Healthy, wealthy and wise: America’s fittest city is…

Where in America should you go if you want to be “healthy, wealthy and wise”? TODAY’s special series looks at top places in the US in each category — and you may be surprised at the winners.

Which city is considered the healthiest, fittest in America? It’s not a sunny, bikini-weather spot like Miami Beach or Malibu. It’s a city famous for its frequent sub-zero temperatures, where residents need snow coats and ear muffs for months of the year: Minneapolis, St. Paul, Minn., according to the American College of Sports Medicine’s most recent American Fitness Index.

Minneapolis, St. Paul has more parks per square mile than any major city in the U.S. and is second only to Portland, Ore. for the number of bicyclists per capita. The Twin Cities also get high marks for access to fresh food.

"There are twice as many farmer’s markets in that area than in the top 10 percent of [U.S.] cities," says ACSM’s Walter Thompson, Ph.D.

Did your city make the ACSM healthy cut? Check out the top 20:

1.Minneapolis, St. Paul
2.Washington, D.C.
4.San Francisco
5.Hartford, Conn.
6.Sacramento, Calif.
7.Portland, Ore.
9.Denver, Colo.
10.Austin, Texas
11.Virginia Beach, Va.
12.San Jose, Calif.
13.Salt Lake City
14.Raleigh, N.C.
15.Pittsburgh, Pa.
16.San Diego, Calif.
17.Richmond, Va.
18.Providence, R.I.
19.Baltimore. Md.
20.Cincinnati, Ohio

news story via Today Show, photo via Gorton Tulog

In three US cities, three longtime mayors prepare exits. What legacies?

Call them the hipster, the billionaire, and the boss.

Three mayors of three cities, each having served at least three terms, are now preparing to exit the municipal stage after more than a decade shaping major metropolitan hubs – and perhaps the American urban landscape, too.

There’s R.T. Rybak in Minneapolis, the mayor known for crowd-surfing at an alt-rock venue made famous by Prince, and leading 30,000 zombies on a city-sanctioned pub crawl – and hosting its contest to see who could eat the most brains (pork brains in tacos, that is).

There’s Michael Bloomberg in New York, the media mogul and world’s 13th-richest man, the mayor of the nation’s financial central server, ticking off the secrets of his success with a simple Wall Street mantra: Arrive early, leave late, eat lunch at your desk.

Then there’s Thomas Menino in Boston, the five-term septuagenarian mayor cut from a sepia-toned era of backroom power brokers, a politician who has shaken so many hands, attended so many ribbon-cuttings, and sat with so many parents at Little League games that today almost half of Boston’s residents say they have met him personally.

Come Nov. 5, voters will elect successors to the men who have practically become the public faces of their respective cities. It will mark the first time this century that three mayors who’ve served at least 12 years in major cities will leave office at the same time.

Read the rest of the article at Christian Science Monitor.

World’s 15 Most Inventive Cities

The OECD tracks patent applications for more than 250 cities around the world under the Patent Cooperation Treaty, an international system that allows inventors to apply for patent protection in up to 117 countries simultaneously through a single application process.

Based on the total number of patent applications for every 10,000 residents in a metropolitan area, the world’s 15 most inventive cities are concentrated in northern Europe and the United States.

#1 - Eindhoven, Netherlands
#2 - San Diego, California
#3 - San Francisco, California
#4 - Malmo, Sweden
#5 - Grenoble, France
#6 - Stuttgart, Germany
#7 - Boston, Mass.
#8 - Stockholm, Sweden
#9 - Minneapolis, Minnesota
Total Pop: 3,304,170
Pop. Density: 208
Patent applications: 1,672
Patent apps per 10k residents: 5.06 

#10 - Munich, Germany

via Forbes

America’s Snobbiest Cities

So what if they’re a little conceited? These snobby cities have plenty of reasons to feel like winners.

To determine which city has the biggest nose in the air, we factored in some traditional staples of snobbery: a reputation for aloof and smarty-pants residents, along with high-end shopping and highbrow cultural offerings like classical music and theater.

But we also considered 21st-century definitions of elitism: tech-savviness, artisanal coffeehouses, and a conspicuous eco-consciousness (say, the kind of city where you get a dirty look for throwing your coffee cup in the wrong bin).

No. 1 San Francisco
No. 2 New York City
No. 3 Boston
No. 4 Minneapolis/St. Paul
Perhaps readers felt intimidated by these bookish, indie-music-loving, craft-beer-drinking hipsters, who also ranked highly for being exceptionally tidy. If these Minnesotans feel self-satisfied, is it any wonder? They also scored well for being fit and outdoorsy; you can join them at the Chain of Lakes, where, depending on the season, folks are hiking, paddling, or even ice-surfing.
No. 5 (tie) Santa Fe, NM
No. 5 (tie) Seattle
No. 7 Chicago
No. 8 Providence, RI
No. 9 Washington, D.C.
No. 10 Charleston, SC

via Travel & Leisure

Group rates Minneapolis as top U.S. city park system

Minneapolis, where 94% of residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park, has the U.S.’ best park system, according to new rankings by a national non-profit conservation group.

"What’s interesting is on our Top 10 list, a number are older cities where they thought ahead and set aside land to build parks," says Adrian Benepe, senior vice president and director of city park development for the San Francisco-based Trust for Public Land.

That’s certainly what happened in Minneapolis, says Jayne Miller, superintendent of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

"The system here is unique and far superior to any other park system in the country," she says. "In the mid-1800s, civic leaders were very forward-thinking and visionary. They felt very strongly that our system needed to be independent (from the city government.)"

The system — visited by 20 million people annually — includes 197 parks covering 6,744 acres.

1. Minneapolis
2. New York
3. Boston (tie)
3. Sacramento (tie)
3. San Francisco (tie)
6. Washington, D.C.
7. Portland
8. Virginia Beach
9. San Diego
10. Seattle

article via USA Today, photo by A Brand New Minneapolis, more details at Trust For Public Land

Most fit and unfit cities

The Twin Cities — Minneapolis-St.Paul — are the healthiest, fittest cities in the USA for the third year in a row, according to an analysis of the 50 most populous metropolitan areas in the USA.

"What Minneapolis has done brilliantly is put their resources where residents can use them effectively to maintain a high level of physical activity," says Walt Thompson, chairman of the advisory board who created the index and a professor of exercise physiology at Georgia State University in Atlanta.

Minneapolis does better than other cities when it comes to the number of baseball diamonds, playgrounds, golf courses and dog parks, he says. The city spends double the amount of money on parks per capita ($227 a person) as some other cities, Thompson says.

The Top Ten List
1. Minneapolis-St. Paul
2. Washington, D.C.
3. Portland, Ore.
4. San Francisco
5. Denver
6. Boston
7. Sacramento
8. Seattle
9. Hartford, Conn.
10. San Jose

Article via USAToday, photo via American Red Cross Northern Minnesota Region

America’s Best Beer Cities

Readers rated 35 major cities for features such as food trucks, friendly locals, and microbrews, a category that reflects a growing trend. As of 2012, there were more than 2,300 operating craft breweries (those making fewer than 6 million barrels a year) in the U.S., according to the American Brewers Association—the highest number since the late 19th century.

No. 1 Portland, OR
No. 2 Denver
No. 3 Portland, ME
No. 4 Seattle
No. 5 Kansas City, MO
No. 6 Minneapolis/St. Paul
The Twin Cities climbed nine spots in the survey this year, and the buzziest beers seem to channel the outdoorsy, hipster vibe that voters love about Minnesota. Indeed Brewery prides itself on its retro, back-to-basics cans, while Fulton Beer offers a Russian imperial stout—a bracing 9.2% ABV (alcohol by volume) brew that, the site promises, “if left outside during winter, won’t freeze, even in Minnesota.” Readers might not want to test that claim: they ranked the Twin Cities near the bottom among places to visit in winter.
No. 7 San Diego
No. 8 Boston
No. 9 Providence, RI
No. 10 Nashville

Photo via Riddhish_C, article via Travel & Leisure

10 Best Places for Families to Live

We’re excited to introduce our first annual ranking of the Best Places for Families to Live. When searching for a home, many families are looking to buy in high-performing school districts, but they don’t want to break the bank doing so (since good schools are often in affluent areas).

Our rankings take into account both the availability of highly ranked schools (based on the ZipRealty School Score) and affordability of local real estate (based on the median price per square foot within the school district). Our proprietary School Score ratings measure the performance of each school district (including elementary, middle and high schools) on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest; ratings are based on test score data as well as student/teacher ratios. We also only considered areas where 10 home sales closed within school district lines during 2012.

Without further ado, here are the Top 10 Best Places for Families to Live:

1. Minneapolis area
Standout School District: Westonka Public Schools
School District Rating: 9.6
Median Price per Square Foot: $112
What to Do on the Weekends: Hang out on Lake Minnetonka or take the kids into Minneapolis to catch a Twins game at Target Field.

2. Chicago area
3. Portland area
4. Philadelphia area
5. Austin area
6. Westchester, New York area
7. Dallas area
8. Seattle area
9. Boston area
10. Orange County, California

via ZipRealty

Minneapolis Miller’s baseball team players (Ted Williams is the second player from the left) hanging out in the clubhouse before a game. (1938) via Minnesota Historical Society

Minneapolis-St. Paul Area Residents Most Likely to Feel Safe

Eighty percent of those living in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area say they feel safe walking alone at night in the area where they live, the highest percentage among the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas. Minneapolis is followed closely by Denver, Raleigh, Boston, Salt Lake City, and Austin.

Minneapolis-St. Paul area residents have the highest sense of personal security among Americans living in the nation’s top metro areas, at least in terms of feeling safe walking alone at night in their local area. While the rank order of the top 50 on this measure may differ somewhat from other rankings of city safety, it nevertheless offers an important perspective on one aspect of how crime affects people’s lives.

Article via Gallup, photo via Thirteen of Clubs.