The 12 Most-Hyped Adventure Towns in the Known Universe!

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Far as we can tell, it all started in August 2004 when Outside published their “20 Dream Towns: The New Best Places to Live & Play.” Every year since then, the magazine has done a story on “Where to Live Now,” including some of our favorite adventure towns. National Geographic Adventure followed with its own list of towns from 2006 to 2009 (“Where To Live & Play Now!”). Is there no shame in the media? Speaking for editors everywhere, no.

Anyway, we wondered: Which towns make the list most often?

To find out, we tallied the lists of nine years of Outside and four years of National Geographic Adventure’s “best towns” issues (including 2012, when Outside modified theirs to “Best River Towns”). Turns out Smyma, Delaware (NGA ’07); Yellow Springs, Ohio (Outside ’09) and Davenport, Iowa (Outside ’12) were just one-time deals. Here were the most hyped adventure towns in the U.S., 2004-2012…and feel free to insert “over” before “hyped”:

1. Charleston, South Carolina
Why: Paddling, surfing, kiteboarding, sailing
Outside 2011, 2010, 2009, 2007, 2005
National Geographic Adventure 2008

2. Hood River, Oregon
Why: Kayaking, kiteboarding, mountain biking, mountaineering
Outside 2012, 2006, 2004
National Geographic Adventure 2008, 2007

3. Portland, Maine
Why: Paddling, hiking, skiing
Outside 2011, 2010, 2007, 2005
National Geographic Adventure 2006

4. Portland, Oregon
Why: Cycling, paddling, skiing, mountaineering
Outside 2011, 2009, 2007, 2005
National Geographic Adventure 2006

5. Tucson, Arizona
Why: Cycling, rock climbing, hiking, weather
Outside 2011, 2010, 2007, 2005
National Geographic Adventure 2008

6. Austin, Texas
Why: Cycling, year-round open water swimming and paddling, music
Outside 2009, 2006
National Geographic Adventure 2009, 2007

7. Bend, Oregon
Why: Mountain biking, climbing, skiing, great year-round weather
Outside 2010, 2007, 2006
National Geographic Adventure 2006

8. Burlington, Vermont
Why: Skiing, cycling, mountain biking, paddling, sailing
Outside 2011, 2007, 2006
National Geographic Adventure 2009

9. Chattanooga, Tennessee
Why: Climbing, paddling, caving, mountain biking, hang-gliding
Outside 2011, 2010, 2008
National Geographic Adventure 2008

10. Madison, Wisconsin
Why: Paddling, climbing, cycling, mountain biking
Outside 2011, 2007, 2006, 2005

11. Missoula, Montana
Why: Paddling, fly fishing, skiing, mountain biking, hiking
Outside 2012, 2011
National Geographic Adventure 2008, 2007

12. Santa Fe, New Mexico
Why: Hiking, climbing, skiing
Outside 2011, 2007, 2006, 2005

Runners-up (mentioned three times each, 2004-2012):
Asheville, North Carolina
Ashland, Oregon
Bishop, California
Boise, Idaho
Boston, Massachusetts
Boulder, Colorado
Brattleboro, Vermont
Charlottesville, Virginia
Durango, Colorado
Ely, Minnesota
Ithaca, New York
Jackson, Wyoming
Salida, Colorado
San Francisco, California
Washington, D.C.

Now, what are the Four Things We’ve Learned?

1. Lists sell.

2. The media recycles anything that works.

3. The media is shameless about copying other media.

4. See #1.



Photo by Shutterstock

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