In their book 101 Best Outdoor Towns (The Countryman Press, 2007) Sarah Tuff and Greg Melville provide a list of great places for visiting, playing – and perhaps staying. Most of the towns make for great family travel destinations. You’ll find tips on where to bunk for the night, rent great gear, find local favs and often affordable dining spots.
Here are five of my favorites:
1. Livingston, MT – Oozing western charm, this historic town is home to fly fishing enthusiasts, writers, artists and mountain lovers. As the scenic backdrop for many Hollywood movies, Livingston is a popular stop over for families heading into Yellowstone Park just 60 miles to the south. One of the country’s most important professional rodeos takes place here over the Fourth of July holiday. Contact: www.LivingstonMontana.com.
2. Taos, NM – Nestled against the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, this artsy town is steeped in Native American history. Enjoy galleries, great Southwestern food as well as hiking, kayaking, down hill and cross country skiing. The adobe architecture and stunning light also make it a photographer’s paradise. Contact: www.TaosChamber.com.
3. McCall, ID – The 5,500 acre glacial Payette Lake is the summer centerpiece in this mountain enclave of fewer than 3,000 full time residents. Surrounded by miles of pristine wilderness the whole gang will enjoy hiking, biking, fishing, rafting and paddling. Once the more than 300 inches of annual snow begins to fall, head to Brundage Mountain Resort or Tamarack Resort for some family friendly skiing. Contact: www.McCallChamber.org.
4. Girdwood, AK – Strap on crampons and hike the glacier or enjoy the mid-summer blueberry festival. This funky and fun town just 40 miles south of Anchorage offers year-round outdoor excitement. Plan now for winter heli-skiing, snow cat and dog-sledding trips led by Iditarod veterans. Contact: GirdwoodAlaska.com
5. Peterborough, NH – Here mountain climbers, hikers, paddlers and skiers are proud of their high energy crossroads and their well-known home town peak Mount Monadnock. At 3165 feet, the pinnacle provides stunning views that compete only with the picturesque town’s winding roads, churches and taverns that are right out of a Currier & Ives print. Trails of nearly every length lead out of town. Contact: www.TownofPeterborough.com