Top Ten Best Weather Cities in the U.S.A. by Suntan.com
Often Top Ten lists for "Best Weather Cities" are made up of the same five or six cities with a few assorted choices to finish up the list. Los Angeles, Miami, San Diego, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Tucson are usually in the top spots along with El Paso, Fresno, Sacramento and Ft. Lauderdale commonly mixed in. Many Top Ten "BWC" lists will be based on the cities with the greater number of sunniest days, often overall warm weather being a factor.
Phoenix, Arizona hits the top of many lists with its 85 percent of annual sunshine, however, summer temperatures often reach into the triple digits and it’s not uncommon to reach as high as 110 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This is when you stay indoors or near a pool (keep plenty of sunscreen handy!) because any other outdoor activities are torture most of the day. Towards the other end of the scale could be Seattle, Washington where there are moderate temperatures so there more summer outdoor possibilities, but it’s much wetter and one is very likely to get rained on when wanting to be enjoying the outdoors.
With all the options to base our Top Ten on for "Best Weather Cities", outdoor activities are a must and are to be factored in. Constant sunny weather and drier climates do offer more opportunities for sun tanning and other outdoor activities without too much of a chance for rain but, that isn't the only criteria (in our opinion) for overall outdoor fun. So the standard for SUNTAN.com’s Top Ten “Best Weather Cities” in the U.S.A. will include cities with moderate weather of all kinds and outdoor fun in the sun activities there. It would be very hard to choose the "number one" city due to all differences of personal favorite weather types; therefore, these are not in any particular order.
1. Honolulu, Hawaii
In the native Hawaiian language, Honolulu means "sheltered bay" or "place of shelter". Its near-perfect tropical (wet and dry) climate zone with a dry summer season and its low annual precipitation puts this city on many favorite lists. Rarely exceeding 90 degrees, the summer's average temperature is a beautiful 82 degrees and the winter’s averages hover around an ultra-comfortable 77 degrees.
The semi-dry annual average rainfall of 18.3 inches, which mainly occurs October through March, gives you plenty of time to enjoy the spectacular island’s sunshine. This equals out roughly to 98 total wet days and 270 dry days a year. The iconic city averages 3,040 hours of sunshiny and temperate days to enjoy annually. Despite the tropical climate, the island’s temperature, precipitation and humidity are moderated due to Hawaii's mid-ocean location.
Honolulu offers plenty of fun outdoor activities, from a day sunbathing at famous Waikiki Beach to sightseeing and enjoying the abundance of attractions. The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, the Honolulu Zoo, Diamond Head, and the Hanauma Bay are just a few things to experience in this sunny tropical paradise that’s steeped with history and culture. Island hopping tours, volcano tours, snorkeling as well as every other water sport you could ever think of are other favorite Honolulu must do's.
2. Asheville, North Carolina
Nestled 2,134 feet up in the gorgeous Great Smoky Mountains just east of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is peaceful Asheville, North Carolina. Asheville's humid subtropical climate is quite similar to the rest of the southeastern U.S., but the higher altitude gives Asheville an edge with slightly cooler temperatures. Average highs peak out around 85 degrees in July to mid-summer. The cooler temperatures also produce less humidity, making outdoor entertainment more enjoyable here. Rainy days average about 122 total days a year and drop a total of 37 inches of precipitation annually. With these types of moderate winters, frozen rain occurs often, however, the average 13.3 inches of actual snowfall is sporadic, usually light and only lasting a couple days. This ideal mountainous area averages only 11.9 snowy days - just enough beautiful snow-covered winter mornings.
Now let’s talk outdoor playgrounds and outdoor activities for everyone. The Great Smoky Mountains offer unlimited opportunity for all types of fun under the sun: from mountain hiking, white river rafting and kayaking, to camping or even horseback riding. You can take a scenic drive along the breathtaking Blue Ridge Parkway and visit the plethora of historical sites, roadside tourist stops and family restaurants. Our vote is Chimney Rock State Park, a short (beautiful!) drive from Asheville. From 1,200ft high above the valley floor is the great pillar of ancient stone that is known as Chimney Rock. The view here is amazing and visitors can see 75+ miles across stunning Lake Lure and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Asheville definitely makes the list with a healthy number (243) of mostly sunny days a year, mild winters, pleasant summers and endless things to do under the sun.
3. Temecula, California
Temecula, California is located inland and approximately halfway between San Diego and Los Angeles. Often compared to Napa Valley, this is Southern Cal's wine country and its warm, dry days and cool evenings make it ideal for wine making - and the outdoors! With a mid 70s daily average temperature, the summers are usually in the mid 80s to mid 90s (but occasionally in the low 100's) and winters often average mid 60s to mid 70s during the day. Absolute bliss for sun lovers, the Temecula Valley is uniquely shaped. Separated from the Pacific Ocean by the Santa Rosa mountain range, mild beach air is funneled through the Rainbow Gap into the valley. It’s then drawn by the high pressure of the Anza Borrego desert air to the east, creating Temecula's idyllic Mediterranean-type climate. February is typically Temecula's wettest month, dropping only 2.86 inches of rain. The annual average here is just over 11 inches and there is almost no rain between mid-June through October. This gives you all the time you need for all Temecula has to offer. The Albert Hammond song is right - it never rains in California.
Elevated 1,200 feet above sea level and almost equidistant to San Diego, Los Angeles, the Temecula Valley covers more than thirty square miles with nine golf courses, more than two dozen wineries (farming more than 3,500 acres of vineyards), breathtaking horse farms, hot air-ballooning and much more. Take a step back to the old west while in Temecula's historical Old Town. Its (some original) 1890's buildings, wood sidewalks and granite hitching posts will satisfy your need for history (be sure to check out the Old Temecula Jail) while the quaint antique stores, wineries and great al fresco dining spots around town will keep her happy. Founded in 1859, it is the only city in California to still retain its original Native American name. Located about an hour drive from three well known Southern California cities, L.A., San Diego and Palm Springs, means you can never run out of fun outdoor activities if you tried. Not to mention also being within approximately an hour from the ocean, summer mountain lakes and winter ski slopes.
Need a little time indoors? Visit Temecula's five-star, Pechanga Resort and Casino, built in 2001 and owned and operated by the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians. Costing over $260 million, the resort and casino covers nearly 600,000 square feet, is 13 stories, a 522 room hotel, seven different restaurants, night clubs, an outstanding comedy club (trust me on this), an intimate concert venue and every other indoor entertainment you may desire. Don’t forget about the fifteen poker tables, sixty card tables and over 2,000 slot machines. Temecula has something for everyone from golfing to wine tasting, from Old Town charm to modern, state of the art homes, shopping malls and resort casino. All of this and over 300 sunshiny days every year put Temecula on our Top Ten list.
4. Taos, New Mexico
Located between the three sections of the Carson National Forest in northern New Mexico at 6,952 feet above sea level, the Taos area receives 325+ days of golden sunshine per year. Annually dropping an average of 12.3 inches of rain and 29 inches of snow and featuring a 63.4 degree average temperature equals moderately seasonal weather and a temperate climate.
The summer months are typically hot, dry and sunny days, with cooler evenings. In July the daytime temp peaks at around 93 degrees. Great for what Taos summer times are famous for - camping, whitewater paddling, fishing, hiking or horseback riding at nearby Kit Carson National Forest. Visit nearby Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs, deemed sacred by the Native Americans of Northern New Mexico, and has been a source of healing for hundreds, even thousands of years.
Winters can get a little cold, but not extreme. January is usually the coldest month, temperatures ranging from highs of 46 to lows of 21 degrees. Although snowfall is relatively low for the area (averaging around 30 inches), Taos Ski Valley receives 300+ inches of snow per year. That much snow and that many days of sunshine is a perfect combination for winter fun under the sun. Other activities in Taos are hot air-ballooning, golf, shopping and dining and a multitude of local historical sites to explore.
5. Miami Beach, Florida
Miami Beach, an island in southeast Florida, is surrounded by warm blue water and known worldwide for its sunny days and endless water fun. Miami Beach is most likely on everyone’s best weather Top Ten list. A yearly average of 3,154.9 hours of sunshine and the 75.9 degree average daily temperature explains exactly why. Miami Beach’s location makes it extraordinarily vulnerable to hurricanes and tropical storms, but the city seems to miss the direct hits. Hurricane Cleo in 1964 is the only major hurricane recorded to have directly hit the city but Miami Beach has seen indirect contact from many extreme storms. Understand that when the weather here is good - it’s actually excellent. Talk about the ultimate place to suntan! What’s a hurricane or two, really?
The tropical monsoon climate gives Miami Beach hot and often humid summers and short warm winters. Receiving most of its 46 inches of rain in the summer months, June is often the wettest month with an average of 9.3 inches of rainfall just in that month alone. December through April are the driest months, averaging below three inches per month and December only averaging two inches. The (warm) winter months’ average low temperatures seldom go below a very moderate 63 degrees and Miami Beach is one of only a handful of areas in the continental United States that has never experienced snow or snow flurries in recorded weather history.
Although it may be the first thing thought of, Miami Beach is not all about the beach. There are many entertaining outdoor attractions to experience, such as the Miami Metro Zoo. The climate here allows the zoo to keep a wide variety of animals from Asia, Australia and Africa. There is the Seaquarium to visit; you can always take a trip over to the Everglades (ready for a Jet Boat ride?) or Parrot Jungle Island where visitors get an up-close look at tropical birds in replicas of their natural habitats. Check out wildlife species including: Flamingos, Cranes, Condors, Macaws and Ligers (a cross between a lion and a tiger), as well as a wide variety of fish and plants found only in tropical areas.
6. Key West, Florida
Just around the corner from Miami Beach is Key West, another idyllic, warm and sunny place. Key Westers enjoy 3412.9 hours of sunlight, 105.6 rainy days, 389 inches of rainfall, and an average temperature of 78.1 degrees. The Keys’ notably mild, tropical climate is very similar to that of the Caribbean islands. Holding an average summer temp of 79.6 degrees and a winter average of 70.3 degrees, it claims to be the only city in the lower forty-eight states never to have had a frost. With 41 degrees in January 12, 1886 being the lowest temperature ever recorded here, that would be a pretty safe claim. Only forty-eight days per year or so with ninety or higher degrees, the hottest temperature ever recorded has only been 100 degrees, three times - June, July and August of 1980.
Precipitation here is characterized by dry and wet seasons. The wet season, May through October, receives just over half of the annual total rainfall in numerous showers and thunderstorms. Rain on virtually every day during this period is not uncommon. Early morning is when most of these rains hit, then move to the mainland and Florida's southern coast where showers commonly occur in the late afternoon or early evening. The dry period, November through April, receives abundant sunshine and less than a quarter of the yearly rainfall, in a few light or occasional heavy showers. It’s quite hard to believe that this is Florida driest city!
Water activities are obviously the thing to do here, sailing, snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing and sea kayaking are some of the favorites. Dry Tortugas National Park and Fort Jefferson are also places of interest while visiting Key West, located about 68 statute miles west of Key West in the Gulf of Mexico, only accessible by boat or seaplane. The park (mostly water) covers 101 square miles, is famous for scuba diving and snorkeling, its living reef and diverse sea life, legends of pirates and sunken gold. The park’s central feature, the majestic Fort Jefferson, a massive but unfinished coastal fortress is the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere. The fort was designed to be a massive gun platform, impervious to assault, and able to destroy any enemy ships that came within range of its powerful guns. America's most inaccessible National Park draws almost 80,000 visitors each year. For land activities, tour the museums (Mel Fisher!), check out local historical sites, enjoy fabulous shopping, fine dining, and even nightly gatherings to watch the sunset.
7. Prescott, Arizona
Incorporated in 1883 and located 5,386 feet up in the Bradshaw Mountains of central Arizona is the beautiful and scenic city of Prescott. The city has a Mediterranean climate, with hot summers and relatively mild winters. January is typically the coldest month, averaging 50.9 degrees and July the hottest, with the average temperature of 88.3 degrees. Due to the arid climate and higher elevation, summer evening temperatures can be significantly lower.
Most of their 19.2 inches of annual rainfall comes in July and August, while spring and early summer are the driest months. Winter daytime temperatures rarely drop below 20 degrees; therefore snowfall is typically light, averaging 21.9 inches for the season and usually melts away quickly. Only sixty eight days per year of precipitation allows plenty of time for spending quality time outside. Small-town atmosphere, near perfect four-season climate and the ideal quality of life, along with all of the activities this small has city has to offer makes Prescott a highly desirable place to live and play outside.
Some of the outdoor activities that are so desired here are touring the (over forty!) wineries in the Prescott area, as well as local historical sites, or spend your time in the sun horseback riding or hiking in the Prescott National Forest. Just a couple hours’ drive from Prescott is the Grand Canyon, Cottonwood, and Sedona (home of the Red Rocks!). Temperate weather, beautiful mountains, endless activities and peaceful mountain living is why Prescott, Arizona earned a spot on our Top Ten list.
8. Santa Barbara, California
Sitting on the longest east-west trending section of West Coast of the United States, sometimes referred to as the "American Riviera", is Santa Barbara, California. This coastal California city quite possibly has the best year-round temperate climate that anyone could ask for. It’s the epitome of perfect weather temperatures with a 64 degree annual daily average, an average high temperature at a balmy and comfortable 74 degrees and the average low a moderate 54 degrees. October to March is especially popular as the temperature changes little during the day and only gets slightly cooler at night. December through April are the rainy months and while the average annual rainfall is only thirteen inches, it usually comes in a mere average of 33 days. Santa Barbara is nicely sheltered from California's inland desert heat and cold by the steeply-rising Santa Ynez Mountains and protected from the Pacific Ocean’s storms by The Channel Islands, located 15-25 miles off shore and breathtakingly visible on a clear day. The Santa Ynez Mountains also provide Santa Barbara with some great hiking, bicycling and incredible city and coastal view points. Rising from sea level to twenty five hundred feet in just a few short miles, gives Santa Barbara that picture-perfect mountainous background. This coastal gem has it all - big city culture with mountain and beach outdoor adventures, art galleries and elegant fine dining, and backpack mountain hiking and rollerblading down the beach. Surely one visit is not enough to fully enjoy Santa Barbara’s outdoors.
9. Denver, Colorado
Denver, the gateway to the Rocky Mountains! This special place features some of the most spectacular mountain scenery on Earth. Denver has a semi-arid, continental climate with four distinct seasons. Because the city of Denver sits within a bowl-shaped valley, it is protected from the strong winds and harsh cold common to the higher mountains to the west and the Great Plains to the east. Denver’s winters can vary from mild to cold and dry, accumulating an average 61 inches of snowfall a season. First snow usually comes mid-October and the last falls late April, with March generally the snowiest month, averaging 11.7 inches of the cold white stuff. Winter temperatures average mid 40's and low 50's, and the lows are in the low 20's and into the teens. Not too bad, if you bundle up!
Because of Denver’s central location, springtime weather can be anywhere across the board due to air masses on all sides. Continental warm air can bring summer-like warm and dry conditions, while Arctic air from the north combined with Pacific storm fronts can bring snow. The Gulf of Mexico's warm, unstable air can bring in the season’s first thunderstorm. Summers are desert-like, hot and dry and with little precipitation, with temperatures ranging from the upper 80's to the upper 90's and sometimes even reaching into the low 100's. Mid-July brings on the monsoons, in frequent short, occasionally severe late-afternoon thunderstorms. Despite this tropical moisture, humidity levels during the day generally remain low, averaging in the 50 to 60 percent range. In the fall, the monsoons stop and the Arctic air starts to move in. Mixed with moisture from the Pacific Northwest, it can bring significant snowfall to the city. Denver's greatest recorded snowfall from a single storm fell December 1st through the 6th in 1913, dropping 45.7 inches of snow.
With this mile-high city comes mile-high outdoor fun. From wintertime skiing and snowboarding to world-class shopping at Cheery Creek North - sixteen blocks of outdoor shopping and dining (the best in Colorado), Denver has everything for fun in the sun, all year round. Over 300 days a year of sunshiny days (over 3,100 hours), breathtaking, Rocky Mountain scenery, eight professional sports teams, even 850 miles of paved off-road trails for bicycling. The list goes on - go see for yourself why Denver makes the Top Ten Best Weather Cities.
10. San Diego, California
San Diego is sometimes considered "America's Finest City". What we can’t understand is how this city doesn’t make it on every Top Ten list of any kind. San Diego has it all in every direction, sunshine (and lots of it), activities, arts, miles of warm, sandy beaches; there is no end. The climate in San Diego depends on exactly where you are at in the city. The north area has a Mediterranean climate and there is a definite semi-arid climate to the south and east. Due to the numerous hills, mountains, and canyons (paired with the size of this huge city) the climate often varies significantly over short geographical distances. Commonly during the "May Gray/June Gloom" period, thick, low-lying clouds (marine layer), keeps the air damp and cool for roughly five miles inland, with sudden clear blue skies and sometime as much as a twenty degree temperature increase just past the fog. This cloud cover usually burns off by early afternoon only to roll back in again by early evening. Inland areas tend to experience much more variation in temperatures. For instance San Diego’s (downtown) average high temperature is 76.9 degrees while the El Cajon Valley’s high average temperature is 70.8 degrees – and it lies 10 miles to the northeast. On hot, summer days the nearby valleys often reach into the low 100's, while downtown San Diego seldom reaches into the 90s. Only 10.8 inches of annual rainfall and only 42.9 days rainy weather, (most of the rainy days December through April) giving you well over 300+ day of Southern California sunshine! Winters are very mild in San Diego with average high temperatures of 66-70 degrees and lows of 50–56 degrees.
San Diego is only a two drive from downtown L.A., beautiful Temecula wine country is an hour away and San Diego's (6,000 feet elevation) Laguna Mountains are here for sun lovers to enjoy. Within an eight-hour drive is Phoenix, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe. Breathtaking famous beach communities abound such as La Jolla, Del Mar and Coronado Island (home of the Hotel Del Coronado). Spectacular attractions such as the world famous San Diego Zoo, Sea World, San Diego's Wild Animal Park and at least eight southern California beaches are some of your outdoor options here. Sporting events range from the San Diego Chargers and the Padres, to San Diego State University’s sporting events. Balboa Park, the entertaining Gas Lamp District, Sea Port Village, whale watching excursions, dinner cruises or a jazz concert on the Bay and world-class golf are still more fun in the sun activities to be enjoyed here almost year round. The beautiful, temperate weather, breathtaking coastal topography, endless outdoor activities and some of the greatest beaches to suntan - what on Earth could be better?
Always keep in mind that outdoor activities commonly require extended time in the direct or shaded sunshine. Please always remember to soak up your Vitamin D and then protect yourself. It’s never good to sunburn! Higher altitudes, water activities, excessive sweating and extended time in the sun may require higher SPF sunscreen, additional applications, sunglasses and even UV protective hats and other clothing.
- SoCal Suntan
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