Seattle is named one of 25 of "America's best towns ever" for adventure and a culture that supports it. The list is detailed in the magazine's July 2017 issue.
Did you come to Seattle for the hiking, climbing, camping, sailing, paddling and mountain biking? Word has gotten around: Seattle is on Outside magazine’s list of 25 of “America’s best towns ever” for adventure and a culture that supports it. The list is detailed in the magazine’s July 2017 issue, on newsstands Tuesday.
Seattle was singled out as “Best Big City with Bona Fide Adventure.”
For the past five years, the magazine has asked its readers to choose a list of best adventure towns, but this year’s list was compiled by a “council of experts, ” said Outside’s Associate Editor Jonah Ogles.
“Thrill-seekers will never have to look too far in these spots, whether mountain climbing, whitewater rafting or conquering a singletrack trail,” Ogles said in a written release. In addition to adventure offerings, judges considered characteristics including lively food-and-drink scenes, a kid-friendly environment and whether people of all backgrounds are welcome.
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The magazine offers this description of Seattle:
Best Big City with Bona Fide Adventure: Seattle is almost entirely surrounded by water. Then there are the mountains. The Cascades to the east top out at 14,411-foot Mount Rainier, while views of the Olympics to the west can be had from your deck (median household income: $71,000).
Others on the list, and what the magazine has to say about them:
- Best Multi-Sport Town: Bend, Oregon: Bend is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country for a few reasons; it has a whitewater park right in town. Nearby, Mount Bachelor has an expanded downhill bike park – and got a new lift last winter, which opened up 600 acres. Additionally, 150 miles of trails have been built in the Deschutes National Forest in the past decade (median household income: $53,000).
- Best Top-End Food in Zero-Degree Weather: Portland, Maine: Mainers are a hardy bunch. Portland, with its winter sea kayakers in Casco Bay, third-generation lobstermen, and lawyers commuting to work on Nordic skis, is no exception (median household income: $46,000).
- Best Unsung Mountain Town: Salida, Colorado: Salida’s residents share 100 miles of premier whitewater, gold-medal trout fishing, seemingly endless alpine singletrack, a ski hill (800-acre Monarch Mountain is 30 minutes from town), and wood-fired-pizza restaurants that serve craft beer – all located roughly 140 miles from traffic-snarled Denver (median household income: $41,000).
- Best Paddling in the Gulf: Saint Petersburg, Florida: Life is lived on the water in this old-school Gulf Coast town. You don’t even have to leave the city limits to kayak through Weedon Island Preserve, a 3,000-acre wildlife refuge with a resident population of roseate spoonbills and a well-marked four-mile water trail (median household income: $46,000).
- Best Climbing Hamlet to Call Home Before It’s Too Late: Bishop, California: Rock rats have long traveled to Bishop for year-round sport climbing, but it’s also a great place to live if you’ve been priced out of other mountain towns like Mammoth (median household income: $41,000).
- The Shoo-in: Charleston, South Carolina: In Charleston, you’ll take time to shuck oysters, ride bikes with your kids through swamps and mossy oaks, and linger over a low-country sunset (median household income: $56,000).
- Best Combination of Mountains and Margaritas: Santa Fe, New Mexico: For a town designed to blend in – a city ordinance requires that buildings look like earthen adobe structures – Santa Fe sure stands out. It’s hard to be inconspicuous when you’re a 7,000-foot-high state capital with 300 days of sunshine, an adjacent 350-square-mile wilderness area, and five French bakeries (median household income: $41,500).
- Best River Town: Grand Rapids, Michigan: The entire state is on rebound, and no city offers better proof of that than Grand Rapids. The medical mile — which includes research institutes, a Michigan State University campus, and hospitals – interjected billions of dollars into the economy and created thousands of high-paying jobs (median household income: $40,000).
- The Shoo-in: Missoula Montana: Montana has no shortage of places circled by mountains, trails and trout-stuffed rivers, but none match Missoula, where loggers, guides, CSA-loving parents, ranchers and University of Montana students all blend together (median household income: $41,500).
- The Best Rebirth of the American Dream: Dayton, Ohio: Cultural vibrancy has returned in places like the artsy Oregon district and the Second Street Market. But what people find outside town is the real draw – hundreds of miles of hiking trails, 60 miles of mountain-biking track (10 of them within city limits), and 400 miles of waterways in the Miami River valley (median household income: $28,000).
- Best Mix of Barbecue and Biking: Kansas City, Missouri: Don’t laugh: Kansas City might be the most livable city in the country. It has a newly revamped downtown, a low cost of living, and emerging food and art scenes (median household income: $46,000).
- Best Southern Renaissance: Birmingham, Alabama: Why is a city in Alabama on this list? Easy: It’s the latest southern belle to reinvent itself as a place where the food industry and outdoor access collide (median household income: $31,000).
- Best Makeover from Pit Stop to Playground: Spearfish, South Dakota: Located at the mouth of a Black Hills canyon, the town remains a rarely visited wonder. But the good news is spreading due to mountain-biking events like the Dakota Five-O, a grueling 50-mile race over Black Hills singletrack that starts and ends at Spearfish (median household income: $43,000).
- The Shoo-In: Austin, Texas: Over the past decade, so many hipsters have migrated to the Texas capital that the population has swelled to more than 2 million in the metro area (median household income: $58,000).
- Best Summer Day: Asheville, North Carolina: Just when you think this small North Carolina town has reached peak cool, more chefs receive James Beard Award nominations and the outdoor access gets even better (median household income: $43,000).
- Best Blend of Sunshine, Food, and Beaches: San Luis Obispo, California: Set just minutes from both the Pacific Ocean and the Coast Range, San Luis Obispo is roughly halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles—and, fortunately, is nothing like either city (median household income: $46,000).
- Best Place to Bike-Commute Year-Round: Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota: Sure, the Twin Cities have affordable homes, a mellow pace of life, and a great economy (it’s home to tech, retail, and finance giants 3M, Target and U.S. Bank). But the real reason to move here is the biking (median household income $71,000).
- Best Place to Ride Singletrack Past World-Class Art: Bentonville, Arkansas: This northwest Arkansas town, located in the hills of the Ozark Plateau, is quickly gaining a reputation as one of the country’s top mountain biking destinations (median household income: 72,000).
- Best Low-Key Hideout: Reno, Nevada: Reno is home to the world’s tallest climbing wall (164 feet at BaseCamp, located at the Whitney Park Hotel), year-round desert mountain biking, a half-mile long downtown white-water-kayaking park, and the 55-degree chutes at Mount Rose, just 25 minutes uphill from the slot machines (median household income: 47,000).
- The Shoo-In: Flagstaff Arizona: In what other town can you wake up to chorizo chilaquiles at MartAnne’s Breakfast Palace, hop on a 56-mile urban trail system, ride to a trailhead that leads into the world’s largest Ponderosa pine forest, and still have time to cycle 2,000 feet up Snowbowl Road before happy hour at the Monte Vista Cocktail Lounge? (median household income: $49,000)
- Best Bike-To-Happy-Hour-Town: Fort Collins, Colorado: This college town in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains has more than 20 breweries, most notably New Belgium and Odell. Borrow a cruiser from Fort Collins Bike Share and you can even put together a self-guided tour of local breweries (median household income: $56,000).
- Best Place to Forget About Time Completely: Kona, Hawaii: The Kona Coast, on the west shore of Hawaii’s Big Island, is marked by its rugged black-lava-strewn landscape, national historic parks, and friendly aloha lifestyle (median household income $57,000).
- Best Rocky Mountain Secret: Boise, Idaho: Boise offers all kinds of opportunities for adventure. The Boise River winds through town with the 25-mile Greenbelt trail running alongside it (median household income $50,000).
- Best City for Making the Most of Summer: Anchorage Alaska: This is the kind of town where you can do a 50K Nordic race within city limits, or spot a bald eagle or black bear on your way to work. Over 120 miles of multi-use trails twist through town, perfect for cross-country skiing or fat biking midwinter (median household income $78,000).
Outside’s advisors who helped make the choices were: Jenn Dice, vice president of business network and government relations at PeopleForBikes, promoting pro-bike policies and infrastructure; Ron Jeffries, owner of Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, collaborating with breweries across the country; Richard Louv, co-founder of the Children and Nature Network, helping kids, families and communities engage with nature; and Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin, founding partner of the Avarna Group, developing projects and policies that promote inclusion and diversity in the outdoor community. Each expert suggested 20 of their favorite towns, and the ones that received at least two nominations became finalists.