7. Winnetka, IL
Winnetka, IL
Population: 12,234
Median family income: $236,222
Median home price: $990,000

Public beaches, lush parks, and picture-perfect neighborhoods dot this verdant North Shore Chicago suburb. Maybe that's why filmmaker John Hughes set so many of his classic movies here: Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Home Alone, The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles were all shot in Winnetka.

The town also nurtured a number of real-life headliners: Rock Hudson, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and indie-rocker Liz Phair all spent formative years in this conservative Midwestern village. Elegant homes with private beaches, gracious reception halls and panoramic views of Lake Michigan formed the backdrops of their youth.

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Last updated August 15 2011: 2:49 PM ET
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These terrific small towns -- even now -- boast great job opportunities, top-notch schools, safe streets, economic strength, and more.

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