Cities Journal

Visit the America’s Happiest City

Provo, the third largest city in the state of Utah, has been named the happiest town in the entire United States. It came in first place in a recent Optimism and Well-Being poll done by the Gallup organization. While most Americans do express personal satisfaction about where they live, residents of some areas are much more optimistic about where their community is headed than others.

Across the entire U.S., 76% of the residents of the Provo area believe their city just keeps getting better as a place to live, according to Gallup.

The town is definitely a very pleasant one by most standards. Candy shops outnumber the taverns, and nobody smokes, according to a 2014 USA Today profile story about the town. Downtown parking in Provo is always free, which is also good to know.

Surrounded by Nature

The scenery surrounding Provo is gorgeous too. The large, serene Utah Lake cradles the town to the west. The rustic Wasatch mountain range flanks its eastern side, and the formidable Mount Timpanogos towers over Provo, keeping watch from the north at an elevation of 11,750 feet, according to the same source.

The residents have been described as mostly young and “outdoorsy,” as well as religious. The latest Gallup-Healthways survey shows that Provo residents have a high sense of well-being related to quality of life factors that include physical health, emotional well-being and job satisfaction.

But will this data about Provo draw in more visitors? While travel is generally pretty big in Utah, and the Sundance film festival in Park City gets a big draw, Provo is not really considered a tourist destination, says the president of the Provo convention and visitors bureau in a recent Religious News Service interview.


Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort, which features a spa, outdoorsy-chic decor, a performance area, art studio and skiing just might be its biggest tourist draw, as reported by Religion News Service. Overall, family-friendly entertainment rules in Provo.

The same source also states that south of Provo, you’ll find the Springville Museum of Art. In Lehi, 17 miles north of Provo, Thanksgiving Point offers a nonprofit 300 acre preserve with 55 acres of beautiful gardens, a major dinosaur collection, the Western Hemisphere’s biggest man-made waterfall and a Museum of Natural Curiosity for children.

However, a major focus in Provo is being active and having outdoor adventures. The area is loaded with recreational trails that attract runners, hikers, bicyclists and walkers, according to the towns website.

The Provo River is a favorite with fly fishermen. The Timpanogos Cave National Monument has three limestone caverns to explore. Hiking and climbing are big among the young and active, and for those who want a more sedate outing, there’s a scenic network of trails offering amazing mountain scenery.

Conservative, Like-Minded Mormons

Provo’s Utah County is one of the most politically conservative areas in an already heavily Republican state. Around 75% of residents are Mormons, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, according to a USA Today profile.

The city is home to Brigham Young University, a religious school whose students sign a pledge to adhere to Mormon principles like abstaining from tobacco and alcohol. Mormon culture pervades in Provo, and most businesses close up shop on Sundays. There are a few bars, but far more ice cream and candy shops in the area.

Some attribute the fact that the town is so happy due to locals sharing common values; it certainly stands to reason that Provo ranks high in well-being because it’s brimming with like-minded people.

However, its beautiful scenery and small-town neighborly vibe likely contribute as well. So, don’t wait to visit the America’s happiest city, and become part of it for at least a day! You might decide to stay there for good!

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