22 of the Best College Towns to Visit in the United States

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The best college towns have much more to offer than communities dominated by their university population. They are attractive places to live or visit for a weekend stay or vacation.

Photo: Victor Heath

The best college towns are thriving environments for culture, diversity of people, historical places, architecture, accessible transportation, fun activities, scenic beauty, art and music festivals, museums, restaurants, and lively nightlife. 

Photo: Elliott Reyna

They have globally inspired cultural offerings with an active artist community, many galleries, museums, and musical and theatrical performances, often by jazz legends. There are over 300 restaurants to explore modern cuisine and bars. There are bike paths, trails, and the well-regarded Huron River for canoeing and kayaking.

Ann Arbor, Michigan


Photo: Tom Baginski

Downtown is just a short distance to explore its historical roots, shop, and dine. The Classic Theatre presents many classics, including William Shakespeare outdoors, renting a boat and going fishing, or watching a yacht-filled sunset on the Severn River by the Chesapeake Bay.

Annapolis, Maryland


Photo: Wen Zhu

This college town has many venues, notable restaurants, and bars, including The Globe bar, which was voted among the top bars by Esquire magazine in America in October 2007. Athens has a thriving music and nightlife scene, with musical acts drawn to the young town, like R.E.M., who lived and performed their first act in 1980.

Athens, Georgia


Photo: Daniel Newman

Austin has a vibrant nightlife scene, plenty of cultural events, and notable festivals like South by Southwest (SXTX) for theater, film, and music. Restaurants and bars are now found in the historic bungalows converted in the Rainey Street landmark district, and you can visit LBJ’s Library and Museum.

Austin, Texas


Photo: Tomek Baginski

Berkeley has a thriving music scene, restaurants, historic areas, and artisans. There are bicycle and walking paths, parks, a marina, and gourmet options, and there are tons to do with San Francisco and Oakland nearby.

Berkeley, California


Photo: Jeremy Haung

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