The Best Cities To Take In Some Nature

While some may look for a getaway to a bustling city there are plenty of others who prefer the great outdoors. There are certain qualities to look for in a pleasant nature spot such as air quality, access to recreational activities, and the overall landscape.

Beautiful nature can be found almost anywhere, but there are some cities that need to be seen in person. So whether you want a relaxing stay at the beach, a cozy trip to the mountains, or a sun-filled desert adventure, these are the best cities for nature lovers.

Boulder, Colorado Brings The Sunshine

a cyclist on the side of a mountain in boulder, colorado
Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The high altitude city of Boulder, Colorado is surrounded by wondrous mountain peaks and sandstone slabs called Flatirons. Many outdoor enthusiasts come to Boulder to take in the view and participate in various recreational activities such as cycling, hiking, and rock climbing.

The landscape is picturesque during all months of the year with over 300 days of sunshine. Even during the snowy months, it’s common for the day to become warmer, so hikers can climb atop the trails of the snow-capped mountains. There are also over 60 parks and 151 public trails, so people can see nature at all angles.

See Nature In Seattle, Washington In An Unexpected Way

A general view of the Seattle Skyline and Mount Rainier from Kerry Park
Donald Miralle/Getty Images
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

There’s a reason why Seattle was nicknamed the Emerald City. It’s because they are able to have fresh greenery all year-round. Even though Seattle, Washington is one of the most populous cities in the United States it manages to have a lot of nature.

One of the most popular places to take in the outside world is the 534-acre Discovery Park. It’s filled with fresh wilderness, meadows, beaches, bluffs, mountain views, gigantic trees, and more. Those who prefer to see nature in a unique way may want to take a hot air balloon or helicopter tour of the city.

Portland, Oregon Has One Of The Largest Urban Parks

Pomeranian dog on the roof of a car in portland, oregon
Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images
Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images

There are several areas to explore nature in Portland, Oregon. It’s situated between the Pacific Ocean and the Cascade Mountains, which makes for numerous outdoor options. Forest Park happens to be one of the largest urban forests in the United States and includes over 80 miles of hiking trails with greenery and river views.

Portland has about 40 other state parks and eight beaches all wrapped up into only 5,100 acres, so there is plenty of space to view nature and not feel surrounded by other people.

Explore The Many Landscapes Of Auckland, New Zealand

four sheep on the grass in auckland, new zealand
Phil Walter/Getty Images
Phil Walter/Getty Images

Auckland, New Zealand was rated one of the top three most livable cities in the world and that may be due to it’s superb natural landscape. The city is a perfect balance of urban and country with everything being a short distance from beaches, islands, hiking trails, and more.

It’s easy to find lush rainforests, black-sand coves, vineyards, deep green forests, and sparkling bays. Many travel experts recommend going to Waiheke Island, Mount Eden, Rangitoto Island, and the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Movie fans may also want to check out the Hobbiton Movie Set where The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movies were filmed.

Enjoy These Seasonal Activities In Provo, Utah

nature in the high mountains of Provo, Utah
Mike Fanous/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Mike Fanous/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

One of the most scenic cities in Utah is Provo. It’s situated between the Wasatch Mountains and Utah Lake, which makes for an abundance of outdoor recreational activities. People can go biking and hiking during the spring and summer and downhill and cross-country skiing during the winter.

Provo Canyon has top-rated nature and parks according to Trip Advisor because it offers plenty of room for people to fish, raft, practice archery, go on picnics, and more all while taking in the waterfalls and tall mountain ranges. There are about eight state parks and four beaches to soak up some sun as well.

Don’t Miss This Famous Event In Albuquerque, New Mexico

a hilltop view of albuquerque, new mexico
Robert Alexander/Archive Photos/Getty Images
Robert Alexander/Archive Photos/Getty Images

The weather in Albuquerque, New Mexico is usually pretty comfortable in the spring, fall, and winter, but summers can be hot and dry. Those who are there during the autumn get to see the coveted Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta where hundreds of hot-air balloons are flown over the Rio Grande Valley.

Similar to Boulder, Colorado, Albuquerque also experiences around 300 sunny days per year, which provides outdoor enthusiasts with ample opportunities to spend their days in the sun. Some of the best places in Albuquerque to explore nature include the La Luz Trail, ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden, and Elena Gallegos Park.

How To Get Some Solitude In San Francisco, California

the golden gate bridge in san francisco, california
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

On average San Francisco, California gets 15 million visitors a year. They aren’t only there to check out the city views, but also to explore the numerous natural areas including the San Francisco Bay, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and Glen Canyon Park. Since the city is overcrowded these spots are able to create the illusion of some solitude.

A trip to San Francisco wouldn’t be complete without visiting Golden Gate Park. It is one of the largest urban parks in the world and is 20 percent bigger than Central Park and filled with lush green trees and adventurous hiking trails.

Spot Some Bald Eagles In Vancouver, Canada

A view of the skyline of downtown Vancouver, Canada
Christopher Morris/Corbis via Getty Images
Christopher Morris/Corbis via Getty Images

Colossal mountain ranges and clear blue water can be found in any direction you look in Vancouver, Canada. Both the mountains and the beaches are only a half-hour away from the downtown area, which makes it easy to get the best of the city and great outdoors.

Vancouver has a ton of public city, regional, and provincial parks to get people closer to nature. For example, Brackendale Eagles Provincial Park is the best place to spot bald eagles during the winter and Kitsilano Park comes with sandy beaches, grassy fields, an outdoor swimming pool, and basketball and tennis courts.

Alexandria, Virginia Has A Ton Of History

students walking into a barn in the forest of alexandria, virginia
Robert Alexander/Getty Images
Robert Alexander/Getty Images

According to Choice Hotels, Alexandria, Virginia is one of the most walkable cities in America. It makes up part of the Washington D.C. area along the Potomac River and is filled with tons of historic sites including the 17-mile Mount Vernon Trail that ends at George Washington’s house (pictured).

There is a total of 940 acres of parks and recreation areas with about 20 state parks and 19 nearby beaches. Nature lovers should also check out the Dora Kelley Nature Park where they can explore the preserve by going on the trails, visiting animals, or taking environmental classes.

Dive Right Into Jacksonville, Florida

An empty lifeguard chair with a
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Those who come to Jacksonville, Florida should expect to be spending a lot of their time at the beach. Of course, Jacksonville is also home to the largest urban park system in the United States with over 450 separate parks for people to enjoy.

Some popular outdoor activities include camping, fishing, surfing, and paddleboarding. This Florida city offers plenty of wildlife at the beaches, marshes, waterways, and woodlands. One spot that will get the attention of any adventure seeker is Timuncuan Ecological and Historic Preserve. It has over 46,000 acres where people can learn about 6,000 years of human history and see the salt marshes, coastal dunes, and more.

How Madison, Wisconsin Was Formed

Lake Mendota and the Wisconsin state capitol in Madison
Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Madison, Wisconsin sits on an isthmus, which means it’s completely surrounded by water. No matter where someone is in the city they will almost always have a clear view of the gorgeous blue water. The ancient landscape in Madison was actually formed by glaciers many years ago.

Travel experts urge visitors to come in the warmer seasons because the winters are usually cold and harsh. During those spring and summer months, people can go swimming at the lakes, take a stroll through the Olbrich Botanical Gardens, hit the trail at Cherokee Marsh, or gander at the “prairie-style” architecture.

The Must-See Wonders Of Reykjavik, Iceland

The capital city of Reykjavik, Iceland with traditional bright coloured rooves and snow-covered glacier mountains
Tim Graham/Getty Images
Tim Graham/Getty Images

Reykjavik, Iceland almost looks as if it came out of a storybook. The landscape is unlike most places around the world because of the deep canyons, mighty glaciers, volcanoes, lava fields, waterfalls, and more. One of the most thrilling sights is the Northern Lights.

These are the results of solar particles entering the earth’s magnetic field at high atmosphere. The lights usually appear as green, but can also change to purple, blue, orange, red, and pink. Those wanting to see them in person should visit Iceland from September to March because the nights are longer.

Minneapolis, Minnesota Has The Best Public Park System

a sculpture of a spoon holding a cherry at a park in minneapolis, minnesota
Raymond Boyd/Getty Images
Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

The City of Minneapolis states that people are never further than six blocks from a park, which is something that can be difficult in urban areas. Minneapolis isn’t short of waterfalls, lakes, and trails that are in place to keep people active and healthy all year long.

The Trust for Public Land mentioned that Minneapolis also has the best public park system in the country. There are also plenty of opportunities for people to educate themselves on the natural wildlife at places such as the Minnesota Zoo or the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory.

Manchester, New Hampshire Came A Long Way From Its Beginnings

city skyline in manchester, new hampshire
John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images
John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images

According to The Crazy Tourist, Manchester, New Hampshire is the 23rd best city to live in America. It centered in the middle of the New England area and began as a small mill town. When people spend their time outdoors in Manchester they usually choose to go to the lakes and rivers.

Lake Massabesic is one of the most beautiful lakes in New Hampshire and a fun spot for water activities such as kayaking, fishing, and paddleboarding. There are also several hiking trails where people can stretch their legs and look for some rare birds.

The Many Places To Explore In Reno, Nevada

a fisherman waist-deep in a river in reno, nevada
George Rose/Getty Images
George Rose/Getty Images

While Reno, Nevada may be famous for having multiple casinos and hotels, it actually is surrounded by a lot of nature. It makes up part of Lake Tahoe where people often go to ski during the colder months and participate in water activities during the warmer months.

Those who love animals may want to see the almost 20,000 wild mustangs and donkeys that live along the highways. If you’ve ever wanted to go to the moon, the Lunar Crater Volcanic Field resembles meteors with 20 inactive volcanoes. Also, be sure to check out the Sand Mountain Recreation Area where massive sand dunes were formed during the last ice age.

People From All Over Come To Willemstad, Curaçao

people at the beach in Willemstad, Curaçao
Daniel Slim/Getty Images
Daniel Slim/Getty Images

Willemstad, Curaçao is a Dutch Caribbean island known for its pastel-colored colonial architecture and 38 crystal-clear beaches. Visitors from all over the world come to snorkel and dive into the water to see the diverse marine life. The majority of Willemstad is actually undeveloped, which means there are plenty of outdoor areas where you won’t be crowded by others.

Not only do they have some secluded beaches, but their national parks are also worth seeing. Christoffel Park is the largest national park and wildlife preserve in Curaçao and has tons of cacti, rocky terrain, and dramatic cliffs.

Discover What The Desert Has To Offer In Phoenix, Arizona

people running near trees and cacti in phoenix, arizona
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

When in Phoenix, Arizona it’s almost impossible not to notice the towering cacti. The hot, dry climate mixed with the Southwestern landscape makes for a nature-friendly area for everyone to explore. One of the first places to go is the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve, which has tons of desert wildlife and hiking and biking trails.

More experienced hikers may want to go to Camelback Mountain at the Echo Canyon Recreation Area. The trails are made of sandstone and hikers often see tons of animals such as rabbits, snakes, lizards, birds, antelopes, and squirrels.

John Muir Loved This Part Of Juneau, Alaska

seals resting on icebergs in juneau, alaska
Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images
Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images

Juneau is the capital of Alaska and is known for its grand mountainous views that stretch around the entire city. It’s mostly become a port city for cruise ships but features many famous attractions and recreational areas. Fishing fanatics will love the Auke Bay Recreational Area equipped with great water spots, covered picnic areas, and a sloping gravel beach.

Those who want to see a real Alaskan glacier should head over to the Mendenhall Glacier in Tongass National Forest. It dates back 3,000 years ago during the Little Ice Age and was a favorite spot for John Muir.

Kauai, Hawaii Was Formed Over 70 Million Years Ago

View from an excursion boat of the Na Pali coast on the western side of the Hawaiian Island of Kauai, Hawaii
Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images
Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images

It’s a little tricky to see the Na Pali Coast in Kauai, Hawaii in person, but it can be done. The coastline is tucked away and can only be reached by helicopter, catamaran boat, or a vigorous hike through the lush green cliffs. Na Pali Coast was formed by volcanic eruptions over 70 million years ago.

The tropical landscape on Kauai sets itself apart because of the vibrant flora and fauna surrounding the island. After the Na Pali Coast, the white-sand beaches of Poipu and the deep valleys of Waimea Canyon are perfect places to see what nature has to offer.

Singapore, Malaysia Is The Greenest City In Asia

trees inside an airport with an indoor waterfall in singapore, malaysia
Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images
Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images

According to the Environmental Performance Index, Singapore, Malaysia is the greenest city in Asia. Singapore is an island surrounded by rich greenery and makes an effort to be environmentally conscious, especially due to its high population density.

People who want to see some nature don’t even need to leave the bustling city because there are numerous green buildings. For example, the Gardens by the Bay and the Jewel Changi Airport have vertical gardens that are almost 200-feet tall. Also, the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is one of the few forests left in Singapore with over 840 different plants and over 500 animal species.