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Best Places to Live Near the Mountains

Moving near the mountains? Whether you’re looking for a cozy small town or big-city metro, these mountainside cities offer excellent outdoor recreation, family-friendly activities, dining, and more. Here are the 12 best places to live near the mountains!

Asheville, NC

View of Downtown Asheville, NC with Fall Foliage in View. Photo by Instagram user @jared_kay

Photo via @jared_kay

  • Population: 87,531
  • Home Price: $212,000 median purchase price; $910 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 3% of U.S. cities

Sitting near the Blue Ridge Mountains and Great Smoky Mountains is the hip North Carolina city of Asheville, which has been named one of the best places to live in the U.S. This Southern city is known for its vibrant River Arts District and is a top foodie destination with renowned local mountain-to-urban cuisine. Plus, Asheville boasts plenty of great outdoor recreation destinations like French Broad River, along with the Looking Glass Falls and Daniel Ridge Falls at Pisgah National Forest. Want to experience Asheville’s beautiful mountain landscape? Head out along Blue Ridge Parkway—which is also perfect for classic car road trips—or hit up some of Asheville’s best hiking spots!

Things to Do in Asheville

Enjoy a rooftop tour, do a complimentary wine tasting, or go on a bike ride at the historic Biltmore Estate. Walk over 65 acres of cultivated gardens, wildflowers, or visit the Bonsai Exhibition Garden at the North Carolina Arboretum. Play 70 classic pinball machines and video games at Asheville Pinball Museum. Get lost in Contemporary and modern works of art from emerging and mid-career artists at Momentum Gallery. Start your day with Biscuit Donuts, a Southern Scramble, or a Mimosa Fried Chicken Biscuit at Biscuit Head. Fill up on The Asheville Burrito, Gypsy Paella, or Coffee Rub Roasted Pork at Salsas. Experience East Carolina barbecue like the Whole Hog Pulled Pork Plate with a side of Collard Greens or Chicken Bog at Buxton Hall Barbecue. Enjoy farm-to-table eats like Chili Sorghum Pork Ribs, Hand Cut Pappardelle, and Roasted Sunburst Trout at The Market Place. Or drink some local brews like the Trickster IPA, Green Man Lager, and Tart Berry Berliner Weiss from Green Man Brewery.

Bend, OR

Aerial View of Bend, OR in the Fall. Photo by Instagram user @floatdontswim

Photo via @floatdontswim

  • Population: 84,416
  • Home Price: $295,300 median purchase price; $1,024 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 48% of U.S. cities

As one of the best places to live in the Pacific Northwest, Bend is a perfect town for anyone who wants to be close to the mountains. To the west sits Mount Bachelor, a major peak in the Cascade Mountains, and Deschutes National Forest, which offers plenty of outdoor recreation like waterskiing, hiking, camping, and more. Residents can visit the Oregon Badlands Wilderness and walk along trails to Flatiron Rock and Badlands Rock. Plus, as one of the best cities for beer lovers, craft beer aficionados will definitely enjoy living in Bend’s beer scene.

Things to Do in Bend

Try boogie boarding, whitewater kayaking, or river surfing at Bend Whitewater Park. Head to an outdoor concert to see major artists like Luke Bryan and Dave Matthews Band at Hayden Homes Amphitheater. Shop, dine, and more at the old timber mill turned mall, Old Mill District. Explore exhibitions like Spirit of the West, Desertarium, and Porcupines at the High Desert Museum. Slurp down a morning smoothie like the Boom Shaka Maca, Pitaya Punch, or Mango Pride from Fix and Repeat. Grab some Spicy Pork Noodles, Fried Shrimp Tacos, or a Carnitas Sando at Spork. Sip on a Tamarind Whiskey Sour while digging into some Mole Grilled Flank Steak or the House Paella at Barrio. Enjoy small plates of Beef Carpaccio, and entrees like Yellowfin Tuna, paired with cocktails, wine, and beer at 900 Wall. Or explore Bend’s beer scene, starting with a rotating, updated selection at the Bend Brewing Company.

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Chattanooga, TN

  • Population: 175,462
  • Home Price: $152,000 median purchase price; $765 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 1% of U.S. cities

If you’re searching for a mountain city with affordable living, look no further than Chattanooga. You may not even have to worry about commuting to the office, as it’s also considered among the best cities for remote work. Locals enjoy a variety of outdoor activities like hiking along Suck Creek Road, taking a dip in Rainbow Lake, hang-gliding at Lookout Mountain, and biking “W” Road down Signal Mountain. When you’re not paddling in the Tennessee River Gorge, you can take in spectacular views of it from trails like Edward’s Point Trail or Snoopers Rock Trail in the Prentice Cooper State Forest. Plus, The Scenic City is located in one of the most affordable states in the U.S.!

Things to Do in Chattanooga

Have family fun in Chattanooga and see jaguars in the Corcovado Jungle, red pandas in the Himalayan Passage, or alpacas in the Warner Park Ranch at the Chattanooga Zoo. Dive into the pages of a book in the Discovery Library, check on your patients in the Corner Clinic, and learn about the importance of bees in Buzz Alley at the Creative Discovery Museum. Check out collections of photographs, sculptures, and paintings dating back to the 1700s in addition to traveling exhibitions at the Hunter Museum of American Art. Make your way along the Enchanted Trail and see amazing rock formations on your way to the iconic “See Seven States” view from Lover’s Leap at Lookout Mountains’ Rock City Gardens. Wake up with a hearty breakfast of Banana Pecan Pancakes, a South of the Border Breakfast Wrap, or City Cafe Breakfast Special at City Cafe Diner. Feast on sticky “Award Winning” Hickory Smoked Ribs, Barbecue Sliders, or a Brisket Mac & Cheese Bowl at Sticky Fingers. Eat delicious seafood dishes such as Trout Almondine, Sauteed American Red Snapper, or Whole Grilled Trout at Boathouse Rotisserie & Raw Bar. Looking for Italian food in Chattanooga? Order Chicken Picatta, Traditional Lasagna, or an Eggplant Parmesan Sub at Tony’s Pasta Shop & Trattoria. Or find unique dishes and drafts that change with the seasons at Flying Squirrel.

Denver, CO

Drone Photo of Downtown Denver, CO. Photo by Instagram user @leontff

Photo via @leontff

  • Population: 663,303
  • Home Price: $292,700 median purchase price; $1,035 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 3% of U.S. cities

Denver isn’t just one of the best cities for outdoor recreation—it’s also one of the best cities for young professionals, thanks to its hot job market and budding tech scene! When you live in Mile High City, you’re just a short drive away from world-class skiing and snowboarding spots like Keystone and Breckenridge, or an hour’s drive from the top resort, Winter Park. Locals often plan a weekend getaway for camping, hiking, and rock climbing to enjoy at Rocky Mountain National Park. And when you’re not hitting the slopes or climbing mountains, you can have your tastebuds explore more than 148 breweries throughout the Denver metro!

Things to Do in Denver

Enjoy a concert at the iconic outdoor amphitheater, do yoga on the rocks, or hike and bike among stunning rock formations at Red Rocks Park. See local Colorado flora and fauna, internationally-inspired gardens, and aquatic plants at Denver Botanic Gardens. Browse collections featuring African Art and rotating galleries like Indigenous Arts of North America at the Denver Art Museum. Marvel at marine life and coral reefs in Under The Sea, animals and plants In The Desert, and more at Downtown Aquarium. Start the day with a big hearty breakfast of a Big Cast Iron Cinnamon Roll, Chipotle Chicken & Waffles, or Bread Pudding (style) French Toast at HashTag. Try Middle Eastern-inspired eats like Pomegranate Braised Lamb Shank, Tahini, or Sheba Potatoes at Safta. Order a Chipotle Chicken Sandwich or Pit Master Burger at Cleaver & Co, or Sushi Appetizers and Tonkotsu Ramen at Ebisu Ramen and Sushi—located at the Junction Food & Drink food hall. Or taste Colorado beers like the 90 Shilling Red Ale, Sippin’ Pretty Fruited Sour, or Lagerado Lager at Odell Brewing Co.

Durango, CO

  • Population: 17,817
  • Home Price: $383,500 median purchase price; $1,118 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 16% of U.S. cities

When looking for the best places to live near the mountains, make sure Durango, CO is on your list. Ranked among the best U.S. cities for tiny homes, this quaint area is a perfect mountain town to call home. It may have some small houses, but the mountains are anything but—the “Hollywood of the Rockies” offers stunning views, which residents can admire while hiking the Raider Ridge Trail, Animas Mountain Trail, Goulding Creek Trail, and more. This former mining town is also a sanctuary for athletics with competitions like the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic. Plus, there’s no shortage of delicious food to fill you up—in fact, the city once had more restaurants per capita than San Francisco!

Things to Do in Durango

Chug along the 5-hour Cascade Canyon Express or ride on the Polar Express in the winter at Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Smell blooming flowers and make your way through the Cindy Smart Miniature Tree Garden, Rosie the Riveter Rose Garden, and other public gardens at the Durango Botanic Gardens. Learn about the science of energy, attend trivia nights, or join a summer camp program at the Powerhouse Science Center. Head out to the lush green course or try your hand at an indoor simulator at Hillcrest Golf Club. Grab tasty breakfast foods like a Sweet Potato Skillet, Avocado Toast Meal, or Chorizo Burrito at Durango Doughworks. Order authentic wood-fired pizzas like Bacon Blue Cheese, Red Onion Pesto Chicken, or the spicy Vesuvius at Fired Up Pizzeria. Try various Asian cuisines such as Vermicelli Bowls, Tuna Tataki, or Ginger Chicken Pho at Rice Monkeys. Chow down daily specials like Chicken Enchiladas, Ceviche Tostada, or Carnitas at Zia Taqueria. Or sip a nice cold brew while you bite into a Crispy Korean BBQ Chicken Sandwich, Rico Burger, or Cajun Cavatappi Pasta at Steamworks Brewing Co.

Lake Placid, NY

  • Population: 2,639
  • Home Price: $219,300 median purchase price; $758 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 69% of U.S. cities

Not only is Lake Placid one of the most beloved travel destinations, but it’s also perfect for people looking to relocate to a mountain town. Lake Placid offers proximity to the mountains without the high price tag—in fact, it’s one of the most affordable places to live in New York! A former host of the Winter Olympics, Lake Placid is known for winter fun—notable activities include the Lake Placid Toboggan Chute, Bobsledding on the Olympic Track, and even dog sledding with the Thunder Mountain Dog Sled Tours. But there’s also plenty to enjoy in the summer! Locals go boating, water skiing, and more on Lake Placid, which is one of the best boating lakes in the U.S. Residents who would rather enjoy the fresh air of the Adirondack Mountains can explore the Marcy Dam Trail, Mount Jo Loop Trail, or Cobble Hill and spot waterfalls like the Roaring Brook Falls, Wanika Falls, and more!

Things to Do in Lake Placid

Experience a narrated tour of Lake Placid, Adirondack wildlife, and Whiteface Mountain with Lake Placid Marina & Boat Tours. Tour the home of abolitionist John Brown and follow hikes around the area at the John Brown Farm State Historic Site. Buy tickets and see exhibits such as The Third Olympic Winter Games, What it Takes to be an Olympian, and Lake Placid’s Olympic Legacy at the Lake Placid Olympic Museum! Ride the longest mountain coaster in North America and follow the path of the 1980 Olympic Sliding Track on the Cliffside Coaster with a short trip to Mount Van Hoevenberg. Enjoy brunch in Lake Placid like a Sausage Cheddar Biscuit, French Toast Fondue, or Very Berry Smoothie Bowl at the breakfast club, etc. Stop by High Peaks Resort and order Short Ribs, Wild Mushroom Ravioli, or Seafood Arrabbiata at Dancing Bears Restaurant. Bite into a Sesame-Ginger Salad, Moroccan Burrito, or Miso-Glazed Salmon at Lisa G’s. Fill your belly with classic BBQ dishes like Baby Back Ribs, Beef Brisket, or Lamb Chops at Smoke Signals. Or try a craft cocktail to pair with Maple Glazed Salmon, Chicken Parmigiana, or New York Strip Steak at Great Adirondack Brewing Company.

Manchester, NH

  • Population: 110,231
  • Home Price: $207,200 median purchase price; $1,029 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 15% of U.S. cities

Located near the White Mountains and just a few hours away from the coast, Manchester is one of the best cities near the mountains with access to the Atlantic Ocean. If you’re moving with your family, you can have peace of mind knowing The Granite State is one of the safest states in the U.S. Queen City also has an affordable cost of living at just 11% higher than the national average, compared to nearby cities like Boston, which is 46% higher. An oasis for winter sports, there are a number of resorts to hit the slopes, like the McIntyre Ski Area, and others just an hour away like Bretton Woods, Loon Mountain, and Waterville Valley. In warmer weather, residents enjoy kayaking, fishing, and horseback riding at Lake Massabesic.

Things to Do in Manchester

Cheer on the Fisher Cats (MiLB) at Delta Dental Stadium. Feel electricity flow through you in the Electricity & Magnetism exhibit, learn about human DNA in Biologyou, or play the Gravity Expedition Video Game at the SEE Science Center. Enjoy top-quality productions by theatre professionals like RENT or fun youth plays and musicals at The Palace Theatre. Snap a photo with the famed Alexander Calder sculpture outside before walking through galleries displaying contemporary art or touring the Frank Loyd Wright Houses at the Currier Museum of Art. Indulge in delicious breakfast dishes in Manchester like the Firecracker Omelette, PB&C Waffles, or Moe’s Steak Tips & Eggs at the Red Arrow Diner. Sample dishes like a Dragon Roll, Chicken Tempura, or Chirashi at Kisaki Japanese Cuisine. Enjoy a warm atmosphere while you eat Bourbon Street Fettuccine, Buttermilk Fried Pork Chops, or Lobster and Grilled Corn Risotto at Firefly American Bistro & Bar. Choose filling meals such as Creole Jambalaya, Almond-Crusted Turkey Schnitzel, or Grilled Lamb Steak at Cotton. Or plan a date night and order Pan Roasted Chilean Seabass, Kurobuta Pork Chop, or Prime Bone-In Ribeye at the luxurious Hanover Street Chophouse.

Park City, UT

  • Population: 8,064
  • Home Price: $872,700 median purchase price; $1,296 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 28% of U.S. cities

If you’re looking for mountain living away from the hustle and bustle, Park City is the small mountain town for you! Nestled in the Wasatch Mountains, Park City is known as one of the best cities to visit in winter. The area’s Deer Valley Resort is certainly one of the best places to ski in Park City, but it’s also crowned as one of the best ski resorts in the U.S. Outdoor enthusiasts also love Park City Mountain Resort, the largest ski area in the U.S., and Woodward Resort. Plus, the city boasts over 350 miles of trails, including Blood Lake Trail, Dawn’s Trail, and Rob’s Trail. Not to mention, the annual Sundance Film Festival is hosted here, where you can see short films, documentaries, and other awe-inspiring events!

Things to Do in Park City

Enjoy live music and performance art or buy fresh fruits and vegetables at Park Silly Sunday Market on Historic Main Street. Learn about the history of Park City in exhibits like The Great Fire of 1898, Mega Mine and the Days of Ore, and Living in Park City at Park City Museum. Watch live stage performances of musicals like Kinky Boots, concerts with traveling musicians, comedy shows, and productions by YouTheatre at the Egyptian Theatre. Hop on a snowmobile or ride horseback to tour over 1,000 acres of private Park City mountainside in Red Pine Canyon with Red Pine Adventures. Find a hot breakfast of Biscuits and Gravy, Buttermilk Pancakes, Eggs Benedict, or a Shakshuka Skillet at The Eating Establishment. Explore eccentric flavors in dishes like Sopa Azteka, Mole Enchiladas, and Takos Rellenos at Tekila Mexican Grill & Cantina. Order Pork Belly Bao Buns, Middle Eastern Falafel Salad, or Ahi Poke Bowl for lunch at Five5eeds. Sample and feast on Thai Barbeque, Shrimp Pineapple Red Curry, or Honey Ginger Duck at Bangkok Thai on Main. Or try unique dishes like Chilean Salmon, Gardener’s Pie, or Kurobuta Pork Shank Tacos at Hearth and Hill.

Rapid City, SD

  • Population: 72,441
  • Home Price: $166,000 median purchase price; $768 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 4% of U.S. cities

Settle down in Rapid City, the second largest city in South Dakota. As a gateway to the Black Hills, residents of Rapid can attend one of the largest gatherings at the Black Hills Powwow and learn about the local Native American history. In addition, Downtown Rapid City is decorated with life-sized bronze statues of former presidents, museums, trendy restaurants, art galleries, and more. As far as outdoor recreation goes, this mountain city is also close to Badlands National Park, which offers challenging hikes, stunning geologic formations, and great stargazing spots. Plus, at one of the oldest city parks in Rapid City, Canyon Lake Park, you’ll find an expansive body of water with paddleboat rentals, fishing spots, and more to enjoy.

Things to Do in Rapid City

Meet Maniac the Giant Crocodile, black-tailed prairie dogs in Prairie Dog Town, or go on a 3D safari in Spring Creek Gulch at Reptile Gardens. Drive through nature to see rocky mountain goats, black bears, bighorn sheep, and even cougars at Bear Country USA. Go back in time with exhibits featuring rare fossils from the White River Badlands, preserved skeletons of dinosaurs, and a fluorescent mineral room in the Museum of Geology at the South Dakota School of Mines. Take a short 30-minute drive up to the Black Hills of South Dakota to view the tribute to past presidents at the iconic Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Sit down for a filling breakfast of Buffalo Hanger Steak and Eggs, French Omelettes, or Whole Wheat Oatmeal Waffles at Tally’s Silver Spoon. Devour delicious meals like Creamy Cajun Tenderloin, Citrus Miso Salmon, or Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Chicken at juniper. Order lunch in Rapid City like Spitfire Chicken Pasta, an Aged White Cheddar Burger, or a Fiesta Wrap at Colonial House Restaurant & Bar. Chow down authentic Indian and Nepalese dishes such as Tandoori Chicken, Lamb Biryani, or Goat Curry at Kathmandu Bistro. Or pair creative pizza flavors like Mashed Potato Pizza, Dub’s Thai, and Bob’s Popper with 50 beers on tap at Independent Ale House.

Salt Lake City, UT

  • Population: 191,446
  • Home Price: $248,700 median purchase price; $844 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 2% of U.S. cities

Live among “The Greatest Snow on Earth” in Salt Lake City! Located in the valley of the Wasatch Mountains near the Great Salt Lake, Utah’s capital city offers incredible skiing, hiking, mountain biking, and more. What makes Salt Lake City such a great place to live is that you can enjoy both the great outdoors and big city living! SLC’s expanding presence in the tech industry has earned it the nickname, Silicon Slopes, which has provided the metro with tons of job opportunities and made it one of the best U.S. cities for jobs!

Things to Do in Salt Lake City

Hike a seven-mile trail while taking in views of wildflowers at Neff’s Canyon. Visit Red Butte Garden and stroll through areas like the Four Seasons Garden, Rose Garden, and Water Pavilion Garden. See animals like elephants, leopards, and bald eagles at Hogle Zoo. Go to a live show at Wiseguys Live Comedy to see both old-school and emerging standup comedians. Savor Mexican dishes like Enchiladas Verdes, Chile Rellenos, or Huevos con Chorizo at Red Iguana. Stop in at Pretty Bird for a jumbo Fried Chicken Sando and a side of Mexican Street Corn Salad. Order Drunken Noodles or the Wok n’ Roll sushi roll at Sapa. Make reservations at Table X, where you can enjoy a unique dining experience with a five or seven-course tasting menu. Or try some creative cocktails like the Holy Toledo or Flaming Mai Tai at Water Witch.

South Lake Tahoe, CA

View of the Highway Going Along Lake Tahoe in South Lake Tahoe, CA. Photo by Instagram user @heyloslos

Photo via @heyloslos

  • Population: 21,506
  • Home Price: $343,900 median purchase price; $892 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 22% of U.S. cities

South Lake Tahoe is one of the most affordable mountain towns in the U.S.—and one of the most gorgeous, thanks to its location next to the crystal blue Lake Tahoe and towering Sierra Nevada Mountains! While you might think bordering California and Nevada means there’s little chance of snow, Tahoe actually averages 142 inches of snow per year, which is perfect if you’re an avid skier or snowboarder. In addition, living in South Lake Tahoe means you’ll have great amenities like waterfront restaurants, shopping, and more.

Things to Do in South Lake Tahoe

Ride the scenic gondola, ski down the many slopes, or warm up in the Tamarack Lodge at Heavenly Ski Resort. Spend an afternoon at Lakeside Beach, where you can play sand volleyball or go boating. Golf nine holes at Tahoe’s oldest golf course, Bijou Golf Course. Test your problem-solving skills at Trapped in Tahoe and work your way through one of their themed escape rooms. Have a hearty breakfast of Bacon Stack Pancakes or the French Toast Sandwich from Heidi’s Pancake House. Keep warm with fresh empanadas like the Popeye, Henhouse, or Cinner from Empanash. Chow down on Hawaiian eats like Coconut Prawns and Hawaiian Style BBQ at Freshies Restaurant & Bar. Or relax while sipping some craft brews like the Tahoe Cross IPA, Stillwater Stout, or Knock ‘Em Dead Red Ale from Cold Water Brewery & Grill.

Taos, NM

  • Population: 5,735
  • Home Price: $274,000 median purchase price; $636 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 10% of U.S. cities

Known as the “Soul of the Southwest,” Taos, New Mexico is a major cultural hub rich with Native American tradition. Home to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, Taos offers stunning landscapes, breathtaking views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, white water rafting in the Rio Charma, and tons of other fun outdoor activities no matter the season. From horseback-riding and llama-trekking on Taos trails, to hiking to the top of Wheeler Peak or skiing at the iconic Taos Ski Valley, there are tons of fun things to do in one of the top mountain cities in the U.S.

Things to Do in Taos

Tour ancient dwellings of the Red Willow People and participate in events like Taos Pueblo Feast Days or Taos Pueblo Ceremonies when you pay a visit to UNESCO World Heritage Site and National Historic Landmark, Taos Pueblo. Learn about the history of Taos, view work from talented Taos artists, and explore rotating exhibitions showcasing diverse art from around the world at Harwood Museum of Art. Don’t miss Five Decades of Fechin, The Navajo Child’s Blanket, Art of Timeless Beauty, and other revolving studio exhibitions at Taos Art Museum. View the Rio Grande Gorge from the skies with Taos Hot Air Balloon Rides. Enjoy a delicious breakfast in Taos at a New Mexican cafe offering Huevos Rancheros, Breakfast Tacos, and Omelet Mexicanos—La Cueva Cafe. Order a Goat Cheese Quesadilla, Green Chile Sausage Bowl, or Pollo Borachon for lunch at Gutiz. Find comfort food like Jenni’s Tortilla Soup, Branzino Papillote, or House Made Potato Gnocchi at The Love Apple. Start with fresh Guacamole, Chips, and Salsa before digging into Mazatlan Shrimp or Grilled Chicken Monterey at Guadalajara Grill Taos. Or grab a slice of Pizza Primavera, Ranchero, or Southwest pizza made with local ingredients at Taos Pizza Out Back.


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About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.