I'm a Seattle native and it sounds like Seattle might be a good fit for you. Housing prices aren't low but they're better than NY. We've got lots of great skiing nearby and it's gorgeous (to me- if overcast isn't your bag, maybe not.) It's a very laid back city so I don't think you'd run into ideological issues. Traffic sucks but where doesn't it? Your numbers are a good fit for the University of Washington, which is well respected by firms in the area and, as far as I know, isn't too crazy in tuition.
Your numbers could possibly get you into Cornell, which is a great school with a small student body and a beautiful campus. You would have the outdoor recreational opportunities you mentioned and great employment options, but it is not cheap. Ithaca is a small (but nice) college town.
I had been so NY-centric in choosing schools that I had never noticed that UWashington was a top school. After speaking with my professor that really knows me well and gives great advice as a friend, he suggested I take a look at Washington and Minnesota, because they fit my preferences and are top schools. I'll do some more research, but how bad are the house prices, like how much (or a range) is the average house in a nicer area? Is it 500k+ like NY?