How Happy is Your City?

National Geographic  |   October 24, 2017

Boulder, Colo., is the happiest city in the U.S., according to the National Geographic Gallup Special/Blue Zones Index. The city’s sense of community, access to nature, sustainable urban development, preservation policies, and its clean mountain air help make its residents feel upbeat, according to the index. More people walk to work in Boulder than any other U.S. city per capita—the city has high rates of exercise and low rates of smoking and obesity. National Geographic and Gallup researchers teamed up to develop an index to assess happiness levels in American cities based on 15 metrics. According to the researches, some key aspects to a happy city include vacation time, civic engagement, financial security, and eating healthy. Researchers conducted nearly 250,000 interviews with adults from 2014 to 2015 in 190 metros. “There’s a high correlation between bikeability and happiness in a city—in Boulder, you’re more likely to hear the whoosh of a cyclist than the shrill of a siren compared to places like Dallas, Tallahassee, or Los Angeles,” says Dan Buettner, National Geographic bestselling author and researcher, in the analysis. “Cities like Boulder question the unquestioned virtues of development. This benefits visitors, who can experience an emphasis on greenery, a high-quality culinary community, limited marketing onslaught, and no billboards.” According to the National Geographic Gallup Special/Blue Zones Index, these are the happiest cities in the U.S.: Boulder, Colo. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif. Charlottesville, W.Va. Fort Collins, Colo. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, Calif. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. Provo-Orem, Utah Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn. Barnstable Town, Mass. Anchorage, Alaska Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, Fla. Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, Calif. Salinas, Calif. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Fla. Urban Honolulu, Hawaii

Source: National Geographic