Lonely Planet Writer

Can you guess the happiest cities in the United States?

What does happiness mean? What makes people happy? It could be family, friends, money, all or none of the above. What’s certain is that having a good environment around you is key to feeling happy. There are places where something just clicks, and budget-expert group WalletHub has just released the list of the ten (and more) American cities where “the pursuit of happiness” is going brilliantly.

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Huntington Beach is one of the happiest spots. Image by Mythungoc Photography/Getty Images

To put together its list, WalletHub sorted through years of psychology researches, and then “examined each city based on 31 key indicators of happiness, ranging from depression rate to income-growth rate to average leisure time spent per day,” as the staff behind the list explains in a statement. Can you guess which cities occupy the highest positions?

Plano, Texas

Plano’s total score was almost 73, making it the highest rated city in the United States. Plano is part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, and even though it’s named after the plains that surround it, you can try and find your perfect happy moment in one of the city’s parks, perhaps under the 200-year-old tree in Bob Woodruff Park.

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Plano hosts the Plano Balloon Festival every September. Image by Patricia Marroquin/Getty Images

Irvine, California

This Orange County city scored 72, establishing itself at second place. Irvine has a great reputation throughout the United States, having been named one of the best places to live in the country several times, as well as the safest and best-run city of the States.

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Irvine's reputation is sky-high throughout the state of California and the rest of the nation. Image by MCCAIG/Getty Images

Madison, Wisconsin

If you’re looking for green and environmental-friendly, then the city that won third place is perfect for you. Madison has been named most walkable and most vegetarian-friendly, among other things, and it’s surrounded by the beautiful scenery of Mendota and Monona Lakes.

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The Wisconsin State Capitol is located in downtown Madison. Image by Aubrie Pick/Lonely Planet

Fremont, California

Fremont’s overall score was 71, making it the fourth city on the list. Fremont is often associated with Silicon Valley and it’s home to a rapidly increasing population of tech industries and workers.

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Fremont is at the southern end of Silicon Valley, surrounded by colourful salt ponds. Image by Gado/Getty Images

Huntington Beach, California

You’ll find very little to worry about in Huntington Beach, a place with a very strong and solid reputation as a surf destination. Here, surfers are the real trendsetters, and buyers for major retailers go to Huntington Beach to see what they’re wearing.

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Huntington Beach is the place to go to for the latest surf trends. Image by bmse/Getty Images

Fargo, North Dakota

The biggest city in the state of North Dakota has been a fur-trading post, a frontier town and a haven for people in the Federal Witness Protection Program, as well as for being the namesake for the Coen brothers’ movie, starring Frances McDormand.

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Fremont makes up for more than 15% of the state of North Dakota's population. Image by Denis Tangney Jr/Getty Images

Grand Prairie, Texas

The fifteenth most populous city in the state of Texas scored almost 70 on the list, clocking it in at seventh place. Its Parks and Recreation Department won several awards for its work, and the city offers some of the best parks and recreation venues in the country.

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Grand Prairie is just minutes away from the amusement park of Six Flags over Texas. Image by Anthony Medina/EyeEm/Getty Images

San Jose, California

San Jose is California’s oldest Spanish civilian settlement, with its sunny climate, a downtown bustling with twentysomething clubgoers on weekends and high-tech computer firms.

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San Jose is nestled between the San Francisco Bay and the surrounding hills. Image by Michael Marfell/Getty Images

Scottsdale, Arizona

Scottsdale, part of the Greater Phoenix Area, has been described as “a desert version of Miami’s south beach” and it offers a very exciting and varied scene of late night partying and accommodations.

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Flowers, saguaros and boulders sit at the city borders of Scottsdale. Image by Thomas Roche/Getty Images

San Francisco, California

San Francisco scored 67 points, making it the last of the top ten list (although not the last at all, since the ranking goes on way more). With a reputation that precedes it, the city offers unique landmarks, a buzzing cultural scene and a dash of fabulousness, as well as beautiful landscapes shrouded in its iconic fog.

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San Francisco offers unique landmarks and a bustling nightlife, sprinkled over with its iconic fog. Image by narvikk/Getty Images

If you’d like to know the other cities that made the list, you can check out the full research here.