Nearest big city: Denver, Colorado Springs
Castle Rock is no stranger to Money’s list of Best Places to Live. The town made the cut in 2011, 2012, 2014 and, most recently, in 2019, when it ranked No. 40. It’s easy to see why: This city of 70,700 people boasts 6,000 acres of open space, award-winning public schools and easy access to both Denver and Colorado Springs.
Outdoor enthusiasts have no shortage of activities to choose from here, including 95 miles of trails and 53 planned parks. Also, the town is less than two hours from the UNESCO-designated Rocky Mountain National Park, which has more than 100 mountain peaks rising above 11,000 feet. The city is named for a prominent rock formation that overlooks the town.
Castle Rock’s historic downtown district offers locally owned shops and restaurants, such as a barn that’s been converted into a collective of antique shops selling home decor, quilts and vintage clothing. It also plays host to the town’s street festivals and outdoors concerts in the summer, as well as an annual Oktoberfest that spotlights Colorado-brewed beers. — Daniel Bortz
Castle Rock, Colorado