From Harvard to UCLA, the United States of America boasts some of the top higher education institutions on the planet. However, these universities aren’t all about the academics… and neither are the towns they call home!
You can have a lot of fun exploring America’s college towns. Whether you’re looking for a vacation with a quirky vibe or embarking on the greatest college road trip of the century, be sure to check out some of the best college towns in the country! Wondering where to start? Look no further! Here are the best U.S. college towns to visit.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
The University of Michigan is a big name in the college sports world! Not only is the Wolverines football team one of the best anywhere, but the team plays in a great location. Ann Arbor is a short drive from Detroit — close enough to give big-city access to the town but far enough to lend a small-town feel. Ann Arbor is also a great walking town with beautiful tree-lined streets and historic buildings. If you want to experience western Michigan, this is a great place to visit!
Northern Arizona University generally falls in the shadow of the two other Arizona giants, University of Arizona and Arizona State University. However, neither U of A nor ASU have anything on the stunning setting of NAU. If you want to experience true Southwestern beauty, come to Flagstaff, Arizona! This small city rests at the base of the San Francisco Peaks, which offer skiing in the winter, quaking aspens in the fall, and hiking in the spring and summer. The town is only a couple of hours from the Grand Canyon and other Arizona tourist favorites, making it a great base town for your travels!
Boston is a massive city, but it has a special twist. Boston is characterized by the many universities and colleges that call it home. Most famous is Harvard University. However, there are countless other colleges, including the University of Massachusetts, Suffolk University, New England School of Law, New England Conservatory, Emerson College, Brandeis University, and many more. The wide variety of college and graduate students drawn by these universities give perpetually fresh life to this historic town. If you visit, you’ll find the stately colleges alongside modern skyscrapers and some of the earliest buildings in the United States. The sheer variety of Boston makes it a fascinating city to visit! Don’t miss a graveyard tour and a trip to Fenway Park while you’re there.
Next time you’re craving a Rocky Mountain high, head to Boulder. Boulder is home to the University of Colorado and an eclectic crowd of college kids. This mountain town has enjoyed a hippy vibe for generations. The laid-back culture, plus charming historic architecture and mountain views, make Boulder a fun and interesting place to visit. Be sure to try a variety of restaurants and bars while you’re there! And of course, don’t miss out on the outdoorsy adventures that await.
It’s almost unfair how many incredible sites this town contains within its limits. Charlottesville is most famous as being the home of Thomas Jefferson, who build his beloved Monticello, within the town. However, you can also check out James Monroe’s home, Edgar Allan Poe’s room at UVA, and much more. Even if you’re not into history, you’ll be sure to fall in love with the lovely downtown area, compete with shops, vendors, and restaurants. Don’t forget to visit the wineries on the edge of town!
If that southern hospitality is what you’re after, then you can’t miss Athens, Georgia! This lovely little Southern town has a lot to offer. Many of its attractions are academic, paying homage to the nearby University of Georgia. Check out the State Botanical Gardens, Georgia Museum of Art, and the Georgia Theater! Of course, there are plenty of not-so-scholastic things to do, as well. Discover the many bars, restaurants, and tourist attractions in the area, or just enjoy the Georgia sunshine at the park.
Ithaca, New York
Cornell University and Ithaca College share this beautiful town. And there’s definitely more than enough beauty to go around here! Ithaca’s scenery is virtually unrivaled. You’ll find endless lakes, waterfalls, and streams to explore, plus a vibrant downtown and music culture. There’s a lot to do here, whether you want to hike into the woods or sip wine by a roaring fire.
Although the “Oregon Ducks” might sound like a funny college team name, there’s nothing silly about the University of Oregon or beautiful Eugene. This town is filled with red brick and small business, like a good college town should be. Generally, Eugene is billed as a great place to enjoy the great outdoors or a slew of interesting bars, but those in the know associate Eugene with one thing: running. Eugene is arguably the best town for runners! After all, it has a strong running community, great weather, important meets, a rich history, and top-notch collegiate track team. If you love jogging or racing, you can’t miss out on Eugene’s legendary tracks and stunning trails.
Experience the breathtaking American North with a trip to Bozeman, Montana! This town is home to Montana State University, and it’s the perfect place for travelers of any walk of life to visit. The town itself is filled with many shops to browse, delicacies to eat, and microbreweries to discover. Venture outside the town to explore the Northwest’s most incredible natural world! Bozeman is near Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park, which offer endless opportunities for fun and adventure.
This, of course, is just a sampling of the greatest college towns in the country. Did we miss your favorite? In the comments, let us know what your favorite college town is and why!