Nearest big city: Columbus
Golf great Jack Nicklaus didn’t earn the nickname “The Golden Bear” for nothing. It stems from his storied high school career in Upper Arlington, a small, tree-lined suburb just north of Columbus.
Much like Nicklaus, Upper Arlington High School is well-known for its performance on the links (and in other sports, too). The boys’ golf team — one of the many Golden Bear athletic teams on campus — has taken the state title a dozen times since the ‘40s, and its lacrosse, swimming and cross-country teams have numerous championships to their names, as well.
Still, Upper Arlington isn’t just for those with dreams of athletic stardom. From the 20-plus parks and playgrounds and the 145-year-old farmers market to the 11% jump in job opportunities expected by 2025, there’s something for everyone in this town of 35,000.
Its endless stream of community events is certainly worth noting, too. Upper Arlington’s Golden Bear Scare is the biggest event of the year, offering up Halloween-themed inflatables, a spooky zombie-filled hill and dedicated “Scare Rangers” who guide thrill-seekers through a haunted forest filled with ghosts and ghoulies. — Aly J. Yale
Upper Arlington, Ohio