Where are the best places to buy ether with the least resistance and lowest fees? Is there something like local bitcoin, but for ether?
The closest to localbitcoin maybe Ethereum meetups. Depending on your location it could be easy and lowest fees, as the community is young and wants you to try things out.
Shapeshift.io is currently the least resistance exchange, but not the lowest fees.
You probably know about the exchanges such as Kraken, Poloniex, and the subreddit.
Bitboat offer payment via Paysafe and Neosafe in Europe. So you buy a voucher in cash and then trade it for crypto. Paysafe is in 0000's of shops, fuel stations, search for a location here. Neosurf is in Europe, some middle East and some Africa, search for a location here.
Coinimal offer more resistance but once authenticated it is painless, fees are lower when using bank transfer and Buy Sell prices are valid for a limited time. They could be classified as a broker not an exchange.
Finally then you have the Over The Counter (OTC), essentially they are matching buyers and sellers and taking a cut of the deal, fees are negotiable (to an extent) since most OTC companies deal in larger transactions. One such OTC is Coinfloor in the UK, their fees page is here.
The typical cryptocurrencies exchange places allow you to buy and sell ethers. I use Kraken and I am happy with it.