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AARP Bulletin

Best Places to Retire

10 Great Small Cities for Retirement

Looking for a place where there's lots to do, but you won't get lost in the crowd? Check out our top picks

The Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts is a popular place to retire- a golfer walks through a course in Amherst, MA

The Pioneer Valley around Springfield, Massachusetts, has broad appeal for retirees. — Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters

Springfield, Massachusetts

Seeking a small city that will make you feel young without making you act like a teenager? Springfield's burgeoning nightclub scene helps give the city a youthful energy but its dozens of restaurants and pubs, coupled with cultural offerings, provide ample adult environs for retirees to relax.

See also: 10 places for outdoors lovers

For the culturally inclined, museums, galleries and shows abound, including the Quadrangle, a cluster of five world-class museums on Chestnut Street, surrounding the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden. For kids of all ages, the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art celebrates the children's author.

Springfield is the heart of Pioneer Valley, Mass., which spans three counties — Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden.

That village feel is evident on the outskirts of some of the smaller cities, including Westfield (population 40,000), Holyoke (40,000), Amherst (34,000) and Northampton (28,000).

Springfield Symphony Hall, an ornate space built in 1911-1913, hosts classical music and traveling Broadway shows while its sister venue, CityStage features a wider range of performances.

For retirees seeking continuing education, opportunities abound. The University of Massachusetts-Amherst (enrollment 24,300) is the flagship of the state system, but there's more beyond that. The colleges of Hampshire, Amherst, Mount Holyoke, Smith and U. Mass-Amherst collaborate to offer courses to older learners through Five College Learning in Retirement. Springfield College offers a program of its own called Learning in Later Life.

There are also countless historical sites and home museums here, including the home of Emily Dickinson in Amherst and historic Deerfield, a pioneer village that has been preserved intact and is open for tourists.

Outdoor recreation opportunities are also abundant. Boating and fishing are popular on the Connecticut River and other nearby waterways. Mount Holyoke Range State Park offer hiking, horseback riding and cross-country skiing. For alpine skiing, the valley is an easy day trip to numerous small ski resorts. Golfers have numerous quality courses to choose form as well.

Drawbacks? The cost of living is in the top one-fifth of United States metro areas, but the median household income is only a little above the national average. Blame home prices, which took off during the housing bubble; foreclosures are a big problem in some parts of the metro.

Next page: More than just a pour — Napa, California. »

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