The 15 Most Awesome College Towns You Might Not Know About

Chapel Hill, North Carolina  (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

Visit the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center and watch “Carolina Skies,” or “Black Holes: Journey into the Unknown” in the 68-foot dome-shaped theater. For a nature-themed event, try the 5-acre Coker Arboretum. Chapel Hill also boasts its fair share of bars and restaurants. Check out this list on the Downtown Chapel Hill website – there’s everything from Indian and French, to Southern Bar-B-Q. 

“I love it because it's small and pretty much all about the college -- everyone here is a Tar Heel! Plus, Franklin St. is a lot of fun.” - Rachel Bennett, University of North Carolina 

Isla Vista, California (University of California at Santa Barbara)

Located about 15 minutes north of downtown Santa Barbara, this beach community is often known as “I.V.” According to the UCSB site, over 50% of the area’s inhabitants are UCSB students. Beach-living on campus means surfing, sunbathing, swimming and skateboarding for these lucky students. Cafes and shops often cater to students, staying open late during finals or offering discounts,  since students make up nearly half of the town. 

“The entire town is tons of student houses that literally have the ocean as their backyard. Everyone bikes to class and around town and the weather is amazing! Freebirds is a Mexican restaurant, which serves huge portions of nachos and burritos and always has a line around the block whether it is noon or 2 A.M.! There is also a theater with movies for reduced prices, parks and a popular bar called Study Hall.” - Elizabeth Wagmeister, University of California at Santa Barbara 

Kalamazoo, Michigan (Western Michigan University)

With a name like Kalamazoo, it’s hard to convince people who haven’t been there that it’s a real place. However, this real-life city offers wineries, like the Tempo Vino Winery, outdoor summer festivals and concerts in areas like Bronson Park, and nature preserves such as Asylum Lake

“It's a mid-size city. It's not a big, sprawling place like Chicago, but it’s big enough to get some bands and comedians to come through on their way from Chicago to Detroit. Even better than that, though, is our food. Sweetwaters Donut Mill is nationally recognized as having some of America's greatest donuts. We also have a litany of local sushi places and a wrap shop unique to Michigan's college towns called Menna's Joint. The area of town that students usually wind up in overlaps with the historic district, so I'm living in a charming old house about a mile from campus.”  - Katelyn Kivel, Western Michigan University 

Lewisburg, Pennsylvania (Bucknell University) 

During the summer in Lewisburg, visit Hufnagle Park for music, food and other venders. If you’re in the mood for a film out of the ordinary, the 1940s Campus Theatre in downtown Lewisburg shows arts and independent movies on Monday and Tuesday. The Susquehanna River offers canoeing and kayaking for a perfect outdoor activity. Lewisburg also features a National Register Historic District. Take a guided tour of old Victorian mansions, or visit one of the museums. 

“Great restaurants, music in the park on Wednesdays, street festivals (the  sidewalk chalk festival is my favorite!). Seniors all live downtown so we're surrounded by Lewisburg life.  It's an awesome place and is ranked one of the top 10 small towns in America! [ranked by Budget Travel Magazine, Sept 2011] - Jenni Whalen, Bucknell University 

Oxford, Ohio (Miami University)

Oxford hosts tons of historical sites and museum houses, such as that of William Holmes McGuffey and the DeWitt Family Log and Homestead. High Street offers coffee shops and nightlife for students in the area. 

“We have great restaurants like Fiesta Charra for the best Mexican food or Sushi Nara for something exotic. For dancing and a club atmosphere, students head to Brick Street. We have over 15 bars and most of them are 18 and up, which means students don't have to wait until they turn 21 to get a taste of the nightlife. During the week there are always themed nights like karaoke, 90's night, dollar drafts, country night, etc. Everything is within walking distance, which makes getting to class, to parties and going out so convenient.” - Alaine Perconti, Miami University (OH)