Weaverville, CA

(Population: 3,807)
Coursing rivers, craggy mountains, vibrant wilderness—Weaverville's setting on the outskirts of California's Shasta-Trinity National Forest sells itself. It owns a nice slice of history, too: Unlike many gold-rush towns, Chinese laborers in Weaverville in the mid-1800s were able to cultivate a strong and supportive local community here. The result is a town that, even today, comfortably spans cultures. There are strains of Victorian America in antique residences such as the 1865 five-room Whitmore Inn while the spirit of the frontier flavors the menu of the Old West-styled La Grange Cafe. For a touch of California bohemia, try the fair-trade coffee and organic tea served at Mamma Llama Eatery. Anchoring it all is a strong history of Taoist tradition exemplified by the Joss House—the state's oldest continuously used Chinese temple, where the faithful have worshipped since 1874. Religious and cultural tolerance combined with 2 million acres of wild country? Sounds like heaven on earth—a description that wouldn't be out of place in the works of the writer James Hilton, who compared Weaverville to a mythical paradise of his own creation: a little place called Shangri-La.