From east to west coast these beautiful towns and cities are far more than just their college campus. Explore Tripping.com’s top ten college towns list and find out why these places also make the best vacation destinations.
10) Charlottesville, VA
Built around the University of Virginia’s charming campus, Charlottesville offers boutique shopping options during the day and a host of fantastic bars and nightlife options. The historic Paramount and Jefferson Theaters are still in operation today for live concerts as well as movies, and newer theaters like Live Arts feature local artists. Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s plantation, is located just outside the city center, which features with stunning gardens and history museums open to the public (shown above).
9) Ithaca, NY
With over 100 waterfalls, the stunning natural beauty of Ithaca is captured in its pun-tastic slogan “Ithaca is gorges.” Students from Cornell University and Ithaca College enjoy the wide range of affordable, quality restaurants as well as local brewpubs. Isolated from major cities, Ithaca enjoys a tight-knit local culture, which manifests in its stellar farmer’s market and music festivals such as Porchfest and GrassRoots. After the winter snow melts, take a bike ride through one of the many parks or even swim at base of a waterfall.
8) Georgetown, Washington, DC
Georgetown, one of Washington, D.C.’s most popular neighborhoods, is located within walking distance of most of the major national monuments. M Street’s chic shops and famous baked goods make it a popular destination for Georgetown University students, locals, and visitors alike. See the nation’s capital from a kayak on the Potomac River or take a scenic stroll over the Key Bridge to explore the many free museums on the other side. Georgetown has a “goldie locks” location because it is close enough to give visitors the excitement of Washington D.C., but far enough to offer a less crowded, less touristy feel.
7) Boulder, CO
Nestled at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains at 5,430 ft above sea level, Boulder is the outdoor enthusiast’s dream. Between the Flatirons rock formations, Flagstaff Mountain, and Chautauqua Park, there is never a lack of new natural areas to explore. Downtown Boulder, near the University of Colorado Boulder, is famous for its gourmet foods and breweries along Pearl Street Mall–the perfect treat after a long day of hiking!
6) San Luis Obispo, CA
Home to Cal Poly SLO, this coastal town is less crowded than other Southern California destinations and was even hailed “the happiest place in America” by author Dan Buettner. In addition to miles-long stretches of pristine beaches, San Luis Obispo hosts a myriad of hiking trails and retro entertainment options, including the Sunset Drive-In and the Fremont Theater. Before leaving, you should definitely check out SLO’s local landmarks, Bubblegum Alley and Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa.
5) Burlington, VT
Home to the University of Vermont, this state capital is settled on scenic Lake Champlain. Burlington is also considered the culinary capital of Vermont, with a wealth of organic, local dining options and the original Ben & Jerry’s storefront. Enjoy Burlington’s natural beauty during the summer on a sailboat or during the autumn on a breathtaking foliage tour.
4) Austin, TX
Epitomized by the “Keep Austin Weird” slogan, this state capital boasts an eclectic culture and diverse mix of things to do. Austin is known for its thriving live music scene, delicious Tex-Mex food, history museums, and beautiful waterfronts, including Lady Bird Lake and the Colorado River. Of course, don’t forget to stop by the University of Texas at Austin campus for a football game!
3) San Diego
Known for its laidback atmosphere, “America’s Finest City” is comprised of sprawling beach communities and a vibrant downtown area that pack in some major attractions. Some of the most famous points of interest include the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, Petco Park, and Seaworld. San Diego is also home to several major universities: San Diego State University, the University of San Diego, and UC San Diego (located in La Jolla, a suburb of San Diego). The southernmost city in California, San Diego has some of the Mexican food available in the States and is hailed for its own twist on traditional Mexican cuisine called the “California Burrito.” From Torrey Pines to Mission Beach, happy surfers (and even dogs!) dot the waves off the coast of this Californian paradise.
2) Boston/Cambridge, MA
Boston is the ultimate college city. With over 30 colleges in the Boston/Cambridge metro area, including Harvard University, Boston College, Tufts University, Northeastern University, Boston University, and MIT, there is no lack of trendy bars as well as cheap, good eats (clam chowdah anyone?). The birthplace of the American Revolution, Boston has a red brick “Freedom Trail” that takes you to all the major historical sites throughout the city on foot. Of course no trip to Boston would be complete without a ride on the Swan Boats (pictured above) at the Boston Public Gardens and a baseball game at beloved Fenway Park.
1) St. Augustine, FL
The oldest city in the US, St. Augustine has been sure to keep the beauty of its Spanish Renaissance style buildings and unspoiled beaches in perfect condition. Aside from sunbathing on the beach, many visitors come to see historical sites, such as the legendary Ponce de Leon Fountain of Youth, Castillo de San Marcos, and Fort Matanzas National Monument. St. John’s River State College and Flagler College call this vacation destination home, with Flagler’s historic Tiffany stained glass windows being a tourist attraction themselves. St. Augustine is famous for its Night of Lights festival during the winter season as well as year-round horse-drawn carriage rides (shown above).
This post written by Kelsey Page, Tripping blogger.