There's nothing quite like the lure of an open house sign. Granted, you might not be in the neighborhood (or tax bracket) for many of these outstanding properties, but there's still plenty to admire -- even from the comfort of your swivel chair.
From coast to coast, and everything in-between, we lay down the welcome mat at some of the most enticing open houses in the nation. So wipe your feet at the door and scroll right on through.
Open Houses for Feb. 24-26
Old Greenwich, Conn.
Open house: Sun., Feb. 26 Location: Old Greenwich, Conn. Price: $3.475 million Property description: This light-filled, five-bedroom Colonial home in Old Greenwich is for the water babies. Situated right on Greenwich Cove, with almost 200 feet of direct waterfront, the home offers terrific opportunities for boating (you even get your own dock) and water sports. The picturesque, 3,348-square-foot home is also a stone's throw away from the beaches, trails and the prestigious boat clubs of Tods Point. Plus, massive windows frame your idyllic waterfront surroundings and capture those majestic East Coast sunsets so beautifully, you'll feel like you were on vacation every day. A true beauty. See inside this property.
Open house: Sun., Feb. 26 Location: Harding Township, N.J. Price: $2.65 million Property details: This bank-owned property in Harding Township, featuring stunning, Swedish-style exteriors, is nothing short of spectacular. The estate sits upon 4.02 acres and boasts exquisite wood detailing throughout. Brass chandeliers and antique fireplaces accentuate the main living spaces; all the bedrooms are airy and sun-drenched. Note: The home will be sold strictly "as is," and the buyer is responsible for all inspections; but for a home of this caliber, it might be worth the risk.
Open house: Sun., Feb. 26 Location: Los Angeles Price: $4.395 million Property details: This edgy beauty brings Los Angeles contemporary to a new level. In fact, its minimalist modern aesthetic reminds us a little of the Guggenheim in New York City, with its soaring white ceilings, precise interior curves, reflective white-oak floors and crisp, sun-drenched living areas. Inside the sprawling, 5,187-square-foot home, you'll also find four bedrooms, a mixologist's bar, a huge media center overlooking the glittering Sunset Strip and downtown skyline, and a rooftop living room.... Yes, you read right, rooftop living room. This is California luxury, cubed (forgive the pun).
Open House: Sun., Feb. 26 Location: Pinecrest, Fla. Price: $3.099 million Property description: This unabashedly luxurious yet incredibly quirky home (see the above taxidermy accents) is somethin' else. With a massive swimming pool framed by swaying palms, sprawling verandas, opulent fountains, and polished marble and wood floors spanning 9,541 sumptuous square feet -- now this, kids, is what you call a mansion. Despite its indulgent trimmings and the deer heads, the luxe manse makes a great family home. With six bedrooms,7½ bathrooms, and huge family and media rooms (great for movie nights), it's perfect for keeping the rugrats occupied while you cook up a storm in your state-of-the-art kitchen, or entertain your guests by the pool.
Open house: Sun., Feb. 26 Location: Castle Rock, Colo. Price: $1.790 million Property description: This newly built custom home in the idyllic Castle Pines Village mixes warm Colorado charm with California luxury. With soaring vaulted ceilings braced by timber beams, native pine paneling, natural stone and hardwood floors, and wood-burning stone fireplaces throughout, this four-bedroom home is ideal for those who want opulence with an earthy and unique twist. We love the private flagstone courtyard and the expansive front viewing deck, offering stunning views over Castle Pines.
Open house: Sat.-Sun., Feb. 25-26 Location: Arlington, Va. Price: $1.55 million Property description: We love this beautiful new Craftsman-style home in Lyon Park, Arlington. Perfect for families, the home boasts a generous front porch overlooking a sprawling front lawn, and a beautiful, leafy backyard (great for picnics and outdoor entertaining!). The 4,200-square-foot, five bedroom, four bathroom home also features luxury finishes, including stone accents, HardiPlank siding, hardwood floors and granite countertops.
Open house: Sun., Feb. 26 Location: Charlotte, N.C. Price: $599,000 Property description: Located in one of North Charlotte's best school districts, this wonderfully traditional, Bill Elliott-designed custom built brick two-story home (on nearly a half-acre lot) has all the bells and whistles one could want! On the main level, you'll find a spacious foyer and formal living room overlooking the vaulted-ceiling, screened porch, formal dining room with butler's pantry and an open sun-filled area including kitchen, den and informal dining room. We love its sun-filled living spaces and gorgeous nature views all around. See inside this property.
Open house: Sun., Feb. 26 Location: Dallas Price: $185,000 Property description: This gorgeous redbrick home, tucked in a quiet cul-de-sac, is the picture of traditional Americana. With a flagstone front porch, stone steps, and a beautifully landscaped front yard, it's your modern day version of a white picket fence. Inside, you'll find three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a stunning sunken living area with huge windows overlooking a spacious, leafy backyard. The home also boasts soaring, vaulted ceilings, furnaces and French doors throughout. A true Texas beauty. See inside this property.
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.