Best Places to Live

Fort Collins, CO

Population: 170,243
Photo: Fort Collins Convention and Visitors Bureau

Known to many as a beer lovers' paradise for its seven breweries, downtown Fort Collins, CO is equally appealing to foodies and families. Already considered one of the most attractive downtowns in the country, significant future projects call for transportation improvements as well as a year-round market place.

Basics:  The $87 million Mason Corridor project – the largest public works project in city history – tops the list of a host of major improvements planned for downtown. The project will improve a major roadway downtown and add a mass transit system called the MAX, all scheduled for completion by 2014. Meanwhile, smaller initiatives continue adding up to positive change, as well. In 2011, a Clarion Associates report found that a historic district designation for downtown's Old Town neighborhood property significantly increased property values. In the River District, the city and Downtown Development Authority partnered to improve appearance and navigability in cars and on foot. As part of that, several businesses renovated abandoned and dilapidated buildings, efforts that have brought new business and residents to surrounding areas.

Details: Approximately 14,000 people live within a one-mile radius of central downtown and reside in a mix of historic single-family homes, multifamily rental apartments and loft-condominiums. For activities, residents and visitors can choose from a variety of restaurants and retail including 80 restaurants, 70 shops and 26 art galleries, one of several performing arts venues, or among 10 parks and plazas within a half mile of downtown. The Downtown Fort Collins Business Association produces more than 100 days of free events each year including festivals and concerts. Meanwhile, residents who live downtown are never far away from the mountains and plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventures.

Don't Miss: New Belgium Brewing Co. for drinks, Lincoln Center for art, Old Town Square for a stroll