A little bit hip and a little bit homey, these up-and-coming towns guarantee a fun detour on your next road trip. You'll be browsing the local real estate pages before you know it.
Nearest City: Kansas City, Mo., 10 miles
As Jennifer Stanton is telling how she ditched her corporate job in 2003 to open Wines by Jennifer in a circa-1903 house, the Park University clock tower chimes: "That's my mantra to remind me to slow down and enjoy life," she says (405 Main St., 816/505-9463, winesbyjennifer.com). On Wednesday's Diva Night at Jeff and Lynn Anderson's River Rock Reserve, ladies enjoy fun stuff like free neck massages with their River Bottom cocktails; by day, the space reverts to a café (6325 Lewis St., 816/505-3663, riverrockcoffee.com). "We're just 10 minutes from downtown Kansas City," says Jeff, "but I feel like any minute someone's going to ask me to help with a barn raising." Didier Combe, the proprietor of Café des Amis, thinks Parkville is like a village in his native France: "After the last dinner is served, we often sit on the deck with friends and guests" (112½ Main St., 816/587-6767, cafedesamiskc.com, rack of lamb $26). Over at The Power Plant Restaurant and Brewery, Angelo Gangai gives his beers historical monikers like Southbound Nut Brown, named after the trains that roll past (2 Main St., 816/746-5051, powerplantbrews.com). One caramely ale, Steamboat Stout, makes a dandy float when poured over vanilla gelato from The Sweet Guy (10 Main St., 816/505-2788, thesweetguy.com). At Bentley Guitar Studios, Mark Bentley has been teaching folks--and now their kids--guitar for nearly a decade (122 S. Main St., 816/746-9772, bentleyguitars.com). The Saturday jam sessions here have become so popular, they've taken over the sidewalk.