In the summer, take a free lawn bowling lesson at the bowling green.In winter, sled down the popular hill near Beechwood Boulevard.And residents love the fact that when they crave an urban experience, the Twin Cities are just 90 miles away. Vibe: A bustling small city amid the magic of the Blue Ridge Mountains Sunny days per year: 217 Median home price: 1,500 Certainly Roanoke's pleasant climate, its 22 miles of walkable/bikeable greenways and the spectacular backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains helped land the city on the list this year.So did its incredibly rich history of both Roanoke and the surrounding valley.While its low unemployment rate and strong local economy are certainly its most touted strength, the city's big surprise is its excellent health care. 2 in doctor-per-capita, beaten only by Gainesville, Fla.The city is home to West Virgina University, which explains why it is often ranked among the best college football towns in the nation, well ahead of many bigger cities.(Those 60 and older can audit courses at reduced prices.) And locals say volunteerism is a significant part of the town's character.But the rolling hills and river valleys that surround the area are also a lure, offering plenty of boating, fishing, camping and more than 70 miles of biking, cross-country ski and snowmobile trails.
Save Money: Get AARP member discounts on travel, shopping and more We pared a list of 200 cities down to 10 by homing in on things that make life worth living: the arts and culture, colleges, restaurants, community. But the surrounding residential areas provide an easygoing livability that is part of the town's character, including wide, tree-shaded streets full of lovely old single-family homes.
(Thankfully, they left plenty of fossils for local enthusiasts.) And hikers and mountain bikers love the area's plentiful playgrounds, with Bar Canyon, Dripping Springs, Robledo Mountains, Picacho Peak and the Dona Ana Mountains all within a 10-mile radius. Vibe: Family-friendly values with a progressive twist Sunny days per year: 200 Median home price: 1,100 Fans say spunky little Eau Claire is something of a Midwestern throwback — safe, friendly and a solid family-oriented community.