Honestly, the list is endless. I get really, really snobby about my home. I'm in the best part of New England, and since New England is the best part of the United States, I'm in the best part of the country... the only possible contenders would be the lovelier parts of Cali [I have a friend in Arcata, and apparently that's right-up-there with my town] and the Northwest, where I hear there's a similar mix of natural beauty and culture.
I live in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts, specifically in Amherst. First of all, the earth. The earth is magical here. It sounds dippy, but it's true, there's something special in the soil, life resonates and vibrates. The trees are tremendous breathing greens. As we're in a valley, we are surrounded by gorgeous mountains, perfect for climbing. There are lovely trails a-plenty leading all over the Valley.
Amherst itself is a quaint but very lively town-- this is a college community. We have five colleges throughout Amherst and Northampton; the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst College, Hampshire, Mt. Holyoke, and Smith. Thusly there is a bustling city atmosphere, but without the grime. There are so many people that you can literally carve out any kind of community you desire. The locals are a bunch of ex-hippies and hippie-yuppies who take good care of Amherst's appearances, flowering trees, everything very attractive. Most of the shops downtown are local businesses, and we have, like, six book stores in the center alone. We're also home to the best pizza I've ever had [Antonio's, represent!] and the best coffeeshop I've ever been to [Rao's!], and Amherst and surrounding towns are full of great cafes which are vegetarian-friendly and totally delicious.
In Amherst you get the whole spectrum. You can travel next door to Leverett, get totally lost in the woods, and visit the first Peace Pagoda built in the states-- a Buddhist temple, right in the Valley. Or, you can head in the other direction to Northampton, which is a city and a total cultural hub with tons of shows and awesome musical acts coming through. We are also only two hours away from Boston, which is important to me, since I grew up south of Boston... I just hop on the Peter Pan bus to come to Boston to see a show whenever I like. And, we're just three hours away from NYC, so if you have a soft spot for that metropolis, you can head on that way, too.
Really, I can't sing Amherst's praises enough. It's been so good to me, and so good to everyone I love. I'm resisting posting images just to show you!