Whether you’re itching for a peaceful weekend getaway or hunting for a new hometown, one definitive list can make that decision a whole lot easier.
Releasing its annual "Happiest Cities in the U.S." list on Oct. 18, National Geographic crowned Boulder, Colo., as the cheeriest place to be. Reporting on analysis conducted using data from the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index, an effort led by their Research Director Dan Witters, the list was cultivated from almost 250,000 interviews with Americans from all over. The interviewees were polled on several factors including emotional, physical and financial wellness.
“My findings indicate that if you want to get happy, don’t try to change your belief system. Change your environment,” best-sellling travel author Dan Buettner said of the report.
Lauded for its gorgeous mountain setting, commitment to sustainability and strong sense of community, it’s logical that Boulder citizens would be happy people. The city is also famed for his frontier history, and serves as the home to the main campus of the University of Colorado.
It's not too crowded, either. The population of Boulder — settled in 1858 — currently rests at about 108,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Noting the close correlation between happiness and bike-ability in the rankings, Buettner added that Boulder’s fabulous bicycle access (over 300 miles of dedicated bikeways) certainly boosts its charm.
“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. Cities like Boulder question the unquestioned virtues of development,” he said.
Nevertheless, it takes time and effort to cultivate an all-around happy city, Buettner said.
“There’s a genesis to it. Enlightened leaders make conscious decisions to favor quality of life over economic development or political expediency,” he added.
Rounding out the second, third, fourth and fifith spots on NatGeo's list are: Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif.; Charlottesville, Va.; Fort Collins, Colo.; and San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles Arroyo Grande, Calif., respectively.
Boulder, here we come.