Fantasizing about ditching big city life for small town America? Money magazine can help. They released their annual list of the 50 Best Places to Live in America, ranking cities with populations between 50,000 and 300,000 on more than 50 factors—including local economy, housing market, school attendance, test scores, and access to healthcare. Reporters then visited the top 35 to examine things that can’t be found in census data, such as community spirit and lifestyle.
While McKinney, Texas, landed first prize, second place went to a small Minnesotan city, Maple Grove, for its residents' healthy, outdoors-loving lifestyles.
A suburb of Minneapolis, this small city boasts a population over 60,000. While the job market is booming and housing prices are reasonable, the real draw is Maple Grove's extensive network of parks and trails that make outdoor activities easy and fun.
“From our house, we have five parks within two miles,” resident Erica Mulcahy told Money. The town maintains a 36-mile network of paved trails making it easy to access Maple Grove's 10(!) lakes and countless parks by foot or bike. Residents who work or go to school within city limits are able to commute without setting foot in their car.
The Elm Creek Park Reserve is one of many outdoor spots popular with the locals in the summertime for swimming, mountain biking, and hiking. During the winter, the 4,900-acre park remains open offering cross-country ski trails, tubing hills, and a downhill ski-area complete with warming chalet.
These are only some of the recreational options in which Maple Grove citizens can partake. But it's clear that the town's continued commitment to growing and improving outdoor spaces certainly helps keep it one of America's healthiest places to live.