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Friends on a tropical vacation (Photo by wang xi on Unsplash)

NEW YORK — In this fast-paced and hectic world we live in today, everyone needs a place where they can kick back, relax, and unwind. Whether it’s sitting in the sand at a beach or taking a hike through a majestic forest, there are many places in the United States that offer a much-needed oasis of tranquility. A recent study is taking the guesswork out of this search, revealing a wide-ranging list of the most relaxing U.S. cities, promising serenity and rejuvenation that fits anyone’s tastes.

To compile this guide, researchers tapped into Yelp’s API, analyzing consumer reviews to spotlight the crème de la crème of spas, parks, yoga studios, and botanical gardens across 100 U.S. cities. They zeroed in on establishments that consistently earned rave reviews, scoring between 4 to 5 stars, to ensure the recommendations were truly top-notch.

Additionally, the study delved into Google search trends, examining the popularity of relaxation-related activities such as origami, pottery, and painting, to gauge the collective pulse on seeking serenity.

Two cities in CaliforniaGlendale and Garden Grove — clinched the top spots, as Belleville, Washington, rounded out the top three. Researchers say these cities are sanctuaries of calm, offering a plethora of activities and spaces designed for relaxation.

top 10 most relaxing cities

On the flip side, however, cities like Houston, New York, and Fort Worth are identified as the least conducive to relaxation, suggesting that the bustling city life there might be more of a barrier to finding peace.

Interestingly, the study also highlighted the cities where people are most actively seeking relaxation. Seattle, Washington, San Jose, California, and St. Paul, Minnesota top that list, meaning that stress-relieving activities in these areas is in seriously high demand.

California: A Relaxation Realm?

California shines in the spotlight, claiming five spots in the top 10, thanks to its stellar yoga studios and spas. Glendale, a suburb nestled close to the mountains, and Garden Grove, positioned conveniently outside the hustle and bustle of Anaheim, exemplify the high-quality relaxation offerings that helped them secure their top spots. The other three Golden State cities in the top 10 include Huntington Beach, Hayward, and Corona.

“The stellar ratings in yoga studios and spas make Glendale, CA, a standout,” the researchers write in a statement. “A northern suburb of Los Angeles, Glendale is closer to the mountains and features a well-known wilderness park filled with walking trails. The city of Garden Grove is also in California, just outside the Disneyland crowds of Anaheim. Its top-rated spas, parks, and yoga studios helped it land in second place.”

Bellevue, Washington, with its picturesque views and abundant outdoor activities, rounds out the top three, showcasing the diverse landscapes and opportunities for rejuvenation that the U.S. has to offer.

relaxing cities United States

Exploring Relaxation Hotspots and Not-spots

The study goes beyond just ranking cities, offering insights into specific areas like botanical gardens and community parks — essential for mental well-being and stress reduction. For example, cities like Corona and Bellevue are celebrated for their lush, well-maintained gardens and parks, presenting perfect settings for a peaceful retreat.

Conversely, the research identifies “not-spots” such as New York and Houston, where finding top-rated botanical experiences is significantly more challenging, underscoring the urban challenge of accessing natural, serene spaces.

Methodology synthesized data from Yelp’s API to determine the cities with the most highly rated relaxing activities. For each city, only considered establishments on Yelp with ratings between 4 and 5 stars. Additionally, collected Google Trend search volume data for city-level creative activities.

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