The 25 best cities to move to if you want to be happy

Would you be happier if you lived somewhere else?

According to a new survey of a half-million people across the nation, those who call Boulder, Colorado home reported being the happiest in the country — based on 15 different categories ranging from physical activity and healthy eating to vacation time and financial stability.

The list of the 25 Happiest Places in the United States, produced by National Geographic in connection with author Dan Buettner — whose book Blue Zones of Happiness shares advice from happy people around the globe — and national polling organization Gallup, lays out the top places where you can be surrounded by chipper, cheerful people.

Here are the 25 happiest places in the country

Boulder, Colorado

“Bolstered by a sense of community, access to nature, sustainable urban development and preservation policies, and perhaps even that clean mountain air, Boulderites overwhelmingly feel ‘active and productive every day,’” National Geographic concluded. “Per capita, more people walk to work in Boulder than in any other city in the U.S. Low rates of smoking and obesity, and high rates of exercise, contribute to the satisfaction locals feel.”

Santa Cruz-Watsonville

With the nation’s oldest amusement park and extensive coastal access, Santa Cruz is a paradise for surfers and beach-goers. It’s also a short distance from the area’s breathtaking redwood forests.

Charlottesville, Virginia

 

 

Recent controversial protests notwithstanding, Charlottesville ranked high on the National Geographic/Gallup poll in terms of overall happiness — both for its educational outposts of the University of Virginia as well as its access to the picturesque and hike-friendly Blue Ridge Mountains.

Fort Collins, Colorado

Fort Collins has a wealth of natural beauty, including Arapaho national forest, the Horsetooth Mountain Open Space, with waterfalls, and abundant hiking, biking and water sport activities. In addition, according to National Geographic, Fort Collins’ Old Town storefronts inspired the creators of Disneyland’s Main Street, U.S.A.

San Luis Obispo, California

With endless hiking trails, artists studios and outdoor markets — as well as a famous Bubblegum Alley where the walls are covered with, you guessed it, chewed bubblegum — San Luis Obispo is a hub of happiness.

San Jose, California

The epicenter of Silicon Valley, San Jose features a host of outdoor recreational facilities as well as the legendary Winchester mystery house, wildlife habitats and museums.

Provo, Utah

Provo boasts access to picturesque mountains, waterfalls and ample hiking, as well as museums and dining options.

Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut

This metro area is just 40 miles from NYC, has plentiful public transportation, and features the highest concentration of corporations in the nation, according to National Geographic.

Barnstable Town, Massachusetts

Located on Cape Cod, Barnstable Town is a recreational paradise where residents and visitors can whale watch, boat, golf, check out wildlife sanctuaries and visit museums and historical sites

Anchorage, Alaska

In addition to being one of the happiest cities, Anchorage also was recently named one of the most hard working cities in the nation.

Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, Florida

This coastal town is known as much for its high-end real estate as for its pristine beaches, not to mention its upscale shopping. It also features botanical gardens, zoos and state parks.

Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, California

The coastal town is flanked by the Santa Ynez mountains, features architecture dating back to its former Spanish inhabitants and has a stretch of beaches and quick proximity to a host of California wine tours.

Salinas, California

Located just south of the Bay area, Salinas was home to author John Steinbeck and boasts a museum in his honor, along with a number of parks, zoos and gardens.

North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida

Honolulu, Hawaii

Honolulu’s reputation as a paradise is borne out by its white sand beaches and crystal clear waters, as well as by abundant natural treasures including volcanoes, parks and hiking.

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan and a collection of museums, botanical gardens and arboretums.

San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California

The picturesque west coast city — which has been the set of countless movies and TV shows — offers abundant recreational options for those who love the outdoors as well as rich culinary and cultural offerings.

Colorado Springs, Colorado

The stunning natural beauty of Colorado comes through again in Colorado Springs, located at the base of the Rockies and near the glacier-carved Pikes Peak. The town also boasts the Garden of the Gods, a park with red sandstone rock formations.

Manchester-Nashua, New Hampshire

The riverfront town is home to The Currier Museum of Art, which lays claim to original Picasso and Georgia O’Keefe works, a Frank Lloyd Wright–designed building, and historic sites tracing the town’s history as a manufacturing and textile hub.

Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, California

This coastal town has beaches for sunning, surfing and windsurfing and an historic main street with churches that dates back to 1809. You can also take an easy day trip to Channel Islands National Park, where wildlife including seals, foxes and birds await along with caves to explore.

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, District of Columbia/Virginia

While its role as the seat of government gets all the attention, the greater Washington D.C.-Virginia area is a walkable city with many hiking, biking and walking trails and access to nightlife and dining. Locals are surrounded by museums, historical sites and public transportation

Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota/Wisconsin

Home to the Mall of America, the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington area also includes a sea life aquarium, football, hockey and cultural hotspots including the Walker Art Center sculpture garden.

San Diego-Carlsbad, California

The coastal city is home to a collection of surfing beaches, gorgeous flower fields with acres of seasonal wildflowers, and a Legoland California theme park.

Portland, Maine

The port city is a hub of culture, history and natural treasures, from a host of parks and water activities including kayaking and boating to easy access to skiing and beaches.

Austin, Texas

Rounding out the list is Austin, where the annual South by Southwest festival has catapulted the southern town into the forefront of music, art, film, food and tech. Homegrown artist and Boyhood writer/director Richard Linklater has set up his production shop Detour Filmproduction in town and University of Texas-Austin keeps a steady flow of young students cycling through the city.

Most BEAUTIFUL COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD

Most BEAUTIFUL COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD

By Mihran Kalaydjian, CHA

Marketing/Media Writer, Strategist and Consultant

Every country has its marvels and breathtaking landscapes, but these ten are blessed with a rare package of outstanding natural beauty and man-made wonders that enhance their territories with everything from beautiful cities to timeless villages, magnificent parks and pristine scenery. They are countries that offer a variety of sights and an abundance of inspiration from man and nature.

1 | ITALY

Italy

 

The world’s most beautiful city, the most inspiring cultural treasures, and magnificent scenery: Nowhere else in the world will you find a bigger concentration of beauty. There’s Venice, Florence and Rome with their varied architecture, the natural masterpiece that is Tuscany with its rolling hills, vineyards and snow-peaked mountains. Then there’s the perfect naturalist painting that is the Amalfi Coast or Lake Maggiore and the Alps and you get the sense that no country on Earth offers as much beauty anywhere you turn as Italy.

 

 2 | SPAIN

 

Spain

 

The most common image of Spain is of the dreadful overdevelopment of the Costa del Sol or of the coastline of some of the Balearic Islands, but Spain is so much more than that. It’s perhaps the most diverse country in the world, with everything from white Mediterranean villages to sophisticated urban centers. You won’t find a city with a greater sense of individuality than Barcelona, and from the Pyrenees to Andalusia, Spain could serve as the backdrop for any kind of film, book or painting. It’s also the world’s most seductive country, passionate about living the good life reflected on grand plazas in even the smaller cities, in well-preserved historic centers, and in the smallest of villages perched on hilltops. To top it all off, there are some of the world’s grandest, most powerful and incomparable architectural treasures, from the Alhambra to the Great Mosque of Cordoba.

3 | FRANCE

France

Paris exudes the most perfect atmosphere of cultural grandeur but although the capital gets all the attention, France offers so much more. Villages with abundant Old World charm are all over the country, from around the magnificent Loire Valley to verdant Provence. Then there’s the glamorous Riviera and if you want to see the world’s greatest palace (Versailles) and museum (the Louvre), here they are. But France is also a country of world-class living in outdoor cafes, in perfectly-preserved towns and in wine-producing regions such as Bordeaux and Champagne. If that’s not enough, see the majesty of Mont St. Michel, the numerous chateaux all over the country and the spectacular panorama of the Chamonix valley.

4 | AUSTRALIA

Australia

Australia is more than a country, it’s a continent and still more than that. It’s its own world, from the Outback and the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park with its world-renowned stone monolith to the Kakadu National Park. It’s in fact wild parks and a wide range of landscapes that make Australia so extraordinary, from the Mornington Peninsula National Park facing the open sea to the Great Barrier Reef that’s one of the natural wonders of the world, to the unspoiled tropical Whitsunday Islands, but then there’s Sydney and its harbor, one of the most beautiful and iconic urban areas. Australia has it all, to be admired before or after a ride down the Great Ocean Road.

5 | GREECE

Greece

The Greek Islands on the blue waters of the Aegean Sea are home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. They’re the first images of the country but then there’s the majestic Mt. Olympus, extraordinary Meteora, and ancient ruins around the country. While Athens disappoints those looking for aesthetic inspiration, Greece is a country that truly satisfies all the senses and it’s understandable how the idea of so many gods originated here.

6 | PORTUGAL

Portugal

 For the pristine natural wonders of the volcanic Azores alone, Portugal would be on this list. Then there’s the “floating garden” that is Madeira, the dramatic coastline and mystical capes of the mainland, the serene plains of the Alentejo with the stunningly-sited white medieval vilages of Marvão and Monsaraz, the Peneda-Gerês National Park, or the perfect collaboration of man and nature in the magic fantasy of Sintra and verdant Douro Valley. And while the old centers of Lisbon and Porto are inexplicably rundown and stubbornly neglected, it’s hard to match their scenic beauty with their grand riverside settings. Everything is in a small scale but when all combined it’s impressive how so much diverse beauty somehow fits in such a tiny country that seems to be a favorite of the sun.

7 | USA

USA

It has the ugliest cities in the developed world linked by shopping mall roads of fast food joints, car lots, billboards, cheap hotels and soulless suburbs (with populations obliviously living the American nightmare), but when it comes to nature, America really is the beautiful. There are the Hawaiian islands, the epic scale of the Grand Canyon, the extraordinarily clear waters of Lake Tahoe, California’s Big Sur, the wildlife in Alaska, the breathtaking scenery of Monument Valley or of Yellowstone, Yosemite and the other great national parks, the forestland of the Great Smoky Mountains… The list of natural wonders seems to go on forever and then there’s San Francisco to save the country on the offer of beauty in an urban setting.

8 | BRAZIL

Brazil

It has one of the world’s most beautiful cities (Rio de Janeiro) and one of the ugliest (São Paulo) but Brazil really is blessed by nature. The Amazon is incomparable, impossible to begin to imagine its magnitude, and the horseshoe-shaped falls of Iguaçu regularly watched by a rainbow is one of the world’s most breathtaking sights. The colonial baroque architecture of the northeast with their golden interiors mixed with singular traditions give it one of the world’s most soulful atmospheres, and if the country’s other major cities weren’t so bland (Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, Curitiba, Fortaleza, Manaus, etc.), Brazil would actually rank higher on this list.

9 | SOUTH AFRICA

South Africa

Cape Town is one of the world’s most beautiful cities (let’s just say it’s number 11 on our top 10 list), and the Kruger National Park is one of the most memorable experiences on the planet for anyone who visits. South Africa offers epic diversity of landscapes, from the Blyde River Canyon to the Drakensberg Mountains. With all of that it’s almost easy to forget that it’s also a country full of problems with a capital city that is best avoided, but escape to the Cape and grab your camera to photograph all in between and you’ll be savoring one of the most awe-inspiring territories on the planet.

10 | GERMANY

Germany

Yes, Germany. Perhaps the world’s most underrated country, Germany is a place of fairytales and architectural jewels. They’re not necessarily found in the largest cities (Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, or Cologne which are more vibrant than beautiful) but Munich has its charms and smaller cities such as Dresden, Leipzig and Potsdam have been preserved or restored to fairytale eye candy. But the real storybook Germany is found all along Bavaria’s Romantic Road with its wealth of unbelievable castles, in the Alps’ gorgeous lakes and mountains, in the magical land of the Rhine with its vineyards or in the enchanting Black Forest. Begin to tour the country and you’ll discover a land of constant surprises, from the university city of Heidelberg, to old Bremen or Bamberg, to the wonderfully preserved medieval towns of Regensburg and Rothenburg.