There's something about that "Open House" sign that acts like a magnet. Whether you're looking for a new place to live, keeping tabs on real estate in your neighborhood, or just angling for a sneak peek at someone else's private domain, the lure of an open door is strong indeed.
With the holidays fast approaching, we take this opportunity to tour some of the most fantastic homes on the market before the winter doldrums set in. Click through the listings below to see dozens of additional photos.
Open Houses for Dec. 16-17
Open house: Sat., Dec. 17 - Sun., Dec. 18 Location: Denver Price: $1.75 million (foreclosure) Property details: This majestic, five-bedroom Colorado home oozes rustic elegance through and through. From its exposed wood trusses, classic window accents and turret entryways, to a sophisticated tumbled stone and stucco exterior and gorgeous native landscaping, the home exudes snowy Colorado charm. But it's not just a pretty face: The driveway and back patio have been equipped with snow melt systems, so you can retire the shovel and rest easy on those chilly Denver winter mornings. See inside this property.
Open house: Sun., Dec. 18 Location: Ladue, Mo. Price: $1.499 million Property details: This beautiful, 6,099-square-foot Ladue home features five spacious bedrooms and eight bathrooms -- perfect for a large family. Boasting an exercise room, game room, billiard room and indoor driving range (yes, you read correctly), this stunning slice of classic Americana will offer kids (and kids at heart) hours of entertainment and years of fun-filled family memories.
Open house: Sun., Dec. 18 Location: Dallas Price: $719,900 Property details: A wistfully romantic, beautifully-redone, four-bedroom brick home on Lover's Lane that's perfect for lovers. Boasting two spacious balconies, glossy hardwood floors, antique chandeliers and cozy, rustic detailing throughout, this home is an homage to traditional American beauty.
Open house: Sun., Dec. 17 Location: San Clemente, Calif. Price: $799,000 Property details: This isn't your run-of-the-mill California luxury townhouse. Though you get all the usual trimmings -- roof-deck with panoramic ocean view, access to world-class beaches, and a Hollywood-style barbecue area to host your lavish summer outdoor gatherings -- this home has character to boot. We're talking travertine and wood flooring, wood and iron staircase banister, crown moldings, 6-inch baseboards and Caesarstone on the kitchen countertops. The Joneses won't have anything on you.
Open house: Sat., Dec. 17 - Sun., Dec. 18 Location: Atlanta Price: $515,000 Property description: You can live on cloud nine, quite literally, in a stunning three-bedroom condo within this 35-story highrise building on the Midtown Mile. The property boasts beautiful high-end finishes including Bosch stainless-steel appliances, deep double undermount sinks and sleek stained European-style cabinets. A huge balcony offers gorgeous city views (and the opportunity to watch the sun set every night, glass of wine in hand).
Open House: Sun., Dec. 18 Location: Washington Price: $3.49 million Property description: A chic Georgetown-style, top-to-bottom renovation in the prestigious area of Kalorama, Wash. A fusion of classic and contemporary design and custom built in 2011 within a grand 1905 Victorian structure, the beautiful home boasts modern solutions and state-of-the-art technological innovations that are perfect for urban living and entertaining. With four cozy fireplaces and a roof-deck offering panoramic views over Washington ... What more could you want?
Open house: Sun., Dec. 18 Location: Miami Price: $2.6 million Property description: Live in this large, lofty, light-flooded space, set amid an enchanting garden. This truly magical five-bedroom Miami property boasts a swimming pool and hot tub connected to a fountain-lined, 90-foot lap pool. Lovers of the great outdoors, you will appreciate living among incredible landscaping set on a sun-dappled canvas. Miami luxury, at its finest.
Open house: Sun., Dec. 18 Location: Honolulu Price: $3.48 million Property description: Hawaii's already an oasis, but this unique home will take your tropical fantasy to the next level. On the scenic and prestigious Kahala Avenue, right across the beach, this four-bedroom stunner boasts the finest luxury amenities that you can imagine. A natural stone waterfall, water features with remote control, a beautiful flagstone patio deck, Ipe wooden deck, a media room and exotic tropical landscaping -- you'll feel like you're on permanent vacation.
The Boston-Cambridge-Quincy metropolitan area’s greatest strength for those without an automobile is the prevalence of dense, easily manageable communities. This makes it exceptionally easy for residents to reach amenities such as groceries, restaurants, shopping and schools. The metropolitan area’s primary city, Boston, has the third-highest walk score in the country. The area’s public transit also has a relatively high service frequency rate, making its use that much more convenient for the city’s residents.
> Transit coverage: 96 percent (second highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 6.2 (second lowest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 25.6 percent (69th highest)
> Walk score: 65.9 (14th highest)
> Commuters who bike: 0.87 percent (14th highest)
Los Angeles is the second largest city by population in the United States, and its metropolitan area is fairly spread out. Due to its extensive public transit system the area has avoided a complete automobile-based culture. The metro area’s 19 transit systems have more than 500 bus routes. As a result, 96 percent of neighborhoods are within 0.75 miles to a transit stop -- the second highest rate in the country. Better still, commuters can catch a form of public transportation from their nearest stop every 6.2 minutes.
> Transit coverage: 89 percent (eighth highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 8.5 (11th lowest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 58.9 percent (2nd highest)
> Walk score: 57.6 (29th highest)
> Commuters who bike: 0.78 percent (17th highest)
Utah’s population is expected to grow from 2010’s approximately 3 million to 4.4 million in 2030. Salt Lake County accounts for more than one-third of the state’s population. To accommodate this growth, the Utah Transit Authority has plans to add four more lines to its light rail system, TRAX, up from its current three lines. This investment is meant to improve transportation for the suburban and exurban population to the city. In the winter, the UTA runs ski transit lines in addition to its rail and bus services.
> Transit coverage: 83.7 percent (12th highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 8.1 (10th lowest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 47.5 percent (10th highest)
> Walk score: 60.4 (23rd highest)
> Commuters who bike: 0.79 percent (16th highest)
Denver has bus service, light rail lines and an airport shuttle service. The city is currently undergoing a multibillion dollar expansion of its transit system, called the FasTracks Expansion. This plan is meant to increase light rail, commuter rail and bus rapid-transit lines. The project, which is expected to be completed in 2019, currently faces a $2 billion shortfall.
> Transit coverage: 95.6 percent (third highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 6.9 (fifth lowest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 58.4 percent (third highest)
> Walk score: 54.5 (34th highest)
> Commuters who bike: 1.56 percent (seventh highest)
The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metropolitan area’s public transportation is overseen by the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. Like Los Angeles, the area relies heavily on buses, running about 100 routes. Public transit covers 95.6 percent of neighborhoods, the third greatest in the country. Public vehicles also run under seven minutes apart, the fifth smallest frequency. The metro area also has the seventh highest rate of commuters who travel to work by bicycle.
> Transit coverage: 85.3 percent (11th highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 8.8 (15th lowest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 33.4 percent (35th highest)
> Walk score: 73.6 (sixth highest)
> Commuters who bike: 1.07 percent (ninth highest)
Seattle’s public transportation system not only includes bus and rail transit, but a monorail in the city center, as well as ferries. The city also has the sixth highest walk score in the country, due to its high number of easily accessible amenities. According to Bicycling magazine, Seattle is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country and “has a 10-year, $240-million bike master plan that seeks to triple the number of journeys made by bike and add 450 miles of bike paths.”
> Transit coverage: 97 percent (the highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 9 (18th highest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 59.8 percent (the highest)
> Walk score: 63 (19th highest)
> Commuters who bike: 0.95 percent (12th highest)
Honolulu currently does not have an urban rail system, but its bus system helps cover 97 percent of neighborhoods — the highest rate in the country. Additionally, almost 60 percent of jobs are accessible within 90 minutes to those who live in neighborhoods covered by transit. This is also the highest rate in the country. Nevertheless, the city is planning a $5.5 billion rail project called the Honolulu Rail Transit Project. This will include 20 miles of track, connecting East Kapolei with the Honolulu International Airport and downtown Honolulu and will end at Ala Moana Center.
> Transit coverage: 89.6 percent (seventh highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 4.5 (the highest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 36.6 percent (25th highest)
> Walk score: 85.3 (the highest)
> Commuters who bike: 0.52 percent (32nd highest)
New York City and its surroundings rank first in the nation for total number of passenger trips and government spending per capita on public transit, according to U.S. News. It also has the highest rate of service frequency. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s 2010 operating budget was $13.4 billion. The average weekday ridership for the city is estimated to be over 8.4 million trips. The city also has the highest walk score on this list, thanks to the ability of city dwellers to reach just about any amenity on foot.
> Transit coverage: 83.5 percent (13th highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 7.4 (eighth lowest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 39.9 percent (16th highest)
> Walk score: 66.3 (13th highest)
> Commuters who bike: 2.23 percent (second highest)
Portland is such a good place for people to live without a car due to both its public transit system and the ease of walking and biking around the city. The metropolitan area is served by TriMet, which in addition to other services offers a Free Rail Zone — a region that includes most of downtown Portland and where light rail and streetcar rides are always free. The city has a number of benefits for bike riders, including designated bike-only areas at traffic signals and free bike lights. It has the second highest rate of commuters who ride bikes to work in the country.
> Transit coverage: 91.7 percent (fifth highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 8.5 (12th highest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 34.8 (30th highest)
> Walk score: 84.9 (second highest)
> Commuters who bike: 1.65 percent (sixth highest)
San Francisco is held in high regard for its many successful transit systems, including the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority and the Bay Area Rapid Transit district. These systems cover nearly 92 percent of neighborhoods -- the fifth highest rate in the country. San Francisco also has the second highest walk score and is excellent for bicyclists. Commuter rails within the city allow bicyclists to mount with their bicycles, and there is a bike shuttle across the Bay Bridge to help cyclists during rush hour.