The American Planning Association has just released its 2011 list of the best neighborhoods in America. They consider their picks to possess a "true sense of place, cultural and historical interest, community involvement, and a vision for tomorrow," and they were judged on a wide range of criteria, including architectural features, accessibility, and functionality. That all sounds a little dry, but the results are certainly intriguing pockets of desirable real estate is some unsung corners of the country. There's no ranking of the top ten, so we've pulled five listings from our favorites, starting with this 1906 Victorian in Atlanta's Ansley Park neighborhood. The restored classic is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, but it's no dusty old relic. The interiors are bright and welcoming, while the broad porches take in the surrounding greenery and views of downtown skyscrapers. Located on quaint Peachtree Circle, the house is asking $1.7M.
? The Highland Park neighborhood of Birmingham, Ala. might be among the nicest neighborhoods in the country, but that doesn't mean the interior design is necessarily up to par. This $500K Craftsman bungalow is certainly charming from the exterior, but the interior is awash in strange patterns, including a cow print on the walls of the dining area and kitchen window treatments. We can't speak for everyone, but eating beef and drinking milk with that constant reminder would be a bit too much to stomach. The house, built in 1918, has plenty left to offer after some new wallpaper is applied, like four bedrooms, a renovated kitchen, and easy walking distance to town.
? Despite its high-brow ballet name, the Swan Lake neighborhood in Tulsa, Okla. offers up high-quality turn-of-the-century construction at exceptionally low cost. This 2,700-square-foot cottage-style abode is currently on the market for $225K. That's a veritable bargain considering the well-preserved orignal detail, backyard swimming pool, and bright interiors. Meanwhile, the neighborhood lives up to its name with a lake complete with swans—both real and carved.
? Columbus, Ohio has more than a few ritzy suburbs, but for a great neighborhood within the city limits, the APA points to 19th-century German Village. This 3,900-square-foot brick manse is one of the largest in the neighborhood, a fact reflected in its $1.15M price tag, and boasts an impressive backyard with stone patio and swimming pool. The interiors have been impeccably restored and updated in the four-bedroom, 3.5-bath spread.
? The College Hill neighborhood in Providence, R.I. is, unsurprisingly, home to two colleges: Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design. It's no wonder that RISD turns out some talented interior designers every year when their off-campus housing consists of 18th- and 19th-century houses with fantastic bones. This $990K Victorian on Congdon Street is in need of some of those design talents. Over the years, some of the hardwood floors have been covered with wall-to-wall carpeting and the bathrooms have received less-than-convincing renovations, but there's much to work with here. The handsome banister, marble fireplaces, woodwork, and moldings all harken back to its 1861 construction.