Top 10 College Towns in America

collegeWhen I think of the phrase “college town,” I think of grassy common areas, courtyards and grand buildings with large white columns in front. Ultimately, one’s image of a college town is influenced by their own college experience. For example, someone who studied in Tempe, Arizona has no clue of the feeling you get when walking through a campus in New England during the fall. Having studied in Boston myself, where higher education makes up a large part of the economy, I really don’t think of Boston as a college town. Same with New York City. The character of the cities are too rich and varied. In my opinion, the determining characteristic of a college town is that one or more colleges or universities have a prevailing impact on all aspects of life within the community. As someone who has done business on campuses all across the country, here are my Top 10 College Towns in America:

1. Gainesville, Florida
2. Chapel Hill, North Carolina
3. Berkeley, California
4. Madison, Wisconsin
5. Athens, Georgia
6. Charlottesville
, Virginia
7. State College, Pennsylvania
8. Tempe, Arizona
9. Boulder, Colorado
10. Amherst, Massachusetts

Of course, you may have own favorite(s) and we’d love to hear what they are and why.  Please leave your comments!

IMAGE VIA: anne.oeldorfhirsch

10 thoughts on “Top 10 College Towns in America

  • Hey, thanks for including Athens,Georgia on your Top 10 list! I am one of many who came to Athens years (and years) ago to attend the University of Georgia, and never left. So thrilled to now be sharing Athens with others as my day job at the Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau. We’re still a pretty smallish place, around 115,000 including about 35,000 students– the amount of creative energy from current and former college students and others UGA attracts is amazing. We all know about R.E.M. and the B-52’s, of course, but there are still hundreds of bands who call Athens home and perform nightly. The visual and performing arts scene is just as strong– The Georgia Museum of Art is housed in Athens, but there are also several local galleries such as the Lyndon House Arts Center and ATHICA: Athens Institute for Contemporary Art, that have some amazing work. The number of local theatre companies is at least 10 last time I counted. So much to do, and most of it is free or nominal cost.

  • Ann Arbor was actually one of the last to be cut. 🙂 There are so many great college towns that it was really tough to only list 10. Honorable Mentions go to: Ann Arbor, Fort Collins and Columbus.

  • I was really surprised Lawrence, KS and Austin, TX weren’t on this list, I was expecting to see them at the top. Austin has an endless nightlife, great outdoors, over a 100 live music performances every single day (and don’t forget ACL and SXSW), is one of the safest cities in America, and has some of the most beautiful people in the world. I can’t think of what else a college student could ask for.

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