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Portland, Maine

Portland Head lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse in the state

Carr Clifton/Getty Images

With a population of just around 70,000 people, Portland residents balance urban hipness with a streak of rugged adventure. With homes in the $200,000 range, this middle-class town allows its residents to live the work-hard/play-hard lifestyle.

To escape the hustle and bustle of urban life, Portlanders head to the beach at Pophman for some rest and relaxation. If you like water sports like canoeing and kayaking, head to Casco Bay to paddle tranquil waters.

Water bodies such as Beaver Pond, Haskell Pond, Highland Lake and Presumpscot River Reservoir, all within a 10 minute drive of Portland, are great spots for canoeing and kayaking. Peak's Island is an ideal place to kick back and relax while enjoying the beautiful Maine landscape. There are numerous places nearby to go whitewater paddling, including the Royal River, Saco River and Crooked River, all about 20 miles (32 km) from downtown Portland. If skiing is your scene, head to Lost Valley, 24 miles (38.6 km) away with slopes dropping 240 feet (73 m), or Shawnee Park, 35 miles (56.3 km) away with 1300 feet (396 m) vertical drops.

Nearby Bradbury Mountain offers great spots for mountain biking, hiking, and climbing. For a laid-back afternoon, bike or walk along the trails to check out the lighthouses that dot the coast around Cape Elizabeth. You can take a variety of outdoor courses, ranging from fly-fishing to kayaking, at L.L. Bean Discovery School to beef up your skills.

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