It was on the trails of that battlefield that I trained for my first half marathon. I remember one particular run on a crisp fall morning, when the sun lit up the start of the trail, which cut through waist-deep golden grasses over an area of flat land. It's the first of three very different terrains on the battlefield, where 6 a.m. held a kind of peace as the wind played music in the grass. Next, the fields fell away to a short, wicked downhill onto to a basic wooden walkway inches above an iced-over creek. The trial then jaunted into the third section, where the path darkened into a narrow forest mountain biking path. The soft glowing eyes of countless deer scattered ahead of me on the steep muddy, single tracks and loops until I broke out of the shade of the forest into the sun for my first completed 6-mile run.
The amazing battlefields of Winchester are just the start of the area's long list of delightful attractions -- and I'm not alone in this opinion. The AARP just named Winchester, Va., one of the top 10 U.S. places to live and retire affordably. Its safe downtown is thick with charm, filled with fountains, parks, ponds, bars and restaurants. Neighborhoods range from small city homes to medium sized cottages to large three-level modern homes. Median list price, around $208,500, according to Zillow.com. Home to the famous Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival and carnival that has celebrated the area's delicious apple-growing history since 1924, Winchester is an easy commute to the Appalachian Trail, a sweet Family Drive-In Theater (shown in photo on right), and to the business savvy Northern Virginia area.
To see what other appealing cities and towns made the list, click through our photo gallery below.