5 Most Beautiful U.S. College Towns
The United States is home to thousands of colleges, many of which are surrounded by gorgeous towns. Here's our rundown of the most beautiful U.S. college towns. You don't need to be working on your degree to enjoy a weekend in any of them.
Visit Vermont and you’ll immediately think about how you can extend your visit. Situated a mile from Lake Champlain on the hill above downtown Burlington, the University of Vermont is perfectly situated for visitors and students to take advantage of the surroundings anytime of year. In the summer, rent a paddleboard and spend hours along the shoreline or go further afield for a hike in the Green Mountains at Mt. Philo. In the winter months, Burlington is bursting with hygge. It's also closely situated to skiing areas — a mere 25 minutes from Bolton Valley and under an hour’s drive to Stowe. When you’re back from your explorations, be sure to partake of the beer and cider culture in town. Don’t forget that Vermont is home to Ben and Jerry’s, and anytime of year is perfect for a cone.
Few towns in the U.S. feel quite as utopian as Boulder. The clean, crisp air and impressive mountains create an invigorating vibe for countless activities around town. Time your visit to a University of Colorado Buffs football game and enjoy an epic view of the Flatirons from the stadium. Pregame at one of the numerous breweries with patios to soak up the Colorado sunshine. Avery or Twisted Pine are two solid choices. To get the adrenaline pumping, hike Chautauqua or kayak Boulder Creek. Many of the students at CU are drawn to the ease of access to skiing and snowboarding in the area — world class ski resorts are a short drive from town.
Boone, North Carolina
To really escape from it all, head deep into the Blue Ridge Mountains to Boone, North Carolina, home to Appalachian State University. The mix of the mountain and college cultures creates an eclectic vibe for dining and relaxation. Take in nature with a hike. For an easy adventure, try Howard’s Knob, which sits in the middle of Boone. For those looking for a thrill, try a more difficult path to the Grandfather’s Bridge — a mile-high suspension bridge for hikers boasting 360-degree views of the mountains. On your return to town, shop and explore King Street and dine on modern Southern food at Proper or Vidalia.
Home to the state capital and the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus, this town is beautifully situated on an isthmus between two lakes. In the summertime, rent a kayak and paddle up to one of the many waterfront restaurants. In the winter, rent snowshoes to walk along the lake to an outdoor picnic spot. Locals flock to the Dane County Farmers Market on Saturdays from April to November for local wares, produce and flowers. Consider taking a tour of the majestic state capitol building or the impressive botanical gardens. Not to be missed in Madison are cheese curds — many of the local breweries serve them.
Home to the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, is a historic and beautiful town located along the Chesapeake Bay. Time slows down upon arrival here, so be sure to take a leisurely stroll and peruse the boutiques downtown and grab a drink along the water. If the spirit moves you, take a sailing cruise around the harbor with Schooner Woodwind. (Or, for a cheaper option, grab a water taxi between your destinations). Extend your afternoon by strolling through the Naval Academy. If you're there on a weekend and get a bit lucky, you’ll catch a wedding party outside the chapel holding their swords high for the happy couple. No visit to the Bay is complete without a crab feast — there are several spots around town for a down-home meal with mallets.