By Alyssa Shaffer
May 20, 2010

We didn't expect Hartford to make our list-it's better known as the capital of Connecticut and the home of several insurance giants. But with nearly 21 percent of the metro area designated to parks, a large number of farmers' markets, and more than 63 percent of residents considering themselves in excellent health, the Hartford area earns its top 10 ranking.

Hot trend in town

Zumba dance classes (which are all the rage across the U.S.) draw crowds in gyms, community centers, churches, and schools here-wherever there's room to merengue and grapevine. Find local classes for just $6 each at

Residents Report: "Why I love this city!"

"My husband and I enjoy hiking with our daughter and two dogs in Penwood Park. It's wooded, rocky, and pretty hilly, so it's a fantastic workout."

-TRACEY STAEHLE, 40, personal trainer

Healthiest hotel

Tone from head to toe while blasting calories in the rooftop indoor pool at the Hartford Marriott, or soothe sore post-hiking muscles at the on-site Glo day spa. There's an in-house fitness center or ask for a discount ($10 for hotel guests) at the nearby Taking Care Center gym ( just down the block. From $239;

Eat here

For fresh seafood, book a reservation at Max's Oyster Bar ( in West Hartford. Choose from mussels, clams, oysters, and fish. And if you don't want the starchy sides or sauces that come with many entrees, the chef will prepare each one with a simple vinaigrette and a side of greens and whole grains.