These towns all have fewer than 10,000 people—but they can rival larger cities when it comes to good food, culture, and quality of life.
Nearest City: Bozeman, 25 miles
"There are a lot of young people here living the good life," says Chad Johnson, co-owner of the club Highsides Brews & Tunes (103 N. Main St., 406/222-5400, highsides.com). Like many of the twentysomethings who've moved to Livingston, Johnson was drawn by the low rents (especially compared with nearby Bozeman), the access to incredible nature (Yellowstone is an hour's drive away), and the number of artists, musicians, filmmakers, and writers who call the place home.
Livingston's writing community is really tight-knit, and authors frequently attend each other's readings at Conley's Books & Music (106 S. Main St., 406/222-7766). "With so many writers around, there's always someone you can talk to who knows the business," says author Tim Cahill, who has lived in Livingston since the 1970s. Bands play several nights a week at The Owl Lounge (110 N. Second St., 406/222-6957, owllounge.com), and western artists show their works at Visions West Gallery (108 S. Main St., 406/222-0337, visionswestgallery.com).
Of course, the good life wouldn't be complete without excellent food. At his 2nd Street Bistro, owner Brian Menges prepares French dishes using Montana ingredients, such as the pork chop stuffed with elk and buffalo (123 N. Second St., 406/222-9463, secondstreetbistro.com, $24).