America's Sunniest Cities, Ranked
People have worshipped the sun since the 14th century B.C. Without the sun, life wouldn't exist on Earth. It keeps us warm, gives us light and gives life to vegetation on our planet. It has also been found to stimulate serotonin that keeps us happy, focused and calm.
It's no wonder the most popular vacations are to sunny destinations and that some of the largest cities in the country are in sun-filled states. But just where are the sunniest cities in the U.S.?
Move.org tallied up the annual days of sun found in American cities and found the following to be the sunniest. Take a look.
40. Charlotte, North Carolina (tie)
Annual Sunshine: 235 days
North Carolina's Piedmont region is quickly growing with businesses that enjoy lower costs found in the Southeast, but plenty of people are also relocating to enjoy the great weather.
Summers can get hot and humid, but fall, winter and spring are very mild, with the lowest temps found in January just falling before freezing. Plus, this city's location between the beach and the mountains provides ample choices of things to see and do.
40. San Juan, Puerto Rico (tie)
Annual Sunshine: 235 days
Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, giving travelers a chance to travel to the Caribbean without a passport.
Sun, sea and sizzling temps — the average mean temperature in San Juan is 85 degrees Fahrenheit — are just about perfect for an upcoming vacay, and there are plenty of oceanfront resorts and adventures to be found along the turquoise blue waters or the rainforest-covered land.
39. Wichita, Kansas
Annual Sunshine: 236.5 days
Wichita is also a very mild-weather city, and beyond its sun-filled days, temps average highs of 68 and lows of 46.
Located in south-central Kansas, Wichita is home to botanical gardens, a large zoo and the living history Old Cowtown Museum that can be enjoyed year-round because you won't mind strolling the grounds in weather like this.
37. Valentine, Nebraska (tie)
Annual Sunshine: Nearly 237 days
This small town may not garner much attention on the tourism circuit, but with the sun shining on them as they enjoy Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge's prairies and waterfall, the residents don't mind keeping their town a secret.
Like Wichita, Valentine's average highs are a mild 62 degrees. Winter may drop to an average 34, and the town gets an average of 38 inches of snow, but that doesn't keep the sun away very long.
37. Paducah, Kentucky (tie)
Annual Sunshine: Nearly 237 days
Tied with Valentine is Paducah, Kentucky, which is located between St. Louis and Nashville where the Ohio and Tennessee rivers meet.
Summers can get hot — with an 89-degree average — but the river provides some reprieve. Still, if it gets too hot and the sun is too blinding, pop into one of the area's breweries and wineries and stroll along the city's riverfront for its cooling breezes.
36. Honolulu, Hawaii
Annual Sunshine: 239 days
There was probably little doubt that Hawaii would have some of the nation's sunniest cities, and indeed, it has two. The first to make the list is the state capital, home to the world-famous Waikiki Beach. It is said this beach is where surfing originated in the United States.
It's Honolulu — and Oahu's — sunshine and island vibes that make residents and visitors alike truly some of the happiest people around.
35. Winnemucca, Nevada
Annual Sunshine: 240 days
This will not be the last time Nevada appears on the list; it's definitely a sun-filled state. Here in the north-central area, Winnemucca made history when an unsolved bank robbery took place in 1900. It is rumored to have been Butch Cassidy and his merry gang who made off with the loot.
But the outlaws missed out leaving behind a sunny spot. Today, the rural town is home to its own small museums and casinos, and its location provides dry, sunny skies year-round. Temps can dip into the teens during the winter and exceed the 90s in the summer, but there are plenty of in-between days to be enjoyed.
34. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Annual Sunshine: 243 days
The mean temperature for Oklahoma City is certainly OK by us: a comfortable 61 degrees. Sure it can get muggy in the summer and snow can touch down in the winter — only averaging 6 to 8 inches — but that's nothing to complain about.
This capital city is filled with attractions, too. Spend time outdoors at Myriad Botanical Gardens and the city's zoo, or hide out indoors at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage and any number of its multiple themed-museums.
33. Salt Lake City, Utah
Annual Sunshine: 244 days
Utah is filled with sunshine and, luckily, has five of the country's best national parks located within its borders. The sun plays a role in the beauty of the parks when it hits red rocks and canyons to provide a different look at every hour in Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands and Arches.
In the capital city, it can get cool with the mean temp hovering over 60 degrees and winter days sticking near the mid-40s, which means you shouldn't have to worry about frostbite here.
31. Lander, Wyoming (tie)
Annual Sunshine: 244.5 days
While it may have more sun than most the cities in America, Lander also receives much more snow. The average amount of snowfall received in the U.S. is 28 inches, but for this small town in Wyoming, it gets a whopping 58 inches. Yet, snow doesn't mean the sun hides for long.
Nestled in the center of the state, the small town prides itself on its pioneer days with museums dedicated to pioneering in the American West.
31. Havre, Montana (tie)
Annual Sunshine: 244.5 days
As the largest city in Hill County, Montana, Havre has been nicknamed the Hi-Line's crown jewel. Could it be because it is also the sunniest place in Montana? It's also the northernmost sunniest city in America. (Try saying that three times fast!)
While admittedly there isn't a great number of attractions for visitors to this ultra-rural town, that suits residents just fine. They can have their sunny days to themselves, which helps make the below-freezing winter months more bearable.
30. North Platte, Nebraska
Annual Sunshine: 245.5 days
It's much warmer in Nebraska, where the people of North Platte see temps typically averaging from 62 as a high to 36 as a low, giving them more time to enjoy the sun!
They can do just that in the 160-acre living history park named in honor of Buffalo Bill. The land, which was owned by Bill Cody and operated as part of his 4,000-acre ranch, has activities and tours that tell the tale of the Pony Express rider and Wild West showman. You can even explore his "Mansion on the Prairie."
28. Lake Charles, Louisiana (tie)
Annual Sunshine: 246 days
Mardi Gras revelers will find more sun in southwest Louisiana, where Lake Charles holds the state's record for sunniest days. It may be smaller than New Orleans, but Lake Charles is charming and has its own museum dedicated to Mardi Gras as well as casinos making this lakeside town a darling for fun.
Not only does the sun seem to continuously shine, but the temps also rarely drop below freezing. When the humid summers arrive, residents can spend time on the lake to keep cool.
28. San Francisco, California (tie)
Annual Sunshine: 246 days
California towns will appear on this list a few times, no doubt, but with Karl the Fog regularly rolling into San Francisco, it surprised us that this city made the cut. That's because the fog rolls in and doesn't stick around. One minute you can feel deep within a cloud, and the next, the blue sky returns the Bay to a sparkling blue.
It's the weather that is a big draw to residents of the Bay area, where the average highs and lows are 72 and 45 degrees, respectively. That's practically perfection for enjoying all the hiking and biking trails, boating, parks and outdoor dining.
27. Concordia, Kansas
Annual Sunshine: Nearly 249 days
It may lack the Bay, and its temps may average between 65 and 43 degrees, but Concordia, Kansas, has more sun than San Fran. It's the second city in Kansas to land on this list — and not the last!
This rural town is found in North Central Kansas' Great Plains, and many don't realize the role it has played for children. For 75 years, between the mid-1800s and early 1900s, the Orphan Train ran through the city helping find homes for children who had been housed in New York City's overcrowded orphanages. There is a museum here that tells the story of how 250,000 kids found their forever homes.
26: Little Rock, Arkansas
Annual Sunshine: 249 days
Arkansas' capital city rests on the banks of the Arkansas River. Home to former President Bill Clinton, the city houses a library and museum in his honor. But the city has always been so much more than a Clinton home. Its zoo, museums and parks are enthralling, particularly Pinnacle Mountain State Park.
Visitors can spend hours in the 2,300-acre state park just outside the city that gets more sun than San Francisco and Honolulu!
25. Kahului, Hawaii
Annual Sunshine: 250 days
In a state filled with sunshine and tourists who cannot get enough of it, the sunniest town in Hawaii is Kahului on the island of Maui. The town is the land bridge between Maui's two "islands" of Haleakala and the West Maui Mountain Range.
This is where travelers arrive by plane before setting out to their prospective beachfront resort and numerous outdoor activities. Just be sure to take the Road to Hana and visit the numerous waterfalls cascading from Haleakala volcano.
23. Tampa, Florida (tie)
Annual Sunshine: Nearly 252 days
The state's slogan is "The Sunshine State," so you knew Florida's towns would make the list. The first of several is Tampa, which lies on the Gulf Coast in Southwest Florida.
There is a reason "snowbirds" love Florida. The winter temperatures average 65 degrees, so why not leave behind the snow and gray of the north to live along the emerald-green waters and white-sand beaches?
23. San Diego, California (tie)
Annual Sunshine: Nearly 252 days
On the West Coast, the equivalent to retiring to Florida is retiring to the beaches of San Diego, which is so sun-filled that it ties with Tampa. Seriously, temps averaging between 62 and 76 degrees — what could be better than that?
Well, the array of things to do in the city, for one. Besides anything you can do along the beaches, the city is home to world-renowned museums, attractions and one of the largest zoos across the globe.
22. Grand Junction, Colorado
Annual Sunshine: 252.5 days
Not only is Colorado an outdoor-lovers' paradise during the sun-filled summer months, but its wintertime snow-covered mountains make for some of the best skiing in the country — and the sunshine sure helps make it more fun.
Alas, of the Colorado towns, Grand Junction is not one known best for skiing and only averages 16 inches of snowfall per year. But who needs snow when you have Colorado National Monument and the Colorado River to enjoy year-round?
21. Dodge City, Kansas
Annual Sunshine: 253 days
Kansas is represented one final time on this list of sunniest cities, with Dodge City taking the spot as the state's most sun-filled.
The city most famous for being the town Wyatt Earp cleaned up (even featuring re-enactments of its past as part of the fun) sees average highs at 68 degrees and lows hovering around 42 degrees.
20. Denver, Colorado
Annual Sunshine: 254.5 days
Colorado is back with Mile-High Denver landing in the top 20 sunniest places in the country.
With the country averaging 28 inches of snow per year, Denver welcomes a whopping 60 inches. Located about an hour from the city, those aforementioned great ski slopes of Loveland, Arapahoe Basin, Eldore Mountain, Winter Park, Copper Mountain and Vail welcome enthusiasts with snow and sunshine.
19. Abilene, Texas
Annual Sunshine: 255 days
Texas is about to dominate the list of sunniest cities and towns with the first of five cities appearing in the top 20. Found in North Central Texas, Abilene experiences almost 70 percent sun throughout the year.
The city is home to historic sites, villages and museums as well as state parks for enjoying all those sunny days.
18. Amarillo, Texas
Annual Sunshine: 263 days
Texas' northernmost sunny town, Amarillo can be found between Oklahoma City and Albuquerque, New Mexico (coming up!), and 72 percent of its days are glowing with sunshine.
Here, too, are tons of museums, a zoo, botanical gardens and the Palo Duro Canyon State Park, which is a 60-mile ravine between 800-foot cliffs that make for some dramatic scenery and hikes.
Oh, yes, it's also home to Cadillac Ranch, where buried painted cars burst from the ground — a road tripper's must-stop.
17. Los Angeles, California
Annual Sunshine: 264 days
La-La-Land gets more sun that San Fran and San Diego, even if it may be blocked a bit by the city's notorious smog. But why else is so much found here, from Hollywood and its movie-makers to Disneyland and Universal Studios amusement parks to some of the biggest art museums in the world?
It's because the weather here rocks! Lows below 56 are uncommon, and highs above 72 keep this city feeling like fall weather year-round. Plus, it has beaches and mountains — the best of all worlds!
16. Lubbock, Texas
Annual Sunshine: 265.5 days
Between Abilene and Amarillo awaits Lubbock and its also sun-soaked landscape. Haven't heard of it? This is the West Texas childhood town of Buddy Holly, who is celebrated with a Walk of Fame and a center in his name.
Although it can be hot here in West Texas, this isn't a desert town. The average high only hits 74 degrees, and the town even gets snow every year.
15. Miami, Florida
Annual Sunshine: 266 days
Spoiler alert: It does get hot in Miami, and its residents and tourists like it that way. The "Capital of Latin America" is one of the richest and provides a haven for Latin roots in the heart of America.
Latin America and the islands are known for sun, sand and sensual fun, and nowhere are the three more prominent than in this South Florida city hugging the Atlantic Ocean.
14. Ely, Nevada
Annual Sunshine: 267.5 days
A former mining town on the eastern side of Nevada, Ely lies between Salt Lake City and Reno (stay tuned). This sun-stretched area of land had been a major train and stagecoach route, and the city pays homage with museums touting its history.
Think summer is hot? Not more than any other city in the U.S. The average highs for Ely are 61 degrees, and lows are 28 degrees. Yup, it can get chilly and snowy in the winter — but the frost just means the sun will make the ground sparkle!
13. Roswell, New Mexico
Annual Sunshine: 269 days
It is rumored aliens crashed in Roswell, New Mexico, and the government keeps a secret base filled with intergalactic findings. If it's true, could the aliens have been looking to harness the Southwest's sun? Roswell sure has it — 73 percent of the year is sunny.
It's also not entirely a desert town. Eleven inches of snow fall here annually.
12. Midland-Odessa, Texas
Annual Sunshine: 271 days
This West Texas twin city is found between El Paso and Fort Worth, making it a stopping grounds for travelers.
It's also the stopping place of a meteor that crashed here 50,000 years ago, leaving behind a huge crater — the largest found in sun-drenched Texas.
11. Albuquerque, New Mexico
Annual Sunshine: 278.5 days
The largest city in New Mexico may have grown to be because 76 percent of its days have sun providing those feel-good serotonin releases generated from the vitamin D provided by the sun.
Besides feeling good naturally, the city is home to the Petroglyph National Monument, museums, cultural centers, a zoo and a botanical garden that wil keep your days filled with amusements.
10. Fresno, California
Annual Sunshine: 279 days
Central California's valley towns get more sun than the state's waterfront beauties. Fresno can be found west of the Sierra National Forest in the San Joaquin Valley and not too far from Yosemite National Park.
Having sunshine makes days hiking through the national parks and forests easier to capture the scenic vistas, waterfalls and towering trees that make this area one of the top five most-visited of the National Park System.
9. Flagstaff, Arizona
Annual Sunshine: 280 days
It may have taken a while for Arizona to appear on this list, but that is only because the state has some of the sunniest places in the entire country. The state's flag even features rays of a setting sun, which changes its desert landscapes into golden- and fire-hued monuments.
Flagstaff is the largest city closest to the state's (and nation's) biggest monument: the Grand Canyon.
8. Key West, Florida
Annual Sunshine: 281 days
The last of the Floridan cities to chart can be found at the continental United States' southernmost tip: Key West. Just 90 miles from Cuba, Key West is the closest you'll come to the Caribbean without having to fly across the water.
It's also sunny about 79 percent of the time, never snows and begs for nothing but flip-flops to be worn daily. The average lows here are a laughable 73 degrees — summer temps to most!
7. Sacramento, California
Annual Sunshine: 282 days
The sunniest Californian city is actually its capital city. Located inland in Northern California, the city by the river of the same name spends 77 percent of its time under the sun.
As the capital, of course, the city offers plenty of ways to enjoy the great outdoors. That includes strolling along the boardwalks of Old Sacramento, visiting Sutter's Fort State Historic Park to uncover Gold Rush history or following the 9-mile riverfront bike path and enjoying the shaded parks across the city.
6. Pueblo, Colorado
Annual Sunshine: 286 days
The last of Colorado towns on this list is located just south of Denver and Colorado Springs. Here, you can catch a tan as you boat, bike and stroll along the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk, an urban redevelopment project that has become a cultural hot spot.
Of course, the mountains aren't too far for hiking, biking and riding, which is why Colorado is booming — it's a great place to live (or visit)!
5. Reno, Nevada
Annual Sunshine: 297.5 days
Cross through the Tahoe National Forest from Sacramento into Nevada and you'll find Reno soaking up the sun — 81 percent of its days are under blue skies.
The "Biggest Little City in the World" is located just north of Lake Tahoe for a weekend getaway. Like its more famous sister city, Las Vegas, it is filled with casinos and resorts with sprawling pools.
4. El Paso, Texas
Annual Sunshine: 305.5 days
More than 300 days of sun can be found in Southern Texas in the border city of El Paso. Considering that Mexico's Aztecs worshipped the god of the sun and that many travelers visit the country to soak up rays, it's no wonder the border town is one of the sunniest in the nation.
El Paso is home to Franklin Mountains State Park for hiking and scurrying about the desert, and you can visit the Chamizal National Memorial and Park to stand in two countries at once.
3. Las Vegas, Nevada
Annual Sunshine: 309.5 days
Everyone knows Las Vegas is hot — and it's not just because of its casinos, nightclubs and theatrical entertainment.
Vegas is literally hot!
Average summers are scorching at more than 100 degrees. The fantastical city in the desert gets practically constant sun, and you may long for the darkness of a casino for some reprieve.
2. Tucson, Arizona
Annual Sunshine: Nearly 313 days
Drumroll, please ... the top two sunniest places in the country can both be found in Arizona.
Tucson, to the south, nearly aligns with El Paso and is close to the Mexico border. Its Saguaro National Park and Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum tell you exactly what you'll see here: Saguaro cacti and lots of desert under the hot sun.
1. Phoenix, Arizona
Annual Sunshine: More than 313 days
And topping the list is Phoenix, where more than 85 percent of the days don't feature a cloud in the sky.
That sun coupled with the dry, desert air is why so many choose to retire to Phoenix — who doesn't want to spend retirement enjoying the outdoors swimming, golfing, playing tennis and more?
Even when it's hot, as they say, "It's not the heat, it's the humidity." Phoenix rarely has any.