“To make our list of great sunny places to retire,” AARP The Magazine said, “a town had to post at least 250 days a year that were either completely or partially cloudless.”
Other criteria included a distinct cultural identity, a range of activities for retirees, proximity to top-tier outdoor attractions and other livability criteria, including low crime, a robust economy, healthy lifestyle and recreational amenities.
St. George (population 71,000) saw frenetic growth during the housing boom but has cooled significantly, and the hills are now dotted with foreclosed condos. But the city remains on the A-list for retirees seeking scenery and sunshine.
The heart of town is the 1877 LDS Temple, which dominates the city with its 175-foot, brilliant white building. You can't enter the temple if you aren't a qualified Church member, but everyone is welcome at the equally impressive Tabernacle, completed in 1876. Its 2,000 panes of glass were shipped from New York and its clock came from London.
St. George boasts a menu of arts and culture, including the St. George Art Museum, a regional center for landscape photographers and visual artists. The Eccles Fine Arts Center hosts plays, recitals and exhibits. And the 1,920-seat Tuacahn Amphitheatre in nearby Ivins showcases broadway plays and touring artists.
Several first-rate golf courses have made St. George Utah a golf capital. For nature lovers, the city is within an hour's drive of Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Glen Canyon, and the north rim of the Grand Canyon are easy day trips. There's skiing at nearby Brian Head Resort and several lakes big enough for boating and fishing.
Most of these places are set within Dixie National Forest, which covers nearly 2 million acres of southern Utah and is wide-open for hiking, biking and horseback riding.
St. George is considered highly safe and healthy. And enjoys the medical facility resources of the Dixie Regional Medical Center. The community residents have long life expectancies.
The other cities on AARP’s list include: Asheville, North Carolina; Grand Junction, Colorado; Las Cruces, New Mexico; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Sarasota, Florida; San Diego; San Luis Obispo, California; Bend, Oregon; and Fort Worth, Texas.