: 54.27
Classification of outdoor activities: 13
Usability ranking: 8
Spring climate classification: 110
Overall score: 54.08
Classification of outdoor activities: 6
Usability ranking: 69
Spring climate classification: 46
7. Los Angeles, California
Overall score: 53.34
Classification of outdoor activities: ten
Usability ranking: 98
Spring climate classification: 4
8. Long Beach, California
Overall score: 52.77
Classification of outdoor activities: 32
Usability ranking: 33
Spring climate classification: 18
9. Huntington Beach, California
Overall score: 52.05
Classification of outdoor activities: 44
Usability ranking: 34
Spring climate classification: 5
10. Las Vegas, Nevada
Overall score: 51.82
Classification of outdoor activities: 19
Usability ranking: 74
Spring climate classification: 26
11. Lincoln, NE
Overall score: 51.41
Classification of outdoor activities: 3
Usability ranking: 23
Spring climate classification: 155
12. Salt Lake City, UT
Overall score: 50.98
Classification of outdoor activities: 8
Usability ranking: 48
Spring climate classification: 89
13. New York, New York
Overall score: 50.9
Classification of outdoor activities: seven
Usability ranking: 13
Spring climate classification: 174
Overall score: 50.78
Classification of outdoor activities: 22
Usability ranking: ten
Spring climate classification: 153
15. Oakland, CA
Overall score: 50.5
Classification of outdoor activities: 42
Usability ranking: 31
Spring climate classification: 51
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
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.