Fringe Benefits

Border-town bliss

FERNIE, BRITISH, COLUMBIA // Pop. 4,000
Dwarfed by the Lizard Range, Fernie is a gateway to three national parks and home to the wide-open powder bowls of Fernie Alpine Resort. In summer, nothing beats fly-fishing the Elk River for cutthroat and bull trout. Dream Getaway: Five-bedroom house on five acres along the Elk River, $500,000. More info: www.insidefernie.com

ELY, MINNESOTA // Pop. 3,800
Despite drawing 200,000 tourists to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness each summer, Ely maintains the hard edge of the iron-mining town it once was. Average high temperatures of five degrees in January don't stop cross-country skiers and ice-fishermen. Dream Getaway: Two-bedroom log home on three and a half acres fronting White Iron Lake, $499,000. More info: www.ely.org

MARFA, TEXAS // Pop. 2,200
On a mile-high plateau, surrounded by sprawling scrub brush and mesquite prairie, Marfa has morphed over the past decade into a hip artists' retreat. Minimalist Donald Judd chose an old barracks outside of this railroad town for his Chinati Foundation, a contemporary art museum that houses large-scale installations. Dream Getaway: Two-bedroom renovated adobe with studio, on an acre, $195,000. More info: www.marfacc.com

SAN ANTONIO DE LAS MINAS, BAJA CALIFORNIA // Pop. 500
This pueblito in the midst of rolling hills and verdant flora 60 miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border and ten miles northeast of Ensenada is part of Baja's renascent wine country. Dream Getaway: Eight-acre winery with two-bedroom house, $240,000. More info: www.sdro.com/ensenadawines

PELEE ISLAND, ONTARIO // Pop. 275
Migrating monarch butterflies find respite on this ten-mile-long island in the middle of Lake Erie, and so can you. The flat island-town is accessible by ferry March through December (and by private plane year-round). Dream Getaway: Three-bedroom beachfront house, $350,000. More info: www.pelee.org

PATAGONIA, ARIZONA // Pop. 881
In the high grasslands between the Patagonia and Santa Rita mountains, artists have grabbed a ranch town—with its clapboard storefronts—by the horns. A section of the 750-mile Arizona Trail runs through the surrounding Coronado National Forest. Dream Getaway: Two-bedroom home on five acres, $459,000. More info: www.patagoniaaz.com

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