Finding your footing as a digital nomad in the United States can be more challenging – and expensive – than other popular destinations like Bali or the Caribbean.
But for those up for the task, there are a host of welcoming cities, breathtaking views and places to explore. Here are the best US destinations for digital nomads.
Goldilocks would approve of the City of Bridges: not too big, not too small, Pittsburgh is just right. Sitting at the convergence of three rivers – hence the need for 446 bridges – Pittsburgh was an industrialist center in the Gilded Age of steel production. Like other Rust Belt cities in the US, Pittsburgh saw a decline as most of the industry left the city through the second half of the 20th century, but it remained well-equipped with museums, parks and infrastructure courtesy of steel tycoons.
These days, the city attracts a new kind of worker: programmers. Google, Amazon and Microsoft have headquarters in Pittsburgh to attract graduates of Carnegie Mellon, one of the country’s top computing universities.
Digital nomads in Pittsburgh will have no problem finding fast wi-fi and laptop-friendly spaces near streets lined with historic townhouses and Tudor homes.
Read more: The best 12 things to do in Pittsburgh
Durango is the mountain town for digital nomads hoping to swap skyscrapers for snowy peaks. The San Juan Mountains rise above it, the bright blue Animas River runs through it and the red arches of Moab, Utah are but a day-trip away.
Gold and silver were the original motivators to settle Durango in the 1880s, but people soon realized the mountain views were even more valuable. Though it’s now one of Colorado’s largest towns, the vibe is down-to-earth and the quaint town feels surprisingly non-touristy.
Digital nomad life is all about striking a work-play balance; in Durango there’s no need to sacrifice comfort or signal for nature’s sake. The downtown hosts multiple co-working spaces whose owners are happy to welcome digital nomads into the local fold.
With more than 300 miles of trails on the town’s doorstep, it’s easy to work in the morning, then hike (or ski) or fish (or climb) in the afternoon. A cold beer from one of the town’s many craft breweries is a highly recommended finishing touch.
New Orleans, Louisiana
There’s always something going on in New Orleans, and there’s always someone ready to convince you to grab a drink and join the fun, no matter what time of day it is.
Older than the United States itself – with a proud culture to prove it – NOLA has welcomed people from around the world for centuries. Modern “Nawlins” is no stranger to remote workers thanks to a spectrum ranging from freelancing creatives to oil engineers.
Digital nomads in New Orleans can bounce between colorful cafes where it’s perfectly acceptable to sip coffee with something a little stronger. Feast on a wide – and legitimately authentic – array of cuisines ranging from steaming gumbo to hipster sandwiches to Vietnamese pho.
In the Big Easy, it’s all about living your best life; the challenge is getting work done in between.
Read more: Orient yourself in New Orleans by exploring its best neighborhoods
Ready to add some van life to the itinerary? Pack the car and get ready to go off-grid: the ancient forests of Northern California are the ideal destination for nature-loving nomads.
Camping is controlled in US national and state parks, but national forests are a different matter. In many of California’s National Forests, “dispersed camping” – free camping outside of an established campsite – is widely accepted and practiced. Nomads seeking escape can hit the highway and drive in search of the telltale sign of primitive campsites: unassuming dirt roads leading to forest clearings.
Naturally, back to nature means back to basics. Areas along main roads have workable 4G, but don’t expect to video conference in the depths of the redwoods. Solar panels and batteries are a must. When 0% looms, coffee shops and gas stations are the closest places to recharge. When heading out, make sure to leave no trace so future nomads can enjoy pristine forests, too.
Read more: Introducing California's national parks
Santa Fe, New Mexico
What’s not to love about 300 days of sunshine every year? The southwest is the best US destination for digital nomads in search of vitamin D, and Santa Fe isn’t wanting for sun. At 7000ft above sea level, digital nomads in Santa Fe might get more sun than they bargained for.
New Mexico’s walkable capital has a downtown where skyscrapers give way to colonial Spanish architecture and farmers’ markets run in railyards. Historic Native American pueblo towns pepper the surrounding desert, and some of the state’s best hikes and skiing are a short drive away in Taos.
Though the city is more than 400 years old, the internet is anything but historic: digital nomads in Santa Fe can delight in the capital’s rapidly expanding fiber network.
Read more: The 5 best day trips from Santa Fe, New Mexico
Glacier National Park, Montana
Jaw-dropping nature and phone signal, this divine combination is the raison d’être for digital nomads in the US. Glacier National Park has the former in excess, and the latter… well, signals are there. Somewhere.
Sweeping views of the Rocky Mountains that cradle glacial blue lakes have drawn visitors for years, but the reason Glacier is the best digital nomad destination in the US is the fact that its western campsites have any 4G signal at all.
Vans or RVs make extended stays easier – there’s no electricity on offer at the campsites – but even a short stay is worth a nomad’s while. Glacier National Park is arguably the most beautiful in the country.
If there’s one thing every digital nomad in the US needs to do at least once, it’s work among snowy peaks and quiet pines. And the poor signal makes a great excuse to log out and go hiking instead.
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