The 15 happiest places to live in the United States

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Cincinnati, Ohio

population: 309,513
Average house price: $272,750
Average rental price: $1,116
Percentage of parks: 17
Percentage of population living within a ten-minute walk of the park: 88
Walking points: 49
Bike points: 65
Municipal Equality Index Score: 100
demographics: 49% white; 40% black; 4% Latino; 2% Asian; Another 5%

Geography has a lot to do with Cincinnati’s friendly atmosphere. “We’re great because we’re part North, part South, right on the edge of Appalachia, and right in the Midwest,” says Brandon Behmer, service manager at Roads, Rivers, and Trails outdoor store.

Historically, the Queen City’s strategic location along the Ohio River made it an important stop on the Underground Railroad. Today, this route and others are used by hikers and cyclists who travel the 2,008-mile Underground Railroad bike route, as well as the 4,800-mile North Country National Scenic Trail. Paddlers can kayak for miles on the Little Miami River, which sometimes parallels the 78-mile-long, paved, shaded Little Miami Scenic Trail.

Cincinnati has a temperate climate, with particularly beautiful spring and fall conducive to enjoying its 8,057 acres of green space and 365 parks and recreation areas. However, by the end of the century, the average annual temperature is expected to rise seven degrees globally, which could make summers here uncomfortable.

To combat climate change, Cincinnati’s Green Plan, updated earlier this year, commits to reducing carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and reaching 100 percent carbon neutrality by 2050. Forty miles east of downtown is the Matrix New solar market, which started generating solar energy. Energy for the city in 2022 is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 158 thousand tons per year. It is one of the largest solar projects built by cities in the country.

There’s also a vibrant LGBTQ+ community, many gay bars and events, a lively arts scene, a strong job market, and a reasonable cost of living. Other concessions include Findlay Market, a food pavilion in the historic Rhine River neighborhood where more than 50 merchants sell meat, fish, poultry and local produce.

Another secret to happy Cincinnatians? beer. The first breweries were founded by German immigrants in the 19th century, and more than 80 are still going strong. Visit Esoteric Brewery, the city’s first beer shop owned by African and Asian Americans; Serve beers, ales, and IPAs with a side of Korean fried chicken.

Carrie Mickey, who has lived in the Cincinnati metro area twice and returned with her family to the same neighborhood, has this to say about her city: “The people are beautiful, and the winters are short.”

Room for improvement: If climate change continues unabated, the intensity of heat, storms and hurricanes in this region is expected to increase. But city officials point to abundant fresh water, a healthy tree canopy, and strong sustainability initiatives in place as the way forward. – Stephanie Pearson

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