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America's Healthiest Cities To Visit (PHOTOS)

Posted: 08/29/2012 7:00 am

In great American cities where active lifestyles intersect with delicious food, it's possible to plan a trip that's both healthy and fun.

Here, Food & Wine names some of America's healthiest cities to visit.

-- Nicole Frehsee, Food & Wine

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  • Denver, CO

    Lured by 300 sunny days a year, Denver residents and visitors swarm city parks, where they can ski, hike, mountain climb, bike and practice yoga. From June through September, the annual Yoga Rocks the Park series features weekly events with concerts and even yoga camps for kids. Stay: The Ritz Carlton operates a 52,000-square-foot fitness club called FORZA, which houses a rock-climbing wall, a saltwater lap pool and studios for Pilates, spinning and yoga. It's owned by the assistant coach of the Denver Nuggets, which means basketball stars are fixtures on the gym's full-size court. Eat: Alex Seidel, an F&W Best New Chef 2010, stocks Fruition's kitchen with vegetables and eggs from his own farm. Some of Seidel's lighter dishes include Alaskan halibut cheek en papillote with saffron-cioppino broth. <strong>Plus:</strong> <a href="" target="_hplink">America's Cheapest Cities to Visit</a> <em>Photo © <a href="" target="_hplink"></a>.</em>

  • San Francisco, CA

    With its steep natural inclines, simply walking around San Francisco is an intense workout in itself. For a hard-core cardio session, the stairs are steep along the city's famously crooked Lombard Street; those who prefer a flat path can walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. Stay: The boutique Hotel Palomar created the free People in Motion Running Program. Each weekday at 7 a.m., local runners lead group jogs catered to different fitness levels. Eat: Plum, opened in 2010 by star chef and forager Daniel Patterson in nearby Oakland, emphasizes grains and vegetables in dishes like bourbon barley risotto with celery root, lemon and kale. <strong>Plus:</strong> <a href="" target="_hplink">America's Best Outdoor Dining</a> <em>Photo Courtesy of Plum.</em>

  • Portland, OR

    Portland maintains an impressive variety of parks, from the world's smallest (the 24-square-inch Mill Ends Park) to 5,000-acre Forest Park, where visitors can run, hike or mountain bike on 75 miles of trails. Wildlife watchers walk along the paved Interlakes Trail at Smith and Bybee lakes -- the largest protected wetlands in an American city. Nearby, Alder Creek's Jantzen Beach Store offers classes and rentals for kayaking on Columbia River. Stay: To help guests take advantage of Portland's extensive bike paths, the trendy Ace Hotel established a free bicycle-lending program. Eat: Everything served at Park Kitchen chef Scott Dolich's tavern The Bent Brick is from the Pacific Northwest. Dolich focuses on vegetables in small plates, like parsnips and carrots with rye berries, brown butter and sage. Even his cocktail program relies on locally made spirits. <strong>Plus:</strong> <a href="" target="_hplink">America's Best Bars</a> <em>Photo Courtesy of Ace Hotel.</em>

  • Austin, TX

    Green space is abundant in Austin; there's the 351-acre Zilker Park and 200 biking, hiking and running trails. Lush championship golf courses are a big draw for visitors: Barton Creek Resort has four on its property alone, and the public, 18-hole Avery Ranch overlooks Hill Country. Stay: The calendar at the Lake Austin Spa Resort is packed with sporty activities like kickboxing and paddleboarding. There are also monthly food demos, during which cookbook authors like Corinne Trang and Melissa Clark drop in to share healthy tips. Eat: Barbecue may be big in Texas, but Uchi chef-owner Tyson Cole makes a case for eating fish. The restaurant imports seafood daily from Tokyo's Tsukiji market, using it in sushi and inventive dishes like Uchiviche (salmon and striped bass with tomato and bell pepper) and Yokai Berry (Atlantic salmon with dinosaur kale, Asian pear and yuzu). <strong>Plus:</strong> <a href="" target="_hplink">Best Steak in the U.S.</a> <em>Photo Courtesy of Lake Austin Resort.</em>

  • Washington, DC

    The US capital is a walking city -- how else to cruise the sights on the National Mall, from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial? It's also a running city: City Running Tours leads groups (or individuals) on five-mile jogs around Georgetown or Capitol Hill. Stay: After a two-year renovation, the Beaux-Arts landmark Jefferson Hotel reopened with modern glass-roofed atriums and a water-purification system (bottles are sealed onsite). Spa treatments incorporate herbs and botanicals grown on Thomas Jefferson's Monticello estate and winery in Virginia. Eat: At the buzzy Penn Quarter spot Proof, chef Haidar Karoum's Mediterranean-inspired menu highlights vegetables in dishes like buttercrunch lettuce with avocado, grapefruit, Valencia orange and toasted quinoa and a napoleon of crispy tofu with wild mushrooms and root vegetables. <strong>Plus:</strong> <a href="" target="_hplink">America's Best Hotels for Food Lovers</a> <em>Photo Courtesy of Jefferson Hotel.</em>

  • Minneapolis, MN

    Minneapolis is home to more golfers per capita than any other US metropolis, and nearly 20 lakes make it a great destination for water sports. Rock climbing also has a devout following. In Fall 2011, the city scored one of the country's biggest rock-climbing facilities: Vertical Endeavors now has 25,000 square feet of climbing walls. Stay: The boutique Grand Hotel puts a premium on exercise: Its 58,000-square-foot gym has more than 30 treadmills and a six-lane lap pool, plus racquetball and basketball courts. Eat: Piccolo's chef-owner, Doug Flicker, serves small plates like roasted pumpkin and golden beets with burrata cheese and persimmons. <strong>Plus:</strong> <a href="" target="_hplink">Best Grilled Cheese in the U.S.</a> <em>Photo © Melissa Berg.</em>

  • Salt Lake City, UT

    Since hosting the 2002 Winter Olympics, Salt Lake City has become a top skiing destination with several popular resorts in the Wasatch Mountains, including Snowbird. Stay: Hotel Monaco, an Art Deco-inspired hotel housed in a 1924 bank, lends guests bicycles so they can take advantage of nearby Farmington Flats and Bonneville Shoreline trails, which promise gorgeous scenery and heart-pumping turns along the mountains. Eat: At Forage, F&W Best New Chefs 2011 Viet Pham and Bowman Brown have turned an old bungalow into a minimalist restaurant with refined, modern cooking. A sample dish on the three-course menu: slow-cooked diver scallop with sunchoke puree, edamame, Earl Grey and toasted almond. <a href="" target="_hplink"><strong>Click Here for More of America's Healthiest Cities</strong></a> <em>Photo Courtesy of Hotel Monaco.</em>

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