While voting raged on, our editors and a special guest shared what they love about this year's top towns. Provo and Ithaca experienced quite a nail-biting matchup, remaining neck-and-neck for five days of bracket voting. Readers cast 1. Duluth dominated from the start, netting a far greater percentage of the vote than the competition.
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An epic, 10,mile road trip across America to find the best place to live in the country. That's one way to pick your dream town. In fact, our winner absolutely crushed every voting round. The resulting O-Score is intended to summarize just how livable a place is, even if that differs from how readers voted.
O-Scores are assigned on a scale of 0 to , with being paradise and 0 being Tulsa, Oklahoma. Kidding, Tulsa—we love you! The Montpelier Mile race happens every Fourth of July. Ron Lay-Sleeper. Which is just one sign that this town pop. Also: in , Vermont will become the first state to require labeling of genetically modified foods. A dip in Lake Superior. Aaron Peterson. And yes, the winters are eight months long. Climbers head to Cliff Drive, to scale Shit Hooks and some 70 other routes rated to 5. Anglers aim for Pilgrim River to fish for trout or catch spring steelhead on the Elm and Misery Rivers south of town.
Paddleboarding Riverfront Park. Ashley Hylbert. The Athens of the South may be best known for country music and soapy TV shows about country music, but in the past decade the town pop. Mountain bikers and trail runners flock to Warner Parks, a nearly 3,acre oasis with nine miles of freshly built, flowing mountain-bike trails. Paddleboarders head to dozens of lakes inside the Cumberland River Basin, and trail runners explore singletrack winding through Warner.
Running alongside Portland Harbor views. Woods Wheatcroft. And popular shop Gorham Bike and Ski leads a Friday-morning coffee ride —a mile loop with a cappuccino stop midway in Yarmouth. They congregate for full-moon nordic skiing at Riverside Golf Course and break out the pond-hockey gear. Charleston's Queen Street. The town is home to a thriving food scene for post-adventure fuel. But what really sets it apart is the water.
Charleston pop. Hunting redfish by kayak in the marsh is a local obsession, and for more rugged adventure think deserted islands, sun-bleached trees, and gators residents catch a ferry to Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge for oceanfront wilderness kayaking. Of course, remaining on land is just as fun.
A La Crosse overlook offers stunning views of the town. La Crosse pop. There are dozens of in-town multisport trails in Hixon Forest and Myrick Park , where five new miles are in the works, including a two-mile mountain-bike downhill and larger pump track. Plus, there are storage facilities that opened this summer.
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Sciammas, a cyclist and skier, says you can connect trails for hours of running, hiking, fat or mountain biking, snowshoeing, or skiing. Families can bike the mile packed limestone Elroy-Sparta , which connects to several other routes in the area. A jog through Annette Brand Park, south of Boulder. With the University of Colorado campus and a population of more than ,, Boulder also has the cultural trappings—and, crucially, job opportunities—of a large city.
The Boulder Theater hosts indie films and popular bands, and the Bitter Bar serves craft cocktails to mustached men in skinny jeans. Google established a satellite campus here in , and dozens of tech startups are transforming Boulder into a mountain-town Silicon Valley. Downtown Missoula. The college town also happens to be a paddler's paradise. Nearby, Draught Works Brewery slings locally brewed ales, and Big Dipper Ice Cream makes flavors like strawberry peppercorn from scratch. Of course, residents love this town best for what lies just beyond.
But skiing and snowboarding at the Montana Snowbowl is just 20 minutes away, Whitefish Mountain Resort is a couple of hours, and Big Sky Resort is under four. Holy Grale, which used to be a church, serves possibly the best burger in town. Jessica Dillree.
Louisvillians have a lot to be proud of. By the end of , expect 19 miles of greenway and a bike park with flow trails and pump tracks. Vermont singletrack. In winter, Burlington also offers some of the best backcountry skiing out there. Downtown Asheville, which boasts more than its fair share of breweries. Do you hang out downtown amid the dizzying number of breweries?
Or do you road-bike the Blue Ridge Parkway? Bent Creek, located ten miles from town, is some of the nearest singletrack, but Keller likes Staire Creek, located in Big Ivy, a largely forgotten tract of the Pisgah. Asheville treats foodies just as well. But the city is best known as a beer hub.
Ithaca's known for its gorges, but watery attractions like Wells Falls, pictured here, are great too. Danny Ghitis. Many move to Ithaca pop.
What’s the Best Adventure State?
The many ravines, waterfalls, and creeks that surround it make it picturesque. Plus, the city is in the midst of a long-anticipated revitalization. The improvements are inspiring a steady migration of New York City residents to head upstate. You can sail and paddleboard The sun shines on Lake Hood though in winter, that's not so much the case. Right behind our site was an older playground with swings and a couple slides and beyond that a baseball field.
We thought staying near the playground was a good idea until every morning when Reid stepped out of the camper he made a run for the slide. We took turns watching him do laps up and down. It felt like most of our stay was spent standing next to the little slide. Looking down the road from our site towards the bathhouse. Even with the campground filled to capacity on Friday and Saturday nights with bikers, the campground staff did an excellent job keeping the facilities in order. Sites 77 and 78 were a couple of the best sites tucked away pines at the end of the loop.
The sites on the south side of the loop backed up to an industrial area, but even these did not seem too bad. About the only way we could get anything done was to let Reid play in the truck. After eating lunch and setting up camp I decided to sample some Marquette mountain biking while Reid took a nap and the girls played at the campgrounds. Marquette has an awesome trail system thanks to the work of the Noquemanon Trail Network.
The Mount Marquette or Blue Loop is advertised as some of the best single track in the area, so that is where I headed. This trail definitely did not disappoint. After just a little riding I realized that I was no longer in West Michigan when all the rocks and roots were making my tires almost bottom out on the rims.
I stopped and added some air and was good to go for the rest of the ride. The Gurley Trail section. When there is a fork in the trail and the choice is easy to the right or most difficult left, of course you go left. I ended up walking the bike down this part…10 years ago I would have went for it without even thinking about it.
I still am not sure if getting older and maybe a little wiser is a good thing. From this hike-a-bike section it is just a short ride back to the trailhead. The Mount Marquette Loop is a 3. There is a good amount of climbing making for moderately strenuous ride. See page 2 for the report on this trail. After dinner we went for a drive along the Marquette lake front. We stopped at Picnic Rocks Park to watch the waves rolling into the rocks.
From Picnic Rocks we drove north to Presque Isle Park and again watched the waves crash into the black rocks. The next morning was sunny and still breezy. We drove north about 3 miles up to the Little Presque Isle tract. We planned to hike the 1. On the way we dropped off my bike in the Wetmore Landing parking area so I could retrieve the truck at the end of the point to point hike. The picture above is looking out from the point to Little Presque Isle. It was interesting to watch the waves wrapping around the island and colliding with each other.
Looking down at the interesting lines on the bottom beneath the crystal clear Lake Superior water. A nice family offered to take our picture from the lookout…to bad we had the sun right at our backs. The trail took us through some interesting boulder fields after dropping back down along the shore. By the end of the hike Reid was worn out from finding all the clues.
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Everyone took a well deserved rest by the beach while I biked back to pick up the truck. Overall it took our family about 1 hour and 40 minutes to complete this nice 1. After our hike we stopped at the big Presque Isle Park and ate lunch overlooking the working ore dock. Presque Isle Park is a acre peninsula on the north edge of Marquette. The park has 2 picnic areas, restrooms, a playground and even an ice cream concession.
There is a nice single lane scenic drive along the outside of the island with pull offs where you can view the red rock cliffs and explore the rocky Lake Superior shoreline. There are also several hiking trails through the wooded interior of the park that we did not get a chance to explore on this visit. It was still pretty windy and everyone was stopping to watch the was hit the break wall near the picnic area. The black rocks area at the tip of the park is popular cliff jumping spot.
Next time we have to try it. Watching the waves rolling into the black rocks. From the parking lot there are 2 routes to choose from.
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We took the easy route to the right which loops around the side of the Sugarloaf Mountain on the way to the top. The more difficult route looked a little too steep and rocky for the kids. Reesey happy to be at the top. As you can see we let them choose their own clothes when we are camping. Thanks Grandma and Justice. The kids counted steps on the way to the top. Looking north along the shoreline to Little Presque Isle.
Tahquamenon, not Phenomenon, Falls State Park
This is the same section that we hiked earlier in the day. Reid happy to out of the back carrier and walking the last section on the way back to the parking area. I just happened to catch Reese telling Regan about the emergency stop that she had to make behind a tree back along the trail. After all the walking everyone was ready for their sleeping bags early on this night. For more info on this hike see: Best Hikes with Children in Michigan.