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Honolulu photo by cliff1066

Feeling down? Spending some time in these cities might just brighten your mood.

EACH OF THE FOLLOWING cities sees sunshine for no less than 70% of annual daylight hours. But more than that, they provide great opportunities to get out and enjoy it!

Yuma, AZ: 90%

Not only does Yuma receive the most sunshine of any U.S. city, but it’s the Guinness Book of World Records’ pick for the sunniest place on Earth!

The landscape is decidedly desert, but thanks to the Colorado and Gila Rivers, water sports offer a perfect way to beat the heat. Boat rentals are available at some of the nearby lakes, and the Parks and Recreation Office leads canoe and kayak excursions.

Las Vegas, NV: 85%

There’s more to Las Vegas than craps tables and the glittering lights of the strip. The city experiences abundant sunshine and is positioned within the stunning geography of southern Nevada.

Hikers, mountain bikers, and rock climbers head to Red Rock Canyon. Lake Mead is also a short drive away, allowing bathers to stay cool while soaking up the sun, then wrap it up with a tour of the monumental Hoover Dam.

El Paso, TX: 84%

The past, present, and future of El Paso is inextricably tied to its sister metropolis across the river: Ciudad Juárez. Several festivals throughout the year pay homage to the area’s Hispanic heritage and are a great excuse to get out under sunny skies.

The well-attended Fiesta de las Flores takes place every Labor Day weekend, while the local celebration of Día de los Muertos (late October – early November) emphasizes the cultural connections between El Paso and Juárez. For fans of Mexican cuisine, La Que Buena Gordita Festival couldn’t sound more delicious.

Albuquerque, NM: 76%

Residents of New Mexico’s largest city are renowned for taking advantage of the outdoors. Nestled between the Rio Grande and the Sandia Mountains, Albuquerque offers up every activity imaginable, from golf to hang gliding.

In addition, the city relies on its fair skies to host the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta every October. The nine-day hot air extravaganza is the world’s largest and features around 700 balloons, adding even more color to Southwestern vistas.

Photo by Michelle.

Key West, FL: 76%

Of course, the sun doesn’t only shine in the West. Famous as the haunt of Hemingway and the southernmost city in the continental U.S., Key West mixes year-round mild temperatures with its solar rays.

The ocean dominates outdoor leisure time, whether it’s testing the sand’s softness on one of several beaches or voyaging offshore on a deep-sea fishing excursion. Alternatively, the historic Old Town lends itself perfectly to two-wheeled exploration. Island Bicycles and Eaton Bikes are among the many shops offering rentals.

Lake Charles, LA: 72%

Southwestern Louisiana is often most closely associated with the petrochemical industry, but it’s also home to another of America’s sunniest cities. Lake Charles is a center of Cajun culture, and its dozens of annual fiestas have earned it the nickname, “The Festival Capital of Louisiana.”

Though playing second fiddle to the main event farther east, Lake Charles’ Mardi Gras still draws crowds. Parades, live music, and a gumbo cook-off make for plenty of fun in the sun (with a more family-friendly atmosphere than New Orleans’ celebration). Later in the year, the huge Contraband Days Festival highlights the city’s colorful history.

Photo by Katie Dureault.

Grand Junction, CO: 71%

Another outdoors mecca, Grand Junction is the largest city on Colorado’s Western Slope. Its proximity to the Colorado National Monument (and, farther afield, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park) introduces countless opportunities for whitewater rafting, camping, hiking, biking, and more.

Even winters see a lot of sun, making time spent in the snow that much more enjoyable. Powderhorn Resort, on Grand Mesa, is less than an hour away, while Telluride and Aspen are a three- and four-hour drive, respectively.

Photo by Ron Layters.

Honolulu, HI: 71%

Last but certainly not least, Hawaii’s capital has been a beacon for sun-seekers for centuries. Honolulu‘s beach-related activities need no elaboration. Its hiking, both along the coast in places like Diamond Head Crater, and in the tropical mountains of interior Oahu, are less well-known but equally worthy of attention.

And for runners of all stripes, Honolulu hosts the sixth-largest marathon in the world. Around 30,000 athletes hit the streets each year to test their stamina under the Hawaiian sun.

What’s your favorite sunny city, whether in the U.S. or abroad? Share your top picks below!

About The Author

Hal Amen

Hal Amen is a managing editor at Matador. His personal travel blog is WayWorded.

  • Uncle Sam

    Reno, Nevada has sunny skies 300 days out of the year, or 82%. Easily Making it onto the list.

  • Hal

    Very true, Uncle Sam! I skipped over several cities running down the list in order to get some geographical variety in there. No fair that the West has 'em all!

  • Daniel

    Ever head of Laredo, TX? Guess not!

    • http://matadortrips.com/ Hal Amen

      See comment above. Thanks for stopping by!

  • ST

    Maybe it should be titled “Sunniest Large Cities”. The small cities I live in/near claim an average of 360 sunny days a year, over 98%. Welcome to the Death Vally Area!

  • Dona

    No idea,

    But I decided to read the article because I read “America” which means the whooooole continent.

    Either you change the title or it’d be more interesting a full list of cities in the continent.

    Cheeres

  • Kate

    Yeah. What about El Centro, CA? At least 330 days of sun a year. The same as Yuma, AZ, if not more.

  • http://top8list,sunnycities Peter Jacobsen

    Hi ,there.
    There are missing a few cities on the list.Phoenix, Tucson, Las Cruces- NM,St .George-UT, to name a few.There is this web-site, wrcc.dri.edu, where there is a climate map on percentage of sunshine in the US.Take a look at that map, instead of this list.Other cities could be Lake Havasu city-AZ, Calexico-CA,
    Brawley-Az, Somerton-AZ.Or El Centro-CA, like Kate wrote.

  • nick

    Stratospheric sulfate aerosols have essentially made this list of ‘sunny’ cities void. Our sunshine is being filtered more every year and Yuma is probably lucky to receive 60% as of 2010. Look at your skies and think about this.

    • Captain

      okie dokie

  • http://gamesfreak.net BOB

    Where’s Los Angeles? Los Angeles gets 340+ days of sunshine.

    • Captain

      Try again, 340 is smog days!

  • Mark Hakamaa

    how is PHX not on this list?

    • Joel

      How about Lake Havasu City, Az.

  • http://www.kruglu.com Tyler

    You’re missing the city that is most commonly ranked 2nd to Yuma, AZ which is Redding, CA.

    • GrammyA

      Redding?  Really?

  • Kalton6

    how about phx az

  • Lynchpin012003

    Austin Texas the best city in the country has to be in the top 10.

  • Paula

    How about Avila Beach, CA?  the sun always shines there.

  • Kay

    You have obviously never been to St. George, UT !!!!!

  • GrammyA

    Phoenix has more sunny days than Albuquerque.  Who made up this list?

  • Llinssen19

    We lived in ABQ for 3 years and now in Tucson for 3 years. Tucson has more sun by far.

  • Judy

    I didn’t see Cleveland, OH in here!

  • Kairisramirez

    I live in Yuma,AZ and was born here!

  • Guest

    i live in yuma and trust me, there isnt single day that we dont get at least 6 hours of really hot sunlight 

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