Stephanie is a cherished member of the Sampling America writing team, dedicated to crafting captivating narratives that transport readers to thrilling adventures across the country and beyond.
While many college towns are famous for young people partying, drinking, and being disrespectful to the general public, many small towns with prominent colleges benefit from the academic atmosphere and industry that universities bring.
Follow along for our list of the top 15 college towns across America to travel to this year to enjoy the culture and attractions that they have to offer.
Home to the University of Georgia, Athens is a small city full of live music, art, and a thriving nightlife scene. This city is lovely to visit for families. Stroll through the town and catch a glimpse of all of the bulldog statues placed throughout town to honor the school’s mascot.
The university dates back to 1785 and is one of the oldest public universities in the United States. Its campus makes for an excellent tour for families.
Thanks to this school’s high level of research and academics, it’s not a very big party school, making Athens a very safe city to visit.
Although most people will automatically think of Harvard University when they think of Boston, the city has 35 colleges, universities, and community colleges.
However, it’s still an excellent opportunity to tour some of the more well-known schools, like Harvard, Northeastern University, and Boston University. All of these schools are rich in American history and offer tours of the campuses.
Don’t forget to visit Paul Revere’s House and the Old State House Museum when you visit historic Boston.
Lynchburg, Virginia, has six colleges, the largest being Lynchburg University. It’s a very walkable city with many hiking and biking trails.
Take a scenic drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains before entering this historic city, or visit the Poplar Forest, known as Thomas Jefferson’s neoclassical retreat.
With over 200 miles of biking trails, Madison is an excellent college town to visit if you want fun outdoor activities.
The school is part of more than 20 NCAA Division 1 sports and part of the Big Ten Conference, so this town is beaming with school pride and has a sporting event for anyone.
However, this school does have a thriving Greek life and is known as a big party school, so be careful when visiting right after finals season.
Affectionally known by its nickname, Mizzou, the University of Missouri is well known for its journalism, writing, and medicine programs.
Columbia has a thriving bar and restaurant scene, making it perfect for those who want to walk around town and try something new.
The school dates back to 1839 and is often called a “Public Ivy” institution due to its excellent academic programs.
Iowa City, Iowa
The University of Iowa is a well-known hub for literature. It’s also designated as a UNESCO City of Literature, so those hoping to take a creative writing class or brush up on the classics will thrive in this city.
Be sure to browse at the Prairie Lights bookstore while you’re in town, and it also schedules readings by famous authors regularly.
Boulder was named one of the best places to live in the United States. It’s a quaint college town with a historic downtown center.
The University of Colorado and Naropa University are excellent colleges to tour when visiting between snowboarding and hiking in the mountains just outside the city.
Providence, Rhode Island
Although it’s a tiny city, Providence is home to many well-known universities: Brown, Rhode Island College, and Rhode Island School of Design.
Consider taking a tour of any of these excellent institutions to learn more about the history of Rhode Island. The city also hosts a thriving restaurant scene, so look forward to a world-class meal after seeing a PC basketball game.
Most students flock to the University of California, Berkeley Campus due to its proximity to San Fransisco and Silicon Valley.
Aside from the big-name tech brands, Berkeley has fantastic restaurants, outdoor activities, and an energized activist scene.
Known as the birthplace of Nike, Eugene lives up to its active name. Sports and school go hand in hand in this rugged woody setting.
Get tickets to an Oregon Ducks football game for a fun night filled with raving fans. The city also has several hiking and biking trails, camping spots, and even swimming and kayaking at nearby lakes and rivers.
New Haven, Connecticut
New Haven is most well-known for Yale University, which is renowned for being one of the top universities in the country and has excellent music and drama programs.
The school was founded in 1701 and has many historical buildings and former presidents who have attended the prestigious institution. Take a tour to see all of these historical places on campus and say hello to Handsome Dan, their bulldog mascot, at one of the football games.
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Chapel Hill is known as the quintessential East Coast college town due to the backdrop at the University of North Carolina and is known for its innovative teaching programs as well as its master’s of public service program.
Opened in 1795, the university is beaming with history. Tour this fantastic college campus during the fall to get the real experience.
At the University of Florida, enjoying sunshine all year is a student staple. Labeled as one of the best places to live in the country, Gainesville has a thriving undergraduate population during the school year.
However, you can still enjoy many activities in the city. This town is crazy for science, so head to the Florida Museum of Natural History or the Kika Silva Planetarium in town.
Situated in the hills of North Mississippi, the University of Mississippi is one of the oldest colleges in the country and is affectionately named Ole Miss.
The city is also famous for being the home to Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner and is featured as one of America’s great literary destinations.
Syracuse, New York
Syracuse University is well-known as a private research institution with a stunning campus. Walk around the main square to take in the breathtaking architecture at the Hall of Languages.
Visit Little Italy while you’re in Syracuse to experience the excellent culinary scene that the city has to offer.
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