Where can you live in the United States if you like four distinct seasons but prefer relatively mild winters and not particularly hot summers? I researched all US states to find cities that have mild weather year round but that still have four seasons.
Deciding on Our Criteria for Moderate Temperatures
To identify only the best cities with mild four seasons, we need to pick some criteria for temperatures. For example, when does a place has cold winters and when are they relatively mild? Or when does a place have hot summers and when are they still tolerable?
If we don’t do this, we’ll end up with a generic, useless list of cities with perhaps a mild winter or a cool summer but not a place that has a mild climate with four seasons.
I suggest the following criteria.
If we’re looking for a place with four distinct seasons that are mild, my assumption is that we’re looking for a place that does get cold but doesn’t get very cold. This ensures that a city like San Francisco or San Diego doesn’t appear in this article as it doesn’t have four distinct seasons despite having mild winters.
In this context, mild winters won’t necessarily be “mild” in the most common way they’re defined (read more on what mild weather means here). For most people, mild winters are spring-like which by definition would turn a place with such temperatures into a place that doesn’t have four seasons.
We want moderate weather, neither too hot nor too cold, so we don’t want winters so cold that they’re intolerable.
So, for the purposes of this article, let’s decide that we’re dealing with cold winters when average high temperatures (during the day) in the coldest month are below 35 °F. Anything above 35 °F is fine.
We also don’t want winters that are too warm as that would mean a place doesn’t have true four seasons. So let’s decide that a mild winter in this context can’t be warmer than 45 °F in the coldest month. This will help filter out places that have winters that may resemble spring.
Our range for moderate winters is thus 35-45 °F during the day in the coldest month.
If we’re looking for mild four seasons, this also means that we want to avoid extreme temperatures in the summer months. After all, we want cities with cool summers and mild winters, not just mild winters.
And how are we going to define mild summers? Because most cities in the United States have very warm summers or straight out hot summers, we can’t be too picky with our criteria.
I suggest using the same criteria I used for my article on states with mild summers, that is no hotter than 80 °F during the day in the hottest month.
But we also don’t want summer temperatures that are too low as that would feel more like spring than summer. So let’s set the cutoff at 70 °F.
Our range for cool summers is thus between 70-80 °F during the day in the hottest month.
Here Are the Best Cities With Mild Four Seasons
Here are the best cities in the United States that have seasonal changes but that also have mild temperatures. They’re listed in no particular order (other than cities in the same state follow each other) since they all meet the same strict requirements. I make small exceptions here and there when cities almost meet the criteria.
Newport, Rhode Island
Newport is a popular New England summer resort. The city has a population of about 25,000 residents. Because it’s located on Aquidneck Island in Narragansett Bay, it has a milder climate than other cities in Rhode Island.
Winters are cool but not overly cold, courtesy of the Atlantic Ocean. Average daytime temperatures in January reach 38.6 °F while at night they drop to 23.9 °F. In April, temperatures reach 55.2 °F during the day and 39.7 °F at night.
In August, the warmest month, daytime temperatures reach 78 °F and drop to 64.1 °F at night. In October, temperatures are still mild, with average highs of 62.7 °F and lows of 49.1 °F.
Newport records about 126 days of precipitation a year, evenly distributed throughout the year. It also gets 10 days of snow, mostly between December and March.
New Shoreham, Rhode Island
New Shoreham is located on Block Island, 14 miles east of Long Island’s Montauk Point. The surrounding ocean moderates the climate of the town in a similar way to Newport.
Average January temperatures reach 38.5 °F during the day and 24.3 °F at night. In April, temperatures are around 54.7 °F during the day and 39.1 °F at night.
In July, average highs are 78.8 °F, dropping to 63.3 °F at night. In October, temperatures are 62.5 °F during the daylight and 47.1 °F at night.
New Shoreham records about 97 days of precipitation a year, with more rainy days between October and June. I couldn’t find data on the number of snowy days but it does snow between December and March.
Bluefield, West Virginia
While Bluefield has a humid continental climate, its location in the Appalachian Mountains gives it features of a highland climate. This town of about 10,000 people has distinct seasons but they’re all temperate.
Bluefield has relatively mild winters with average high temperatures in January of 39.9 °F and average low temperatures of 23.8 °F. In April, temperatures are already warm, reaching 62.7 °F during the day and 42.6 °F at night.
In the hottest month, July, temperatures climb to 78.9 °F and drop to 61.8 °F at night. October is still warm, with 62.8 °F during the daylight and 44.6 °F at night.
Bluefield has 154 days of precipitation, evenly distributed throughout the year. It gets 25 days of snow, mostly between December and March.
Beckley, a city located about 50 miles north of Bluefield, almost fits our requirements as well, with the highest average temperature of 80.7 °F in the hottest month.
Mammoth Lakes, California
Located at 7,880 ft in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, the town of Mammoth Lakes has four distinct seasons, all of which feature moderate temperatures. This small town of about 7,000 people has a unique for California climate due to its very snowy winters but also very dry and warm but not hot summers (note that at this altitude sun will feel much hotter, though).
In January, Mammoth Lakes records relatively high daytime temperatures of 41.2 °F. Nights are very cold, though, with average temperatures of 16.6 °F. In April, temperatures are still cool with 51.2 °F during the day and only 27.1 °F at night.
In July, average temperatures reach their peak at 77.8 °F and drop to cool 48.9 °F at night. In October, Mammoth Lakes slowly begins to cool down, with average maximums of 60.7 °F and minimums of 30.2 °F.
Mammoth Lakes has 38 days of snow a year. It experiences snowfall between October and all the way to May at the latest. The town gets 60 days of rain, mostly in the winter.
South Lake Tahoe, California
South Lake Tahoe and other nearby settlements on the shore of Lake Tahoe are located at an elevation above 6,000 ft, giving them a much cooler climate.
South Lake Tahoe has mild winters only during the day when average temperatures reach 42.8 °F in January. Nighttime temperatures are much colder, dropping to just 18.4°F. Spring comes to the area slowly, with average April temperatures reaching 53.2 °F during the day and 27.6 °F at night.
In the hottest month, the city is just a tiny bit above our limit, reaching 80.4 °F during the day. Nights are much colder, though, at just 42.5 °F. In October, South Lake Tahoe is still relatively warm at 62.2 °F during the day and 29.2 °F at night.
South Lake Tahoe experiences 37 days of snowfall, primarily between November and May. It gets 76 days of precipitation, mostly in the winter.
Located about 30 miles south of Lake Tahoe, the unincorporated community of Kirkwood is known for Kirkwood Mountain Resort. With a small population of about 150 people, this is one of the least populated places on this list.
Kirkwood experiences much cooler weather year round than the area around Lake Tahoe and that’s due to its elevation of 7,690 ft. In January, daytime temperatures reach 40 °F but nights fall firmly into the “cold winters” camp with temperatures of 17.4 °F. In April, average maximums are still cool at only 48.6 °F while minimums are still cold at 22.3 °F.
July is the hottest month but it’s not really hot. The average high temperature is just 73.8 °F and the average low temperature is 42.3 °F. In October, daytime temperature climbs to 56.6 °F and drops to 28.6 °F at night.
Kirkwood records 57 days of snow, with snowfall possible between September and even until June. The area gets 84 precipitation days, mostly in the winter.
Big Bear Lake, California
Big Bear Lake is a small city of about 5,000 permanent residents, located in the San Bernardino Mountains, along the south shore of Big Bear Lake.
Like the previous Californian cities, it’s located at a high elevation which gives it mild summers. Big Bear Lake’s winters are just slightly above our cutoff because in January daytime temperatures go up to 46.1 °F. But at night they’re well below freezing at 23.6 °F. In April, spring begins with mild temperatures of 57.3 °F during the day and 31 °F at night.
Summers in Big Bear Lake are right below our cutoff. Average maximums reach 79.7 °F, while lows are 50.5 °F. In October, the fall begins with days around 63.4 °F and nights around 35 °F.
Big Bear Lake gets 16 snowy days, distributed between October and April. It records only 43 days of precipitation, mostly between November and April.
Mount Charleston, Nevada
Mount Charleston is a small town at an elevation of 7,510 ft, giving it a cool Mediterranean climate, much more tolerable in the warmer months compared to Las Vegas.
In January, average high temperatures reach 44.2 °F during the day and 21.5 °F at night. April in Mount Charleston is still cool compared to other cities in the state, with highs of 54.7 °F and lows of 29.8 °F.
Summers in the town are what draws so many people from Las Vegas to vacation there. Average high temperatures reach only 79 °F which is unique in Nevada. At night, temperatures drop to 52.2 °F. In October, temperatures are moderate at 61.6 °F during the day and 34.7 °F at night.
Besides its mild, cool Mediterranean climate, Mount Charleston has little rainfall. It has 56 days with precipitation. Snow falls 26 days a year, mostly between November and April.
Incline Village, Nevada
Incline Village, located on the north shore of Lake Tahoe, owes its cooler climate to its high elevation of 6,350 ft. With a population of about 10,000 people, it’s not really a village, though. Unlike Mount Charleston, it has a humid continental climate.
In January, daytime temperatures reach 39.4 °F while at night, they drop to 20.5 °F. April is still a cool month, with highs of just 49.3 °F and lows of 36.3 °F.
Summer temperatures are much cooler than in Mount Charleston. They go only up to 73.4 °F in the hottest month, with nights around 54 °F. October begins to cool down slowly, with highs of 59.7 °F and lows of 42.6 °F.
I couldn’t find precipitation and snowfall data for Incline Village.
Woodland Park, Colorado
Woodland Park has a subarctic climate with relatively cold winters and warm summers (but not hot ones). Following the previous cities, it’s located at a high elevation of 8,481 ft, which gives it relatively cold weather even in the warmest months.
January’s highs are right below our cutoff as they only reach 34.7 °F. Lows are super cold, at 4.5 °F. Still, because the rest of the year the city has very temperate weather, I decided to include it as the only representative of Colorado. In April, temperatures reach 49.3 °F during the day and stay cold at night, with just 21.6 °F on average.
When the summer comes to Woodland Park, days are relatively warm at 74.5 °F on average in the hottest month. Nights can still be chilly, with temperatures around 43 °F. In October, days are still warm-ish at 55.8 °F but nights already become cold, with averages of 24.4 °F.
I couldn’t find precipitation and snowfall data for Woodland Park.
Port Angeles, Washington
Port Angeles on the northern edge of the Olympic Peninsula is blessed with a very moderate Mediterranean climate. It has far cooler summers than Seattle and enjoys pleasantly mild winters.
In January, the city is just a tiny bit above our limit, reaching 45.3 °F during the day. At night, temperatures drop to 33.1 °F. April has typical spring temperatures, 54.2 °F during the day and 38.8 °F at the lowest.
Port Angeles enjoys warm summers that never get hot. In fact, they’re right below our limit, at 69.7 °F during the day in the hottest month. Considering the mild daytime temperatures, nights are relatively warm at 51.1 °F. In October, temperatures begin to drop, with 56.7 °F during the day and 41.6 °F at night.
Due to the city’s location in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, it gets significantly less precipitation than other areas of western Washington state. It has 142 days of rain and is snow-free.
For a warmer in the summer option in Washington, Shelton, about 22 miles northwest of Olympia, is a good alternative to Port Angeles.
In January, Shelton records average highs of 44.8 °F and lows of 32.9 °F. In April, it’s already noticeably warmer than Port Angeles, with maximums of 60.2 °F and minimums of 38.8 °F.
Summers in Shelton are much warmer, with temperatures climbing to 77.3 °F and dropping to 52 °F at night. In October, Shelton is still warm, recording 61.2 °F on an average day and 42.2 °F on an average night.
Shelton gets 170 days with precipitation, with summers much drier than winters. It also records some days of snowfall, mostly in December and January.
Nearby Olympia is slightly above our cutoff, at 46 °F during the day in the coldest month.
You may be surprised to see a city in Arizona offering not only mild winters but also mild summers but here we are. Greer, a tiny unincorporated community at 8,356 ft, has the coolest summers in the state. But the price to pay for avoiding scorching summers is experiencing the coldest winter temperatures in the state.
In January, Greer is relatively warm during the day, with average temperatures of 42.6 °F. It’s at night when things change, with temperatures dropping to freezing cold 13.5 °F. In April, days are pleasantly mild around 57.4 °F while nights are still cold around 25.5 °F.
Summertime temperatures in Greer are very low compared to major cities in Arizona. Just a few examples: Phoenix records 107 °F on average in the hottest month while Greer only 76 °F. Tucson records 101 °F. Even Flagstaff is much warmer at 82 °F. At night, Greer has cool temperatures of 46.8 °F. In October, Greer still records warm daytime temperatures of 61 °F but at night they already begin to dip below freezing, at 30.2 °F.
Greer records 27 days of snow, with snowfall between November and April. It has 78 days of precipitation which is a lot for an otherwise dry state.
Sky Valley, Georgia
Georgia may be another surprise considering we’re looking for cities with mild four seasons. Yet, Sky Valley is indeed a great fit for someone who may not be a fan of Georgia’s subtropical climate but would like to live in this state. As you can probably guess why, Sky Valley is cooler because it’s located at an elevation. In this case, it’s 3,124 ft.
In January, Sky Valley records 45 °F during the day and 23.2 °F at night. April is already warm, with temperatures hitting on average 65.1 °F at maximum and dropping to 39 °F at night.
Summers in Sky Valley are warm, with temperatures of 79.9 °F in the hottest month and hovering around 58.3 °F at night. In October, the small city is still warm, recording 65.7 °F during the day and 39.6 °F at night.
I couldn’t find precipitation data for Sky Valley.
Custer, South Dakota
South Dakota is known for its harsh climate that can’t really be called mild. But there’s one exception to the rule, at least for South Dakota’s standards. It’s a small city called Custer, located at an elevation of 5,315 ft.
In January, Custer has very mild for South Dakota daytime temperatures of 37.1 °F. Nights are cold, dropping to just 16.2 °F. In April, days are still cool with average maximums of only 51.3 °F and minimums of 30.5 °F.
To make up for cold winter nights, Custer offers warm summers with temperatures reaching 79.7 °F in the hottest month. Nights are pleasantly warm at 56.3 °F.
Custer has 31 days of snow, falling between October and April. It records 94 days of precipitation, mostly between May and September.
Beech Mountain, North Carolina
North Carolina may be yet another surprise on this list. After all, it’s a rather warm state without four distinct seasons. But Beech Mountain is an exception. This small tourist town located at an elevation of 5,506 ft is not only the coldest town in North Carolina but also the entire Southeast.
In January, the town even goes a little below our cutoff, recording 34.8 °F during the day. At night, temperatures drop to 20 °F. In April, temperatures can still be relatively cool, with average highs of 53.3 °F and lows around 36.4 °F.
Summers in Beech Mountain are a little too cool to meet our criteria but I decided to make another exception. In the hottest month, temperatures reach only 68.9 °F while at night they remain around 57.3 °F. October is already cool, with 55 °F during the day and 40.6 °F at night.
Beech Mountain gets a lot of rain, with 195 days with precipitation. It also gets 38 days of snow, mostly between November and April.
Owing to its high for the state elevation of 2,398 ft, the small city of Oakland has a more temperate climate with cooler summers than the rest of the state.
Oakland has cool winters. In January, temperatures hit on average 36.7 °F during the day and drop to cold 18.3 °F at night. In April, a pleasant spring begins with average highs of 61.3 °F and lows of 36.7 °F.
Oakland has the mildest summers in Maryland but they’re still one degree above our limit. Still, I decided to include the city as it otherwise fits our criteria. In the hottest month, daytime temperatures hit 81 °F and stay warm at night, around 60.4 °F. In October, temperatures are still pleasant with 63.4 °F during the day and 39.5 °F at nighttime.
Oakland has 171 days of precipitation. Because of its location, it’s one of the snowiest places in the state, getting 39 days of snow falling between November and April.
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