1. Athens, Georgia
Georgia is in one of the fastest growing US counties, yet the town of Athens is still charmingly rural. What's more, Athens has become something of a cultural hub for all things literary, musical, and artistic. Nearby you can also find nature reserves, romantic riverside trails, and an exciting mountain biking circuit. Full of family-friendly restaurants, Athens is a place that everyone would be proud to call home.
2. Bend, Oregon
Whenever anyone comes to Bend, they straightaway feel devoured by envy that they don't live in this wonderful western town. For outdoor activities, the town is unrivaled, boasting options in the Deschutes River watershed and the Cascades. Being close to the high desert, Bend's summers are saturated with warm days and cool refreshing nights. As for the food and music scene, need we say more?
3. Cooke City, Montana
Cooke City is in fact just a tiny little village found on the road that joins Mammoth to Tower Junction. The place has become a hot spot for passing snowmobilers and skiers. With Yellowstone National Park and Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness in the vicinity, there are plenty of reasons why you might be lucky enough to happen upon this charming town.
4. Ocean City, Maryland
A resort built for good honest family fun, no stay at Ocean City is ever a disappointment. Whether you spend time in its cool taverns and chat with the funny local characters or just want to stroll on the white beaches with the surfers, this camping paradise has something for everyone - not to mention the thrill of seeing the wild horses enjoying themselves galloping along the coast.
5. Valdez, Alaska
Someway off the well-trodden Alaskan tourist path, Valdez is the perfect place to explore the real Alaska. Flanked by the Chugach Mountains and a stunning forest, Valdez can be enjoyed for its fishing, climbing, berry picking, skiing, or hiking. It's also a great location to see waterfalls and glaciers.
6. Asbury Park, New Jersey
Asbury is a diverse and friendly modern town on the Jersey Shore, known for its lively music scene - this is where Bruce Springsteen first started out. Though part of the town had become quite dilapidated over time, Asbury has recently been revitalized with some great restaurants and bars. The beers at the Bond Street dive are thoroughly recommended.
7. Yellow Springs, Ohio
While most of Ohio is as conservative as it is beautiful, Yellow Springs seems to exist in its own parallel universe. Originally started as a communitarian utopia (which miserably failed - big surprise!), Yellow Springs retains much of its hippie vibe. If being part of the 1960s style counter-culture appeals to you, this is surely a great place to hang out. Famous for its local beer, shopping, art galleries, and music shops, it's hard to imagine a friendlier place.
8. Fairhope, Alabama
To understand the true flavor of the south, Fairhope is well worth a lengthy visit. With sun-kissed boardwalks on Mobile Bay, the old downtown, seafood shacks, and incredible southern food, you've got to come here to believe that life really can be that good.
9. Nevada City, California
With so many gorgeous historic buildings, it's no wonder Nevada City's downtown features in so many TV and film productions. It seems that this little town was just made to sell postcards, given the amount of beautiful vistas it affords. Furthermore, the town is a mere 25 minutes away from the National Wild and Scenic South Yuba River, with different skiing resorts to be found less than an hour away.
10. Greenville, South Carolina
A one time local industrial powerhouse, Greenville has transformed itself into a 21st century urban paradise. With natural wonders to be seen on the foothills of the Blue Ridge and the class V drop Reedy Falls flowing through the town center, as well as some superb modern restaurants, cafes, and green spaces, Greenville is one of the most beautiful and affordable places to live in America.
11. Sandpoint, Idaho
This town may only house 8,000 fortunate residents, but if all the world knew its charms it would probably become a metropolis overnight. Seated alongside the shores of the vast Lake Pend Oreille, Sandpoint is a place of outdoor adventure and good-time family fun. The town also has a great theme park, Silverwood, and a lovely historic feel to it.
12. Fayetteville, West Virginia
Just a mile from the New River Gorge and Bridge (the longest arch bridge in the Western Hemisphere), downtown Fayetteville is one of the most visually attractive towns in the East. Once a year, people come from miles around to jump from the bridge - just for the heck of it! In fact, the town is generally known for its outdoor adventure communities, including whitewater paddlers and rafters.
13. Padanaram, Massachusetts
Situated between scenic Cape Cod and Boston, Padanaram fishing village opens it swing bridge on the Buzzards Bay every hour in order to allow sailboats into the harbor. This regular routine locks all people into the town until the bridge closes again. All of this has helped bring about a culture where everyone who visits takes it easy at the local farmers' markets, restaurants, and beaches.
14. Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina
The locals in Kill Devil Hills like to spend all their free time either fishing or surfing. Though it's not easy to get here and join in all that fun, it's sure worth the effort. The giant dunes that make the place famous were where aviation took its very first flights, and you can still relive some of that thrill with some paragliding. Kill Devil Hills also stands at the threshold of the Hatteras National Park.
15. Taos, New Mexico
The ancient people of Taos continue to inhabit this western town after a millennia. Visitors who come to see the curious buildings and savor the western style of life are never left in any doubt why the Taos never left! Nearby are some world-class trails and a fantastic skiing area.
16. Two Harbors, California
A mere 25 miles from busy LA, Two Harbors feels like another world. With just a few residents, one bar and restaurant, this is not the California you expected to see. Yet, what better place is there to enjoy the local sun and sea without the hectic chaos of Los Angeles?
17. Fredericksburg, Texas
This town is a great mix of traditional Texan and German culture, with historic buildings, museums, and B&Bs, yet what sets it apart from the rest of the pack is its breathtaking location. Slap bang in the middle of Texas Hill Country, with the Enchanted Rock, Pedernales Falls, Guadalupe River, Canyon Lake and the lakes of Colorado Rover all within striking distance, this is a great place to spend a week or so of your precious time. Austin and San Antonio are also within an hour and a half.
18. Leland, Michigan
An ancient Ottawa Indian camp, Leland is probably the best spot on the Great Lakes. Found between Lake Michigan and Lake Leelanau, this town is prime wine country. There are fewer places with a more beautiful sunset than that which can be enjoyed here.