These Are the 15 Healthiest Cities in America
Looking to relocate or simply need a weekend reset? Women's Health teamed up with Yelp to uncover the healthiest, happiest, best quality-of-life communities across the country—and some surprising places made the list. Read on to find out the 15 "Wellthiest Cities" in America.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
With 310 days of sunshine a year, it’s no wonder Albuquerque is a hotbed of outdoor activities—among them some innovative culinary-and-fitness fusion programs. While you’re probably familiar with its desert climate and candy-colored sunsets, what you might not realize is that Albuquerque also has a number of small vineyards, including Casa Rondeña, which hosts a weekly pilates and wine class. And the best way to start Sunday Funday? YogaRitas (yoga + margaritas) in the park at El Pinto. Every Sunday, Sydney Fontaine Forestal leads a donation-based, free-flowing yoga class. You can even order margaritas straight to your mat! Looking to get away? Spend a night or two at Los Poblanos, a historic inn and organic farm that grows heirloom and native crops, which are then served to hungry guests at the property’s field-to-fork restaurant. Need a good laugh? You’ll never believe this hilarious New Mexico state law.
Alaska? Isn’t it cold there? Yes, but Alaska boasts 17 national parks and its capital, Anchorage, offers access to five of its most spectacular you’ll find anywhere—including Wrangell-Saint Elias. At 13.2 million acres, it’s the largest national park in the country. To give you an idea of just how enormous that is, its footprint is that of Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Switzerland put together! The sprawling landscape is a paradise for hikers and mountaineers who come to climb Mount Saint Elias (the second highest peak in the U.S.) and Mount Wrangell (one of the largest active volcanoes in North America). Another of the park’s most impressive elements is Malaspina Glacier, which covers more than 1,000 square miles. That’s bigger than the state of Rhode Island! Anchorage is also Alaska’s most populous city and its cultural hub. Between the acclaimed Anchorage Museum and local events calendar (many of which are free), there’s plenty to keep both residents and visitors busy. Browse the best free tourist attraction in every state.
It should come as no surprise that the birthplace of Whole Foods is teaming with healthy fare. First up, head to Franklin Barbecue to sink your teeth into hormone- and antibiotic-free brisket. While you’re in town, be sure to swing by Snap Kitchen for some bison quinoa hash and Fresa’s for a Power Bol, packed with agave-lime chicken, greens, adobo chickpeas, sweet potato, avocado, and roasted cauliflower. Beyond great grub, Austin is one the fastest growing cities in the nation and a major wellness destination. Lake Austin Spa Resort recently debuted Ripple Effects, a series of activities—from morning dockside meditation and aqua zumba in the pool barn to lakeside group fitness classes and sunset paddle board outings—that lets resort-goers experience the benefits of being in, on, or around the water. The first week of each month, the Westin Austin Downtown does Lean ’17, a 5-day program that allows guests to partake in guided runs, juicing classes, and more… for free! Don’t worry, if you can’t make it then, you can still take advantage of the hotel’s ongoing wellness package—or try one of these wellness retreats around the country.
Berkeley a mecca of mindfulness, yoga, and meditation. (It’s also home to the uber-impressive UC Berkeley Library system.) If natural serenity is more your style, consider a hike and picnic in Cesar Chavez Park or Tilden Regional Park. Spend some time strolling along Fourth Street, a charming stretch of boutiques and cafes. Stop into Project Juice for a superfood smoothie or acai bowl. Stay at the iconic Claremont Club & Spa. In addition to 276-recently renovated guest accommodations and The Fairmont Spa—complete with 32 treatment rooms, saline whirlpools, deluge showers, and eucalyptus steam rooms—resort’s private club offers members and hotel guests access to a state-of-the-art fitness center, daily exercise classes, tennis courts, and three swimming pools.
Boulder is consistently rated among the healthiest areas to live (a far cry from these worst-ranked cities). In addition to clean air and pristine drinking water, it also has excellent schools and plethora of family-friendly activities, making it an ideal place to raise kids. And there’s no shortage of ways to embrace the outdoors. Adrenaline junkies can get their fix with rocking climbing, hiking, and skiing. Plus, there are tons of cycling and running trails. A continued focus on holistic health is another thing that makes this community so special. You’ll find numerous yoga studios, acupuncture clinics, as well as both medicinal and marijuana centers. Looking for a place to stay? Visitors call the St Julien “a wonderful place for relaxation and pampering.” Be sure to make an appointment at the hotel’s acclaimed 1,000-square foot spa. Try one of the signature treatments like Canyon Rain, a purifying ritual that kicks off with a white tea tree and ginger foot polish, followed by a sugar scrub and scalp stimulation, and ends with a detoxifying 50-minute massage.
Durham, North Carolina
Though once the capital of the American tobacco industry, today Durham is a shining example of evolution. (Here are some fascinating facts about our nation that they don’t teach in school.) The city is home to Duke University, and having such a prestigious institution does have its benefits—notably Duke Health, which integrates the university’s schools of medicine, nursing, and health policy with member hospitals, clinics, and research and is renowned as one of the best healthcare systems in the country. Durham has a lot to discover beyond Duke: Downtown is filled with shops, galleries, and restaurants and mild climate that makes exploring on foot (nearly) a year-round possibility. Planning your itinerary? A walking tour is a must-do!
Henderson may be just 16 miles southeast of Las Vegas, but it feels a world away from the casinos, clubs, and constant sensory overload of Sin City. The crown jewel of the area is the 180-mile trail system with its diversity of routes to suit trekkers of all levels. Experts can challenge themselves with Black Mountain 404 Trail, a leg-burning, 7.6-mile climb. Once you reach the summit, give yourself a rest (and perhaps some water), while gazing out over Las Vegas Valley. Looking for something a bit less intense and time intensive? Tour the 25-foot-wide tunnels and rocky roads along the Historic Railroad Trail. If you’re looking to unwind, we’d recommend eschewing the accommodations along the strip. Instead, stay at The Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort & Spa. Don’t let the name fool you, this lake-front retreat is removed from the hustle and bustle of downtown. Relish in a massage or facial at Aveda Spa Lago, play 18-holes at the Jack Nicklaus signature golf course, or savor Wagyu beef and sushi-grade fish at the resort’s award-winning restaurant, Marssa.
Milwaukee may be best known for its beer, but it also has 15,000 acres of public parkland and plenty of trails, perfect for a stroll, run, or ride. Milwaukee also has the distinction of having hosted the USA Triathlon three years in a row! Cyclists can ride Oak Leaf Trail, a paved pathway that stretches from the lakefront through wooded areas along the Milwaukee River, while the Hank Aaron State Trail takes you west to Wauwatosa through reclaimed green spaces in the formerly industrial Menomonee River Valley. In the warmer months, consider renting a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard from Milwaukee Kayak Company. You can join a guided trek or explore the city at your leisure. Need some R&R? Try out the sensory deprivation tanks at Float Milwaukee. When it’s time to recharge, settle in at the Kimpton Journeyman Hotel. Find out the most bike-friendly city in every state.
One of Newton’s main selling points is its proximity to Boston—just seven miles outside of the city. This means that residents can experience all the restaurants, shops, historic sites, arts, and culture that Beantown has to offer and then return to the peace and quiet of the suburbs. Another draw is access to quality healthcare. The area has dozens of top-notch hospitals and almost double the national average of physicians per capita. Locals love to exercise as evidenced by the abundance exercise studios, like Cardio High, CorePower Yoga, and Modern Barre, and in-shape inhabitants. Find out which metro area was ranked the fittest in the country.
Overland Park, Kansas
There are so many things that attract residents to Overland Park—not to mention why it consistently lands on “best quality of life” lists. Starting with its temperate climate and availability of farm-fresh ingredients. If you’re going between April and November, stop by the Overland Park Farmers’ Market for produce, free-range meats, and homemade condiments. It’s also has a great school system, an attractive downtown area, tons of entertainment options, and impressive recreational facilities, including the Scheels Overland Park Soccer Complex, complete with 12 regulation-size synthetic turf fields and state-of-the-art amenities.
You can’t talk about Phoenix without mentioning the sun (or the need for SPF—here are some great ones that dermatologists use on themselves.!). This desert paradise enjoys more than 325 sunny days each year. Phoenix is a sprawling oasis of luxury resorts, scenic hiking trails, and cacti gardens. And while the terrain may be arid, the golf courses are as green as anywhere on earth. People come from all over to play world-class greens like Troon North and The Boulders. The area is also famed for its luxury resorts—five-star standouts include the Arizona Biltmore, Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale, and Royal Palms—and award-winning spas. Those seeking zen won’t want to miss Sanctuary Resort & Spa, a 53-acre haven of holistic health complete with an Asian-inspired spa and meditation garden. Phoenix is just one of the affordable U.S. cities to add to your travel bucket list.
Portland is a foodie and coffee hot spot, due in large part to the bounty of fresh produce, meats, and seafood readily available the Pacific Northwest. Standout restaurants include Urban Farmer, a modern farm-to-table steakhouse specializing in sustainable ingredients like grass-fed Oregon beef, and Departure, a sleek pan-Asian restaurant and lounge with both vegan and gluten-free menus—both share a rooftop garden and apiary for hyper-local honey. You’ll also find hives at Hotel Lucia and Hotel deLuxe, which you sample at the property’s landmark cocktail lounge, the Driftwood Room. And at the Nines hotel guests get complimentary access to a workout closet, stocked with NikeFuel bands, yoga mats, soccer balls, and more. P-Town also likes to pedal. The city has 350 miles of bikeways and the fact that 7.2 percent of commuters cycle to work (the highest of any large metropolitan area in the country). Wondering how Portlandians de-stress? A trip to local soak spot Common Ground Wellness Center. Wind down with a water-heated stone massage or acupressure session at Knot Springs. And don’t forget to take advantage of the hot, tepid and cold pools, steam room, and sauna.
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Many people reading this have probably never even heard of Sioux Falls, but this hidden gem is a hub of healthy living. For starters, the air quality ranks well above the national average and a recent survey sound that South Dakota is the least-sleep deprived state. That said, frigid temps—the average in January is six degrees—do preclude residents and travelers from spending too much time outside during winter. Luckily, a wealth of locally-owned, boutique fitness studios means that you can workout year-round. And no matter what type of exercise you prefer, you’ll find it in Sioux Falls. Yogis will love heated flow at Santosha Hot Yoga. FORM offers both group fitness and private training sessions. Looking to sweat it out? Try hot sculpt yoga with dumbbells at AMT (Amy Miller Training). Before you begin a new workout, read up on these 12 must-follow rules to set yourself up for success.
St. Petersburg, Florida
Set on Florida’s Gulf Coast, St. Petersburg attracts sun-seekers with its year-round bikini weather, white-sand beaches, and 361 days of sunshine (which means you’ll need to pack your SPF). As expected, there are lots of water sports, such as speed boating, paddle boarding, windsurfing, and kiteboarding. For nature enthusiasts, there’s Fort de Soto Park. Made up of five interconnected islands, spanning 1,136 acres of wetlands, tidal pools, mangroves, and palm forests. Travelers with fitness in mind can walk, run, or bike Pinellas Trail, a 38-mile trail and linear park built atop an abandoned railroad. Afterwards, cool down with a fresh-pressed juice at Karma Juice Bar & Eatery. Don’t forget to carve out a couple of hours to check out Locale Market (voted one of the 10 best food halls in America) and grab a bite at FarmTable Cucina upstairs. And when it comes to accommodations, visitors rank Kimpton Hotel Zamora, The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club, and The Don CeSar Hotel among their favorites.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
A comfortable climate, sunny skies, and pristine beaches make this coastal community one the top-trending summer travel destinations. One of the most recognizable landmarks is the boardwalk, which stretches three miles and features walkways to the water’s edge, public restrooms, and separate paths for cyclists and pedestrians. The new Hillier Ignite Fitness Park is equipped with rope, rings, pull up bars, balance beams, and a slack line. Classes at Oceanfront Yoga offer a peaceful environment to practice on the city’s calming shores. And while the beach may be the main attraction, it’s only the beginning. While people may go for the sand and surf, they stay (and return time and time again) for the myriad restaurants and recreational activities, like First Landing State Park with its 20 miles of trails and 2,888 acres of land to hike, camp, swim, bike, and reconnect with nature. Looking for an Instagram-worthy photo op? Check out King Neptune, a twenty-four-foot bronze statue that resides at the entrance to Neptune Festival Park.