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Look, I don’t have a problem with any town on this list.  All of these places are pretty, even as some of the housing stock may need a shot in the arm.  It’s just that some aren’t really very mountainous.  The communities listed in the northern panhandle are rural and you can see a tremendous amount of wildlife in and after leaving town.

Bonners Ferry isn’t even 1,900 feet above sea level.  My hometown in the Allegheny foothills isn’t considered mountainous.  It’s at 1,500 feet high and some neighboring communities are a smidgen over 2,000.  Wallace, Idaho, checks in at just over 2,700.

As for the other half-dozen communities on this list, they are high above sea level.  I’ve been to most of them but never in winter.

A man told me a story about spending Thanksgiving weekend in Stanley 25-years-ago.  It was bone-chilling.  If you aren’t dressed for the weather and lodging next to a fireplace, the scenery quickly fades as an attraction.

It’s interesting that Sandpoint and Coeur d’Alene didn’t make this list.  Both are higher in elevation than Bonners Ferry and both usually make the best of lists of great places in Idaho.  Maybe it’s simply Sandpoint fatigue on the part of the writer.  What more can you say about those places?  Pretty towns and if you plan to buy a home there you better be very lucky at lottery games or have made a killing on Wall Street.  The same goes for the eight towns that made the latest list.

LOOK: Here are the best lake towns to live in

Many of the included towns jump out at the casual observer as popular summer-rental spots--the Ozarks' Branson, Missouri, or Arizona's Lake Havasu--it might surprise you to dive deeper into some quality-of-life offerings beyond the beach and vacation homes. You'll likely pick up some knowledge from a wide range of Americana: one of the last remaining 1950s-style drive-ins in the Midwest; a Florida town that started as a Civil War veteran retirement area; an island boasting some of the country's top public schools and wealth-earners right in the middle of a lake between Seattle and Bellevue; and even a California town containing much more than Johnny Cash's prison blues.

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