Kevin J. Miyazaki
En español | Located on the western shore of Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Sheboygan River, the bustling waterfront of this small city provides its heartbeat. As the locals say, it may get cold, but it never gets old.1 of 11
Don’t write off this small-city gem as a dusty relic. Still authentically Texan, it’s also an affordable trendsetter with a diverse population. With offerings far beyond steak and BBQ, it’s becoming a haven for foodies, too.2 of 11
Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
A laid-back island spirit informs this affordable city in Florida’s Panhandle. It’s growing fast and attracts lots of tourists, but that just means there’s always something to do.3 of 11
With its varied neighborhoods, world-class orchestra, thriving downtown, elite medical centers, miles of biking and hiking trails along Lake Erie and — finally!— championship sports teams (thanks, LeBron), this Rust Belt city is staging a mighty comeback.4 of 11
Known for its bike-friendly culture and paths that crisscross the city, this northwestern hamlet has a distinctive resident blend that includes college students, arts enthusiasts and aging hippies. Sure, it rains a lot, but Eugene has carefully cultivated its image as an outdoors-lover’s paradise, and as the home of Nike, it may be the running capital of the world.5 of 11
If you like the outdoors or music or both, start packing. Spanning two states, this southeastern border town is ideal for fans of country music, NASCAR, lakes and mountains.6 of 11
Cañon City, Colo.
Plenty of people only discover this welcoming little haven when they’re out playing. Because it straddles the Arkansas River, it attracts plenty of river rafters, but also offers rock climbing, hiking and fishing. It lacks the sprawl, congestion and traffic that plague other Colorado towns and offers low unemployment and endless outdoor fun.7 of 11
Getty Images/Gallo Images
Come for the authentic cowboy culture, affordable housing and tasty steaks. Beyond its Wild West street cred, the city is all business. Its recent reinvention has included the addition of lots of affordable housing — much of it built to woo downsizing Baby Boomers.8 of 11
This often overlooked upstate New York town — it’s the state’s third largest — offers a diverse, artsy lakeside setting and boasts top universities and stellar health care. And home cooks, take note: Wegmans, the much-loved supermarket chain, was born here.9 of 11
Sioux Falls, S.D.
The city ranks high on happiness measures, with abundant outdoor activity, a strong sense of community and a friendly spirit. More upsides: There’s no state income tax and one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.10 of 11
11 of 11