People generally prefer natural over urban environments, but little is known about what people think about when they see these environments. The aim of the present study was to investigate the associations with these scenes and their relation with preference. In a series of three studies 336 participants were asked to generate associations with photos. Study One manipulated naturalness of the environment as well as weather type. The data were analysed quantitatively by asking participants to rate the associations on valence, and qualitatively by a post hoc pile-sorting task on the associations. We found that associations with natural and sunny environments were more positive than those with urban and overcast environments. Natural scenes seem to elicit mainly positively valenced associations, whereas associations with urban environments were mixed. Content analyses confirmed these outcomes, indicating that how we experience an environment as well as its’ restorative potential are important for preference formation.