Skiers versus paddlers
Credit: Scott Cramer / Getty Images

Denver: It may come as a surprise that Denver doesn't actually share much of its weather with the Rockies. "We get more than 300 days of sun a year, so that helps a lot in terms of getting outside," says Kyle Wagner, the Denver Post's travel and "OutWest" editor, who says she was hiking last weekend in 60-degree weather. The city features the B-Cycles bike share program, with 850 miles of paved trails heading outward. Leaving Denver, there's the abundance of ski areas, backcountry snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, hiking, fishing, and rafting. Less than a half-hour from Denver is Red Rocks, which is best known for its amphitheater, but also features hiking trails such as Dinosaur Ridge where visitors can walk in the footprints of the extinct animals. A big fan of Seattle, Wagner noted one major difference between the populations. "Here, people are always talking about, 'I just hiked this, I just rafted that; what's next?' In Seattle, people were just much more hanging and kicking back, which I also loved."

Seattle: "One thing we have that they don’t is lots of water," says Brian J. Cantwell, outdoors editor of the Seattle Times. There are lots of activities like stand-up paddleboarding, and kiteboarding, because we have lots of wind on the water." Boating, particularly sailing, is big, the Snoqualmie ski area is 54 miles north, while Mount Rainier is about 75 miles south. Inside the city limits, the Burke-Gilman trail features nearly 20 miles of converted rail tracks for biking. Then there's the weather – the city has the reputation of being a capital of rain, though at 36 inches a year, it gets less than Washington, D.C., and New York. "We tend to get it more gradually," says Cantwell, noting that the summers are usually beautiful. "It's why people come here in July and then move here. We fooled them."