A recent article by Brooks McCabe calls attention to the importance of the arts in building a community that will attract retirees. McCabe, the public service commissioner for the state of West Virginia, says that in addition to outstanding healthcare, retirees are seeking cities and towns that have a flourishing arts and cultural scene. “Towns flourish where the arts thrive,” notes McCabe. “Artists, craftsmen, restaurateurs, and street musicians represent much of the soul of a town or city.”

Indeed, many retirees who have the financial means and a craving for continued intellectual stimulation are drawn to communities that are home to art galleries, one-of-a-kind boutique shops, museums, theaters, farmers’ markets, music venues, and trendy restaurants. While major cities like Chicago, New York, and Denver naturally fit the bill for those retirees who are looking for a cultural hub, here are a few other slightly more “cozy” retirement destinations to consider if you have a penchant for the arts.

Asheville, North Carolina
Packed with charm, culture, and beautiful Blue Ridge Mountain vistas, Asheville is on just about every list of top locations for active retirees. Home to numerous artists and musicians, the cultural scene in Asheville is vibrant. On a stroll around town, you will pass Art Deco buildings, numerous galleries, and bustling cafes. For the theater-lover, Asheville Community Theater, North Carolina Stage Company, Asheville Arts Center, and Diana Wortham Theater offer a variety of plays, symphonies, and dance performances.  For the wine connoisseur, several wineries are prospering in the area, including one on the grounds of the breathtaking Biltmore Estate, which also boasts gardens designed by the famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead. Learn more about Asheville >>

Fairhope, Alabama
If you like a beautiful sunset over the water with your art scene, Fairhope may be the place for you. Perched on the bluffs overlooking Mobile Bay, Fairhope has an array of cultural events throughout the year, a highlight of which is their annual Arts & Crafts festival in the spring. An active artists’ colony and the municipal Eastern Shore Arts Center with changing exhibits by local artisans are indicative of the inspiration to be found among Fairhope’s Spanish moss-draped live oaks. Add to it a charming, walkable downtown with quaint boutiques and restaurants (fresh seafood, anyone?), abundant musical and theater performances, and outdoor activities galore (from golf and tennis, to fishing and sailing), and Fairhope’s appeal for the active retiree abounds. Learn more about Fairhope >>

Saratoga Springs, New York
Situated in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains, Saratoga Springs is perhaps best known for its healing mineral springs and the Saratoga Race Course (open for six weeks during the summer), but for retirees in search of a cultural Mecca, Saratoga Springs also has much to offer. Nestled within the vast Saratoga Spa State Park, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) amphitheater is the summer home of the New York City Ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra, and also offers an impressive calendar of other performers including dance troupes, bands, and theater performances. Numerous other theaters, art galleries, and the National Museum of Dance can be found in the “Spa City,” in addition to a vibrant restaurant scene for the foodie-retiree. Yaddo, an historic 400-acre estate turned artist colony, offers residencies to professional artists (Truman Capote, Leonard Bernstein, and Sylvia Plath, to name a few) and also opens its impressive gardens to the public daily, free of charge. Learn more about Saratoga Springs >>

Taos, New Mexico
While Santa Fe gets a lot of attention for its arts scene, for its size, Taos packs a real cultural punch. Originally settled by the Pueblo Indians, followed by the Spanish, Taos has also been home to many famous creative icons, from Georgia O’Keefe to Thornton Wilder. The town has three art museums within its borders, all featuring Native American art: the Harwood Museum of Art, Taos Art Museum, and Millicent Rogers Museum. Taos also has a vibrant theater scene on top of outstanding Southwestern culinary fare. With its temperate climate, beautiful scenery, an artists’ colony, and more than 80 art galleries, it is easy to see why artisans of all ages are drawn to Taos. Learn more about Taos >>

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