Thinking about moving closer to the mountains? Whether you’re looking for a cozy small town or a big city metro, these mountainside cities offer excellent outdoor recreation, job opportunities, family-friendly activities, dining, and more. Here are the best places to live near the mountains!
- Asheville, NC
- Bend, OR
- Boise, ID
- Denver, CO
- Flagstaff, AZ
- Salt Lake City, UT
- South Lake Tahoe, CA
- Tacoma, WA
- 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 both 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 growing farm-to-table food scene, as well as its great outdoor recreation destinations like Pisgah National Forest and French Broad River. Want to experience Asheville’s beautiful mountain landscape? Head out along Blue Ridge Parkway—also perfect for classic car road trips—or hit up some of Asheville’s best hiking spots!
Things to Do in Asheville
Visit the historic Biltmore Estate and take a rooftop tour, do a complimentary wine tasting, or go on a bike ride through the property. Walk through over 65 acres of cultivated gardens full of Bonsai Trees and wildflowers at North Carolina Arboretum. Head to Asheville Pinball Museum, where you can play 50 classic pinball machines and video games. See contemporary and modern works of art from emerging and mid-career artists at Momentum Gallery. Start your morning at Biscuit Head with a Gravy Flight, Biscuit Donuts, or a Mimosa Fried Chicken Biscuit. Fill up on The Asheville Burrito or Shrimp & Chicken Molcajete at Salsas. Experience East Carolina barbecue like the Whole Hog Pulled Pork Sandwich with a side of Smoky Pimento Cheese & Crackers at Buxton Hall Barbecue. Enjoy farm-to-table eats at The Marketplace like Carolina Gold Rice Middlin’ Risotto, Lamb Pappardelle, and Pan Roasted Trout. Or drink some local brews like the Trickster IPA, Green Man Lager, and Tart Berry Berliner Weiss from Green Man Brewery.
- Population: 84,416
- Home Price: $295,300 median purchase price; $1,024 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 51% of U.S. cities
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 skiing, hiking, and camping. Plus, with the most breweries per capita in Oregon, craft beer lovers will definitely enjoy living in Bend. Not only that, but you can look forward to a relaxing life in Bend, as it’s one of America’s least-stressed cities!
Things to Do in Bend
Try river bodyboarding, whitewater kayaking, or river surfing at Bend Whitewater Park. Head to Les Schwab Amphitheater to enjoy an outdoor concert featuring major artists like Luke Bryan and Dave Matthews Band. Hang out at Old Mill District—an old timber mill turned shopping district—where you can shop, dine, and more. Explore exhibitions like Spirit of the West, Desertarium, and Porcupines at High Desert Museum. Have a morning smoothie like the Pitaya Punch or Mango Pride from Fix & Repeat. Grab some Spicy Pork Noodles, Fried Catfish Tacos, or a Carnitas Sando at Spork. Sip on a Tamarind Margarita at Barrio while digging into some Mole Grilled Flank Steak or the House Paella. Make your way to 900 Wall for small plates like Chilled Wild Shrimp and a selection of cocktails, wine, and beer. Or see what Bend’s beer scene is all about at Bend Brewing Company, where you can try the Simple Living Bohemian Pilsner or Chocolate Blonde Ale.
- Population: 218,677
- Home Price: $191,000 median purchase price; $834 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 42% of U.S. cities
Want both affordable living and gorgeous views of the mountains? Check out Boise! Idaho’s capital city has tons of green space and outdoor activities you can enjoy. When you’re not on the slopes at Bogus Basin Mountain, you can spend time in Downtown Boise, where you can find trendy restaurants, specialty shops, and seasonal markets. If you’re moving with kids, you’ll be happy to know that Boise is one of the best places to raise a family, thanks to its abundance of kid-friendly activities! In addition, Boise State University is a major part of the city’s identity, and you won’t want to miss rooting for Boise Broncos Football!
Things to Do in Boise
Check out the Giraffe Encounter, Zoo Farm, and Butterflies in Bloom at Zoo Boise. Go hiking or biking at Table Rock Trail and take in views of Boise once you get to the top. Have an immersive hands-on experience with the various science exhibits at Discover Center of Idaho. Watch live music and comedy from names like The Avett Brothers and Iliza Shlesinger at Knitting Factory Concert House. Grab friends for brunch at BACON and try the Blackberry Mimosa paired with a Bacon & Brie Panini. Try the unique offerings like Korean Pastor Nachos, Flower Power Tacos, and Kimchi Quesadillas at The Funky Taco. Order rustic New-American bites like Louisiana Dry Rub Wings or the Bleu Brisket Sandwich at Saint Lawrence Gridiron. Have some booze-infused ice cream from the STIL with flavors like The Mullet Coffee Porter and 6th & Main Greyhound Cocktail. Or enjoy a glass of Chablis Chardonnay or Petite Sirah at the Coiled Wine Bar tasting room.
- Population: 663,303
- Home Price: $292,700 median purchase price; $1,035 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 6% of U.S. cities
Denver isn’t just one of the best cities for outdoor recreation—it’s also one of the top cities for young professionals, thanks to its hot job market and budding tech scene! When you live in Mile High City, you’ll be just a short drive away from world-class skiing and snowboarding spots like Winter Park and Keystone, as well as camping, hiking, and rock climbing at Rocky Mountain National Park. And when you’re not hitting the slopes or climbing mountains, you can explore more than 148 breweries throughout the Denver metro.
Things to Do in Denver
Head to Red Rocks Park, where you can hike and bike among stunning rock formations. See local Colorado flora and fauna, internationally-inspired gardens, and aquatic plants at Denver Botanic Gardens. Visit Denver Art Museum to see collections featuring African Art and Indigenous Arts of North America. Be amazed by marine life from the rainforest, coral reefs, desert, and more at Downtown Aquarium. Start the day with a Crispy Potato Waffle or The Ivy Cristo for breakfast from Ivy on 7th. Try Israeli eats like Pomegranate Braised Lamb Shank, Kofta Bi Tahini, or Spinach Fatayer from Safta. Check out the Junction Food + Drink food hall, where you can get bites from Ebisu Ramen & Sushi. Or explore Colorado beer by trying the Push Pop IPA, Cool Beans Coffee Porter, or Five Points Pils at Odell Brewing Co’s RiNo Brewhouse.
- Population: 69,270
- Home Price: $280,200 median purchase price; $1,090 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 16% of U.S. cities
If you’re searching for the ideal mountain home, consider Flagstaff! Residents can spend weekends skiing and snowboarding at San Francisco Peaks or visiting Grand Canyon National Park, which is just over an hour away. You’ll also see locals gathering at The Historic Downtown District and at festivals like Route 66 Days and I Heart Pluto Festival. Best of all, if you’re hoping to stay away from sweltering desert summers, Flagstaff’s climate is perfect, with an average high temperature of 61 degrees!
Things to Do in Flagstaff
Go hiking and see the Sunset Crater Volcano at Sunset Crater National Monument, or discover ancient cliff dwellings at Walnut Canyon National Monument. Take a guided tour at Lowell Observatory to learn more about the stars and planets. Go on a gondola ride up the mountain, head down on the slopes, or take a snowboarding lesson at Arizona Snowbowl. Learn about Northern Arizona history and explore exhibits like the Geology Gallery at Museum of Northern Arizona. Order hand-crafted sandwiches like the Ham & Swiss Twist or Italian Grilled Cheese from Jitters Lunchbox. Eat vegan Thai food like Crispy Tofu, Pineapple Red Curry, or Spicy Lemongrass Noodle Soup at Red Curry Vegan Kitchen. Have date night at Brix and sip on some local Arizona wine while enjoying Apple Cider Steamed Mussels or Kabocha Squash Ravioli. Or play a game of pool while drinking Flagstaff brews like the Railhead Red or Midnight Black IPA at Beaver Street Brewery.
Salt Lake City, UT
- Population: 191,446
- Home Price: $248,700 median purchase price; $844 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 4% 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
- Population: 21,506
- Home Price: $343,900 median purchase price; $892 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 20% 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.
- Population: 205,602
- Home Price: $212,400 median purchase price; $980 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 3% of U.S. cities
If you want to move to the Pacific Northwest, Tacoma is an excellent destination! This Seattle neighbor has been named one of the best places to live in the U.S., offering an affordable cost of living and stunning views of Mount Rainer. Destiny City also experiences mild year-round weather, which means you can enjoy plenty of outdoor fun like hiking, camping, fishing, and boating throughout the year!
Things to Do in Tacoma
Plan a day up at Mount Rainer National Park for rock climbing, hiking, boating, and more. See animals from the Arctic Tundra, Pacific Seas, and Asian Forests at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Hit up coffee shops, record stores, and thrift shops along 6th Avenue Business District. Stop by Museum of Glass to watch live glass blowing demonstrations and pass through the Chihuly Bridge of Glass. Enjoy shows from local jazz musicians and comedians at Jazzbones. Step into Bluebeard Coffee Roasters for a Cortado, Yama Cold Brew, or Aeropress Coffee. Try elevated hot dog creations like the Destiny City Slaw Dog or Salsa Verde Dog at The Red Hot. Enjoy seafood right on the water like Lobster Dip or Alaskan King Crab Legs at Lobster Shop. Eat Italian favorites like Margherita Pizza, Malfadine al Vodka, and Smoked Pork Chops at Primo Grill. Or grab a cocktail like the Frozen Coconut Horchata while snacking on Croquettes at The Patio at Alma Mater.
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City statistics from AreaVibes