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Outside’s Best Cities

Outside magazine is out with its version of “best cities,” trying to put together a measure of “a city’s cultural vibrancy, economic well-being, and overall quality of life.” Though these rankings are always somewhat suspect, they can provide interesting insights into our nation’s cities. Here is the way Outside describes their study, and the top ten.

We started with the 100 most populated cities in America, using public data to rank them on factors like cost of living, unemployment, nightlife, commute time, and access to green spaces. Then we took the 28 candidates…. comparing things like the percentage of the population with college degrees, income level in relation to home prices, and weather. The wild card? Our own multisport factor, which rated each of our finalists on a scale of 1 to 5 for quality and proximity to biking, running, paddling, hiking, and skiing. After adding it all up, we had our top ten.

10. Charlotte, North Carolina
9. Cincinnati, Ohio
8. Minneapolis, Minnesota
7. Portland, Oregon
6. Albuquerque, New Mexico
5. Boston, Massachusetts
4. Austin, Texas
3. Atlanta, Georgia
2. Seattle, Washington
1. Colorado Springs, Colorado

One important factor that this study seems to miss is population density and walkability. In cities with compact living, there is much more of a reason to enjoy the magazine’s namesake theme of being outdoors. In Washington, D.C. and Boston, over ten percent of residents walk to work.

Having access to green space is a wonderful thing, but parks and trails surrounded by foot-friendly neighborhoods can make these places function even better.

2 Responses


  2. I agree, walkability and density are key factors missing in their analysis. Do you know if they used CCPE parkland data?

    Also, where did you find that statistic stating over 10% of residents walk to work in Washington, DC and Boston?

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