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Best Cities to Live in if You Love Outdoor Activities

Best cities for outdoor activities

Everyone has their criteria when it comes time to look for a new home. What kind of housing is available? What’s the cost of living? Are there job opportunities? But for some, an abundant opportunity for outdoor recreation is at the top of the list. What to do if you need to live in the city (ugh, work) but want to live that outdoor lifestyle? Check out these amazing places, that’s what.

Tuscon, AZ

This desert gem is an outdoor enthusiast’s year-round playground. With a population of nearly 535,000, you still have access to the full city atmosphere. But this city is a major hub for mountain bikers and rock climbers who aren’t afraid of getting pricked by a cactus or two. The Loop is a 131-mile bike track that circles the city, and the true mountain biker’s test is the 29-mile, 6,600-foot climb up Mount Lemmon. If you make it to the top you’re rewarded by a grove of Ponderosas and a thrilling descent. Mount Lemmon is also where climbers will find the best crags. The mountain’s slopes can be 20 degrees cooler than the streets in town in the summer (which can feel like a little slice of heaven in the heat of August), and mild temps mean you can keep climbing straight through the winter.

Bonus: Phoenix is just an easy two-hour drive away, and has its own suite of amazing outdoor pursuits for a weekend getaway.

Miami, FL

Miami might not seem like an obvious choice among the best cities for outdoor enthusiasts, but its proximity to miles and miles of oceanfront trails and SUP-worthy mangroves means you have the best of both worlds. Just like Tuscon, Miami’s climate makes outdoor recreation available all year round both on and off the water. Oleta River State Park is 30 minutes from downtown Miami and offers 1,000 acres of urban green space. Ride the 15 miles of biking trails, or explore North Biscayne Bay on your paddleboard and hope to catch a sight of the manatees.  Travel just an hour and you can head out by boat for an epic camping adventure in the Everglades. Camping on a “chickee”, or open-air platform, means you can rest easy and watch the crocodiles while sipping your morning coffee. There are a surprising number of outdoor activities in Miami.

Los Angeles, CA

Surprised to find LA on a list of the best cities for outdoor adventures? Although this sprawling metropolis seems urban to the core, it is crisscrossed by biking trails and greenways. Griffith Park— 4,210 acres of greenery inside the city limits—is famous for its hiking and biking trails. In advance of the 2028 Olympics, the city is stepping up its public transit projects to alleviate the infamous traffic issues. The Angeles National Forest is just outside of the city, where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses through. Thousands of miles of hiking trails are waiting to be explored. The Santa Monica Mountains are also just an hour from the city but feel like another planet. There are trails for hiking and biking as well as beaches to stroll and surf. 

Denver, CO

The true multi-sport enthusiast’s mecca, Denver is unequivocally one of the best cities for outdoor activities in the country. Load up your gear on the back of your bike and ride across town to fish the South Platte River, which flows through the city. Then, head to the Chatfield Reservoir. You can camp for the night, or rent a kayak and explore the lake before you ride back into the city. Runners can get their fix of trail running with an endless number of options in the area, or run the yearly Colfax Marathon — the city’s only 26.2. Just north of the city is Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park. This is where winter enthusiasts can get their skiing in and backpackers can endlessly wander the jagged peaks. Summer or winter, there is always something to do outside!

Pack up your tents, your bikes, and your fishing gear. We’ll help you move to one of the best cities for your outdoor lifestyle!

About the author

Unpakt Team