Let's face it: D.C. is known more for politics than its workout scene (Michelle Obama's buff arms notwithstanding). But after topping the list for the third time, this city has serious fitness cred. "Some people are surprised at the high marks D.C. gets, but the metro area has a low smoking rate, a better-than-average percentage of folks eating fruits and vegetables, and lower-than-average rates of chronic health concerns," notes Thompson. More than 80 percent of locals report exercising in the past month. Numerous parks—taking up almost one-fifth of city land—and a high percentage of commuters who either walk, bike, or take public transportation to work bolster its top ranking. (There's a new bike hub at Union Station, in fact.)
One of those parks, Rock Creek, boasts 32 miles of paths and trails and draws scores of runners and cyclists. It stretches over 2,000 acres and includes a golf course and boating center, where you can rent bikes, kayaks, sailboats, and more.
Hot trend in town
Mayor Adrian Fenty is a dedicated triathlete, and thousands of residents are following his example; join them at the inaugural Washington D.C. Triathlon (dctri.com) on June 20 or the fifth annual Nation's Triathlon on September 12 (thenationstriathlon.com). Both races wind past some of the city's famous monuments and landmarks.
Residents Report: "Why I love this city!"
"This is an incredibly walkable area. I can go food shopping, meet friends for lunch, or go swing dancing— all without ever having to get in a car!"
—MICHELLE ERTISCHEK, 36, pharmaceutical consultant
Ask to borrow the complementary yoga kit when you check into the tranquil Topaz Hotel, just a few blocks from Dupont Circle. It includes a mat, block, and workout CD. You can also reserve a special yoga guest room with a dedicated space for your practice or a fitness guest room complete with a stationary bike or treadmill. From $139; topazhotel.com
Revel in the local politics or take in a poetry slam as you dine on vegan (or pepperoni!) pizza, portabella panini, Maryland crab cakes, and baked tofu at the eclectic Busboys & Poets café (busboysandpoets.com).