Published: September 2008
Where to Live + Play Now!
The fifty next great adventure towns.
Text by Sarah Tuff and Greg Melville

A change of address can bring instant gratification. You could wake up tomorrow in Missoula and kayak off your own deck at dawn, sneak in singletrack at lunch in Chattanooga—or choose your own adventure in any one of the country’s best base camps. But a move is a long-term investment. So this year we selected 50 innovative towns that aren’t just prime relocation spots right now, but smart choices for the future. Not only do they have the action. They’ve got a plan. Now we’re giving you a plan too. Inside, you’ll find hometown picks that range from adventure 24/7 hubs loaded with outdoor options to urban players that offer a variety of jobs and cultural activities without sacrificing green space. You’ll also hear from recent transplants who made the move and have a better quality of life to show for it. So go on—get packing. (Read the full coverage of these towns in the September 2008 issue, on newsstands August 12th.)

Plus: Take a digital tour of these towns with Nat Geo Map's See the maps >>

Here are the 50 next great adventure towns, presented by region and in no particular order (our top 12 picks are shown in bold). Plus: You can now post your comments on our picks in the area provided below.

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1. Seattle, Washington
2. Coos Bay, Oregon
3. Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii
4. Girdwood, Alaska
5. Hood River, Oregon

6. San Francisco, California

7. Joshua Tree, California
8. Leavenworth, Washington
9. Arcata, California
10. Klamath Falls, Oregon
11. Bellingham, Washington
12. Malibu, California

Next: Rockies Towns >>

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13. Missoula, Montana
14. Lander, Wyoming
15. Idaho Falls, Idaho
16. Silver City, New Mexico
17. Ogden, Utah

18. Carbondale, Colorado

19. Prescott, Arizona
20. Reno, Nevada
21. Pagosa Springs, Colorado
22. Red Lodge, Montana
23. Tucson, Arizona
24. Colorado Springs, Colorado
25. Hailey, Idaho

Next: Central Towns >>

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26. Grand Marais, Minnesota
27. Rapid City, South Dakota
28. Traverse City, Michigan
29. Bardstown, Kentucky
30. Mobile, Alabama
31. Lafayette, Louisiana
32. Hermann, Missouri
33. Mountain View, Arkansas
34. Peoria, Illinois
35. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
36. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
37. San Antonio, Texas

Next: East Towns >>

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38. Brattleboro, Vermont Read the feature >>
39. Boston, Massachusetts
40. Charleston, South Carolina
41. Charlottesville, Virginia
42. Plymouth, New Hampshire
43. State College, Pennsylvania
44. Blue Hill, Maine
45. Lenoir, North Carolina
46. Avalon, New Jersey
47. Salisbury, Maryland
48. Islamorada, Florida
49. Chattanooga, Tennessee
50. Saranac Lake, New York