When you think of urban adventures, it’s not often that outdoor activities come to mind. But America’s cities are more than just meccas for art, dining, and nightlife—they can also provide a breath of fresh air, especially once fall hits.  

Oakland, California, tops the Wanderu list of best cities for fall adventures. Image by Thomas Winz/Getty Images

To determine the ideal urban destinations for autumnal escapades, bus and train booking platform Wanderu looked at the country’s most densely populated cities to see which offer the best opportunities to get outside and play. The study ranked the top 25, considering the number, quality, and size of each city’s parks, according to the Trust for Public Land’s Parkscore Index; the number of urban hikes and bike-rental locations on Yelp per capita; and per the Weather Channel, the average volume of seasonal rainfall, and how the average temperature measures up to 55-degree sweater weather.

Oakland squirrel.jpg
Commune with nature at Oakland's Lake Merritt, a heart-shaped lagoon in the middle of town. Image by Thomas Winz/Getty Images

Given its balmy climes and waterfront locale, it’s no surprise that three of the top five hail from the California coast. The Bay Area’s Oakland leads the list, with a whopping eleven urban hikes—more than any other location studied—and plenty of mild 62-degree days to explore them. Next is SoCal’s Long Beach, which offers well-maintained parks, plenty of bike-rental spots, and, true to its name, some beautiful stretches of sand. And, with its mile-high environs and clear sunny skies, Denver comes in third, averaging less than an inch of rainfall from September to November. San Francisco is ranked fourth, and Portland, Oregon, takes the fifth slot. 

Long Beach.jpg
California's Long Beach is the epitome of West Coast cool. Image by Gabriele Maltinti/Shutterstock

Other standouts run the geographical gamut, from West Coast draws like Seattle, San Diego, and Los Angeles to Midwest standouts like Chicago, Minneapolis, and Columbus, Ohio; the southwest is represented by Colorado Springs and Albuquerque, the northeast, by Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. Even Florida gets in on the action, with Tampa placing at number 22. 

Denver ranks third on the list, thanks to low seasonal rainfall and cool, sweater-weather temps. Image by Erkan Gunes/EyeEm/Getty Images

In addition to the nationwide rankings, the Wanderu team also looked at regional data to determine the top five cities in each area. To see the breakdown by region, or to see where your city placed overall, visit wanderu.com

Explore related stories

Dating couple in love sitting on rock overlooking Joshua Tree National Park desert.1373216468
RFE,  Shutterstock,  Adult,  Desert,  Ground,  Landscape,  Male,  Man,  Nature,  Outdoors,  Person,  Rock,  Scenery,  Shoe,  Wilderness
Dating couple in love sitting on rock overlooking Joshua Tree National Park desert


Joshua Tree National Park: everything a first-time visitor could want to know

Jul 19, 2024 • 10 min read