Home > Experiences & Adventures > The Best Home Base Cities for Adventure Enthusiasts

The Best Home Base Cities for Adventure Enthusiasts

If outdoor adventure is your #1 priority, these small cities are the perfect home base.

By Annette Benedetti on June 17, 2021

From Bend to Durango, these are the 5 best small cities for people who love outdoor adventure.

Finding a place to call home doesn’t mean giving up grand adventures. These five small cities are scattered across the states but they all have one thing in common: they give thrill-seekers easy access to adrenaline-pumping fun while being great places to live. If you love to hit the slopes every weekend, go on hiking dates, or get in a quick white-water rafting session before heading to work, these towns and cities are the perfect places for you to hang your hat — briefly, before putting it on again and going back outside.

1. Bend, OR

Its easy access to the Deschutes National Forest trail system, Smith Rock State Park’s famous climbing routes, and the Mt. Bachelor ski resort makes Bend a virtual paradise for snowboarders, rock climbers, and all who enjoy spending their free time in the great outdoors. Fans of good food and brews stay busy with over 22 breweries and a vast array of fine-dining establishments to explore. Ending your day with a rugged mountain biking trek followed by a burger and beer at the area’s famous Deschutes Brewery is sure to become your favorite new routine as a resident.

What to do for work: Bend has long drawn entrepreneurs, retirees and hospitality workers to the area and the nearby Redmond Airport gives locals the ability to telecommute and travel to other cities for work. If you’re looking to stay local, we suggest being a tour guide at Goody’s Chocolate and Ice Cream, so you can give visitors and locals alike a behind-the-scenes look at where the ice cream, chocolate, cookie dough and popcorn gets made.

durango co

2. Durango, CO

There’s nothing unusual about white water rafting to work in the morning when you live in this amazing mountain town. With the Gold Medal waters of the Animas River flowing through downtown Durango and 300-miles of wilderness trails just 30 minutes away, biking, hiking, trout fishing, and going for float in the morning, afternoon or evening is commonplace.

What to do for work: Job opportunities are as plentiful as outdoor recreation here: Durango is home to successful tech startups, a thriving manufacturing scene, and the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory national headquarters. Fort Lewis College is minutes from downtown, and nationally rated hospitals and medical services are readily available, providing active Durango residents with the key ingredients for a solid home base.

3. Santa Fe, NM

Don’t be deceived by this city’s reputation for being home to world-class performing arts and museum exhibits. This city isn’t just for artists, there’s an adventurous side to Santa Fe, too. With 300 miles of bike trails, an extensive wilderness trail system and five ski areas all within two hours of the historic downtown area, Santa Fe has plenty to offer its outdoorsy inhabitants. And if you appreciate good tequila, you’ll fit right in. Santa Feans love their margaritas so much they created the Santa Fe Margarita Trail, which guides adventurous drinkers to 31 participating restaurants where they get the chance to try a surprising number of variations of the classic drink.

What to do for work: The nearby Los Alamos National Lab makes Santa Fe perfect for scientists, full-time artists and those who think outside of the box when it comes to making a living. Plus, the state has ample opportunities when it comes to film and TV production.

4. Spearfish, SD

Home to the Dakota Five-O — a 50-mile mountain bike race across the Black Hills — Spearfish is a town of 11,500 that is just beginning to make a name for itself as an oasis for outdoor enthusiasts. Located between Mt. Rushmore and Devils Tower, residents spend their free time hiking, biking, running, fishing and climbing the south-facing Sunshine Wall year round.

What to do for work: A variety of major employers, including Monument Health, Black Hills State University, Spearfish Forest Products and Quarq/SRAM, are based in Spearfish, making this small town ideal for those looking to settle down and embrace the adventurous, outdoorsy lifestyle.

greenville sc
Greenville / iStockPhoto/Kruck20

5. Greenville, SC

Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Greenville is an outdoor oasis. The area’s 120 independently owned restaurants indicate that entrepreneurs also fare well here, along with even the most discerning of foodies. The city’s lakes, rivers, parks, waterfalls, and the nearby mountains, are the real draw. Locals fill their time with hiking, kayaking, canoeing, biking and fishing in this idyllic South Carolina town.

What to do for work: Greenville’s talent is top-tier. Employers like GE, Michelin and BMW have made the city home and the job opportunities are abundant.

Want more content about cool places delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for Livability’s weekly newsletter!

Array ( [0] => 151508 [1] => 151655 [2] => 151641 [3] => 151498 [4] => 149269 [5] => 146224 )
Array ( )
Array ( )
Array ( [0] => 151508 [1] => 151655 [2] => 151641 [3] => 151498 [4] => 149269 [5] => 146224 )

More To Read

Newsletter Sign Up

Keep up to date with our latest rankings and articles!
Enter your email to be added to our mailing list.