Best Towns

The latest


From Lake Placid to Cordova and some select places in between, here’s our (highly subjective) list of the nation’s best mountain towns. Before telling us where we went wrong, please take a moment to acknowledge the courage and gall it takes to attempt such an impossible feat.

The climate crisis has affected every corner of the country, including many of the places we once fantasized about moving to for a better quality of life

The past year showed us all that having access to the outdoors is essential for our health and well-being. It also magnified the inequities inherent in that access. For 2021’s Best Towns package, we chose 13 of the country’s most diverse places and evaluated them according to the factors that matter today: sustainability, affordability, and outdoor equity. Here are the cities of tomorrow.

It's situated next to Great Smoky Mountains National Park's largest campground and is a now an eerie piece of history

Developers want rivers lined with high-rises and environmentalists want reintroduction of native grasses. A successful waterfront revitalization needs both.

The next generation of socially conscious developers are fighting to make sure downtown revitalization doesn’t just benefit the wealthy

Craft breweries inject culture, youth, and cash into communities. It’s no wonder towns across the country are fighting to get one.

Adventure assets have made millions in these five towns

Green beer isn’t just for Saint Patrick’s day. The craft-beer industry is growing with the planet in mind.

Great places to live don’t just happen—they’re made. We talked to experts around the country to find out exactly what the most livable towns are doing to rev up the local economy and attract adventure-loving residents.

Here are the experts who helped us name the country's most amazing places

Presenting the best burgs on the planet

How does a city turn itself from a backwater to one of Outside's Best Towns? Libby, Montana, is trying to figure it out.

In 2016, Billings, MT beat out the likes of famed mountain towns like Jackson, WY and Bend, OR to take home the top spot in Outside's annual Best Towns contest

We talked to climbers, Olympic mountain bikers, musicians, and award-winning chefs about what exactly makes their hometowns so special and fun

The places you'll never be able to afford and the ones so welcoming, you can move in tomorrow

Will Jackson, Wyoming, or Billings, Montana, be chosen as the Best Town in America? It's time to vote.

We put together a bracket of our 64 favorite towns in the country. See how your pick stacked up.

Think you live in the best town in America? Prove it by entering your town in our Best Towns tournament. All you need is an Instagram account.

The 60 towns that will go head-to-head in a winner-takes-all contest to find the best place to live in 2016

Best Towns 2016: Prize Details and Official Rules

Two days in the city should be enough to convince you to make the move

Off-the-charts home values are turning countless adventure hubs into fiefdoms of the wealthy—but they aren’t going down without a fight

A river- and mountain-loving town took home the top prize (again) in our 2015 contest.

In burgs recognized for an abundance of adventure, these are the winning places that will set you up for everything

Two towns bonded over their Best Towns rivalry

These places may not have won our Best Towns competition, but they're still pretty rad

Staring in April, we asked you to use a certain hashtag to nominate towns for the wild-card segment of our Best Towns 2015 contest. You did, and kept going—as of right now, there are over 7000 images with the hashtag #BestTowns2015. In no particular order, these are 50 of our favorites.

Use this interactive map to create a road trip through every burg from this year's contest

Even if these 12 towns didn’t make it to the Best Towns 2015 contest, they still stood out above the dozens of other wild-card entries.

Think you live in the best town in America? Prove it by entering your town in our Best Towns tournament. All you need is an Instagram account.

Gas is cheap and flying is not. The dollar is strong, so tourists will be flocking to Europe—leaving domestic destinations blissfully uncrowded. The result: stay local and the country will be yours.

The World Ski Championships, which run until February 15, will host more than 600 athletes representing 70 nations and thousands of spectators. Read: It's gonna be a party.

Los Alamos, New Mexico, wins Liveability's "Best Small Town" contest

We put together a bracket of our 64 favorite towns in the country. See how your pick stacked up.

After 20 days and more than one million votes since the start of our 2014 Best Towns Tournament, we're finally down to the final four. With less than two weeks left, we take a minute to weigh in on what makes each of the finalists so special.

What kinds of cities make families happy? That was our starting point. The answer, of course, is complicated. Our first assumption: kids like being around other kids. So we looked for cities where a high percentage of the population is under age 18. Next we looked at affordability...

A clean, green, LEED-certified hostel in south Chattanooga where athletes of all stripes feel at home.

Etiquette for the canine playground

Readers voted Richmond, Virginia, the nation's most livable river town. (No joke!) To find out why, Jon Billman paddles, runs, and snorkels for crabs in the former Confederate capital. Plus: the lowdown on nine other great river towns.

How to add more excitement to your work week

Live smarter in the city with these five essential skills

From farm shares to bike shares, these seven flashes of genius are reinventing a metropolis near you

Adventure amenities make a lot of towns seem dreamy. What sets these 19 burgs apart is their nod to reality: affordable homes, solid job prospects, and vibrant nightlife. Start packing.

Best for Trail Running

Best for Skiing (West)

Healthy. That's the word we kept coming back to. And we don't mean a fit or skinny population; we're talking about a city's cultural vibrancy, economic well-being, and overall quality of life. Presenting our picks for the 10 best cities in America, from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Plus: Our 10 favorite small towns.

Your town got you down? We’ve got your escape plan. These 20 stars of America’s 21st-century Renaissance are riding a wave of civic reinvention and fresh ideas.

Wanna live where the action is? The goal: Trails out the back door, a serious Saturday-morning peloton, whitewater just up the road, and neighbors eager to join in. Our source: The best adventure athletes in America, who tell us where they live and why. The result: 20 places where locals work, train, and play hard. Start packing now.

Think life in America's favorite outdoor mecca would be dreamy? Careful what you wish for.

Think Utopia doesn't exist? Maybe not yet—but these ten towns are making a play for perfection with adventure-friendly innovation and cool ideas for building smart communities. Plus the hottest concepts in urban revival, combating sprawl, and better hometown living.










Want instant access to the Big Outdoors—trails, rivers, wild shores, just minutes from home—without compromising your livelihood? Then check out these ten towns on the verge of paradise, where you don't have to ditch it all to have it all.