Have you ever wondered how your hometown compares to the rest of the country when it comes to quality of life? As part of the Gallup Healthcare State of American Well-Being series, experts ranked communities across the United States based on health and happiness. Gallup researchers conducted 354,473 telephone interviews with adults in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The interviews were analyzed by physical, emotional, financial, and social health.
“Where you live can impact your health and well-being. Innovative leaders are transforming their communities to create improvements in how people socialize, work, eat, play and move. These changes are empowering citizens to make healthier choices, be more productive and have better quality of life,” said project manager Michael Acker.
The following are the top ten communities ranked in the Community Well-Being Index.
Known for its white sandy beaches, it is no big surprise that Naples tops this list for the second year in a row. The community has an abundance of outdoor activities and average temperatures of 77 degrees. With unobstructed views of the Gulf of Mexico, it is easy to imagine how residents here have the lowest stress levels in the country.
Barnstable Town, Massachusetts
The largest community on Cape Cod ranks number 2 on the list of the country’s happiest and healthiest places to live. Featuring picture perfect oceanside villages, Barnstable Town is littered with breathtaking historical sites, charming cottages, and old taverns. Some of the most popular activities for tourists are sightseeing and whale-watching tours.
Santa Cruz, California
The laid-back beach town of Santa Cruz ranks number 3 on the list. Santa Cruz is a popular family vacation destination with incredibly diverse attractions. From The Boardwalk amusement park to the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, there are seemingly unlimited things to do. Perhaps this is why residents here are happier and healthier than most of the country.
Known for Waikiki Beach and Mai Tais, this is undoubtedly one of the most unique areas in the country. Honolulu is the largest city in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. With breathtaking views of stunning landscapes, it is not hard to understand how close to a million Honolulu County residents are ranked high on the list for their general well-being.
North Port – Sarasota – Bradenton, Florida
This tri-city region is also one of the country’s happiest communities, which may explain why it is the 10th fastest-growing metropolitan area in the United States. Located on the Gulf Coast of Southwest Florida, this region is known for its cultural attractions including museums, free outdoor concerts, and unique restaurants. The natural beauty of Manatee and Sarasota counties draws visitors in and they never want to leave.
Flagstaff Mountain, a foothill on the eastern flank of the Rocky Mountains in Boulder, is a major hiking destination. Eldorado Canyon State Park is lush with natural attractions and opportunities for outdoor activities. With an arboretum and plenty of museums, it’s no wonder Boulder boasts such a high quality of life.
San Luis Obispo, CA
Residents of this California coastal city enjoy wine tasting, surfing the Pacific Ocean, hiking a multitude of trails along the Coast Range, as well as zip lining and biking. Along with a fabulous night life, which includes fine dining and concerts in the plaza, the city also offers botanical gardens, farmers markets, and Hearst Castle to enjoy in the sunshine.
Fort Collins, CO
Stand-up paddleboarding, river rafting, and tubing are popular activities in Fort Collins, but not for the faint at heart. The 126 mile long river Cache La Poudre is also frequented for fishing. Spring Canyon Community Park, Reservoir Ridge Natural Area, and City Park all offer tranquil and beautiful locales for walking and sightseeing.
Hilton Head Island, SC
Beaches, kayaking and fishing spots, tennis and golf courses, great schools, kid-friendly communities, and lots of bike paths and parks all make this city one of the highest ranked with regard to happy and healthy lifestyles.
Beautiful lakes, hiking trails, and historical parks provide plenty of outdoor activities for folks in this city. Wildlife conservatories, bird sanctuaries, and sled dog races offer sightseeing opportunities for visitors and animal lovers. Anchorage may be too cold to be considered everybody’s cup of tea, but the residents certainly seem to enjoy healthy and happy lifestyles.
By Chrissy Sexton and Darryl Joseph, Earth.com Staff Writers