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Outdoors

These Are America’s 10 Sunniest Cities

By Daily Passport Team
Read time: 6 minutes

Nothing brightens a vacation like a sunny day. Scientists agree: Sunshine is proven to make us happier and healthier — and just a few minutes of sun exposure increases our levels of Vitamin D. If you’re looking to steer clear of cloudy, rainy days on your next getaway, head to one of the 10 sunniest cities in America, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, which measured the average percent of possible sunshine in major U.S. cities. 

10. Flagstaff, Arizona (78% Average Possible Sunshine)

Brick building on street corner in Flagstaff, Arizona
Credit: Images-USA/ Alamy Stock Photo

One of four Arizona cities to make this list, Flagstaff clocks approximately 3,600 hours of sunshine per year. Located nearly 7,000 feet above sea level, the northern Arizona city is surrounded by mountains, pine forest, and desert, making it an incredible outdoor playground for anyone interested in history, nature, or extreme sports. Walnut Canyon showcases the cliff dwellings of ancient residents, Grand Falls impresses with its epic cascades, and the Arizona Snowbowl is a popular ski area. Arizona’s tallest mountain, Humphreys Peak, is about 11 miles north of Flagstaff, and the Grand Canyon is only 80 miles away.

9. Sacramento, California (78%)

Bridge with reflection on Sacramento River
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California’s capital also averages around 3,600 hours of sun annually, which helps the region’s agricultural industry thrive and earns the city its “Farm-to-Fork” nickname. The abundant sunshine in Sacramento contributes to its ideal climate for enjoying a number of outdoor attractions, like the Old Sacramento Waterfront, a hub for shopping and al fresco drinking and dining. Locals and visitors pass sunny days by biking the 32 miles of paved paths, hanging out in one of the city’s 223 parks, and attending many outdoor annual events.

8. Reno, Nevada (79%)

Road bridge leading to downtown Reno, Nevada
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Reno is known just as much for its 300-plus sunny days each year as it is for its booming casino and tourism industry. There are plenty of options if you come to gamble, but since the desert city is set 4,500 feet high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, it also boasts amazing natural recreation opportunities. Visitors can trek short loops just outside of town, hit the slopes at Mount Rose in the winter, or make the most of the sunny weather and drive 37 miles south to Lake Tahoe for a variety of water activities like kayaking, paddleboarding, and waterskiing.

7. Fresno, California (79%)

Train tracks and high-rise buildings in Fresno, California
Credit: DenisTangneyJr/ iStock via Getty Images 

The sunny climate of the central California city of Fresno average has made it the top agricultural producer in the state, responsible for more than $7.7 billion worth of crops in 2019 alone. Increasingly, Fresno is also considered one of California’s up-and-coming wine-producing regions. See it for yourself and drive the Blossom Trail to gaze upon the bounty of fruit and nut orchards surrounding the city. Visitors should also check out the Underground Gardens, a California Historical Landmark and open-air museum. Bonus: The subterranean tunnels are roughly 10 to 20 degrees cooler than above-ground temperatures!

6. El Paso, Texas (84%)

Homes and office buildings in downtown El Paso, Texas
Credit: DenisTangneyJr/ iStock via Getty Images 

The sun shines in El Paso just under 300 days each year on average, good enough to top the list of sunniest cities in Texas. Aptly nicknamed the “Sun City,” El Paso also boasts warm temperatures and low precipitation, which make outdoor activities a breeze. Camp, hike, bike, or rock climb Franklin Mountains State Park — at 46 square miles, it’s one of the largest urban parks in the U.S. Or, combine outdoor recreation with a history lesson at Hueco Tanks State Historic Site, which features some of the area’s most significant ancient history embedded right into its rock walls.

5. Tucson, Arizona (85%)

Spanish-style church in downtown Tucson, Arizona
Credit: Davel5957/ iStock via Getty Images 

Claiming more than 350 days of sunshine each year, Tucson also boasts mild year-round temperatures and low humidity. The Sonoran Desert surrounding the city provides a spectacular playground for all that sunny weather, beckoning visitors into an otherworldly landscape of cacti, red rocks, and unique desert wildlife. Saguaro National Park and Tucson Mountain Park are excellent ways to experience the best of Tucson’s hiking, mountain biking, and scenic drives. Tucson also has a thriving arts and culture scene with plenty of galleries and museums to check out if all the sun becomes a little too much.

4. Phoenix, Arizona (85%)

Cactus in Arizona desert landscape with mountains in the distance
Credit: LHBLLC/ Shutterstock 

Phoenix sees sun 85% of the time, but all that sunshine comes at a price — the Arizona capital also snags the top spot for hottest city in the U.S. with 107 days of the year seeing temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Phoenix may be hot, but for those willing to brave the heat, it has plenty to offer outdoor enthusiasts (and many great options for those who’d rather spend more time inside). Experience the first rays of the day and epic desert views with a sunrise hot air balloon ride or enjoy a sunny afternoon trek up Camelback Mountain, one of the city’s most popular hiking spots. Beat the heat indoors and cool down at a Phoenix Suns NBA game or hit up the Uptown Farmers Market.

3. Las Vegas, Nevada (85%)

Hotels along the Strip of Las Vegas, Nevada
Credit: PiotrSurowiec/ iStock via Getty Images 

Daytime temperatures in Sin City peak from May to September, with averages climbing into the triple digits. Combine this with roughly 3,800 hours of sunshine each year, and it’s clear why rooftop pools and all-day pool parties are a year-round draw. Soak up the sun with a stroll around on the Strip, and duck into one of many heavily air-conditioned casinos when you need to beat the heat. But don’t be shy about venturing Off-Strip: Attractions like the Red Rock National Conservation Area and Sloan Canyon offer fantastic, less-touristed ways to enjoy all the sunny weather Vegas has to offer.

2. Redding, California (88%)

Empty two-lane highway lined with towering trees in Redding, California
Credit: Jacobs Stock Photography Ltd/ DigitalVision via Getty Images 

If you’re one who thinks there’s no such thing as too much sun, the northern California city of Redding might be an ideal place to check out in July and August. This northeast California city sees sun 97% of the time in the prime summer months. For the full year, you can depend on sunshine 88% of the time, on average. Although temperatures soar into the high 90s in spring and summer, clear skies and dry weather are ideal for exploring all of Redding’s outdoor attractions — from the 42 waterfalls within a 90-minute drive of the city center to the fascinating subterranean wonders at the Caves of Lake Shasta Caverns National Natural Landmark.

1. Yuma, Arizona (90%)

Image of St. Thomas Mission in Yuma, Arizona
Credit: Mark_Breck/ iStock via Getty Images 

The honor for the sunniest place in the U.S. goes to Yuma, a southwestern Arizona city on the Mexican border. In fact, with 330 days of sun and 4,015 annual hours of sun, Yuma is not only the sunniest place in the U.S. — but also the world. On average, the sun shines here for 90% of the time, and even the darkest month of December sees sun for 82% of daylight hours — making it an optimal place for snowbirds to beat winter blues in many other parts of the United States. Pair the abundant sunshine with outdoor exploration; the 300-foot Imperial Sand Dunes and the ghost town and museum of Castle Dome City are great places to start.

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