Texas Hill Country
A green gem in the center of Texas, Austin and its hilly environs boast robust cycling and running communities, possibly due to the inspiring trails, hills, and natural wonders. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area in nearby Fredericksburg is excellent for hiking and rock climbing, and Central Austin’s Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail is a beloved landmark. Zilker Park’s Barton Springs Pool, fed by temperate underground springs, hosts swimmers year round. Free yoga classes abound at studios and parks all over town, and dog lovers will marvel at the number of restaurants and bars welcoming furry friends.
Craving a total body and soul tune-up? SoCal has set healthy lifestyle standards for decades. Whether catching the country’s best waves at La Jolla Shores, visiting the bountiful farmers’ markets for fruits and vegetables resembling works of art, or meditating at famed Self-Realization Fellowship Hermitage & Meditation Gardens in Encinitas, those craving a deeper physical and spiritual connection will have no trouble making it here.
This New England charmer boasts gorgeous scenery, which makes trekking along one of its countless trails an inspiring way to get fit. Check out the historic Freedom Trail or the Boston Sports Trail, run or row or run along the Charles River, or just walk through leafy Boston Common. Cycle around via Hubway, the citywide bike share program, or take the popular mass transit system everywhere so you can ditch the car and get more steps in. While on foot, wander around one of Boston’s 100+ college campuses—with their legendary bookstores, music centers, and more—for mental and spiritual stimulation.
California’s Bay Area
California’s Bay Area provides hikers, bikers, and horseback riders endless trails, hills, and bridges to climb. San Jose-area parks Calero County and Santa Teresa County offer strenuous 8-mile loops and moderate walking paths with views of Silicon Valley and the Santa Cruz Mountains. Cyclists’ hearts will race in San Francisco where there’s a public bike program, and Bike and Roll gives tours from the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. The Ferry Building hosts one of the nation’s most famous farmers’ markets, where you’ll spy trendsetting chefs foraging for local produce for their nightly menus.
Denver is always buzzing with healthy recreational activities. Rock climbers, mountain bikers, runners, cyclists, horseback riders, cross-country skiers, and kayakers all take advantage of the Front Range’s parks and trail systems. Lower downtown’s Confluence Park boasts a kayak run on its eastern edge and is the start of the Cherry Creek Regional Trail, a scenic 40-mile route ending in Arapahoe County’s Cherry Creek State Park. The High Line Canal Trail winds for 50 miles through multiple parks on varied terrain, and some of the country’s best skiing and snowboarding villages are a short drive away.
How about visiting one of America’s healthiest cities for inspiration? Peek at Puget Sound from atop a bluff in Seattle’s largest green space, Discovery Park, or take to one of its countless trails for biking and hiking. Alki Beach Park runs along a half mile of beachfront, making it a hotspot for beach-volleyball-loving Seattleites. Pike’s Place Market is the country’s oldest farmers’ market, spanning nine acres of fresh eats for fueling up when you’re not sampling the coffee that made this town famous. Yoga is also hugely popular here, so you may consider checking out the view from upward-facing dog.
Journey to a spiritual vortex by way of Sedona, Arizona’s land of sacred places and mystical wonders. Its spectacular landscape includes Red Rock State Park, which delights nature lovers, hikers, and solace seekers with guided and self-guided naturalist hikes offered daily. The landscape is filled with hot springs and sacred Native American sites, like Montezuma’s Well, believed to bring about healing. Just outside of town, West Fork Trail is one of the state’s top hiking trails. There are also more luxurious takes on ancient traditions, as this particular spiritual oasis is packed with yoga studios and meditation retreat centers.
Our nation’s capital teems with health-conscious citizens, so why not join them for a run or a bike ride along the National Mall, through Rock Creek Park, or down Mount Vernon Trail? Head to DC’s historic Capitol Hill neighborhood to sample the fare at Eastern Market, the city’s oldest food and arts market. Get there and everywhere via Capital Bike Share or the public transit system and join the majority of residents who commute the healthy way. There are also scores of public recreation centers with pools, tennis courts, and a remarkable number of parks and green spaces.