8 of the Best College Towns

Many campuses are located in amazing areas of the United States. These towns generally have great public spaces, fine restaurants, and unique qualities that make them stand out. In no particular order, check out our list of best college towns.

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Flickr user: Downtown Ann Arbor

Flickr user: Downtown Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan, along with a variety of employers for students to look to after they graduate. The city itself is home to great restaurants, museums, parks, and trails and bike paths, and is consistently mentioned as a great place to live.

Ithaca, New York

Flickr user: Doug Kerr

Flickr user: Doug Kerr

Ithaca frequently grazes lists of top college towns. Home to Ithaca College and Cornell University, Ithaca has a diverse music scene. Live-music venues like The Dock and The Haunt are attended by locals and students alike. Ithaca College also boasts a great school of music, making students feel right at home in the area.

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Flickr user: Zach Mullen

Flickr user: Zach Mullen

Chapel Hill is often described as a metropolitan city with a small-town feel. Each October, Chapel Hill hosts the “Festifall”, a festival full of handmade art and live performances. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has a highly-ranked men’s basketball team, with numerous appearances by the Tar Heels in the March Madness tournament. The city is also part of the Research Triangle, with many opportunities in the science and health industries.

Berkeley, California

Flickr user: Charlie Nguyen

Flickr user: Charlie Nguyen

Berkeley makes the list as a great college town and as the oldest University of California campus. While Berkeley is home to museums, gardens, and the Kite Festival (yes, they fly kites on the beach), it is also located near Silicon Valley, making it convenient to be involved in the tech industry. Living in Berkeley can give you the best of both worlds.

Gainesville, Florida

Flickr user: Steven Martin

Flickr user: Steven Martin

Is the ocean calling your name? Gainesville is answering! With the University of Florida and Santa Fe College located here, education meets paradise. Gainesville has two large art festivals each year, giving students and locals a look at the various cultures around them. The University of Florida Gators also draws in crowds of people to catch a football game or cross country meet.

Iowa City, Iowa

Iowa City, IA is one of the best college towns.

Flickr user: Alan Kotok

Iowa City is a UNESCO awarded City of Literature, and home to a pedestrian mall with free concerts, salsa dancing, and festivals. The University of Iowa boasts strong academic opportunities, besides the arts and athletic programs. The Hamburg Inn No. 2 is a popular restaurant for political candidates to stop at during their campaigns, including Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Ronald Reagan. Iowa City is a vibrant community with a lot to offer.

Ames, Iowa

Another campus located in Iowa, Ames, IA is one of the best college towns.

Flickr user: Rafael Radkowski

Although you certainly get a small-town feel in Ames, you also have a lot of large employers. Iowa State University provides students with an education, and then graduates are able to stay in the area and work for one of the many companies nearby, contributing to the low unemployment rate. The state capital of Des Moines is close by as well, making it easy to escape for the day without having to travel far.

Boulder, Colorado

Boulder, CO is one of the best college towns.

Flickr user: Derek Dirks

Located by the Flatirons and the Rockies, Boulder is a very outdoor-friendly city. Hiking, rock climbing, and cycling are all available activities within the area. The University of Colorado Boulder is home to over 32,000 students, who can enjoy the pedestrian-style coffee shops, restaurants, book stores, and more that the city has to offer.

Great college towns tend to have popular music scenes, fun places to grab a bite to eat, and a variety of cultural events. While the school you go to is important, it also makes sense to consider what the city itself has to offer.

Interested in any of these schools? Check them out on our college pages! While you’re there, use our college match tool to see your admission odds at these or other institutions.

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