Top 5 Most Fascinating College Towns in America

An aerial view of University of Colorado Boulder
We have compiled a list of 5 fascinating college towns. A stereotypical college town usually has an unusually active music and cultural scene.  What makes a great college town? Some say a big sports culture, the scenery, the nightlife and in many cases, all of them. Take a peek at our list to see if your college town is on the list. If you feel like your college town deserves some credit, feel free to write why your college town deserves to be on the list in the comments section on the bottom of the page.

1. Boulder, Colorado

Pearl Street Mall
Nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, this city is home to 20 craft breweries and is considered "America's Foodiest Town". Boulder sits 5,430 feet above sea level and has miles and miles of hiking trails in some of the most incredible scenery in the world. Boulder is famous for its four block long pedestrian mall, Pearl Street Mall. Pearl Street Mall is lined with bright flowers and is considered to be one of the best people watching spots. 85% of the businesses in Boulder are locally owned and operated which gives Boulder a unique feel.

Student Population: 47,000
City Population: 103,166

2. Charlottesville, Virginia

The historic town of Charlottesville
Tucked in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this historic town is home to the University of Virginia. Charlottesville has first-rate museums, galleries, and shops. This college town also has charming boutiques, antique shops, and many bookstores to satisfy any kind of reader. There are many small towns in the surrounding countryside that have pleasant surprises for the curious type. If you prefer to be in nature, this quaint town has amazing parks and many rivers and lakes where you can go sailing, tubing, swimming, fishing, or kayaking. There are also many award winning golf courses in the area that provide a great round of golf but an even better view.

Student Population: 21,095
City Population: 45,593

3. San Luis Obispo, California 

An outdoor restaurant in San Luis Obispo
About halfway between Los Angeles and San Fransisco, this coastal town is home to California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly). Great year round weather has helped earn this city the nickname, "The Happiest Place on Earth." San Luis Obispo has a small town feel with all of the restaurants, shops, and entertainment places of a large city. San Luis Obispo is one of the oldest communities in California, it was founded in 1772. Even though it is a historic community, it is a youthful community with a laid back feel and a hip night life. Whether you want to lay back on the beach or climb the mountain peaks, San Luis Obispo has something for everyone.

Student Population: 20,000
City Population: 45,000

4. Ann Arbor, Michigan

University of Michigan nightlife
Take a stroll in Ann Arbor and you will see many backpack strapped students walking about. This city is home to the University of Michigan Wolverines and has an incredible array of things to do. There are more than 300 restaurants in the 20 mile radius of Ann Arbor and more than 30 independent bookstores. First rate museums and many art galleries are within the downtown area of Ann Arbor. On Saturday's in the fall, you will find most students packed in to "The Big House" to watch the Michigan Wolverines play football. The University of Michigan really shapes this city's economy as nearly 30,000 people work for the university. Ann Arbor also has a lot of eclectic shops, ethnic restaurants, and hip night clubs. This city is also home to Zingerman's Deli, a must stop deli for residents and college students alike.

Student Population: 55,581
City Population: 117,025

5. Berkeley, California

View of San Fransisco Bay from the city of Berkeley
Located on the eastern shore of San Fransisco Bay, this city is home to the world-renowned University of California, Berkeley. It is consistently ranked as the best public university in the country. The weather is very mild here and you only need to turn on your AC a few days a year. Large chain stores do not have a large presence in Berkeley, so all of the shopping and dining have a unique flavor to it. Berkeley was the center for the counter-culture, flower power movement of the 60's and now it has evolved into a culinary and cultural travel scene.

Student Population: 35,000
City Population: 116,768


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