2021’s Best Cities for Spring Outdoor Activities

With a spring unlike any other, an alternative spring break might be in order—and no, we don’t mean volunteering.

We mean getting outside, the best alternative to a vaxication, virtual wellness days, or travel in general.

But not all U.S. cities are equally built for a good time in nature.

To help Americans plan a fun but safe outdoor adventure, Lawnstarter ranked the 200 biggest U.S. cities based on 17 key factors. They include, for example, the number of public gardens, trails, and campsites; walkability; and amount of spring sunshine.

Check out the top outdoor spring destinations (and the ones to keep off your shortlist) below, followed by some highlights and lowlights.

Best Outdoor Cities for Spring


1 San Francisco, CA

2 Portland, OR

3 Honolulu, HI

4 Mesa, AZ

5 Washington, DC

6 Tucson, AZ

7 Los Angeles, CA

8 Long Beach, CA

9 Huntington Beach, CA

10 Las Vegas, NV

Worst Outdoor Cities for Spring


191 Joliet, IL

192 Kansas City, KS

193 Little Rock, AR

194 Birmingham, AL

195 Anchorage, AK

196 Metairie, LA

197 Jackson, MS

198 Winston-Salem, NC

199 Olathe, KS

200 Naperville, IL

Highlights and Lowlights:

West Is Best

While the top 50 Best Cities for Spring Outdoor Activities are all over the map, nine of the top 10 are from Western and Pacific states. For example, Honolulu ranked high in climate categories, and Portland received high marks in a multitude of categories, including bike score and number of trails.

Lawnstarter’s top city for springtime outdoor activities is San Francisco, with an impressive walk score and number of attractions, among other attributes. With plenty of trails, activities, and sunshine, the West Coast really is the best region for enjoying the best this season has to offer.

The Nation’s Capital—Of Walking

While most of our top cities are out west, there was one standout city back east: Washington, D.C. Washington is the most walkable city in America and outperformed in bike score, number of attractions, and number of public gardens.

And don’t forget the cherry blossoms that draw people from all over in springtime to Washington, D.C. While the District was slightly held back by its crime rate and low amount of spring sunshine, it’s still a capital spot for an outdoor spring on the entire East Coast.

Springing Out of the South

Cities across the South landed in the bottom of our ranking, often losing points on metrics in the weather and visitor-friendliness categories.

Jackson, Mississippi, for example, ranks near the bottom on walk score and pedestrian fatalities. Metairie, Louisiana, has the second rainiest spring in the country. And Little Rock, Arkansas, has one of the worst bike scores of any U.S. city.

Our full ranking and analysis can be found here: https://www.lawnstarter.com/blog/studies/best-cities-for-spring/.