Is there a scientific, empirical method by which we can whittle down a solid definition for what makes a great college town? Perhaps. Suffice to say however, that for the purpose of our post here, college town will not equal college city. In other words, we love the Boston and Washington D.C. satellites of Cambridge and Georgetown. Home to world class universities, they offer a lot for visitors and students alike to enjoy. They also however, rest in the shadows of two formidable, world class cities.
So while Austin, a conspicuous entry on our list, is the capital of Texas and home to a rather large metropolitan area, for the most part, our favorite college towns in America are just that – right down to their very cores.
A community of just over 90,000 people, Lawrence, Kansas is the home of the University of Kansas. With a student body of over 30,000, life in Lawrence pretty much centers on the academic campus and Kansas Jayhawks athletics.
With the 40 Watt Club and legendary bands like R.E.M. and The B-52′s and in recent years, Danger Mouse and Of Montreal, Athens, Georgia is famous as a music mecca. The home of the University of Georgia however, is also a first-rate college town.
The Connecticut River Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts is home to five liberal arts colleges known collectively and quite simply as the Five Colleges. Within close proximity to each other, the institutions remain independent yet share resources and in point of fact, students as well. Amherst College is perhaps the best known of the five and indeed, the historic Little Three (along with Wesleyan University and Williams College). It consistently scores as the best liberal arts college in the country and together with Hampshire College and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, makes the town of the same name one beauty of a college town.
With over 100,000 people in San Francisco Bay, Berkeley is still every bit the funky, intellectual and off-beat home of counterculture and progressive thought that it was in the 1960s. Over 35,000 students attend the University of California, Berkeley.
A big proportion of the 90,000 or so people who call beautiful Boulder home have a connection, in some way, shape or form, with the University of Colorado. With almost 150 km² of wilderness, parks and recreation space to enjoy, college towns rarely get more scenic than this.
In many ways, Princeton is the ideal college town. A throwback, if you will, to another era. Walk the streets of the Ivy League community and revel in the town’s indelible quaintness and rich heritage.
A consistent winner in overall education polls, the capital of Wisconsin is a supreme college town. Though large in comparison with the likes of Amherst and Princeton, Madison, with over 200,000 people, is a wonderful place to go to school. More often than not, that school is the massive University of Wisconsin-Madison, home to over 40,000 students and Big Ten Conference basketball and football.
Far from the more famous and first Oxford is another gem of a college town. Oxford, Mississippi, home of Ole Miss and excellent cultural attractions, is a great place to live and indeed, go to school.
Another diminutive Ivy League jewel makes the cut in the form of Hanover, New Hampshire. The venerable home of Dartmouth, a world class institution by any measure, is a quiet, peaceful community in the scenic Connecticut River watershed.
The capital of Texas has fast become one of the most desirable destinations in the Lone Star state and indeed, America. From the South by Southwest festival and notable live music scene, to restaurants, nightlife and University of Texas Longhorns football (Hook ‘em Horns!), Austin is a dynamic college town.
For peerless outdoor recreation, park space and natural beauty, Eugene, home of the University of Oregon, has a special quality of life for residents, students and visitors alike.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, home of world famous Tar Heels basketball, is the senior public university in the United States. The town and school both date back to the late 18th century and today, Chapel Hill has a vibrant community of more than 50,000 people. With a phenomenal arts, culture and food scene and a gorgeous campus to enjoy, it easily rates as one of the best college towns in the county.
Check out the best hotel rates in college towns all over the United States of America.