5 Great Cities for Sun Seekers

Where to Go If You Want Great Weather and the Great Outdoors

People who live in cities like London, Boston, Chicago and Vancouver spend an inordinate amount of time talking, thinking, and predicting the weather. This list is not about those cities. Instead, we look at those other cities, the places in the world where you’re pretty much guaranteed perfect weather year round. 70 degrees and sunny? Yes, please. Here are five of our favorite cities that rank high not just for the best weather in the world, but also for the abundance of activities available in their beaches, parks, mountains, and deserts. Better pack comfortable shoes, and don’t forget your sunscreen.

Dubai
There’s much more to see and do in the Shopping Capital of the Middle East than malls. Dubai ranks #5 in Weather and nabs the coveted top spot for Parks & Outdoor Activities. Year-round sun and a dramatic combination of desert and beach offer Dubai visitors and residents the opportunity to partake in high-adrenaline endeavors of every kind. There’s paddleboarding, surfing and swimming with dolphins in the clear aquamarine waters of the Arabian Gulf. There are miles of golden beaches featuring volleyball courts and climbing gyms, as well as permanent food trucks complete with air-conditioned seating areas right on the sand. Or you can leave the city behind and dune bash in the desert, soar above the sand in a hot air balloon or go on safari in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve to get a taste of Bedouin traditions.

The Dubai Waterfront Deb Metz

Los Angeles
The sun and Pacific shine bright, with the City of Angels finishing 7th best in the world for Weather and #30 for Parks and Outdoor Activities. Water quality in the shimmering (but long neglected) Pacific Ocean is militantly monitored, with more locals and visitors paying attention to the blue bounty at L.A.’s front door. Expanding park space—ranging from Santa Monica’s new Tongva Park (a reclaimed parking lot featuring a playground, waterfalls, paths and Pacific views) to downtown’s bustling five-year-old Grand Park—is slowly but surely turning L.A. into a place where hitting the trails trumps hitting the gas.

Venice Beach Skatepark Joe Cooke

Phoenix
A thriving desert metropolis, Phoenix offers some of the best Mexican food this side of the border, a number of fine museums, a vibrant artist community, and 300 days of sunshine (the city ranks #8 globally in our Weather sub-category). Enjoying a day in the sun is easy in Phoenix, where there are plenty of sidewalk cafes, restaurant patios, and farmers markets. But if nature is more your thing, don’t miss a visit to the Desert Botanical Garden, which with more than 50,000 plants has one of the world’s largest collections of desert flora. Want to see some cacti and succulents in their natural element? Take a close-up look at Camelback Mountain. Summit trails are not for the faint of heart, especially in 100-degree heat, but the base of the mountain offers easier and equally beautiful trails for beginners.

Downtown Phoenix and the Phoenix Mountains Preserve

San Diego
The city finished #20 overall globally, yet dominated in the subcategories of Place—including Weather (#9 globally) and Parks & Outdoor Activities (#5). Its lauded perch on the extreme, sunny, Pacific-kissed bottom left of the country has long attracted surfers, adventurers and other residents who understand that making a living and cavorting with Mother Nature on school nights are not mutually exclusive. How can they be? Year-round sun and ocean sports, golf and the beguiling Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve are just the tip of a verdant, expansive public park system that’s the envy of the country. Accessibility to the outdoors is a point of local pride—from baby waves in Pacific Beach’s Tourmaline Surf Park designed to hook unsuspecting beginners on the sport to urban mountain biking in Balboa Park.

San Diego has the warmest water and some of the best surfing breaks on the California Coast Teddy Kelley

Tucson
At a shade over a million residents, Tucson just snuck into our Best Cities ranking. Arizona’s second city scored high (#20) in our Place category, thanks to good scores in Air Quality, Parks & Outdoor Activities, and, of course, Weather. It ranks an amazing #2 on the planet for Air Quality, with its Weather—always sunny and well over 100 degrees more often than not from June to September—ranking #17 on the planet. This is a city where its populace loves the outdoors. Emboldened city leaders have been swinging for the fences, first by telling the world that Tucson is “The Winter Training Capital of America,” made possible by the area’s five mountain ranges long used as Stairmasters by cyclists and triathletes in the know. More recently, Tucson wasn’t satisfied with its 700 miles of bike lanes. The result? Even more incentives to cycle, facilitated by new mixed-use bike boulevards along less popular driving roads—more than 150 miles worth.

La Placita Village in Downtown Tucson