The Best Cities to Enjoy an Active Lifestyle

An active lifestyle is one that integrates physical activity into daily life. Sure, you can take the stairs instead of the escalator, or park a little farther away at the grocery store, but that's not going to cut it.

To really get active, you need access to places where you'll enjoy walking, running, biking, swimming or playing sports. You need a little inspiration - whether from nature, the people around you, or the fun you have doing activities.

You also need to be able to afford it, and you don't have a lot of time to spare to take two buses and a train just to get to a gym, a pickup game or a walking trail.

It's probably no surprise that some cities are more conducive to an active lifestyle than others. A city supports an active lifestyle by prioritizing things like parks, hiking trails, basketball and tennis courts, swimming pools and other facilities. Organized team sports in a community help kids and adults incorporate physical activity into their lives. Access to nature, whether mountains, lakes, woods or the ocean takes us out of the daily grind.

To determine the best cities for an active lifestyle, personal finance site Wallet Hub ranked the 100 biggest U.S. cities for their costs and availability of various facilities and activities. They also factored in walk score, bike score, air quality and weather (and weather isn't everything - some of the lowest ranking cities were in warm states such as Florida, California, Nevada, and Texas.)

Some of the metrics included were the cost and availability of: fitness clubs, sporting goods stores, bowling alleys, tennis courts, soccer fields, little league, volleyball courts, skate parks, ice skating rinks, dancing schools, bike rental facilities, playgrounds, golf courses, parklands, hiking trails, pickup soccer and basketball meetups, and proximity to a ski resort and major lake or ocean. WalletHub determined each city's weighted average across all metrics to calculate an active lifestyle score and used the resulting scores to rank the cities.

These are the best cities to enjoy an active lifestyle.

1. Honolulu
1. Honolulu

1. Honolulu

  • Cost and Participation Rank: 47
  • Sports and Outdoors Rank: 1

With its mild climate and plentiful beaches, it's probably no surprise that Honolulu tops the list for active lifestyles. The city is also among those with the most basketball hoops and most tennis courts per capita.

Photo: Shutterstock

2. Chicago
2. Chicago

2. Chicago

  • Cost and Participation Rank: 56
  • Sports and Outdoors Rank: 2

Along with Cleveland, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Tucson, Chicago has the most swimming pools per capita.

Photo: starmaro / Shutterstock

3. San Francisco
3. San Francisco

3. San Francisco

  • Cost and Participation Rank: 55
  • Sports and Outdoors Rank: 3

San Francisco ties with New York and San Diego for most fitness centers per capita, although the club fees are among the most expensive.

Photo: alexroch / Shutterstock

4. Portland, Ore.
4. Portland, Ore.

4. Portland, Ore.

  • Cost and Participation Rank: 1
  • Sports and Outdoors Rank: 7

Portland ranks No. 1 for lowest percentage of physically inactive residents.

Photo: Joshua Rainey Photography / Shutterstock

5. Seattle
5. Seattle

5. Seattle

  • Cost and Participation Rank: 26
  • Sports and Outdoors Rank: 5

Photo: Shutterstock

6. Minneapolis
6. Minneapolis

6. Minneapolis

  • Cost and Participation Rank: 12
  • Sports and Outdoors Rank: 9

Photo: Shutterstock

7. Washington, D.C.
7. Washington, D.C.

7. Washington, D.C.

  • Cost and Participation Rank: 28
  • Sports and Outdoors Rank: 6

Along with Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago, Philadelphia. and Tucson, Washington D.C. has the most swimming pools per capita.

Photo: Shutterstock

8. Denver
8. Denver

8. Denver

  • Cost and Participation Rank: 4
  • Sports and Outdoors Rank: 12
Denver is one of the cities with the fewest residents who are physically inactive.

Photo: Shutterstock

9. San Diego
9. San Diego

9. San Diego

  • Cost and Participation Rank: 27
  • Sports and Outdoors Rank: 8

San Diego ties with New York and San Francisco for most fitness centers per capita.

Photo: Shutterstock

10. Madison, Wis.
10. Madison, Wis.

10. Madison, Wis.

  • Cost and Participation Rank: 8
  • Sports and Outdoors Rank: 13

Madison ranks No. 3 for most playgrounds per capita.

Photo: Shutterstock

11. New York
11. New York

11. New York

  • Cost and Participation Rank: 93
  • Sports and Outdoors Rank: 4

New York tops several lists: Most playgrounds, most fitness centers and most basketball hoops per capita, though fitness club fees are among the most expensive in the nation.

Photo: Shutterstock

12. Philadelphia
12. Philadelphia

12. Philadelphia

  • Cost and Participation Rank: 39
  • Sports and Outdoors Rank: 11

Along with Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago, D.C. and Tucson, Philadelphia has the most swimming pools per capita. It also tops the list for basketball hoops.

Photo: Jana Shea / Shutterstock

13. Boston
13. Boston

13. Boston

  • Cost and Participation Rank: 44
  • Sports and Outdoors Rank: 10

Photo: Jaminnbenji / Shutterstock

14. Lincoln, Neb.
14. Lincoln, Neb.

14. Lincoln, Neb.

  • Cost and Participation Rank: 6
  • Sports and Outdoors Rank: 16

Photo: Ken Wolter / Shutterstock

15. Boise, Idaho
15. Boise, Idaho

15. Boise, Idaho

  • Cost and Participation Rank: 2
  • Sports and Outdoors Rank: 20

Pictured is the Bogus Basin ski area near Boise.

Photo: Shutterstock

16. Sacramento, Calif.
16. Sacramento, Calif.

16. Sacramento, Calif.

  • Cost and Participation Rank: 22
  • Sports and Outdoors Rank: 15

Photo: Dana Gardner / Shutterstock

17. Atlanta
17. Atlanta

17. Atlanta

  • Cost and Participation Rank: 11
  • Sports and Outdoors Rank: 18
Above, residents take part in a free group yoga class at the Old Fourth Ward Park in Atlanta in 2017.

Photo: BluIz60 / Shutterstock

18. Austin, Texas
18. Austin, Texas

18. Austin, Texas

  • Cost and Participation Rank: 42
  • Sports and Outdoors Rank: 14

Photo: Shutterstock

19. Tampa, Fla.
19. Tampa, Fla.

19. Tampa, Fla.

  • Cost and Participation Rank: 21
  • Sports and Outdoors Rank: 19
Photo: Mike Focus /Shutterstock

20. Las Vegas
20. Las Vegas

20. Las Vegas

  • Cost and Participation Rank: 5
  • Sports and Outdoors Rank: 31

Photo: Shutterstock

21. St. Paul, Minn.
21. St. Paul, Minn.

21. St. Paul, Minn.

  • Cost and Participation Rank: 24
  • Sports and Outdoors Rank: 21

Photo: Mark Herreid / Shutterstock

22. Reno, Nev.
22. Reno, Nev.

22. Reno, Nev.

  • Cost and Participation Rank: 3
  • Sports and Outdoors Rank: 34

Photo: Shutterstock

23. Irvine, Calif.
23. Irvine, Calif.

23. Irvine, Calif.

  • Cost and Participation Rank: 17
  • Sports and Outdoors Rank: 24

Photo: Shutterstock

24. Orlando, Fla.
24. Orlando, Fla.

24. Orlando, Fla.

  • Cost and Participation Rank: 13
  • Sports and Outdoors Rank: 26

Above, U.S. Navy veteran Javier Rodriguez serves during a wheelchair tennis semi-final at the Invictus Games in Orlando in 2016.

Photo: Roger Wollenberg/DoD

25. Los Angeles
25. Los Angeles

25. Los Angeles

  • Cost and Participation Rank: 48
  • Sports and Outdoors Rank: 17

Photo: Shutterstock

26. Milwaukee
26. Milwaukee

26. Milwaukee

  • Cost and Participation Rank: 20
  • Sports and Outdoors Rank: 25

Photo: Alena Mozhjer / Shutterstock

27. Cincinnati
27. Cincinnati

27. Cincinnati

  • Cost and Participation Rank: 18
  • Sports and Outdoors Rank: 28

Along with Cleveland, Philadelphia, Chicago, D.C. and Tucson, Cincinnati has the most swimming pools per capita.

Photo: Shutterstock

28. Omaha, Neb.
28. Omaha, Neb.

28. Omaha, Neb.

  • Cost and Participation Rank: 57
  • Sports and Outdoors Rank: 22

Photo: Mark W Lucey / Shutterstock

29. St. Louis
29. St. Louis

29. St. Louis

  • Cost and Participation Rank: 9
  • Sports and Outdoors Rank: 38

Of all the cities, St. Louis is among those with the lowest monthly fitness-club fees.

Photo: duckeesue / Shutterstock

30. Tucson, Ariz.
30. Tucson, Ariz.

30. Tucson, Ariz.

  • Cost and Participation Rank: 32
  • Sports and Outdoors Rank: 30

Tucson ties with Cleveland, Philadelphia, Chicago, D.C. and Cincinnati for the most swimming pools per capita.

See how other cities ranked, or learn more about the methodology of WalletHub's study.

Photo: Shutterstock

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