National Geographic recently confirmed what many Sarasota residents know already – their city is in one of the happiest places in the United States.
The North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton region came in as the 14th-happiest place in America based off a project from travel author and “happiness planner” Dan Buettner. The project took into account physical, social and financial aspects of 190 metropolitan areas.
"It's one of the better accolades we've received, and it's great because it's the recognition of the lifestyle we have," said Visit Sarasota County President Virginia Haley.
Haley said the region did well in the study in part because of a wide offering of celebrations and community events along with ample opportunities for walking and bicycling in and around Sarasota.
National Geographic added that “visitors can tour art galleries, rose gardens, circus exhibits and the Ringlings’ Venetian Gothic style mansion" when describing several attractions that further help Sarasota stand out among the nation’s happiest places.
Buettner’s two-year study included nearly 250,000 interviews with residents across the country. In happier places, Buettner observed that locals smile and laugh more often, socialize several hours a day, have access to green spaces and feel that they are making purposeful progress toward achieving life goals.
The study also looked at more quantifiable metrics that signal happiness, like civic engagement, financial security, vacation time and even dental checkups.
A recent citizen opinion survey conducted by Sarasota County reflected the study, showing 97% of respondents reporting their quality of life locally was either excellent or good. Earlier in the year, a report from U.S. News & World Report also touted Sarasota among the nation's most desirable locales, ranking it No. 21 in its annual list of best places to live in the country.
Boulder, Colo., was ranked No. 1 in the National Geographic study. Santa Cruz, Calif., Charlottesville, Va., Fort Collins, Colo., and San Luis Obispo, Calif., rounded out the top five.