It’s been said that happiness is a state of mind, not a destination — and we couldn’t agree more. Even so, some places are known for being happier than others, and they can teach us important lessons about ways to find more joy no matter where we’re located on a map. 

On Feb. 27, personal finance website WalletHub published its annual data-driven rankings of the happiest cities in the U.S. Using positive psychology research, the company examined 182 of the largest cities in the nation, including the 150 most populated American cities as well as at least two of the most populated cities in each state, to find the happiest of them all in 2024.

Wondering what goes into evaluating something as elusive as happiness? The team used three specific key dimensions to base their rankings: 

  • Emotional and physical well-being
  • Income and employment 
  • Community and environment

Within those three main categories, WalletHub analyzed cities based on 29 “relevant metrics,” ranging from residents’ average life expectancy and depression rate to commute time and average leisure time spent per day. 
If you’re curious to know if your zip code made the top 10 list, see below for the highest-ranked happiest cities in descending order. And whether or not your home earned a spot, here are some scientifically-proven tips to boost your happiness that don’t involve packing your bags.

10. Scottsdale, Arizona

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Scottsdale is a newcomer on the list this year. The desert city ranked in fourth place overall for community and environment, and it’s no surprise why. 

Home to a vibrant downtown scene and the beautiful sonoran desert, pedestrian-friendly Scottsdale boasts a wealth of art and culture. Its Western Spirit museum, a Smithsonian affiliate, “exhibits some of the largest collections of Western and Native American Art in the United States,” per the city.

9. Columbia, Maryland

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Ranked in fifth place in the well-being category, Columbia is no stranger to being included on “best places to live” lists.

About 20 minutes from Baltimore, Columbia is known for its suburban feel, coffee shops, parks, and charming vibes.

8. Pearl City, Hawaii

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Pearl City, located on the island of Oahu about 11 miles from downtown Honolulu, had the lowest depression rate in the country and ranked No. 2 in community and environment.

Best known for being the site of the Pearl Harbor attack during World War II, the small, waterfront town boasts beautiful hiking trails and several community parks, per Trip Advisor.

7. San Francisco, California

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One of the most visited cities in the United States, San Francisco scored third for emotional and physical well-being. The foggy locale also ranked last year as one of the friendliest cities in the world.


A destination of inclusivity, walkability, and iconic views (charming row houses, cable cars, the Golden Gate Bridge, to name a few), San Francisco has a lot to offer its residents. Plus, there are nearly 4,000 restaurants in the city, so you’ll never run out of dinner options. 

6. Honolulu, Hawaii

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Taking sixth place is Honolulu, and it may come as no surprise that the picturesque island locale scored No. 1 overall in community and environment. 

The “cosmopolitan capital city,” as the state’s tourism authority calls it, serves as Hawaii’s “racing pulse.” Situated on Oahu, it’s home to historic landmarks and an impressive fine dining scene, and it encompasses the world-famous Waikīkī Beach.

5. Irvine, California

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In fifth place overall, Irvine scored the fifth lowest depression rate and was the fourth highest for well-being.

In addition to a large university and top-rated public schools, the Orange County-based city of 303,000 has many family-friendly places for gathering — like parks, trails, and even a waterpark. Fittingly, this happy city is also located about 14 miles from the “happiest place on Earth” … Disneyland!


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4. Madison, Wisconsin

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The capital city of Wisconsin scored the second highest position for adequate sleep rate and got seventh place for well-being, so it’s no surprise it’s high on the happiness scales. 

A college town with about 270,000 people, Madison has no shortage of things to do yet isn’t as dense as Milwaukee. Between the city’s growing brewery scene and 270 parks, Madisonians have a lot to sip and savor. 

3. San Jose, California

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The third happiest city, San Jose has the longest average life expectancy in the U.S. and one of the lowest separation and divorce rates, “so happy couples can spend their lives together into their golden years.” Additionally, the Northern California city ranked second in terms of emotional and physical well-being.

While San Jose is a hub for technology and software, it’s also home to so much more: multiple universities in the area, plenty of parks, a professional ice hockey team, and lots of local farmers markets. The city was also reported to be a community where immigrants can “thrive” the most, according to a study by The George W. Bush Institute


Fun fact: The sun shines an average of 300 days a year there — a potential game-changer for sun seekers. 

2. Overland Park, Kansas

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Overland Park earned its spot as the second happiest city “in part because it has the lowest poverty rate in the country, at just 4.2%.” A sports haven, it also has one of the highest sports participation rates in the country, along with scoring 6th place for the categories of well-being and community and environment.

Situated near the border of Kansas and Missouri, Overland Park is only about 12 miles from Kansas City — so it’s close to a big city yet still retains a small town feel, according to resident reviews on Niche. The downtown area is also home to more than 300 local businesses, and a variety of sports facilities and leagues (for both adults and kiddos). 

1. Fremont, California

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Earning WalletHub’s title of the overall happiest city in the United States, Fremont was also the highest ranked in emotional and physical well-being. It also had the highest share of households with an income over $75,000 and the lowest separation and divorce rate. 

Known as the “hardware side of the Bay,” Fremont houses more than 900 manufacturing companies. It’s also filled with opportunities to explore the outdoors via many trails, bodies of water, and loops, along with a vibrant coffee scene


Curious to see how the other 172 cities scored? Click here to check out the full list of rankings.

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