Aerial view of Boulder, Colorado, a green city, on a sunny day

Guide to America’s 10 Greenest Cities

Aerial view of Boulder, Colorado, a green city, on a sunny day

Guide to America’s 10 Greenest Cities

In these 10 cities from coast-to-coast, Earth Day is every day. From Homer, Alaska, all the way to Atlanta, Georgia, check out this handy guide to some of the cities leading the movement to go green.

For this year’s Earth Day celebration, why not experience one of the many green cities that help make America beautiful? Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventure or an eco-friendly urban hangout, you can find it in these 10 must-visit, earth-friendly destinations.

1. Portland, Oregon

Sustainability is a way of life in Portland. Residents recycle 63 percent of their trash and host regular neighborhood tree plantings. You can find a green take on almost anything in the City of Roses, from an environmentally friendly laundromat cafe to an organic eco-brewpub.

View of a bridge, with the reflection of the city over water leading into Portland, Oregon, at twilight
Source: Good Morning Portland!! by Ian Sane under CC BY 2.0

2. Homer, Alaska

In a state famous for natural beauty, Homer, Alaska, is the ecotourism capital. Located at the tip of the Kenai Peninsula, it’s where people go for whale watching, kayaking, hiking, and other outdoor fun. You can count on seeing an eyeful of glaciers, and you might even spot a bear.

Backpacker crosses narrow wooden bridge surrounded by trees in Homer, Alaska, on an overcast day
Source: Photo by Joel Danford

3. New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans may be a nonstop party, but the residents know how to keep it green. The city’s shops serve up local food, fair trade apparel, and vintage upcycled fashion and decor. Suburban plantations are a throwback to the area’s agrarian roots, while urban farms popping up inside the city are bringing the tradition full circle.

View of tree-lined pathway to a building on a sunny day in New Orleans, Louisiana
Source: Oak Alley Plantation by Prayitno under CC BY 2.0

4. Seattle, Washington

The Emerald City has plenty to offer outdoor enthusiasts. Take a trip to Discovery Park for views of the mountains from a bluff overlooking Puget Sound, or enjoy parasailing, boating, and more water activities on one of the many lakes. Seattle also has a killer skyline with Mt. Rainier photobombs in the background.

Yellow 2-person kayak on water with Seattle, Washington, skyline in far off distance on clear day
Source: Photo courtesy of Visit Seattle/Howard Frisk Photography

5. Greenville, South Carolina

It’s not just in the name; Greenville is green to the core. Bikers and pedestrians rave about Swamp Rabbit Trail, a level, leisurely path that runs for 20 miles along the river past the zoo to the local college. Meanwhile, the downtown area has more than just shops and restaurants — it has its own waterfall.

A waterfall flows into a river along Swamp Rabbit Trail under bridge in Greenville, South Carolina, on clear day
Source: Photo courtesy of VisitGreenvilleSC

6. San Francisco, California

With the highest number of farmers’ markets per person, San Francisco leads the U.S. locavore movement and is a premier destination for fresh, locally sourced food. For a splurge, try NOPA near the Painted Ladies for farm-based dishes, or pick up ingredients for your own organic feast on the cheap at Heart of the City Farmers’ Market at the Civic Center.

A waiter in a purple shirt serves a couple their food on white plates at a farm-to-table restaurant in San Francisco, California
Source: Photo courtesy of San Francisco Travel

7. Atlanta, Georgia

How can a city famous for traffic jams be green? Atlanta earned its nickname of ‘City in the Forest’ thanks to a tree canopy that covers nearly half the city. Take a stroll in Fernbank Forest, a 65-acre outdoor museum of old-growth trees, or in Midtown’s Piedmont Park, with a lake, playgrounds, dog parks, farmers’ market, and even an organic garden.

Aerial view of Piedmont Park with Atlanta, Georgia, skyline in background on a clear sunny day
Source: Photo courtesy of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau

8. Austin, Texas

Get outdoors in beautiful Austin, Texas where there’s certainly plenty of room. This green city has 227 miles of trails and more than 20,000 acres of public green spaces. It even offers a green walking tour that allows you to explore the eco-friendly city hall, bat ecology, local food, and more.

Aerial view of Austin, Texas cityscape along a river at dusk
Source: Photo Courtesy of Geoff Duncan of Visit Austin

9. Boulder, Colorado

Boulder, Colorado, likes to keep things rugged. With 45,000 acres of unspoiled nature, it’s the place for outdoor adventure with tubing, mountain biking, sledding, and river rafting. Even downtown, the city shows its green heart with compost bins and bike racks along the popular, pedestrian friendly Pearl Street Mall. The city has also been known to turn the annual Earth Day celebration into a weeklong extravaganza.

Two hikers planning their trek toward the Flatirons in Boulder, Colorado, under blue sky
Source: Photo by Denise Chambers

10. Burlington, Vermont

Burlington may not be large, but it’s big on being green. This small city sits on the northwestern shores of Vermont, and like any coastal town, it’s got its fair share of water fun, from kayaking to paddle boarding. Food is locally sourced from nearby farms and dairies, not just for touristy restaurants but for local use in school cafeterias and more.

Colorful sunset with boat in background over Lake Champlain in Burlington, Vermont.
Source: Adobe Stock

Did we miss any awesome green cities in our roundup? Head over to Facebook and let us know!

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