The 10 Worst Cities for Allergies

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America looked into 100 cities that are generally the most affected by seasonal allergies and ranked them by pollen count, use of allergy medicine and the number of board-certified allergists. The report included the worst cities for allergies in 2020.

Read on to find out what East Coast city takes the top spot as they can’t stop sneezing and what activities are available for allergy sufferers.

10. Pittsburgh, PA

pittsburgh pa

After the rain comes the seasonal allergies. Pittsburgh sees a spike in tree pollen and mold allergens as the April showers roll around. With the air quality compromised, the city sees worsening symptoms.

But Pittsburgh has plenty to offer during a time when staying indoors sounds better, despite the warming weather outside.

Skip the botanical garden for now and head to the Andy Warhol Museum or the Heinz History Museum. After slurping down some fresh oysters at the historic Original Oyster House, which opened in 1870. Wind down after a full day at your one-bedroom apartment, currently averaging $1,609 a month.

9. Oklahoma City, OK

oklahoma city ok

Alerts of high tree pollen are a daily occurrence in Oklahoma City during the spring season. Once you’ve taken your allergy medicine, get your groove on at arts complex Factory Obscura’s The Womb, an interactive concept created by the Flaming Lips frontman. It’s a unique experience with 3D-glasses.

As the day closes and the air quality improves, hop on a water taxi tour and be a tourist in your city. One-bedroom apartments average $884 a month in Oklahoma City.

8. Bridgeport, CT

bridgeport ct

About 60 miles from Manhattan, Bridgeport can come as a breath of fresh air anytime during the year except during the spring season. With tree pollen allergies at an all-time high, Bridgeport takes the No. 8 spot in our worst cities for allergies.

Don’t fret as you’re not necessarily house-bound during this time. Bridgeport houses some quirky gems like the Warner Brothers Corset Factory and the nearby Zaffis Museum of the Paranormal if you’re in the mood for some strange tales.

Grab a slice of devastation cake, a chocolate vegan dessert served at feminist bookshop-restaurant Bloodroot, to reset your palate. Bridgeport’s one-bedroom apartments average $1,334 a month.

7. San Antonio, TX

san antonio tx

While the crowds head to San Antonio for the Alamo, it may not be a good time for a visit as the South Texas city sees high numbers of pollen during the spring. The state’s mild cold weather makes the season worse for its residents, who pay $1,131 a month on average for a one-bedroom apartment.

If you want to escape the sneezing, check out the more than 130-year-old Buckhorn Saloon and Museum and grab a beer as you learn more about Texas History. Then, around sunset, when the air quality has improved, head to Bracken Cave to see the world’s largest colony of bats take off into the night.

6. New Haven, CT

new haven ct

Home to Yale University, New Haven has a real oasis away from the pollen and sneezing — the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library. The architecture alone will keep you captivated for an afternoon as you walk down the hallways admiring the rare books and manuscripts collections, one of the largest in the world. After, head down to Louis’ Lunch, which claims to be the birthplace of the hamburger.

New Haven’s lush trees and humidity brings high numbers of tree pollen and mold every spring to its residents, who pay $2,055 a month on average for a one-bedroom apartment.

5. McAllen, TX

mcallen tx

McAllen is no stranger to the worst cities for allergies list, as they took the top spot in 2018. Unfortunately, itchy, red eyes are a staple during McAllen’s spring season. The city’s many trails and outdoor spaces are lush with trees that provide lovely shade, but also contribute to the high pollen count.

Luckily, the International Museum of Art & Science has a beautiful collection of Picasso lithographs, European paintings, Japanese prints and Latin American art. Don’t miss the tortas at Las Rocas, a local favorite that’s been around for more than 20 years. You can sign a one-bedroom lease on average for $772 a month.

4. Hartford, CT

hartford ct

Stay away from the yellow dust and avoid the sneezes in Hartford by exploring its architectural points of interest. The Mark Twain House & Museum and the Museum of Natural and Other Curiosities will get you out of the house and keep you interested while indoors.

Refuel with a lobster roll from J’s Crab Shack, a fish market-restaurant. It will be as fresh as it gets and hopefully, enjoyed without an itchy nose. You can grab a one-bedroom on average in Hartford for $1,372 a month.

3. Springfield, MA

springfield ma

Taking the No. 3 spot as one of the worst cities for allergies, Springfield moved up on the list since last year. Springfield’s valley geography creates the perfect storm of bad air quality and allergens and makes things miserable for allergy sufferers. Folks in Springfield rent a one-bedroom for $1,230 a month on average.

So, how do you escape the higher-than-average pollen counts? Head to The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum, a whimsical homage to the local writer behind the colorful books. There’s so much to explore inside of it, including murals and Theodor Geisel’s studio.

2. Scranton, PA

scranton pa

The small city of Scranton rose in popularity as the American version of “The Office” put it on the map. Unfortunately, the city is also known as one of the worst cities for allergy sufferers, too. Michael Scott would start sneezing right there with you during your self-guided tour of the local spots featured on the TV show.

Scranton’s rankings for seasonal allergies have been getting worse since 2018, when its ranking hovered around 47th place. If you don’t mind some sneezing, Scranton’s one-bedroom apartments go for $1,269 a month on average.

1. Richmond, VA

richmond va

The top place for the worst city for allergies is Virginia’s Richmond. April and May are particularly severe for residents with seasonal allergies, with grass and tree pollen being the worst culprits.

The city’s historical past and indoor activities can keep you occupied during this time to lessen the effects of the pollen. Add to your calendar a visit to Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Edgar Allan Poe Museum and yes, we even have to add the World’s Largest Slinky to your list. You can rent a one-bedroom apartment on average for $1,104 a month.

The best city for allergies

Looking on the bright side, Durham takes the No. 1 spot as the best city for allergy-sufferers based on pollen count, allergy medicine usage and amount of board-certified allergists.

If that sounds like music to your ears, know that one-bedroom apartments average $1,216 a month in the North Carolina city. Explore the outdoors, sneeze-free, and visit the Eno River State Park for hiking or the Museum of Life and Science to interact with science-focused outdoor exhibitions.

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory from March 2019 to March 2020. We use a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets. The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.
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Muriel VegaMuriel Vega is an Atlanta-based journalist and editor who writes mostly about technology and its intersection with food and culture. She’s the managing editor of tech news publication Hypepotamus, and has contributed to The Guardian, Atlanta magazine, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, VICE and more. She spends her time eating her way through Buford Highway and exploring Atlanta's arts scene.

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