What Is The Greatest ‘College Town’ In The USA??

Boulder, CO (left) and Charlottesville, VA (right) earned joint-top spot in our analysis of 10 different 'Top College Towns' surveys! (Click to expand)

Boulder, CO (left) and Charlottesville, VA (right) earned joint-top spot in our analysis of 10 different ‘Top College Towns’ surveys! (Click to expand)a

College Towns. What does that make you think of? A smallish town or city, with lots of young people, arts-y atmosphere, ivy-covered buildings, a vibrant downtown with eclectic bars, cafes and restaurants? Sounds pretty good! So what is the greatest College Town?? Obviously, we’d say ‘Princeton’!!! But we’re biased, right? Well, everybody is a bit biased, so to try to get to a fair answer, we did a full survey of what the wider world considers to be the greatest College Towns in the USA.

We analyzed ten different online lists of ‘best college towns’ to bring you this ‘mega-list’, featuring the college towns most frequently called out as the best. Obviously different surveys had different ideas about what a ‘college town’ is, or what makes a College Town good. We tried to be impartial. Our list spans everything from the highly-academic ‘Princeton Review‘ list to the party-oriented ‘Bro Bible‘ (surprisingly, these two lists had quite a lot in common!). Obviously, there were many stops in between, from news sources from across the country*. 74 different ‘college towns’ got one or more mentions, and here’s who got the most ‘votes’:

Top 20 ‘College Towns’ In America (based on 10 online lists)

  1. Boulder, CO; Charlottesville, VA (tie, 7 votes each)
  2. Chapel Hill, NC (6 votes)
  3. Athens, GA, Madison, WI (tie, 5 votes each)
  4. Ann Arbor, MI; Bloomington, INBoston, MA (3-way tie, 4 votes each)
  5. Morgantown, WV; Lawrence, KS; Champaign, IL; Corvallis, OR; Iowa City, IA; State College, PA; Ames, IA; College Station, TX; Burlington VT; Auburn, AL; Oxford, MS; Amherst, MA (12-way tie; 3 votes each)

So…congratulations to Boulder, Co and Charlottesville, Va!! Both these towns were widely regarded as excellent places to live as well as to study. Princeton only got one vote overall, and didn’t make the Top 20!!!! What’s up with that??

How many of these ‘College Towns’ have you visited? Which of them do you think are good? Which do you think are over-rated? And which other college towns do you think should have made the list? Leave a comment below!!

* These are the sites that this survey is based on: AIER 2013 College Destinations Indexlivability.com top 10 college towns 2012Travel & Leisure ‘Americas coolest college towns’Travel Channel: Our top college townsmsn real estate best college town neighborhoods for adultsCampus Explorer Top 40 college townsBro Bible ’25 best college towns to live this summer’Princeton Review ‘Schools with the best college towns’usnews ’10 great college towns’collegetownnetwork.com ‘top college towns’. Every town that was mentioned in a list was taken to have won one ‘vote’ regardless of whether it placed first, tenth or fortieth in that list. You want the full results? Click here for our database as a PDF or in Excel format!

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4 Responses to What Is The Greatest ‘College Town’ In The USA??

  1. Pingback: How Walkable Boulder, CO Protected Its Undeveloped Areas | walkableprinceton

  2. Pingback: Traffic Safety In Princeton Depends On All Of Us | walkableprinceton

  3. Pingback: The Forgotten Story Of Princeton’s Abandoned Attempt To Pedestrianize Palmer Square | walkableprinceton

  4. Nathanael says:

    I see that my Ithaca showed up twice. Certainly beats the hellscape of College Station, TX. Most of the others on the list are all right…

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