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Crested Butte, Colorado

You won't find a Gap or Starbucks in Crested Butte (strict zoning ordinances keep chains at bay). There aren't even any stoplights; just one four-way stop, which serves as the landmark locals use when giving directions. Go 3 miles north up Gothic Road from that four-way stop and you'll hit Mt. Crested Butte Resort, best known for its extreme terrain and for hosting the super-hyped ESPN Winter X-Games. Ironically, the town of Crested Butte is anything but hyped. It prides itself on being quirky and quaint, and even has a website to showcase its diverse residents. Visit The Bakery Cafe on Elk Avenue for a big breakfast and a taste of the town's character. Load up on a mega-sized omelette or a tall stack of pancakes, then plan to spend the rest of the morning burning breakfast off on one of a multitude of hiking and mountain biking trails that wind up the hills around town. A locals' favorite is Trail 401, which runs from the nearby ghost town of Gothic to the top of scenic 10,707-foot Schofield Pass, a lung-busting 6-mile ascent. Fields of vibrant, waist-high wildflowers-including bluebells, lupine and sunflowers-await.

Mountain bikers looking for a slower pulse rate should pick up the Upper Loop Trail at the base of Mt. Crested Butte or load their bikes on the chairlift for a scenic descent from the top of the mountain.

Wile away the afternoon in town, where you'll feel as if you've been transported into Mayberry-on steroids. Everyone looks wholesome and happy and has the glow of good health. Kids run barefoot, and dogs wander freely. The pace is relaxed as people meander from bike stores to antique shops. The Elk Mountains provide a movie-set backdrop for colorful Victorian storefronts that hark back to the town's heyday as a mining supply center in the 1880s. Don't miss the funky two-story outhouse in the alley behind the Company Store. (Considered grand a century ago, it was designed so two people could use it simultaneously.)

For dinner, the options are surprisingly gourmet considering Crested Butte's remote location. Try the cozy Timberline Restaurant for New American fare or the intimate setting at Soupçon for French cuisine. Work off dessert by taking an evening stroll. As you look up at the twinkling stars that shine brilliantly, unobstructed by the glare of city lights, you'll understand why the locals are smiling: They're living in Butte-opia.

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