Best Towns

Lander, Wyoming

IT'S PUZZLING WHY even more climbers don't end up in Lander, where the high desert meets the Rockies and calm, sunny days are the norm. Everything from abundant bouldering routes to sandstone...

Lincolnville, Maine

WITH ITS ALLURING CONTRAST of mountains giving way to Penobscot Bay, on Maine's jagged central coast, Lincolnville attracts people who could live anywhere: artists, writers, boatbuilders, and...

Etna, California

THIS TIME-WARP RANCH TOWN in the Scott River watershed is one of the last untrammeled outposts of wild California—a well-situated launching point for backcountry rambles on foot or on...

Cashiers, North Carolina

COMBINE THE DRASTIC granite dropoffs of the Blue Ridge escarpment with more than 80 inches of rain a year and something dramatic is bound to happen. Around the town of Cashiers (pronounced CASH...

Hood River, Oregon

LEST THERE BE ANY UNCERTAINTY about what put this Columbia River Gorge town on the map, consider a few local businesses: Big Winds, Windance, Realwind, Windwing, and Second Wind. Or the fabled...

Haines, Alaska

MANY A TRAVELER washing ashore in Haines can't resist mentioning the TV show Northern Exposure. Original, no; understandable, of course. Nestled on a peninsula between soaring 7,000...

Lanesboro, Minnesota

FIRST-TIME VISITORS might be forgiven for asking, This is Minnesota? Indeed, the topography seems a little misplaced—there are no lakes in all of Fillmore County. (The last round of...

Bellingham, Washington

Texans talk about football, Manhattanites about real estate, Coloradans about inches of new powder. In Bellingham, they know their anadromous fishes. One recent night, Lummi tribespeople held...

Santa Fe, New Mexico

This is how Santa Fe usually sets the hook: The unwitting mark passes through town on a college road trip. Nearing the Plaza, she blinks in disbelief at adobes blushing umber in late...

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Chattanooga's darkest hour arrived in 1969, when Walter Cronkite dropped a bombshell on the six o'clock news: The EPA had ranked the nation's worst cities for air pollution, and Chattanooga...

Eureka/Arcata, California

A couple of years ago, a USDA economist cooked up a method of quantifying the unquantifiable: how attractive a place is. He created a scale that factored in climate, surface water, and variety...

Camden, Maine

DON'T BOTHER LOOKING FOR A PRETTIER TOWN; none exists. Schooners bob on Camden's glistening harbor, guarded by a tiny island with its very own lighthouse. Mapled lanes meander among rows of...

Northampton, Massachusetts

"IN MANY WAYS," SAYS BILL STAPLETON, president of Northampton Cooperative Bank, "this is a microcosm of a large and fairly sophisticated city." For instance? Consider the subcultures plunked...

Santa Barbara, California

THE SUN IS ANGLING TOWARD THE FOOTHILLS upcoast from East Beach. A cooling breeze riffles the bougainvilleas. As dusk begins to glow, most volleyballers have abandoned their nets to the sand,...

Duluth, Minnesota

"ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS I DID WHEN I moved to Duluth was get rid of my car," says Dan Proctor, a bearded 49-year-old with graying pigtails who works at the Positively Third Street organic...

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