Population: 13,606

Land Prices in Berea: $99,000 purchases 10 wooded acres in an improved subdivision.

Why we love it: It’s hard to separate Berea, the city, from Berea, the progressive college that gave this municipality its biblically inspired name.

Berea College was founded in 1855 by a pack of idealistic abolitionists, who established the institution as the first and only integrated, co-ed college in the South. Today the college only admits low-income students, provides free tuition and asks that every student work at the college during their stay. So why should you care?

First, there’s a pretty Georgian campus gracing the town. Second, the college started promoting the area as a center for Appalachian arts and crafts in the late 1800s. (Berea was named in John Villani’s book, The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America: Discover Creative Communities, Fresh Air and Affordable Living and ranked by Art Calendar Magazine as the fourth of 10 great towns for working artists). And, finally, there’s Berea’s College Square, one of three gallery and shopping areas in town, anchored by the historic Boone Tavern Hotel, currently undergoing a multi-million-dollar renovation that will make it the first green, LEED-certified guest house in the state.

Why you’ll love it: OK, so there are a lot of weavers, musicians, glassblowers and their ilk in Berea, what else?

If you’re a fan of the Bluegrass State, Berea not only delivers lush greenswards, it’s also situated in the foothills of the Cumberland Mountains, making it eminently accessible to all manner of urban and rural pursuits. Thirty-nine miles south of Lexington, Kentucky, and 113 miles southeast of Louisville, Berea offers the small-city vibe as well as an easy drive to big-city attractions and shopping.

Berea also sits on the edge of the Daniel Boone National Forest, more than 707,000 rough acres in the Appalachian foothills, Cumberland Lake (one of the 10 largest freshwater bodies in the country) is 45 minutes away, and the college owns 8,000 acres of forestland, which it opens to public hiking.

As one local described the town: “Berea is a place where people live purposeful lives.”

Berea Web Resources: www.berea.com

Photos by: www.berea.com/


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