10 Small Towns With Huge Backyards

Lake Placid, New York
"Though famous for the Olympic Winter Games, this unspoiled town is actually a year-round outdoor haven," Tuff says. "You can't beat the setting on two jewel-like lakes, surrounded by the 6-million-acre Adirondack Park. Hike the summits of the Adirondacks or just paddle on Lake Placid, then sink into a suite at the Mirror Lake Inn and Spa. Go shopping on Main Street, then set out for the swimming hole and sparkling cascades of Rocky Falls." 800-447-5224; lakeplacid.com

Ely, Minnesota
"For those who fantasize about paddling a canoe on pristine waters, surrounded by pine trees and listening to the cry of the loon from a lakeside tent, there's simply no better place to make that fantasy come true than Ely," Tuff says. "The town, at the edge of the 1.1-million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area, teems with friendly outfitters who will provide every level of service, from a point in the right direction to a fully guided canoe trip complete with meals." Another highlight: seeing wolves at the International Wolf Center. 800-777-7281; ely.org

Davis, West Virginia
Leaf-peepers can get a jump-start on fall foliage viewing in this Appalachian town where, because of the high elevations, peak foliage season is usually late September. Two local microbreweries and regional vineyards will be represented at Oktoberfest in September, part of the Leaf Peepers Festival September 29 to 30. Winter's not a bad time to visit, either. "Believe it or not, this town gets 150 inches of snow a year—more than some places in Vermont. That makes for surprisingly good skiing at Canaan Valley and Timberline ski resorts," Tuff says. 800-782-2775; canaanvalley.org

McCall, Idaho
This mountain town is on shimmering Payette Lake. "Summer visitors enjoy water-skiing and wakeboarding, plus rock-climbing routes, mountain-biking trails, fishing holes and the 2.3 million acres of the Payette National Forest," says Tuff. "Two major ski areas—Brundage Mountain Resort and the new Tamarack Resort—are just a few minutes from McCall. A highlight of every year is the Winter Carnival (January to February) for snow-sculpting, tubing races and snowshoe golf." 800-260-5130; mccallchamber.org

Boone, North Carolina
"Boone has a built-in air conditioner for the summer months that turn the rest of the South sticky: the Blue Ridge Mountains, which keep temperatures at a lovely 75 degrees in August," Tuff says. "The town, 100 miles north of Asheville, stays hip thanks to Appalachian State University. Get jazzed at Espresso News before heading into the Pisgah National Forest for hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing. Rafters rollick along the Nolichucky and French Broad rivers." 800-852-9506; boonechamber.com

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? Live and Play: Lake Placid, New York
? Life on the Boundary: Ely, Minnesota
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