2021’s Best Cities for Outdoor Grilling

Labor Day weekend is approaching, and Americans are gearing up for outdoor gatherings with family and friends. However, the success of your grilling adventure greatly depends on where you live. The city you call home...

Labor Day weekend is approaching, and Americans are gearing up for outdoor gatherings with family and friends. However, the success of your grilling adventure greatly depends on where you live. The city you call home can be the difference between a perfectly grilled steak and a culinary disaster. So, which cities in the United States have that special sizzle?

Lawn Love, a renowned ranking authority, has assessed over 180 of the largest cities in the country to determine the best cities for outdoor grilling. Their evaluation was based on factors such as the availability of butcher shops, affordability of meat, pleasant weather conditions, and community interest as indicated by Google search trends. With their rankings, comprehensive analysis, and practical tips, you can make your Labor Day cookout the party of the year.

City Rankings

Let's take a look at how each city fared in Lawn Love's ranking:

Infographic showing the best cities for outdoor grilling Note: A total of 183 cities were ranked for Butcher Shops per 100,000 Residents. However, the lowest-ranking position for this metric is 127 due to a significant number of ties.

Results in Depth

No Rain on Your Pork Parade

Topping the list of the best cities for outdoor grilling are two California cities - Pomona at No. 1 and Palmdale at No. 2. Pomona excelled in categories such as access to butcher shops, affordability of meat, and favorable outdoor conditions. With infrequent rain, minimal extreme temperatures, and low wind speed, Pomona provides an ideal environment for hosting backyard barbecues.

Located just a short drive away from Pomona, Palmdale offers similar advantages. Although it may not have as many butcher shops as Pomona, it compensates with low meat prices and an equally pleasant climate. Whether you choose Pomona or Palmdale, a rain-free cookout is practically guaranteed.

Local tip: If you're in Pomona, consider checking out Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park near Puddingstone Reservoir. This park offers more than just grilling spots - you can also enjoy boating, swimming, fishing, hiking, and horseback riding. In Palmdale, Marie Kerr Park provides BBQ grills, picnic pavilions, basketball courts, a pool, and a skate park.

A Hollywood Meat Cute

While California is often associated with Hollywood glamour and picturesque beaches, it is also home to a thriving farming culture. The state ranks fifth in cattle production, with nearly 13,700 ranches operating within its borders. Therefore, it's no surprise that California cities dominate the access category of Lawn Love's ranking. San Francisco, Pasadena, and San Bernardino claimed the second, fourth, and eighth positions, respectively.

California's commitment to the farm-to-table movement, championed by activist and culinary artist Alice Waters, has further fueled the growth of butcher shops in these cities. The popularity of traditional food preparation and locally sourced ingredients has contributed to their ranking success.

Local tip: In San Francisco, don't miss the opportunity to visit Guerra Quality Meats - one of the best butcher shops in the country. You can also easily find a local butcher through the California Association of Meat Processors.

Take a Southern Drive

The southern region of the United States is a grilling paradise, with nine cities in the top rankings. From Clarksville, Tennessee, at No. 7, to Pomona and Palmdale in Southern California, these cities offer unbeatable advantages. Baton Rouge, Louisiana ranks third, followed by Memphis, Tennessee, Killeen, Texas, and Glendale, Arizona.

What sets these cities ablaze? The answer lies in their low-cost meat. Glendale, Killeen, and Memphis claimed the top three spots in this metric. Baton Rouge and Clarksville also scored high in the outdoors category, with eighth and sixth positions, respectively.

Local tip: If you want to enhance your next outdoor barbecue experience, try some regional flavors. Make your own signature Memphis Rub at home or purchase it from your local grocery store. Experience the taste of southern Louisiana with the Baton Rouge Burger Blend, or take a pilgrimage to Meat Church for some authentic Texas flavor.

Carnivorous Cliques

Unsurprisingly, the southern half of the country is home to the most enthusiastic outdoor grilling fans. The top 10 in the popularity rank is largely dominated by cities in lower latitudes, with Austin, Texas, taking the lead. Los Angeles, Houston, Memphis, Birmingham, and Corona also make appearances in this category. However, BBQ enthusiasts from Midwestern cities like Kansas City, Missouri, and Overland Park, Kansas, show that barbecue culture knows no geographic boundaries.

Kansas City, in particular, is a meatpacking hub and renowned for its signature barbecue style. It claimed the first position in the Best BBQ Cities metric.

Local tip: Embark on a foodie road trip and visit these iconic BBQ restaurants:

  • Austin: Franklin Barbecue
  • Los Angeles: Bo Daddy's BBQ
  • Houston: Pinkerton's Barbecue
  • Kansas City: Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que
  • Memphis: Central BBQ

Expert Take

To provide you with valuable insights into the world of outdoor grilling, we gathered a panel of experts to share their knowledge and thoughts on grilling trends. Here are some of the questions we asked them:

  1. What fresh grilling trends should Americans try this Labor Day weekend?
  2. What are common grilling mistakes that are easy to avoid?
  3. What are the must-have outdoor grilling tools?
  4. What are your three best tips for finding the best cut of meat?
  5. What is the most challenging meat to grill, and how can one successfully grill it?
  6. What is an overlooked dish that avid grillers should try?
  7. What are your three best tips for first-time grillers?
  8. What are the best ways to stay safe while hosting a cookout during the pandemic?

Stay tuned to hear what these experts had to say.

Grilling by the Numbers

Infographic showing percentages and numbers related to grilling and fire-related statistics


Lawn Love's ranking involved a comprehensive evaluation of 183 major U.S. cities. The cities were ranked from best to worst based on their overall scores, which were derived from weighted metrics. Here's a breakdown of the metrics considered:

  • Popularity:

    • Google Search Interest for "BBQ," "Barbecue," and "Grill" over the Past Year (Weight: 0.5)
    • Rank Among Best Barbecue Cities (Weight: 0.5)
  • Access:

    • Butcher Shops per 100,000 Residents (Weight: 2)
    • Herbs and Spices Shops per 100,000 Residents (Weight: 1)
    • Home Depot and Lowe's Locations per 100,000 Residents (for Grilling Equipment) (Weight: 1)
  • Cost:

    • Average Per-Pound Price of Beef (Weight: 3)
    • Average Per-Pound Price of Chicken (Weight: 3)
    • Average Price of Ground Beef (Weight: 3)
  • Outdoors:

    • Average Yard Square Footage (Weight: 1)
    • Average Monthly Rain (in Inches) (Weight: 0.5)
    • Number of Very Hot Days (Weight: 0.5)
    • Number of Very Cold Days (Weight: 0.5)
    • Air Quality (Weight: 0.5)
    • Wind Speed (Weight: 0.5)

Sources used for data include Google Trends, Home Depot, LawnStarter, Lowe's, National Centers for Environmental Information, Numbeo, and Yelp.

Final Thoughts: Keep the Fire Going

During the pandemic, outdoor grilling has become a favorite activity for millions of Americans. In fact, it has been their top cooking activity since the onset of lockdowns in March 2020. More than 50% of U.S. adults now grill outdoors at least once a week. If you're looking for an excuse to get outside and grill, holidays provide the perfect opportunity to gather with loved ones after a long separation.

Barbecue Your Breakfast Day and Labor Day are just around the corner, offering a chance to celebrate by the grill. Additionally, September marks the start of football season, while National Beer Lovers Day and National Cheeseburger Day offer more reasons to fire up the grill.

No matter where you are or the time of year, outdoor grilling is a safe and enjoyable way to reconnect with nature and create lasting memories with family and friends. Just remember to exercise caution and take necessary safety measures to ensure a successful grilling experience without any mishaps.

If you need assistance in getting your yard ready for guests, consider contacting a Lawn Love professional to help you prepare before your next backyard barbecue.

Main Photo Credit: Shutterstock