Vibe: Funky hippie meets world traveler
Sunny days per year: 205
Median home price: $125,000
Local football hero Tim Tebow stayed in shape running up and down the stairs at University of Florida's Griffin Stadium — and so can you, for free. It's just one way this health-conscious city enhances the lives of those lucky enough to live here.
The University gives Gainesville its hip reputation — the campus recently hosted a Japanese drumming concert — but Gainesville is also an old-fashioned Southern charmer. Take the time to wander the cobblestone streets, admiring the wrought iron fences in front of Victorian gems and marveling at drivers who wave rather than lean on the horn.
At the Florida Museum of Natural History, watch daily butterfly releases from the Butterfly Rainforest exhibit. Sink your teeth into a Cuban sandwich ($8.75) at Emiliano's Café, a pioneer in the pan-Latin food movement. Or just head out for a walk under the city's dense tree canopy — a unique mix of Northern hardwoods and Southern tropical vegetation. Bring along your bird checklist, stop to sniff the lotus flowers — but watch out for the alligators.
You may also like: Great quirky places to retire.