-big-ish city. Doesn’t have to be Chicago, just not rural.
-Not horrible traffic. Sorry DC
-Decent, mild weather.
-Good access to forests and, more specifically, rock climbing. About an hour or 2 drive is fine.
-Left leaning (what city isn’t?)
-GOOD food and lots of options.
-Decent public trans.
-Also a good place to drive around a car and go fast (sorry NYC).
-Nightlife and loads of entertainments. I love seeing live music.
-Pretty much has to be on this map. (http://smart.asee.org/sponsoring_facilities/list_by_state/) Shouldn’t be a problem seeing that they it covers all the big states.
Right now I’m looking at Atlanta, Portland, North Cali area.
Scottsdale, AZ fits everything except the left-leaning and public trans. But if you have a car and like to drive around fast, why do you need public transportation anyway? And Scottsdale is slowing aging out of its republican bent.
Nevermind, didn’t see the qualifier about the list. Don’t do Fort Huachuca in AZ. Very very republican-leaning.
Seattle has awesome hiking/climbing/kayaking/really any outdoor sport within 2 hours. Fun city - has everything to offer that you have on your list. The only thing that might not be great is the public transportation - when I lived there I heard people complain about it.
If you live in DC proper, the traffic isn’t that bad. Even if you work and live in the suburbs, the traffic isn’t horrible (pretty bad though). The problem comes when you traverse between the burbs and the city.
If Charlotte is too hot, then Atlanta would be as well. Austin is considerably drier than the southeast, although not Arizona dry. Austin will also have many more 90+ days in the summer and much less rain.
I can tolerate it. Its just that I’m living in a place where there’s not much entertainment and stuff. If I lived in Atlanta or Austin where music and food and good vibrations flow freely, I’ll put up with it.
Obviously, you’re familiar with Asheville, then. It’s not a big city, but being a tourist spot, it does have a relatively lot of dining and entertainment venues, and a lot of live music. It’s not very humid in the summer, compared to the Piedmont, and the traffic is easy. There is a city bus system, although I don’t think it’s the greatest, from what I’ve heard. Have you considered it?
There is climbing near Portland, but unfortunately most of it is inaccessible for a good chunk of the year due to the rain. The closest year-round climbing is Smith Rock, which is amazing, but not super diverse - mostly vertical, crimpy sport climbing.
Seattle is good for climbing as well (and Squamish, BC is close), but like Portland, the weather puts a damper on climbing outside for most of the year.
While it would seem otherwise, Phoenix is not actually a great climbing town. You pretty much have to travel 1 1/2 - 2 hours north to Flagstaff/Prescott/Winslow (but the climbing in those areas is so so good - I lived in northern Arizona for the past 5 years and climbed all over there) or south to Tuscon/Cochise Stronghold.
Vegas and Salt Lake City are also good sized cities with great climbing opportunities.
While I haven’t actually climbed near them, I know that Asheville and Austin have decent climbing and climbing communities. Salt Lake City also has great climbing opportunities.
Have you considered Denver? It’s pretty mild for a “cold weather” city and there are tons of climbing and other outdoors-y activities, plus a great cultural, art scene (at least considering its roots as a “cow town”).
Thebes, I hear a Sphinx is terrorizing them so you could get some local cred and be a total hero bossman by ending its reign of terror. Be VERY careful, though, I hear there are a lot of violent assholes on the road towards the town.