The 15 Most Awesome College Towns You Might Not Know About

When looking into colleges, we know to check out the campus, the residence halls, and the gyms, but the town where the school is located can be just as important to your experience.

Of course, there are always the well-known, big-city schools with restaurants and bars to hang out at - think areas like Boston, Washington, D.C or Chicago. Here are 15 more collegiette-approved college towns that you may not know about, and a few of the hotspots in each. Step one: add these to your list of must-visits. 

Ann Arbor, Michigan (University of Michigan)

Nicknamed “Tree Town,” Ann Arbor is known for its forested parks and other green areas. The Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum boasts a 300-acre outdoor garden and nature preserve. The city is also located on the Huron River. The Kerrytown District of Ann Arbor offers shops, galleries, restaurants and farmer’s markets in the historic area of town. Bars like Babs Underground Lounge or clubs like Necto provide something for the nightlife enthusiast. 

“We kind of have the best of both worlds.  It's really busy and close together, with my furthest walk being ten minutes. It has a city feel, but in the DIAG [a part of campus] it has a grassy campus feel.  There are amazing restaurants everywhere where you can sit on the sidewalk and eat, huge pre-games on football Saturdays and there is always something going on!” - Nikki Williams, University of Michigan 

Auburn, Alabama (Auburn University)

Often called “the loveliest village on the plains,” Auburn has a population of over 50,000, making it one of the largest growing areas in Alabama. Chewacla State Park offers nature trails for biking and hiking. The Donald E. Davis Arboretum grows over 500 different tree species from the Alabama area. 

“We have an adorable downtown area that's walking distance from pretty much anywhere on campus and offers affordable but delicious restaurants, boutiques stocked with game-day dresses and nightlife hot-spots. Also, Tiger Town, where you can find dorm essentials and groceries, is just a short car ride away.” - Kerry Coppinger, Auburn University 

Bloomington, Indiana (Indiana University) 

Bloomington is home to the state’s largest inland lake and only national forest. The town also houses the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, making for numerous outdoor concerts and events. Every other month, downtown art galleries participate in Gallery Walk, offering glimpses of new exhibits on display. For sips and drinks, check out the Bloomington Brewing Company, or one of the many wineries in the area. 

“Bloomington has so many different restaurants. We have awesome wing places, such as Buffa Louie's, and fancy restaurants, like Truffles. Also Indian, Greek, Thai, Italian, Mexican and Mongolian restaurants, just to name a few. There are always flowers blooming and a friendly face is around every corner. Underground Printing carries name brand shirts (American Apparel and Alternative Apparel) with IU, and Indiana University logos, as well as Indiana leggings, sweatshirts and neon crop tops (perfect for tailgate season). Bloomington is also home to John Mellencamp (who has been spotted around town with Meg Ryan recently!)” - Courtney Kabbes, Indiana University 

Boone, North Carolina (Appalachian State University)

This North Carolina town has a strong historical background, and takes its name from the explorer Daniel Boone. “Horn in the West” is a dramatization of the life of early settlers in the area and has been being performed in the Daniel Boone outdoor amphitheater since 1952. Boone hosts a variety of different restaurants including The Trolly Stop – a hot dog stand with five kinds of hot dogs, and 12 different sauce and topping combinations. For the shoppers, try Loretta’s Vendetta for vintage furniture, clothing, music and art.  

“We're surrounded by mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway, so the recreation near us is amazing. You can hike, white water raft, and even take snowboarding and skiing as P.E. classes. Boone is seriously full of delicious restaurants. We have a lot of places that are locally owned; Boone doesn't have very many chains so the restaurants are unique and so yummy. We have amazing fish tacos at a place called Black Cat, organic brunch at Melanie's and Boone Bagelry gets their bagels shipped in from New York.” – Laura Maddox, Appalachian State 

Burlington, Vermont (University of Vermont)

The “it” place for young people in Vermont. Lake Champlain is located only a few minutes walk from downtown and offers boating rentals and swimming. Church Street, a pedestrian-only street in the center of town, provides shopping boutiques, the Burlington Town Center mall, restaurants, cafés and nightlife. 

“Burlington hosts everything any young person could ask for in a college town. Great boutique shopping, activities outdoors all year long, D-1 athletics, a multitude of terrific food, gorgeous views of Vermont mountains, and even a beach in the summer!” – Chelsea Kantola, University of Vermont