PopulationMetro: 322,514
A sense of place runs deep at the edge of the Rocky Mountains, where a treasure trove of green space welcomes locals and visitors by design.

Back in 1967, Boulder became the first city in the country to tax itself specifically to preserve open space. Set at the base of the Rocky Mountains, at the edge of a verdant valley and along the banks of a rushing creek, Boulder today is the kind of city that respects its unrivaled natural setting while offering the energy of an urban playground.

The city comes in at #13 for Place, our category that looks at how a number of readily measurable, often-cited factors—from how often the sun shines to the safety of the streets and appeal of its neighborhoods—influence our perception of a city.

Visit Boulder today and you’ll find some of the fittest people in the country, a place where locals think nothing of heading out on a five-hour hike or bike ride. Boulderites are drunk on the outdoors, no matter the weather. Boulder comes in at #22 for Weather and #43 for Crime Rate. The city’s very fabric interweaves a love of the outdoors thanks to more than 300 miles of hiking and biking trails, 45,000 acres of open space and a climate that’s perfectly sun-soaked. As expected, Boulder ranks high (#9) for Parks & Outdoors.

Place 49
Product 22
Programming 33
People 87
Prosperity 45
Promotion 37

And while Boulder draws plenty of attention to its outdoor playground, there are plenty of creature comforts, too. Considered the Napa Valley for Craft Brewing, Boulder is home to some of the country’s finest microbrews.

It also has a slew of gourmet restaurants and lively bars, and offers year-round concerts and theater productions. Most of the action takes place along the brick-paved Pearl Street Mall, where glasses clink on lively cafe patios and conversation spills out of cafes. In the distance, the presence of the Flatirons as a backdrop add to the allure of the city. The city ranks #9 for Culture.