Best Adventure Towns Where to Live and Play in America

Two things are very important in our busy life’s these days one where to go for fun and where to live. That’s why We’ve built the ultimate, state-by-state guide to top outdoor hubs across the country. These adventure towns offer something for everyone, whether you love hiking, skiing, biking, kayaking, climbing, snowboarding, or a little bit of everything. Stay for a long weekend or the rest of your life.

To find out more please click-and-go map to select a weekend escape. Or browse state-by-state list. On each town profile, you’ll find recommended places to play, stay, and eat. Then decorate your desktop with free wallpaper. Make this your first stop when planning your next out-the-backdoor escape

Austin, Texas

Austin pretty much has it all—except for an off-season. The riverside college town is home to more than 200 jazz, blues, country, and rock venues—not to mention two of the country’s most hot-ticket annual music fests, South by Southwest in March and Austin City Limits in October—and endless road cycling in the surrounding Hill Country. Even in the dead of January, average temperatures are 50 degrees (10 degrees Celsius) and the rivers are still warm enough for a post-bike ride dip.

Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville’s outdoor enthusiasts come together for the festivals, markets, and bohemian art and music scenes in this Blue Ridge Mountains hot spot.

Boulder, Colorado

Conveniently located at the base of five of the world’s most impressive slabs of sandstone, the Flatirons, it’s no surprise that this town is considered something of a climbing mecca. Boulder residents recognize their town’s potential as an outdoor adventurer’s cloud nine, and have successfully preserved over 36,000 acres (14,569 hectares) of nature preserve and recreational space.

Brooklyn, New York

The best park, the truest “urban wilderness” that Frederick Law Olmsted designed is not Central Park (he was horrified when they added boulevards to the south end), but Prospect Park—in Brooklyn. Call us biased, since more than half the Adventure staff lives here, but Brooklyn is NYC’s best urban wilderness, just as Olmstead planned it.

Carbondale, Colorado

Carbondale’s urban expats take their town’s name as an eco-challenge. In the morning, commuters line the bike paths on their way to a growing pack of local environmental companies, like Solar Energy International, GreenSpot, and InPower Systems. A new rec center and the police and fire departments are all solar powered. The occasional cattle drive still passes down Main Street, but it’s clear that the town’s ranching days are mostly gone. While still partly in the shadow of Aspen, 30 miles (48 kilometers) up the road, Carbondale is forging its own identity as a self-sustained base for Patagonia-clad Ph.D.’s happy to stay close to home in the White River National Forest, beneath the 12,953-foot (3,948-meter) twin peaks of Mount Sopris.

Burlington, Vermont

Burton Snowboards is headquartered here for a reason. This city, nestled on Lake Champlain, has just about everything you could want, rising to the adventure challenge in any season.

Hood River, Oregon

The steady westerlies churning the mighty Columbia have been drawing windsurfers and kiteboarders to Hood River for years. But lately an almost equal number of mountain bikers, powderhounds, and whitewater paddlers have started arriving, as well. Judging by the signs above all the new restaurants, the recent arrivals are partial to sushi joints, wine bars, and bistros with hard-to-pronounce European names. But this recreational boomtown hasn’t abandoned its roots—the focus here is still centered squarely on the action outside.

Islamorada, Florida

Strung across six islands in the lower Florida Keys, the village of Islamorada is set between a Gulf Stream-warmed Atlantic Ocean—home to sailfish, wahoo, dolphin, tuna, sharks, and North America’s only living coral reef—and the Florida Bay, rife with bonefish, snook, and snapper.

Jackson, Wyoming

Home to the National Elk Refuge just south of Grand Teton National Park, Jackson is your gateway into Yellowstone. Hike legendary trails to backcountry geysers, ride a snowcoach to view packs of moose, and catch the new aerial tram for some breathtaking mountain views. To reach the best sites, launch a canoe at Lewis Lake and paddle three days up the Lewis Channel into Shoshone Lake, the largest backcountry lake in the Lower 48, or hike the ten miles (16 kilometers) there via the Shoshone Trail. The Shoshone Geyser Basin lacks a geyser with the major hydraulics of Old Faithful, but it also lacks the guardrails and crowds. Once there, you can explore at will among seven different groups of geysers, boiling springs, and steaming cones.

Lander, Wyoming

Stetsons meet Birkenstocks here at the foot of the glacier-pocked Wind River Range, less than four hours from Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Seven miles (11 kilometers) away, check out the river that disappears into a mountainside before diving into some serious rock climbing.

Lihue, Kauai

Lihue (lee-hoo-ay), an old sugar-mill town on the island of Kauai, has a prime location between heavenly Kalapaki Beach—perpetually ranked as one of the world’s finest stretches of white sand—soaring mountains, and the 3,000-foot (914-meter) deep, jungle-fringed Waimea Canyon.

Los Angeles, California

Not many places on Earth are quite as geographically blessed as Los Angeles. If you find yourself here on an especially fine spring day, for instance, you can actually ski or snowboard and surf in the same twelve hours. Buttressed by epic mountains to the east and the Santa Monica Bay to the west, with one of the largest urban parks in the country, L.A. has enough outdoors to make you forget all about the famous traffic and smog.

Lynchburg, Virginia

On the James River in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the vibrant community of Lynchburg’s recreational options are plenty: hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains or on the Appalachian Trail, swimming and boating on Smith Mountain Lake, and skiing at the nearby Wintergreen Resort

Medora, North Dakota

Theodore Roosevelt National Park backs right up to Medora, where you can watch roaming feral horses, bison, and prairie dogs, and of course, explore its Badlands—colorful pillars of sandstone, siltstone, and mudstone that stretch for miles.

New Orleans, Louisiana

Theodore Roosevelt National Park backs right up to Medora, where you can watch roaming feral horses, bison, and prairie dogs, and of course, explore its Badlands—colorful pillars of sandstone, siltstone, and mudstone that stretch for miles.

Portland, Oregon

Portland is surrounded by some of the best outdoor escapes in the country: Year-round skiing at Mount Hood is two hours east, wind- and kite-surfing on the Columbia an hour east, surfing the Pacific an hour west, and countless waterfall-laced hikes in every direction. But even more impressive are the adventure options within city limits, starting with Forest Park, the biggest urban forested area in the country; the 5,100 wooded acres (2,064 wooded hectares) have more than 70 miles (113 kilometers) of hiking trails, including an epic 30-mile (48-kilometer) loop called the Wildwood Trail. The city is also one of the most bike-friendly in the U.S., with more than 171 miles (275 kilometers) of bike lanes (and more soon on the way) and a 40-mile (64-kilometer) loop trail system

Red Lodge, Montana

Set beside Yellowstone National Park in the wooded Beartooth Mountain foothills, Red Lodge is the toned-down alternative to Jackson—complete with a smaller (and less intimidating) ski resort on its 9,416-foot (2,870-meter) signature peak. The town’s epic 71-mile (117-kilometer) Peaks to Prairie Adventure Race triathlon every April shows outsiders what they’re missing.

Homer, Alaska

Big mountains, big glaciers, and even bigger tracts of undeveloped land will always be Alaska’s main draws—but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a little art and culture there, too. Homer, a funky enclave at the southern tip of the Kenai Peninsula, is living proof. The town began as a fishing and mining outpost, but more recently, creative types have staked claims here as well. Homer’s streets are packed with studios and galleries; its Pratt Museum showcases locally made wares and a rotating roster of marquee-name exhibits; and Pier One Theater shows community plays.

Avalon, New Jersey

While boardwalks, amusement parks, and McMansions engulf the rest of the Jersey Shore, Avalon has stayed relatively sprawl-free. Its newly protected beaches—habitats for both surfers and terrapin turtles—have some of the last high dunes in the area.

Moab, Utah

Sandwiched between Arches and Canyonlands national parks, Moab thrives in a red rock playground. Hike to Delicate Arch, gaze at Native American rock art, raft the Colorado River, and bike the 10-mile (16-kilometer) Slickrock Trail on a heavily eroded sandstone plateau.

Bishop, California

Owens Valley ranchers and Buttermilk boulderers share paradise in this quiet community an hour south of Mammoth Lakes. Yosemite National Park is three hours away, Death Valley two, and the soaring Sierra Nevada less than one.

Written by lava360

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