Best Towns

Santa Cruz, California

Population: 54,600Annual Household Income: $51,500Median Home Price: $325,000Climate: Every day's a beach--only the thickness of your wetsuit changes....

Portland, Maine

Population: 140,000Annual Household Income: $38,000Median Home Price: $150,000Climate: Foggy on land, windy on the water....

St. Martin/Sint Maarten

Population: 72,000Annual Household Income: $36,000Median Home Price: $350,000Climate: Out-of-nowhere cloud bursts refresh sun-soaked islanders....

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Population: 114,000Annual Household Income: $40,000Median Home Price: $160,000Climate: Spring and fall more than make up for the extreme seasons....

Hana, Maui, Hawaii

Population: 2,000Annual Household Income: $42,000Median Home Price: $200,000Climate: Not as hot as the local surfers....

Franconia, New Hampshire

Population: 900Annual Household Income: $37,600Median Home Price: $131,500Climate: Typical New England, with an extra dose of mountain shade....

Charlottesville, Virginia

Population: 40,000Annual Household Income: $29,800Median Home Price: $160,000Climate: Good thing summer (sticky, sticky, sticky) just lasts three months....

Homer, Alaska

Population: 4,100Annual Household Income: $30,000Median Home Price: $109,000Climate: Cold. Get over it....

Boulder, Colorado

Population: 95,600Annual Household Income: $44,500Median Home Price: $280,000Climate: Rocky Mountain highs of 88 in July and 45 in January....

Silver City, New Mexico

THERE ARE PLENTY OF 19th-century ghost towns in the untamed mountains and canyons of southwestern New Mexico, but Silver City isn't one of them. It's still thriving. Billy the Kid launched his...

Cedar Key, Florida

"AN IDEAL PLACE," a visitor noted nearly 40 years ago, to "live in shorts, go to seed, and rock away warm afternoons on shadowy porches." Little has changed since then, or since Cedar Key's...

Georgetown, South Carolina

IT'S A TOSS UP trying to decide which is more astonishingly preserved: the downtown of South Carolina's third-oldest municipality, bordered by the Sampit River, shaded by live oaks, and riddled...

Salida, Colorado

"NOW THIS," BRAG THE SIGNS on highways "is Colorado." Refugees from Front Range cities like Denver and Boulder are drawn to this oasis at 7,038 feet in the Upper Arkansas Valley, near the center...

Sandpoint, Idaho

IT'S EASY TO GET SEDUCED by Sandpoint: You cross the two-mile bridge over Lake Pend Oreille (pronounced Pon-der-AY) and drink in the spectacular Selkirks mountainscape looming over...

Mountain View, Arkansas

"WHEN YOU FIRST PULL into town," says a woman who moved to Mountain View 20 years ago, "you just feel like you came back home." Might be the human-scale topography of north-central Arkansas...

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