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

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
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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