These are the top 10 happiest places in the U.S.; here’s why

Two bicyclists peddle up Table Mesa Road with the Flatiron rock formation looming in the background in Boulder. Colo. Boulder ranked as the nation’s top happiest city, based in part on its bikability.
Caption
Two bicyclists peddle up Table Mesa Road with the Flatiron rock formation looming in the background in Boulder. Colo. Boulder ranked as the nation’s top happiest city, based in part on its bikability.

Credit: George Rose

Credit: George Rose

The happiest city in the United States just might surprise you, and the reasons it ranks at the top might surprise you even more.

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According to a National Geographic study, the happiest city in the country is Boulder, Colo.

The city has more than 300 miles of bike trails, and that's one of the reasons Boulder scored the top spot, according to one of the study's authors Dan Buettner.

Cities were evaluated using an index with 15 metrics, including healthy eating, learning something new every day, civic engagement, green spaces, limited development, financial security, vacation time and even dental checkups— metrics that the study authors said signal happiness.

Researchers talked with 250,000 people in 190 metro areas between 2014 and 2015, National Geographic reported, and discovered that Boulder is the happiest place in the country.

Boulder won based on a number of factors , including a sense of community, access to nature, sustainable urban development and preservation policies, National Geographic reported.

“Boulderites overwhelmingly feel ‘active and productive every day,’” Buettner said

More people walk to work in Boulder. The city has low rates of obesity and smoking, and high rates of exercise. Buetnner said all these factors contributed to why Boulder residents are the happiest people.

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Colorado scored another city in the top five with Fort Collins coming in 4th.

Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif., ranked number 2, Charlottesville, Va., placed third, and the San Luis Obispo-Paso, Robles-Arroyo Grande region in Calif., placed 5th.

Top 10 happiest cities in the U.S.:

1. Boulder, Colo.

2. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif.

3. Charlottesville, Va.

4. Fort Collins, Colo.

5. San Luis Obispo-Paso, Robles-Arroyo Grande, Calif.

6. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.

7. Provo-Orem, Utah

8. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn.

9. Barnstable Town, Mass.

10. Anchorage, Alaska

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