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12 Great Places You've Never Heard Of

Whether you want to travel or sink in new roots, here are some great places — fun, affordable towns — for you to investigate.

| August/September 2006

  • Ithaca New York - farmers market
    Ithaca’s renowned farmers market.
    Jon Reis Photo & Design
  • Ithaca New York - swimming hole and waterfall
    Summer fun at a waterfall in Ithaca, N.Y.
    Jon Reis Photo & Design
  • 12 great places - US map with town locations
    We've done the legwork and found great places all over the country to live or visit.
    Illustration by MOTHER EARTH NEWS Staff
  • Ithaca New York - Ithaca hours local currency
    Ithaca Hours, the famous local currency.
    Jon Reis Photo & Design
  • 217-072-BlueHill-CMYK.jpg
    Blue Hill, Maine has many historic buildings and locally owned shops that sell homemade crafts.
    Sue Ann Hodges
  • great places athens Ohio - country road
    There's a calm beauty in the rolling, forested hills of Athens, Ohio.
    Baron/The Image Finders
  • Wimberley, Texas - Olde Towne Plaza
    The Olde Towne Plaza in Wimberley, Texas features several eclectic shops.
    William D. Adams
  • grand junction colorado - dinosaur
    If you're ever in Grand Junction, Colo., check out the Main Street Dinosaur Valley Museum.
    John Elk III
  • downtown Northfield Minnesota
    Visit downtown Northfield, Minnesota. in the summer and you can enjoy fresh popcorn beside a bubbling fountain.
    John Elk III
  • St George Utah - mountain view of the town
    While St. George, Utah is a growing town, locals are working to preserve its scenic beauty.
    John Elk III
  • Decatur Georgia - DeKalb farmer's market
    The DeKalb County farmers market in Decatur, Georgia offers more than 100,000 square feet of fresh food.
    DeKalb Visitors Bureau
  • Fairfield Iowa - little girl painting
    Art is a local passion in Fairfield, Iowa.
    Stacey Hurlin
  • Le Grande, Oregon - mountain view of town under puffy white clouds
    La Grande, Oregon sits in a valley between the Blue Mountains and the Wallowa Mountains.
    Randy Green
  • Grants Pass Oregon - white water rafting
    The Rogue River near Grants Pass, Oregon offers exhilarating outdoor recreation.
    Greg Vaughn
  • Sitka Alaska - boats in harbor
    Boats fill the tranquil harbor of Sitka, Alaska.
    Danita Delimont

  • Ithaca New York - farmers market
  • Ithaca New York - swimming hole and waterfall
  • 12 great places - US map with town locations
  • Ithaca New York - Ithaca hours local currency
  • 217-072-BlueHill-CMYK.jpg
  • great places athens Ohio - country road
  • Wimberley, Texas - Olde Towne Plaza
  • grand junction colorado - dinosaur
  • downtown Northfield Minnesota
  • St George Utah - mountain view of the town
  • Decatur Georgia - DeKalb farmer's market
  • Fairfield Iowa - little girl painting
  • Le Grande, Oregon - mountain view of town under puffy white clouds
  • Grants Pass Oregon - white water rafting
  • Sitka Alaska - boats in harbor

If you could live anywhere in the United States, where would it be? Chances are your ideal place would have beautiful scenery and recreational opportunities; civic pride and a healthy economy; and a community of people who care about the environment, sustainability, alternative energy and fresh, wholesome food.

MOTHER EARTH NEWS went looking for such places and quickly came up with dozens of them: Portland, Ore., for its environmental awareness; Madison, Wis., for its great farmers markets; Boulder, Colo., for its fantastic recreation. But we wanted to find great places that you may not have heard of — towns that are smaller and less expensive, yet still as interesting as those that frequently make lists of great places to live.

We didn’t choose these towns based on a statistical analysis or scientific survey. Instead, we brainstormed standout towns we’ve visited, lived in or heard about from readers. They had to be places where people interested in sustainable living would find kindred souls. We eventually narrowed our lengthy list to 12 communities from all across the country. Then we read up on each town, talked to residents and studied the population and climate data. We also researched how much it costs to live in these towns — the index we used accounts for everything from housing to food to transportation to entertainment. The U.S. average is 100, so a number less than 100 indicates the town is less expensive than the average, and vice versa.

Even if you’re not thinking about moving, we encourage you to visit these unique towns. Also think about what makes them great; they may provide ideas to help make your community a better place to live.



Here, then, is Mother’s first list of “Great Places You’ve Never Heard Of.” We know there are many more unique and little-known places out there, so to nominate towns we should spotlight in the future, write to us or post comments at the bottom of this page.

12 Great Places: Athens, Ohio
12 Great Places: Blue Hill, Maine
12 Great Places: Decatur, Georgia
12 Great Places: Fairfield, Iowa
12 Great Places: Grand Junction, Colorado
12 Great Places: Grants Pass, Oregon
12 Great Places: Ithaca, New York
12 Great Places: La Grande, Oregon
12 Great Places: Northfield, Minnesota
12 Great Places: Sitka Alaska
12 Great Places: St. George, Utah
12 Great Places: Wimberley, Texas
meditator
10/26/2014 9:48:48 AM

For a new view of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's Transcendental Meditation, kindly also enjoy and share: "A Success Story - Transcendental Meditation at an Inner-City School" (7:56; http://www.youtube.com/ / excellent!) Thanks, Bill (a 39 year "TM'er") See this video now at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yni1REJYK6E P.S. And for the BEST view of Fairfield, Iowa, please come and visit ... https://www.mum.edu/admissions/visitors-weekends/ and walk the "Fairfield Loop Trail" ... ! ... (15.5 miles / astounding in any season ... ) See the trail now at: https://vimeo.com/8256410 (5:19; J.S.Bach)


Derrick Ravey
8/20/2010 11:41:30 AM

Great synopsis of Fairfield however there is one glaringly obvious error. There is nothing resembling a ban on Non-Organic foods here. Our local Hy-Vee now has an organic section but it is certainly still stocking the same bio-engineered food found nationally. We do have a great Whole-Foods store with a wealth of organic products and many restaurants serving organic options. If there is a ban, no one told McDonalds, Wal-Mart or Pizza-Hut *to name a few of the very many.*




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