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Top 5 College Towns in the Country

Travelers Today       By    Will Walker

Updated: Jun 30, 2014 10:50 AM EDT

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Charlottesville, Virginia in the Winter
(Photo : Bob Mical on Flickr)

There are a lot of great things that go into making a good college. There's the academic quality, the level of school spirit, the vibrancy of nightlife, and, of course, the aesthetic beauty of the campus. But one factor that often gets overlooked (but shouldn't) is the vibe given off by the local college town.

Indeed, especially for small or remote schools, having a good town to go into can make or break your college experience, affecting whether and how often you leave campus and meet people from the "real world." For that reason, we have listed, below, the 5 best college towns in the country, places that strike that perfect balance between fun, safety, and a chill, adolescent atmosphere.

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5. Ann Arbor, Michigan

 Home of the University of Michigan, one of the largest and best colleges in the country, Ann Arbor certainly has a lot to live up to if it wants to meet the high expectations set by its resident school. Luckily, Ann Arbor's just a nice enough place to meet and exceed that bar. Indeed, the combo of small-town simplicity with large-town facilities allows Ann Arbor to do it all, making its student-residents feel happy and safe without also feeling bored.

4. Ithaca, New York

Home of Cornell University and Ithaca College, this small city is one of the most beautiful in the country. Built in the middle of grassy hills and valleys, Ithaca is famous for its waterfalls, with literally dozens within walking distance from town. The city also has some of the best boutique shops, wineries, and hipster restaurants in the country, making it the perfect place for most college students to hang out on a Thursday evening, or procrastinate on a Sunday afternoon.


3. Boulder, Colorado 

If you know anything about Boulder, it's that it's a fun place to be. From the weather (literally 80% sunny skies), to the shops (almost all locally-owned and full of character), to the very layout of the city (eminently bikeable), Boulder seems like it was designed by and for college students. And if that didn't sell you, did we mention it's located in the middle of one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world? In other words, no matter what you're looking for, Boulder is sure to have it in spades.


2. Burlington, Vermont 

Home to UVM and Ben & Jerry's, Burlington is the place to live if you're a hippy born two generations too late. Indeed, from their new artisanal food movement to the huge amount of live music funneling through the city (especially impressive given its size and relative isolation), Burlington has opportunities and resources that rival the hipster Meccas of Portland and Seattle. The only difference is, Burlington is also small enough to be manageable on a bike or by foot, making it just that more appealing to young, unemployed college students.


1. Charlottesville, Virginia

However, the number one spot is reserved for a more Southern town. Indeed, Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia, does the best job of any city on the list of combining traditional metropolitan interests with the interests of the students who frequent it. The result is a harmonious whole, balancing the resources of an urban area with the desires of the students who live there. From the historical aura of Monticello, to the entertainment provided in the famous (and recently redecorated) Paramount theater, Charlottesville has it all, a place any college student would be proud to call home. Which is why we at Traveler's Today have listed it as the best college town in America. 

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