World's Prettiest Mountain Towns
San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
The earth’s driest desert surrounds this small community, and lends it a haunting, barren sort of beauty. The region just outside town, the Valle de la Luna, got its name for its moon-like landscape; NASA has done tests of its Mars Rovers here. Adding to the unearthly scenery is the long-dormant volcano of Licancabur, which looms above.
Get some mountain air: In the daytime, try out sandboarding (the desert equivalent of snowboarding) on dunes outside town. When night falls, turn your head to the skies at the San Pedro de Atacama Celestial Exploration (SPACE), the largest public observatory in Chile, with its near perfect star-gazing conditions.