Outside's 10 Best Places to Live in America, Including 2 in Colorado

The folks at Outside magazine have come up with their list of the sixteen best places to live in America circa 2015.

But for the purposes of this post, we're concentrating on numbers ten through one — because that's where two Colorado communities reside.

Note that Colorado is the only state to land two places among the top ten.

Given Outside's mandate, the Colorado winners are gorgeous and offer easy access to great recreational opportunities. In addition, another locale outside the state is compared to a Colorado town that didn't make the cut, Boulder — but it's called a more affordable version.

Count down the photo-illustrated list below, featuring excerpts from Outside text. To see the original post, click here.

Number 10: Boone, North Carolina

“There’s a saying around here, ‘Our life is your vacation,’” says Mike Thomas, a local trail builder. That sounds awful smug, but visit and it’s easy to see his point. Tucked into the southern Appalachians, this college town has an embarrassment of outdoor riches. Down the road, you can find Class V boating on Wilson’s Creek, and 45 minutes outside town is Linville Gorge, one of the most dramatic canyons east of the Rocky Mountains, with more than 11,000 acres of wilderness backpacking and endless walls for trad climbing....

Number 9: Pagosa Springs, Colorado

In the shadow of the San Juan Mountains, tiny Pagosa Springs is a microcosm of authentic Colorado. In the downtown district, historic storefronts house a brewery, restaurants, and an old movie theater supported by a crowdfunding campaign....

Number 8: Beaufort, South Carolina

Half the county surrounding Beaufort is water. Which means anglers and paddlers have the better part of a million acres to explore, from brackish inland rivers to Jurassic Park–looking salt marshes that separate the mainland from the barrier islands. That’s not counting the Atlantic Ocean, where sea kayakers can play with dolphins before beaching on the white sands of Hunting Island State Park....

Number 7: Flagstaff, Arizona

Don’t go to Flagstaff expecting scorching heat and snowbirds. This railroad town of 69,000 is flanked by 12,000-foot mountains and the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest in the world, defying all the state’s stereotypes. “People think of Arizona as a hot desert, but we’re at 7,000 feet,” says Caleb Schiff, owner of Pizzicletta, a beloved local pizzeria. “Flagstaff is an oasis"....

Number 6: Athens, Georgia

Athens is known for its SEC football, robust party scene, and cycling on endless farm roads. But the city of 121,000 has also become an outpost of world-class eateries that combine the best of the South with an adventurous, farm-fresh ethos. White Tiger Gourmet, a barbecue joint where vegetarian dishes get equal billing with pulled pork, is a good example of that. We asked chef-owner Ken Manring to walk us through his perfect day chowing down....

Number 5: Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Subarus topped with kayaks. Trailers stacked with rafts. Teenagers toting inner tubes. The streets of Glenwood Springs are a dead giveaway: this is a river town. The Colorado and the Roaring Fork meet here, and on any given evening in the spring and summer, locals gather with coolers of beer at put-ins like Grizzly Creek and Shoshone to raft Class III rapids and mellow flatwater through a 1,700-foot canyon....

Number 4: Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Stop at this riverside city of 68,000 on a summer Saturday and you’ll see families lazily tubing and cyclists tackling the 30-mile rail-trail system. But what sets Eau Claire apart is its music scene, which was going strong long before native son Justin Vernon’s group Bon Iver won a Best New Artist Grammy in 2012. Things got louder this July, when Vernon debuted his Eaux Claires Festival, with acts like Sufjan Stevens and the National joining his band....

Number 3: Iowa City, Iowa

“It’s like Boulder with an Iowa-nice twist,” is how one 20-year resident of Iowa City describes this bucolic river town of 72,000. No, there aren’t any mountains. No legal pot, either. But the city does have a pedestrian mall to rival Pearl Street, a university with more than 30,000 students, and a bike-crazy culture. Unlike Boulder, it’s affordable. The median home price of $178,000 will get you a mid-century bungalow....

Number 2: Port Angeles, Washington

In the final throes of this year’s contest, Port Angeles (population 19,000) staged an impressive fight. Homeowners put placards in their yards reminding passersby to vote, businesses made pleas on sandwich boards, and locals stood on street corners with signs. The town ended up coming in second to Chattanooga—which has almost ten times the population—by just 2 percent of the vote....

Number 1: Chattanooga, Tennessee

When I was growing up an hour south of Chattanooga in the eighties and nineties, the city was best known for MoonPies, those sinfully delicious chocolate, graham cracker, and marshmallow hockey pucks. Fast-forward a couple of decades and I’m standing in a juice bar on the edge of downtown, wondering what happened to the corny place I once knew. Now it’s all nitro cold brew and tech startups, like the love child of Nashville and Silicon Valley, but with more singletrack....

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