Gallup’s senior scientist, Dan Witters, and National Geographic’s Dan Buettner (also author of Blue Zones of Happiness) spent two years interviewing over 250,000 adults in 190 metro areas to produce a list of the 25 happiest places to live in the country. That list is known as the National Geographic Gallop Special/Blue Zones Index.

Criteria included such things as job growth, economic viability, a sizable percentage of the population under 35 years of age, etc. It turns out that key indicators of happiness are pride of place, purposeful living and pleasure.

Bueller, a researcher, writer and traveler, believes that improved environments lead to improved happiness levels. “Enlightened leaders make conscious decisions to favor quality of life over economic development or political expediency…if you want to get happy, don’t try to change your belief system, change your environment.”

For purposes of space, we’ll summarize key attributes in the top 10 happiest places and simply list the remaining 15.

1. Boulder, CO – area is surrounded by a strong sense of community and immediate access to nature plus it has sustainable urban development and preservation policies. Locals feel “active and productive every day.”
2. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA – place is a paradise for surfers and beach goers and is proximite to redwood forests. It also is home to UC Santa Cruz.
3. Charlottesville, VA – area is an educational outpost to the University of VA, friendly and has easy access to the Blue Ridge Mountains.
4. Fort Collins, CO – its wealth of natural beauty is boundless (Arapaho National Forest, Horsetooth Mountain Open Space, waterfalls, waterfalls, hiking and an Old Town that inspired the creators of Disneyland’s Main Street USA)
5. San Luis Obispo, CA – hiking trails, farmer’s markets, artists’ studios, Bubblegum Alley.
6. San Jose, CA – the heart of Silicon Valley as well as the host to endless outdoor recreational facilities, wildlife habitats, museums, culinary magic, etc.
7. Provo, Utah – located in the American Fork Canyon, the area is known as Silicon Slopes due to its tech culture and gorgeous mountains, waterfalls, museums, hiking, etc.
8. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT – just 40 miles from NYC, the area has the highest concentration of corporations and national headquarters in the country.
9. Barnstable Town, MA – set within Cape Cod, area is a recreational paradise along with historic sites, museums, wildlife sanctuaries, etc.
a. Anchorage, AK – gorgeous and one of hardest working places in the country.
10. Naples – Immokalee-Marco Island, FL
11. Santa Maria – Santa Barbara, CA
12. Salinas, CA
13. North Port – Sarasota – Bradenton, FL
14. Honolulu, HW
15. Ann Arbor, MI
16. San Francisco – Oakland – Hayward
17. Colorado Springs, CO
18. Manchester – Nashua, NJ
19. Oxnard – Thousand Oaks – Ventura, CA
20. Washington – Arlington – Alexandria, DC and VA
21. Minneapolis – St. Paul – Bloomington, MN and WS
22. San Diego – Carlsbad, CA
23. Portland, Maine
24. Austin, TX