Top 5 Cities That Boast the Best ‘Urban-Nature’ Balance

Urban living comes with its own set of perks: the proximity to work, the entertainment, and the amenities. But along with living in downtown cores comes the traffic, pollution, and lack of green space.

But more and more urbanites have become much more in tune with Mother Earth, and have an increasing clarity about how important nature is in their daily lives.

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These days, living in urban hubs doesn’t necessarily mean giving up greenery. Americans who crowd inside city centers are increasingly embracing nature, and are seeking out cities that allow them to incorporate it into their lives amidst the concrete jungle.

The trend of receding back to nature has been sweeping across the country for a while now. More and more people have become astute to the importance of caring for the earth and environment. The concept of “urban nature” was born from the fascination of residents and city planners to incorporate green space and everything that goes along with it into city living. More and more downtown dwellers are realizing that perhaps the missing link to handling daily stresses is getting closer to greenery.

When it comes to embracing green space within urban centers, certain cities across the US have got the “urban nature” concept mastered.

1. Portland, OR

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Widely known for its microbreweries and coffee houses, Portland is also known for its abundance of rose patches. Dubbed the “Rose City” for this very reason, the climate in the city and surrounding areas is ideal for growing heards of roses and other flowers and greenery.

Portland gets big points for maintaining a healthy relationship with nature. Forest Park is the biggest urban forest in the US, measuring 5,157 acres with an abundance of trees and over 80 miles of trails. In addition to this massive green space that’s located only 10 minutes from the downtown core, Portland residents can also tap into nature via the Columbia River Gorge, the Cascades, and the gorgeous Pacific coastline.

2. San Francisco, CA

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San Francisco boasts 19% of parkland, and is one of the few spots in the country where you can actually catch a glimpse of wild bison wandering around. Of course they’re not walking amongst the residents on the streets and sidewalks; instead, they’ve got their very own dedicated parkland that they call home.

Golden Gate Park offers bison 1,000 acres of land to roam freely. Aside from the wild buffalo, the park also features a few lakes, the Japanese Tea Garden, the California Academy of Sciences, and a variety of botanical gardens.

San Fran is home to more green space than any other municipality in the country. With over 220 parks, the recreation and parks system in the city offers one of the most unparalleled green settings in the US.

As if that wasn’t enough, more and more eateries are offering up organic food-to-table fare. Hundreds of local chefs shop at farmer’s markets, and regularly use these purchases in their delectable dishes.

3. Boston, MA

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Known for its impeccable architecture and Harvard University, Boston is also one of the oldest cities in the US with a long-standing history of urban farming. With over 7.5 acres featuring more than 500 gardens, the popular Fenway Victory Gardens have been in operation since the 1940s. And the stunning Arnold Arboretum offers up 15,000 living plants that include thousands of different types of trees, shrubs, and vines.

Boston is currently working on wide-open green expanses as part of the city’s new waterfront, which will further help residents surround themselves in what nature has to offer.

4. Austin, TX

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With over 14% of the city occupied by parkland, Austin easily makes this list. While it may be known around the world for its live music, Austin is also known for its urban agriculture, with plenty of community gardens such as the Sustainable Food Center and the YWCA project, both of which have been around for decades.

It’s community gardens like these which produce over 100,000 pounds of fresh food each year. Some even have sessions to teach residents how to use their yards for their own little sustainable farms.

5. Seattle, WA

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The climate in Seattle is perfect for green space. The rain forest in Olympic National Park is a testament to that. Skagit Valley is a popular spot for tens of thousands of snow geese, and Mount Rainier is the best spot for avid hikers. And thanks to the mild summer in Seattle, kayaking in the San Juan Islands is a real treat.

City planners are currently working on the Beacon Food Forest, a 7-acre sanctuary that is specifically designed for urban agriculture. Fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, annuals and edible perennials will be in abundance.

So, where will your green feet take you? With more and more cities in the US embracing nature within their cityscapes, there’s plenty to choose from.