5. Chardon, OH
Chardon, OH, may be the smallest town on our list, but this place packs a whole lot of amenities.
Smack dab in the center of Ohio's maple syrup industry and the snow belt, Chardon provides its residents with a serene, peaceful atmosphere and a host of amenities. The town's crime rate is less than half of the national average and the unemployment rate is under 6.5 percent. Residents take pride in the town square, known as Chardon Square, which has a New England feel.
A bandstand on the square becomes the focal point of many community events including a summer concert series. Chardon is home of the Geauga County Maple Festival, an annual event held in the spring, which draws approximately 10,000 guests with its music, parade, bathtub races and the can't-miss tradition of the maple stir, which involves stirring a small bowl of warm syrup until it turns into thick maple candy.
Among the town's 30 or so restaurants, diners rave about the tiny Noce Gourmet Pizzeria on Main Street. Chardon BrewWorks & Eatery, another interesting standout downtown, opened in 2010 on the square as the first brewery in Geauga County since prohibition.
Residents see an average of 108 inches of snowfall annually, which is perfect to make use of sledding hills or hosting a party or meeting at the city-owned chalet nearby. Warm summers mean great conditions for golfing, fishing, recreational league sports, splashing down the six-story water slides at Pioneer Waterland & Dry Fun Park and evenings at The Mayfield Road Drive-In.
Many residents work for Channel Products, Chardon Rubber Co., Denora Tech, Flambeau, Giant Eagle Inc. and Great Lakes Chesse – all top employers in the area.
Nearest Big City: Cleveland – 33 miles
What Else is Here: Bass Lake Preserve, Aquilla Lake, Walter C. Best Wildlife Preserve, Spring Brook Sanctuary, Big Creek Park, Geauga Lyric Theatre Guild, Sage's Apple Orchard, Ernst Lanes (bowling) and four golf courses