Sperling’s Chill Cities

What are the best places in the U.S. to spend a cool, comfortable summer?

Summer heat and humidity can seem relentless, with no relief in sight.  Even moderately-high temperatures can be unbearable when combined with high humidity and nighttime temperatures that refuse to dip.

But there are places around the United States which are reliably cool and comfortable, even during the warmest months – July and August.  I used our new Sperling Heat Index to identify the places with the desirable combination of moderate daytime temps, low humidity, and cool temperatures at night.

Of the 50 largest metro areas in the United States, Seattle, Portland and San Francisco have the most comfortable summers, with mild temperatures, cool nights and humidity so low it’s barely noticeable.  (A full ranking of the 50 largest metros is at the end of this post, plus a ranking of  all 361 U.S. metros.)

Top Ten Chill Cities (of the 50 largest U.S. metro areas)

Rank Metro Daytime  high temp Nighttime low temp  Dew point Relative humidity at high temp
1 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 74.9 52.9 50.8 43%
2 Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, OR-WA 79.2 53.2 51.6 38%
3 San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA 78.5 55.6 52.6 41%
4 Denver-Aurora, CO 83.3 53.4 46.3 28%
5 San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 83.4 55.6 53.5 36%
6 Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY 80.3 60.0 59.3 49%
7 Salt Lake City, UT 88.5 57.1 39.8 18%
8 Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI 81.6 60.6 60.2 48%
9 Detroit-Warren-Livonia, MI 82.3 60.8 59.3 46%
10 Pittsburgh, PA 82.7 60.3 60.2 47%

(full list of 50 at the end of this post)
Click here to get the all the supporting data in a spreadsheet, including high temperatures, nighttime temperatures, dew point and relative humidity

Our analysis is unique in that it includes the average nighttime low temperature.  Some places, especially those at high altitude, may have daytime high temperatures in the 80’s, but then drop into the 40’s at night, providing a welcome relief to the summer heat.

So how “chill” is summer in Seattle?  At the time I’m writing this post (July 18th), Seattle has had only one day in excess of 90 degrees so far this year, and is forecast to end the month of July without any measureable rainfall for the month.  Summers in the Pacific Northwest are probably the most pleasant in the U.S., and even the rain stays away, sometimes for a month or more at a stretch.

Thanks to the barrier of the Rocky Mountains, the West is almost immune to the stifling humidity of the Midwest and Eastern United States.  It’s a rare day in any of the West’s coastal or mountain states when the humidity is enough to be noticeable, let alone uncomfortable.

And if you’re looking for cool vacation spot this summer, start with our list of Chill Cities.  It’s not guaranteed but the chances are excellent that you’ll have great weather for your outdoor activities.

At the other end of our list of Chill Cities are the Sizzling Cities, where residents can expect to spend the summer sweltering.  As one might expect, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Dallas lead this ranking, followed by Houston, Austin, and San Antonio.  These summer “hotspots” combine high daytime temperature and stifling humidity with nighttime temperatures that often do not provide needed relief.

Click here to get the all the supporting data in a spreadsheet, including high temperatures, nighttime temperatures, dew point and relative humidity.

Sperling’s Chill Cities rankings for the 50 largest U.S. metro areas.

Rank Chill Cities (metro areas)
1 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
2 Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, OR-WA
3 San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA
4 Denver-Aurora, CO
5 San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
6 Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY
7 Salt Lake City, UT
8 Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI
9 Detroit-Warren-Livonia, MI
10 Pittsburgh, PA
11 Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH
12 Providence-New Bedford-Fall River, RI-MA
13 Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI
14 Sacramento–Arden-Arcade–Roseville, CA
15 Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT
16 Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, OH
17 San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA
18 Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL-IN-WI
19 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA
20 New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA
21 Columbus, OH
22 Indianapolis-Carmel, IN
23 Cincinnati-Middletown, OH-KY-IN
24 Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD
25 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
26 Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN
27 Baltimore-Towson, MD
28 Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN
29 St. Louis, MO-IL
30 Kansas City, MO-KS
31 Richmond, VA
32 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA
33 Raleigh-Cary, NC
34 Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC
35 Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, NC-SC
36 Birmingham-Hoover, AL
37 Memphis, TN-MS-AR
38 Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA
39 Oklahoma City, OK
40 Jacksonville, FL
41 Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL
42 Orlando-Kissimmee, FL
43 New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, LA
44 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL
45 San Antonio, TX
46 Austin-Round Rock, TX
47 Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX
48 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX
49 Las Vegas-Paradise, NV
50 Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ

And here is the full Chill Cities ranking of all 361 metro areas.

Rank Chill Cities (metro area) Population
1 Anchorage, AK 380,821
2 Fairbanks, AK 97,581
3 Bend, OR 157,733
4 Mount Vernon-Anacortes, WA 116,901
5 Salinas, CA 415,057
6 Boulder, CO 294,567
7 Colorado Springs, CO 645,613
8 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 3,439,809
9 Olympia, WA 252,264
10 Missoula, MT 109,299
11 Bellingham, WA 201,140
12 Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA 262,382
13 Eugene-Springfield, OR 351,715
14 Bremerton-Silverdale, WA 251,133
15 Salem, OR 390,738
16 Fort Collins-Loveland, CO 299,630
17 Longview, WA 102,410
18 Great Falls, MT 81,327
19 San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, CA 269,637
20 Spokane, WA 471,221
21 Corvallis, OR 85,579
22 Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, OR-WA 2,226,009
23 Coeur d’Alene, ID 138,494
24 Duluth, MN-WI 279,771
25 Idaho Falls, ID 130,374
26 Santa Rosa-Petaluma, CA 483,878
27 Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, CA 423,895
28 San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA 4,335,391
29 Denver-Aurora, CO 2,543,487
30 Utica-Rome, NY 299,397
31 Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA 823,318
32 Bangor, ME 153,923
33 Medford, OR 203,206
34 Pocatello, ID 90,656
35 Cheyenne, WY 91,738
36 Pittsfield, MA 131,219
37 Green Bay, WI 306,241
38 Wausau, WI 134,063
39 Kingston, NY 182,493
40 Grand Forks, ND-MN 98,461
41 Casper, WY 75,450
42 Carson City, NV 55,274
43 Portland-South Portland-Biddeford, ME 514,098
44 Wenatchee, WA 110,884
45 Binghamton, NY 251,725
46 Lewiston-Auburn, ME 107,702
47 Billings, MT 158,050
48 San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 1,836,911
49 Ithaca, NY 101,564
50 State College, PA 153,990
51 Springfield, MA 692,942
52 Elmira, NY 88,830
53 Burlington-South Burlington, VT 211,261
54 Napa, CA 136,484
55 Logan, UT-ID 125,442
56 Syracuse, NY 662,577
57 Santa Fe, NM 144,170
58 Rapid City, SD 126,382
59 Scranton–Wilkes-Barre, PA 563,631
60 Worcester, MA 798,552
61 Muskegon-Norton Shores, MI 172,188
62 Sheboygan, WI 115,507
63 Johnstown, PA 143,679
64 Bismarck, ND 108,779
65 Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY 870,716
66 Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY 1,135,509
67 Eau Claire, WI 161,151
68 Manchester-Nashua, NH 400,721
69 Glens Falls, NY 128,923
70 Erie, PA 280,566
71 Salt Lake City, UT 1,124,197
72 Flint, MI 425,790
73 Boise City-Nampa, ID 616,561
74 Reno-Sparks, NV 425,417
75 Yakima, WA 243,231
76 Appleton, WI 225,666
77 Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI 774,160
78 Saginaw-Saginaw Township North, MI 200,169
79 Greeley, CO 252,825
80 St. Cloud, MN 189,093
81 Bay City, MI 107,771
82 Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA 565,773
83 Fond du Lac, WI 101,633
84 Rochester, NY 1,054,323
85 Fargo, ND-MN 208,777
86 Morgantown, WV 129,709
87 Grand Junction, CO 146,723
88 Altoona, PA 127,089
89 Battle Creek, MI 136,146
90 Albuquerque, NM 887,077
91 Mansfield, OH 124,475
92 Barnstable Town, MA 215,888
93 Flagstaff, AZ 134,421
94 Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI 1,555,908
95 Holland-Grand Haven, MI 263,801
96 Rochester, MN 186,011
97 Jackson, MI 160,248
98 Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford, VA 162,958
99 Ann Arbor, MI 344,791
100 Madison, WI 568,593
101 Racine, WI 195,408
102 Lansing-East Lansing, MI 464,036
103 Detroit-Warren-Livonia, MI 4,296,250
104 Oshkosh-Neenah, WI 166,994
105 Pittsburgh, PA 2,356,285
106 Canton-Massillon, OH 404,422
107 Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH 4,552,262
108 La Crosse, WI-MN 133,665
109 South Bend-Mishawaka, IN-MI 319,224
110 Kennewick-Richland-Pasco, WA 253,340
111 Providence-New Bedford-Fall River, RI-MA 1,600,852
112 Kalamazoo-Portage, MI 326,589
113 Redding, CA 177,223
114 Provo-Orem, UT 526,810
115 Akron, OH 703,200
116 Ogden-Clearfield, UT 547,184
117 Williamsport, PA 116,111
118 Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI 3,279,833
119 Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, NY 670,301
120 Lewiston, ID-WA 60,888
121 Sacramento–Arden-Arcade–Roseville, CA 2,149,127
122 Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT 1,212,381
123 Elkhart-Goshen, IN 197,559
124 Janesville, WI 160,331
125 Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, OH 2,077,240
126 Norwich-New London, CT 274,055
127 Monroe, MI 152,021
128 Asheville, NC 424,858
129 San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA 3,095,313
130 Weirton-Steubenville, WV-OH 124,454
131 Fort Wayne, IN 416,257
132 Sioux Falls, SD 228,261
133 Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA 167,819
134 Kokomo, IN 98,688
135 Springfield, OH 138,333
136 Lebanon, PA 133,568
137 Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL-IN-WI 9,461,106
138 Pueblo, CO 159,063
139 Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ 821,173
140 Cumberland, MD-WV 103,299
141 Farmington, NM 130,044
142 Dubuque, IA 93,653
143 Wheeling, WV-OH 147,950
144 Niles-Benton Harbor, MI 156,813
145 Cedar Rapids, IA 257,940
146 Michigan City-La Porte, IN 111,467
147 Lima, OH 106,331
148 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA 12,828,837
149 Ames, IA 89,542
150 Yuba City, CA 166,892
151 New Haven-Milford, CT 862,477
152 Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT 916,829
153 Anderson, IN 131,636
154 Toledo, OH 651,429
155 New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA 18,897,109
156 Rockford, IL 349,431
157 Harrisonburg, VA 125,228
158 Columbus, OH 1,836,536
159 Winchester, VA-WV 128,472
160 Sioux City, IA-NE-SD 143,577
161 Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA 549,475
162 Lafayette, IN 201,789
163 Indianapolis-Carmel, IN 1,756,241
164 Reading, PA 411,442
165 Parkersburg-Marietta-Vienna, WV-OH 162,056
166 Stockton, CA 685,306
167 Muncie, IN 117,671
168 Sandusky, OH 77,079
169 Hagerstown-Martinsburg, MD-WV 269,140
170 Champaign-Urbana, IL 231,891
171 Bloomington-Normal, IL 169,572
172 Bloomington, IN 192,714
173 Johnson City, TN 198,716
174 Dayton, OH 841,502
175 Lancaster, PA 519,445
176 Kankakee-Bradley, IL 113,449
177 Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA 569,633
178 Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH 287,702
179 Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL 379,690
180 Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, TN-VA 309,544
181 Lynchburg, VA 252,634
182 Peoria, IL 379,186
183 York-Hanover, PA 434,972
184 Cincinnati-Middletown, OH-KY-IN 2,130,151
185 Vallejo-Fairfield, CA 413,344
186 Chico, CA 220,000
187 Danville, IL 81,625
188 Iowa City, IA 152,586
189 Trenton-Ewing, NJ 366,513
190 Visalia-Porterville, CA 442,179
191 Ocean City, NJ 97,265
192 Charleston, WV 304,284
193 Springfield, IL 210,170
194 Terre Haute, IN 172,425
195 Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA 865,350
196 Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD 5,965,343
197 Columbus, IN 76,794
198 Roanoke, VA 308,707
199 Lexington-Fayette, KY 472,099
200 Morristown, TN 136,608
201 Atlantic City, NJ 274,549
202 Charlottesville, VA 201,559
203 Elizabethtown, KY 119,736
204 Decatur, IL 110,768
205 Fresno, CA 930,450
206 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 5,582,170
207 Vineland-Millville-Bridgeton, NJ 156,898
208 Cleveland, TN 115,788
209 Madera, CA 150,865
210 Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN 1,283,566
211 Winston-Salem, NC 477,717
212 Lincoln, NE 302,157
213 Chattanooga, TN-GA 528,143
214 Merced, CA 255,793
215 Amarillo, TX 249,881
216 Knoxville, TN 698,030
217 St. Joseph, MO-KS 127,329
218 Modesto, CA 514,453
219 Danville, VA 106,561
220 Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC 365,497
221 Springfield, MO 436,712
222 Greenville-Mauldin-Easley, SC 636,986
223 Baltimore-Towson, MD 2,710,489
224 Prescott, AZ 211,033
225 St. George, UT 138,115
226 Jefferson City, MO 149,807
227 Honolulu, HI 953,207
228 Salisbury, MD 125,203
229 Dover, DE 162,310
230 Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN 1,589,934
231 Bakersfield, CA 839,631
232 St. Louis, MO-IL 2,812,896
233 Bowling Green, KY 125,953
234 Topeka, KS 233,870
235 Columbia, MO 172,786
236 Durham, NC 504,357
237 Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO 463,204
238 Kansas City, MO-KS 2,035,334
239 Greensboro-High Point, NC 723,801
240 Gainesville, GA 179,684
241 Richmond, VA 1,258,251
242 Lawrence, KS 110,826
243 Burlington, NC 151,131
244 Dalton, GA 142,227
245 Evansville, IN-KY 358,676
246 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA 5,268,860
247 Clarksville, TN-KY 273,949
248 Hanford-Corcoran, CA 152,982
249 Spartanburg, SC 284,307
250 Las Cruces, NM 209,233
251 Florence-Muscle Shoals, AL 147,137
252 Owensboro, KY 114,752
253 Joplin, MO 175,518
254 Raleigh-Cary, NC 1,130,490
255 Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC 1,671,683
256 Decatur, AL 153,829
257 Athens-Clarke County, GA 192,541
258 Huntsville, AL 417,593
259 Jacksonville, NC 177,772
260 Anderson, SC 187,126
261 Lubbock, TX 284,890
262 Rocky Mount, NC 152,392
263 Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, NC-SC 1,758,038
264 Jackson, TN 115,425
265 Wichita, KS 623,061
266 Rome, GA 96,317
267 Anniston-Oxford, AL 118,572
268 Birmingham-Hoover, AL 1,128,047
269 Auburn-Opelika, AL 140,247
270 Hot Springs, AR 96,024
271 Greenville, NC 189,510
272 Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC 269,291
273 El Paso, TX 800,647
274 Jonesboro, AR 121,026
275 Macon, GA 232,293
276 Fort Smith, AR-OK 298,592
277 Goldsboro, NC 122,623
278 Gadsden, AL 104,430
279 Sumter, SC 107,456
280 Fayetteville, NC 366,383
281 Wilmington, NC 362,315
282 Memphis, TN-MS-AR 1,316,100
283 Montgomery, AL 374,536
284 Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC 556,877
285 Columbia, SC 767,598
286 Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR 699,757
287 Florence, SC 205,566
288 Hattiesburg, MS 142,842
289 Tulsa, OK 937,478
290 Valdosta, GA 139,588
291 Columbus, GA-AL 294,865
292 Warner Robins, GA 139,900
293 Jackson, MS 539,057
294 Tuscaloosa, AL 219,461
295 Gainesville, FL 264,275
296 Pascagoula, MS 162,246
297 Odessa, TX 137,130
298 Midland, TX 136,872
299 Dothan, AL 145,639
300 Tallahassee, FL 367,413
301 Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA 4,224,851
302 San Angelo, TX 111,823
303 Oklahoma City, OK 1,252,987
304 Fort Walton Beach-Crestview-Destin, FL 180,822
305 Albany, GA 157,308
306 Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL 494,593
307 Charleston-North Charleston, SC 664,607
308 Sebastian-Vero Beach, FL 138,028
309 Gulfport-Biloxi, MS 248,820
310 Monroe, LA 176,441
311 Pine Bluff, AR 100,258
312 Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL 448,991
313 Mobile, AL 412,992
314 Jacksonville, FL 1,345,596
315 Baton Rouge, LA 802,484
316 Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL 543,376
317 Port St. Lucie, FL 424,107
318 Ocala, FL 331,298
319 Texarkana, TX-Texarkana, AR 136,027
320 Abilene, TX 165,252
321 North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota, FL 702,281
322 Lafayette, LA 273,738
323 Tyler, TX 209,714
324 Brunswick, GA 112,370
325 Alexandria, LA 153,922
326 Hinesville-Fort Stewart, GA 77,917
327 Shreveport-Bossier City, LA 398,604
328 Sherman-Denison, TX 120,877
329 Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL 2,783,243
330 Savannah, GA 347,611
331 Houma-Bayou Cane-Thibodaux, LA 208,178
332 Longview, TX 214,369
333 Orlando-Kissimmee, FL 2,134,411
334 Naples-Marco Island, FL 321,520
335 Lawton, OK 124,098
336 New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, LA 1,167,785
337 Lake Charles, LA 199,607
338 Lakeland, FL 602,095
339 Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX 388,745
340 Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood, TX 405,300
341 Panama City-Lynn Haven, FL 168,852
342 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL 5,564,635
343 Punta Gorda, FL 159,978
344 Tucson, AZ 980,263
345 San Antonio, TX 2,142,508
346 Austin-Round Rock, TX 1,716,289
347 Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL 618,754
348 Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX 5,946,800
349 Wichita Falls, TX 151,306
350 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 6,371,773
351 College Station-Bryan, TX 228,660
352 Waco, TX 234,906
353 Victoria, TX 115,384
354 Corpus Christi, TX 428,185
355 Brownsville-Harlingen, TX 406,220
356 Las Vegas-Paradise, NV 1,951,269
357 McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX 774,769
358 Laredo, TX 250,304
359 Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ 4,192,887
360 El Centro, CA 174,528
361 Yuma, AZ 195,751

Click here to get the all the supporting data in a spreadsheet, including high temperatures, nighttime temperatures, dew point and relative humidity.

 

7 Replies to “Sperling’s Chill Cities”

  1. I need to check out these criteria. San Francisco warmer than Portland? Where are you measuring these temperatures? SFO is much warmer than downtown, and LAX much cooler. And chill and cloudy San Diego, warmer than Sacramento? Can I doubt?

    1. Yes Hcat, doubt away!
      I find a little doubt and critical thinking is always a good thing, when there is so much misinformation and half-truths in the media and Internet.
      As I mentioned in a reply to another comment, these average high temps for July and August are for the entire metro area, which includes not only the central city (or cities) but also the surrounding counties.
      For example, the metro area of Eugene, Oregon is comprised of Lane Country, which itself stretches from the Pacific Ocean 117 miles inland to the peaks of the Three Sisters, rising 10,000 feet in the Cascade mountain range.
      So an “average temperature” for the Eugene metro area is always going to be wrong to some extent.
      I’m rethinking the notion of using reporting the Heat Index for metro areas, and use the average temperatures and dew point for the major cities instead.
      Thanks,
      Bert

  2. You clearly have never been to Salt Lake. We are constantly over 100 and the July-August temps average over 90. I believe your data is wrong.

    1. Steve.
      Yes, this is part of the problem in talking about “metropolitan areas”. Metro areas include the central cities and the surrounding counties, which sometimes includes mountains and beaches in the same metro.
      So climates can vary quite a bit even within the same metro area. As another poster points out, San Francisco temperatures vary greatly between the city and their airport, which is the site of most climate readings.
      Maybe we should focus on the just the city and not the surrounding counties.
      Best,
      Bert

  3. How was the data calculated? They seem to be an average of June, July, and August, but do not seem to match the official reporting stations. For example, at Richmond Int’l, according to NOAA, only July has an average monthly high exceeding 89 F, but the spreadsheet gives 89.5 as the average JJA high

  4. I enjoyed your list.

    Having been to many of those cities, I think there is a lot more to life than just temperature.

    Of your top three, only Portland has a good quality of life, IMHO. I really do not like traffic. And I would place Milwaukee and Minneapolis higher, because of quality of life, but I don’t think I could afford it there.

    But, now I have to check out a bunch more cities.

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