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10 Top Things to Do in the Most Fun Places to Live

There's a reason these cities score high in quality of life.

U.S. News & World Report

10 Top Things to Do in the Most Fun Places to Live

Happy young couple walking down a street.
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See why people love living in these 10 cities.

Food. Culture. Green spaces. Nightlife. There are many elements that make a city an enjoyable place to live and visit. To determine the inaugural ranking of the Most Fun Places to Live, the U.S. News Real Estate team weighed factors like each destination's diversity of attractions, variety of restaurants and bars, number of parks, access to shopping and more. To help new city dwellers and those considering a move, the U.S. News Travel team detailed things to do in the top 10 destinations. Read on to see how residents in these cities work hard and play hard.
Wine grapes in Sonoma County, California.
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Wine and dine in Santa Rosa, California.

Set in the heart of Sonoma County, California, Santa Rosa offers plenty in the way of wine tasting and farm-to-table restaurants. Paradise Ridge, Matanzas Creek and Tara Bella wineries are lauded for their spectacular vineyard views and enjoyable wines. You can opt for a winery tour with transportation included or rely on Uber to get around. Once you finish winery hopping, sample food prepared with farm-fresh ingredients at highly regarded local restaurants such as The Spinster Sisters or Flavor Bistro.
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See why people love living in these 10 cities.

Food. Culture. Green spaces. Nightlife. There are many elements that make a city an enjoyable place to live and visit. To determine the inaugural ranking of the Most Fun Places to Live, the U.S. News Real Estate team weighed factors like each destination's diversity of attractions, variety of restaurants and bars, number of parks, access to shopping and more. To help new city dwellers and those considering a move, the U.S. News Travel team detailed things to do in the top 10 destinations. Read on to see how residents in these cities work hard and play hard.

Wine and dine in Santa Rosa, California.

Set in the heart of Sonoma County, California, Santa Rosa offers plenty in the way of wine tasting and farm-to-table restaurants. Paradise Ridge, Matanzas Creek and Tara Bella wineries are lauded for their spectacular vineyard views and enjoyable wines. You can opt for a winery tour with transportation included or rely on Uber to get around. Once you finish winery hopping, sample food prepared with farm-fresh ingredients at highly regarded local restaurants such as The Spinster Sisters or Flavor Bistro.

Bike around Portland, Maine.

One of the best ways to see this East Coast city is by bike. While riding around town, you can check out historic homes, including the Victoria Mansion and the Wadsworth-Longfellow House. Once you've gotten a feel for the downtown area, hit the trails. Portland's pathways provide impressive views: the Eastern Promenade Trail snakes along the Casco Bay waterfront and beaches, while the Back Cove Trail lines Back Cove and offers skyline vistas. Those interested in more grueling bike rides to see some of Maine's lighthouses can sign up for a tour offered by Summer Feet Cycling, a cycling group that organizes local tours for bikers of all levels.

Get your fill of live music in Nashville, Tennessee.

With a nickname like Music City, it's pretty obvious that Nashville residents love their tunes. The bars along Broadway feature a variety of talented acts – Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, Honky Tonk Central and The Stage on Broadway are just a few of the popular spots that offer live country music throughout the week. But if you're looking for a truly unique Nashville experience, book tickets to a show at the Grand Ole Opry.

Museum hop in Cleveland.

Cleveland is home to several museums, but some of its most popular include the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum features numerous exhibits and displays that celebrate top rock 'n' roll musicians, such as the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones. If you're more of an art lover, the Cleveland Museum of Art showcases nearly 45,000 works spanning 6,000 years. Meanwhile, those interested in science and history will appreciate the planetarium and dinosaur exhibits at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

Shop till you drop in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles is full of things to see and do – museums, art galleries, beaches, parks, studio tours, concerts and more. But this fashionable town is particularly popular with shoppers. Designer brands, including Fendi and Prada, line Rodeo Drive while major retailers occupy the massive eight-story Beverly Center. You might spot some celebrities while shopping at the Grove and you'll find quirky independently owned boutiques in various neighborhoods throughout the city. Those who prefer enjoying a mix of indoor and outdoor scenery should head to the Third Street Promenade; filled with shops and restaurants, this open-air complex is just a short walk from Santa Monica State Beach.

Catch a sports game in Seattle.

Home to the NFL's Seahawks, the MLB's Mariners and Major League Soccer's Sounders FC, Seattle offers ample opportunities to see a competitive game. Seahawks fans (collectively known as "the 12th Man") consistently rank among the best and most passionate in the sports world, and CenturyLink Field is known for its buzzing atmosphere for both football and soccer games. And lucky for baseball fans, you can typically find tickets to Mariners games for more affordable prices than those to see the city's other teams. Plus, baseball season stretches from early spring into the fall, allowing for plenty of chances to enjoy a game.

Eat and explore in Charleston, South Carolina.

Laid-back Charleston oozes Southern charm. Historic homes, moss-draped trees and cobblestone streets give Charleston some character and the best way to experience all that this city has to offer is by simply walking around. Stroll along the Battery (a waterfront promenade), discover antique shops on side streets and don't forget to try all the tasty restaurants in town. Magnolias, Husk and FIG are three particularly popular eateries dishing out decadent Southern fare that diners say will please your palate.

Enjoy the outdoors in Portland, Oregon.

Gardens, parks and markets abound in Portland. You'd be remiss if you didn't get to know the City of Roses by touring the International Rose Test Garden, which is home to more than 10,000 roses of more than 500 varieties. Meanwhile, the Portland Japanese Garden (also within Washington Park) spans nearly 6 acres and features varying styles of traditional Japanese gardening. When you've had your fill of greenery, head to the Portland Saturday Market to peruse the booths selling art, jewelry and more, or relax with a craft beer on a local restaurant patio.

Escape to Alcatraz in San Francisco.

There are a few iconic things to see in the City by the Bay. If checking out the Golden Gate Bridge is high on your list, you can kill two birds with one stone by visiting Alcatraz. Snag a spot near the front of the ferry that transports visitors from Pier 33 to the penitentiary-turned-museum, and you'll enjoy a great view of the bridge. On the island, you can explore Alcatraz at your leisure with the help of an informative audio guide. After returning to the pier, stroll down the Embarcadero (a waterfront roadway) to the Ferry Building Marketplace for a tasty meal from one of the local vendors.

Hike or hit the beach in San Diego.

The No. 1 Most Fun Place to Live garners that accolade for a reason – it's filled with dozens of parks, several beaches, countless bars and restaurants, sports stadiums, concert venues and more. Take some time to explore the 1,200-acre Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo, whether you pack a picnic or plan a day of biking. Laid-back types will enjoy the city's close proximity to two shorelines: Mission Beach and Coronado Beach. Meanwhile, adventurers in search of hiking and gorgeous coastline panoramas can head to Sunset Cliffs Natural Park or Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.
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