3. Brattleboro, VT
About a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Boston, the hidden artistic haven of Brattleboro, VT, seems a world apart. Tree-lined streets and a quaint downtown densely populated with independent businesses, all set among hilly terrain, create a semi-urban, almost whimsical atmosphere. A low crime rate and high employment rate make it a great place to raise a family.
Brattleboro Music Center presents many concerts each year by international and local musicians, and there are a handful of other live music venues here, too. Residents of the city and surrounding area put on more than 13 festivals and special events annually, many celebrating the arts such as the Women's Film Festival, a Winter Carnival and art show. Bookworms stock their reading tables at three independent bookstores and Brooks Memorial Library, which has more than 70,000 titles.
Winter brings one of the most popular events, the Harris Hill Ski Jumping Competition, a two-day event that lures world-class jumpers to the area. Cross-country and downhill skiing are just a short drive away. The Brattleboro fire department lets residents know when it's safe to go ice fishing. Once waters thaw, many residents go canoeing and kayaking on the nearby Connecticut and West Rivers.
Yelp lists more than 70 places to eat and drink here including unconventional spots like The Twilight Tea Lounge, with more than 170 types of teas, and the Brattleboro Food Coop downtown, where you'll find prepared foods as well as local products to take home.
More than 90 manufacturing companies operate in the Brattleboro area, according to the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce. The average commute time to work is just 12 minutes.
Nearest Big City: Springfield, MA – 58 miles
What Else is Here: Swimming pool and water playground, ice skating rink, Brattleboro Country Club and McNeill's Brewery