- A recent study released by WalletHub ranks the top 182 happiest cities in the United States. We took a look at the top 50.
- The top three include Madison, Wisconsin; Irvine, California; and Plano, Texas.
- Aside from North Carolina and Florida, the top 50 happiest cities are located mainly in the midwest or on the west coast.
- The majority were found in California and Texas, with 14 and eight cities respectively.
On a list of cities ranked by three main categories – emotional & physical well-being, income & employment, and community & environment – Texas accounted for eight of the top 50. Other notable mentions include locations in Arizona, Hawaii, and many across the midwest. California swept the ranking, totaling 14 cities in the top 50. The Golden State performed similarly in last year’s report, and even clinched the No. 1 spot.
Read more: The 30 happiest cities in the US, ranked
To complete the report, WalletHub compared 182 of the nation’s largest cities and evaluated them on the three main categories mentioned above. These categories were evaluated using weighted metrics – ranging from adequate-sleep rate to hate crime incidents per capita – and then graded on a 100-point scale. These weighted averages were then used to calculate final scores before ordering cities from least to greatest.
50 (TIE). Arlington, Texas
Total score: 61.73
Arlington is about 20 miles west of Dallas. The city is home to the University of Texas at Arlington. The median age of residents is 32.3 and as of 2017, the average home price was $US213,888.
Source: Arlington, Texas
50 (TIE). El Paso, Texas
Total score: 61.73
El Paso is located near the Franklin Mountains, and surrounding areas include four Texas State Parks. The city borders Mexico on the Rio Grande, along with the state of New Mexico. As the westernmost point in Texas, it is over 500 miles from both San Antonio and Austin.
48. Aurora, Colorado
Total score: 61.83
Located nine miles from the capital city Denver, Aurora is Colorado’s third-largest city. It is situated across three counties, and is listed as one of the safest large cities in America.
47. Garland, Texas
Total score: 61.86
Located 19 miles outside of Dallas, Garland is home to the Firewheel Town Center, which includes over 100 shops and restaurants. Residents can also enjoy an arts center for local theatre and visual art exhibits.
46. Boise, Idaho
Total score: 61.94
Boise is the capital and most populous city in the state of Idaho. It is only 11 miles from the next largest city, Meridian. Located on the Boise River, the city is home to Boise State University.
45. Port St. Lucie, Florida
Total score: 61.96
Port St. Lucie is on the eastern coast of Florida, about 50 miles north of West Palm Beach. As of 2016, it was the eighth-biggest city in Florida, with just under 200,000 residents.
Source: Port St. Lucie
44. Peoria, Arizona
Total score: 62.30
Peoria is a major suburb of Phoenix – it’s about 13 miles northwest of Phoenix. As of 2016, the city had a population of roughly 160,00 and is home to Lake Pleasant Regional Park, a 23,000-acre park with two marinas.
43. Burlington, Vermont
Total score: 62.31
Burlington is in the northwestern part of Vermont, about 45 miles south of the Canadian border. As of 2012, the city had a population of 42,000. The town is also home to the University of Vermont.
42. Fort Worth, Texas
Total score: 62.35
Fort Worth is about 30 miles west of Texas and, according to its website, boasts more than 92 attractions in the 10-mile downtown radius. The city welcomes 9.1 million tourists a year and is the youngest city in Texas, with an average age of 31.5
Source: Forth Worth
41. Denver, Colorado
Total score: 62.41
The capital of Colorado, the “Mile High City” boasts 300 days of sunshine a year. The city has a population of 682,000 and offers easy access to a variety of ski resorts beyond the city.
40. Garden Grove, California
Total score: 62.70
Garden Grove is about 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles. The city is home to the annual Strawberry Festival – one of the largest community festivals in the western US.
Source: Garden Grove
39. Tempe, Arizona
Total score: 62.80
Tempe is 11 miles east of Phoenix. The city is home to Arizona State University and has a vibrant arts center.
38. Billings, Montana
Total score: 62.82
Billings is in southern Montana and had, as of 2017, a population of just under 110,000. It is the biggest city in Montana.
37. Oakland, California
Total score: 63.16
Oakland lies just east of San Francisco. As of 2017, the city had a population of roughly 425,000 people.
36. Lincoln, Nebraska
Total score: 63.43
Lincoln, the capital of Nebraska, had a population of about 280,000 as of 2016. The city is home to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Source: City Data
35. Omaha, Nebraska
Total score: 63.50
Omaha is the biggest city in Nebraska; the metro area has a population of over 900,000. The city is home to one of the longest pedestrian bridge projects ever constructed.
Source: Visit Omaha
34. Oceanside, California
Total score: 63.82
Oceanside is about 40 miles north of San Diego. The city has 3.5 miles of beach and a 1,000 boat slip harbour, and is also a popular surf spot.
33. Chandler, Arizona
Total score: 63.83
Chandler is about 30 minutes southeast of Phoenix, making it a great suburb for those moving away from the capital’s city center. Its population is around 250,000, and – despite its suburban location – the city still has a bustling downtown area.
32. Santa Clarita, California
Total score: 64.00
Santa Clarita is a 40-minute drive from Los Angeles, and is home to both Six Flags Magic Mountain and Hurricane Harbour attractions. The city has over 213,000 residents, making it the third-largest city in Los Angeles County.
31. Irving, Texas
Total score: 64.07
Located 20 minutes from Dallas and 30 minutes from Forth Worth, Irving had a population of over 230,000 as of 2017. Established in the early 20th century, the city is named after author Washington Irving.
30. Des Moines, Iowa
Total score: 64.17
Des Moines is both the capital and largest city of Iowa. The city is about a two-hour drive from both Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. Des Moines is also the third largest major insurance center in the world.
29. Honolulu, Hawaii
Total score: 64.21
Honolulu is both the capital and largest city of the Hawaiian Islands, located on Oahu. The only Hawaiian city with a population over 50,000, the area is home to both Waikiki Beach and United States naval base Pearl Harbour.
28. Pembroke Pines, Florida
Total score: 64.51
Located about 19 miles from Fort Lauderdale and 23 miles from Miami, Pembroke Pines is home to over 160,000 residents. The city borders the Everglades, and is also situated between two major highways.
27. Chula Vista, California
Total score: 64.54
The second-largest city in San Diego County, Chula Vista is a 15-minute drive from San Diego’s city center. The city – whose name means “Beautiful View” – is home to over 268,000 residents.
26. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Total score: 64.8
The capital of Minnesota, Minneapolis is 12 miles from Saint Paul, the state’s second-largest city by population and the other half of the Twin Cities metro area. Along with art museums and concert venues, the city is home to major sports teams and their arenas, such as the Minnesota Vikings, Twins, and Wild.
25. Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Total score: 64.90
Located 30 minutes from college town Iowa City and almost 2 hours from capital Des Moines, Cedar Rapids is the second-largest city in the state with a population of over 132,000.
24. Cape Coral, Florida
Total score: 64.96
Cape Coral is located just 20 minutes outside Fort Myers, and 40 minutes from Snivel Island. The city has over 400 miles of canals, alongside golf courses and parks for other outdoor activities.
23. Raleigh, North Carolina
Total score: 64.99
The capital of North Carolina, Raleigh was established in 1792 and is home to many historic attractions. It is the second-largest city in the state, with a population of over 485,000, behind Charlotte.
22. Anaheim, California
Total score: 65.02
Located in the Los Angeles area, Anaheim is home to two major sports teams and Disneyland, the original theme park designed by Walt Disney. The most populous city in Orange County, Anaheim currently boasts a population of over 350,000.
21. Gilbert, Arizona
Total score: 65.07
Like Chandler, Gilbert is a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona. While the city is four hours from the Grand Canyon, the area still offers plenty of outdoor activities, along with art exhibits and restaurants downtown. The last recorded population shows a total of over 208,000 residents.
20. Charleston, South Carolina
Total score: 65.48
Full of beach areas such as Seabrook Island, Charleston is about a two-hour drive from the state capital and second-largest city, Columbia. The city currently has a population of 775,000, and earned awards from both Condé Nast Travel and Travel + Leisure last year.
19. Saint Paul, Minnesota
Total score: 65.79
The smaller half of the Twin Cities, Saint Paul is located roughly 12 miles from its sister location, Minneapolis. The city is home to the University of Minnesota Saint Paul Campus and over 304,000 total residents.
18. San Diego, California
Total score: 66.01
Home to many lively neighbourhoods including the Gaslamp District, Balboa Park, and Coronado Beach, San Diego is the largest city in its county. The city is located 120 miles from Los Angeles, and only 20 miles from Tijuana, Mexico.
17. Glendale, California
Total score: 66.25
A city in Los Angeles County, Glendale is situated between Burbank and Pasadena. It is roughly nine miles from downtown Los Angeles, and the last census shows a total of over 191,000 residents.
16. Pearl City, Hawaii
Total score: 66.77
Pearl City’s main attraction is Pearl Harbour, located on its shoreline. Pearl City is considered a part of Honolulu on the island of Oahu and has a population of over 47,000 residents.
15. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Total score: 66.97
Sioux Falls is South Dakota’s largest city, located about three hours from the capital Pierre and about five hours from Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Located on the Big Sioux River, the city has a population of over 180,000.
14. Austin, Texas
Total score: 67.16
Austin is closest to San Antonio but is still less than three hours away from Dallas and Houston. Considered the Live Music Capital of the World, Austin is the state’s fourth-largest city and continues to have a growing arts community. It is also home to the flagship University of Texas campus, commonly referred to as UT Austin.
13. Santa Rosa, California
Total score: 67.18
Located in the heart of California’s Wine Country, Santa Rosa is 98 miles from Sacramento and 55 miles from San Francisco. Santa Rosa has approximately 175,000 residents, and also houses the Charles M. Schulz Museum, dedicated to the “Peanuts” comic strip creator.
12. Overland Park, Kansas
Total score: 67.37
Overland Park is Kansas’ second-largest city after Wichita. It is just a twenty-minute drive from the latter and has its own Arboretum & Botanical Gardens alongside other community spaces. Overland Park’s total population is around 200,000.
11. Bismarck, North Dakota
Total score: 67.38
Located in the center of the sparsely populated state, Bismarck is the capital and second-largest city in North Dakota. The city is a three-hour drive from the state’s largest city, Fargo, and is home to 70,500 residents.
10. San Francisco, California
Total score: 67.53
One of California’s most well-known cities, San Francisco is home to iconic sites such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz Island, Lombard Street, and the painted ladies houses. The median rent in San Francisco is around $US4,500 per month.
9. Scottsdale, Arizona
Total score: 68.24
Considered a part of the greater Phoenix area, Scottsdale is a 25-minute drive from the capital city center and less than 20 minutes from nearby Tempe. The city is home to plenty of shopping and restaurants in its Old Town section, along with popular Arizona adventure trips – such as raft and jeep tours – of surrounding areas. The city is also well known for its beautiful golf courses.
8. San Jose, California
Total score: 68.90
As the Capital of Silicon Valley, San Jose features over 6,600 tech headquarters, including Netflix and eBay. Tech giants Apple, Google, and Facebook are also located nearby in surrounding cities such as Menlo Park. San Jose is the state’s third-largest city, following Los Angeles and San Diego, and is located 55 miles from San Francisco.
7. Grand Prairie, Texas
Total score: 69.30
Grand Prairie is located directly between Forth Worth and Dallas and is less than a 25-minute drive from both cities. The city boasts a historic downtown area and has a population of close to 190,000.
6. Fargo, North Dakota
Total score: 69.57
Located on the North Dakota and Minnesota border, the city of Fargo sits on the Red River in Cass County. It is close to 200 miles from the next largest – and capital – city Bismarck. The town originated as a frontier settlement and its historic downtown is still home to its 93-year-old Fargo Theatre.
5. Huntington Beach, California
Total score: 69.74
Otherwise known as “Surf City USA,” Huntington Beach sits on 10 miles of coastline between Los Angeles and San Diego. Visitors can drive along Southern California’s famous Pacific Coast Highway for oceanfront views, as well as window shop in the city’s downtown area.
4. Fremont, California
Total score: 71.17
About 38 miles from San Francisco and only 17 miles from San Jose, Fremont is the fourth most populous city in the Bay Area with over 231,000 residents. Situated on the San Francisco Bay’s southeast side, the city is home to art galleries, farmers markets, and historic sites.
Source: City of Fremont, California
3. Madison, Wisconsin
Total score: 71.81
Located near five lakes and known for its winter weather, some of Madison’s popular attractions include its Capitol building and the University of Wisconsin main campus. It is about an hour-and-fifteen-minute drive from Milwaukee – the state’s largest city – and a two-and-a-half-hour-drive from Chicago, both of which sit on Lake Michigan. Madison’s highest category rank was for “Income & Employment.”
2. Irvine, California
Total score: 71.86
Located near Huntington and Newport beaches in Orange County, the city of Irvine includes over 16,000 acres of parks and open space. The FBI has considered Irvine “America’s Safest Big City” for over a decade, and the area is also home to a prestigious branch of the University of California system. The city received its highest score in the “Emotional & Physical Well-Being” category.
1. Plano, Texas
Total score: 72.30
A part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, Plano is home to over 283,000 residents, as well as the headquarters for companies such as Frito-Lay and Toyota North America. The city’s highest ranking category from the happiest cities report was for “Community and Environment.”
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