We just relocated to Vermont from Los Angeles. A lot of the things you are after are what we were after. We are 30 miles from Burlington. We didn't want to be "in" Burlington but wanted to be near so that the wife could find employment. Vermont is an amazing place. People are very tolerant, the arts/culture are big here & there are no shortage of outdoor activities. There are a lot of great little towns within reach of the city & food is awesome. The little town we are in has a few excellent little places to eat & a coffee shop that is right up your alley. Send me a PM if you have any specific questions. I'd be happy to share what I've learned about this place. I was born & raised in the NW, Lived in Portland & Seattle. I don't ever want to leave this place.
I'd suggest Southern California, but, you have kids, and I dont believe it's the best
place in the country for that. My son was raised here, but, he didnt know any better
to begin with. We came from rural Mo. but he was 18 months when we left.
I lived in Flagstaff Ariz. for a spell, I really liked it.
But, it was summer, I hear winter's are brutal.