10 dream towns in the West

Go for the perfect vacation. Or the perfect rest of your life.


Bozeman, MT, pop. 38,000, $299,000
The college town (Montana State University) boasts a picture-perfect setting at the base of the Gallatin Range. And terrific hiking, fly-fishing, and skiing. And a charm-filled downtown. So why doesn't everybody live here? Maybe it's those 14° highs in January.

Homer, AK, pop. 5,400, $244,902
Dubbed both "the Halibut Capital of the World" and "the Cosmic Hamlet by the Sea," this fishing village 225 miles southwest of Anchorage is peopled by artists, fishermen, poets, home-steaders, and outdoorsy itinerants ― think far-northern Shangri-la.

Ojai, CA, pop. 7,800, $799,000
With its arcaded downtown and groves of citrus trees set in a mountain valley, Ojai is like an orange-crate label sprung to life. It's a longtime spiritual center and has drawn mystics and seekers for generations ― and, thanks to biking and hiking options, adrenaline lovers as well.

Prescott, AZ, POP. 43,000 $246,938
Four seasons, including "winter lite," mean lots of outdoor activities: hiking, canoeing, and more in the surrounding Prescott National Forest. There's an old-fashioned downtown with a town square, a district with Victorian houses, and, thanks to Prescott College, a youthful pulse.

Sandpoint, ID, pop. 7,647 $249,000
As you cross the 2-mile-long bridge spanning deep, blue Lake Pend Oreille, the Selkirk and Cabinet Mountains rimming the horizon, you know you're someplace special: a four-season outdoorsy resort that's also a real town with a strong community spirit.

Sisters, OR, pop. 1,700 $415,000
Just 22 miles up the road from its big brother, Bend, sleepy little Sisters combines a jaw-dropping natural setting in the high-desert of central Oregon's eastern Cascade Mountains with quaint Old West style and one of the state's most highly touted school districts.

Truckee, CA, pop. 16,000 $539,000
The laid-back Sierra Nevada mountain town is just three hours from San Francisco but worlds away in real estate prices. It's a tight-knit, outdoorsy community, with good restaurants and year-round recreational fun ― some of California's best ski resorts are minutes away, as is Lake Tahoe.

All median home prices are based on 2007 data

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