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Cheyenne, Wyoming

The annual Frontier Days Festival brings thousands of rodeo fans to Cheyenne, Wyoming. — Getty

Cheyenne, Wyoming

Cowboy culture and Wild West images are everywhere, and each summer visitors flock here for Frontier Days, still one of the world's largest outdoor rodeo after 115 years.

See also: Best places to retire abroad.

Yes, it's the boot-and-buckle veneer, which includes plenty of horses and trolleys downtown and its "Magic City of the Plains" railroad history, that draws the tourists. But Cheyenne also has a sophisticated side: Stop by the Capitol Grille, for example, and wash down your buffalo carpaccio with what locals say is one heckuva martini.

What makes Cheyenne most appealing to residents, though, is the real spirit of the West: low-rise buildings, wide-open spaces, tumbleweeds and "Neighborhood Night Out" parties, sponsored by the local police, that draw hundreds of residents.

It's not always all stirrups and saddles, though: Each summer, Cheyenne hosts the AARP National Spelling Bee, when the local cowboys make room for the country's best spellers over the age of 50.

Next Page: The Hoosier State's hidden gem. »

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