Fort Collins continues to grow quickly, but still offers one of the most affordable locations in the Rockies. Many residents work for light manufacturers such as Eastman Kodak and Hewlett-Packard, or brewery Anheuser-Busch. But the educated workforce - Colorado State is based here - is ripe for hiring.
Growth industries include biotech, clean energy, and wireless technology. All benefit from the Rocky Mountain Innovation Initiative, a nonprofit incubator for science and technology startups. The results have been encouraging: in recent years, Fort Collins has generated four times more patents than the average U.S. city. Residents enjoy skiing at the nearby Eldora resort and white water rafting in the Cache la Poudre Canyon. The city is also home to five craft breweries, including the colorful New Belgium Brewing Company. -Mina Kimes