Ahhh, college. No matter what your age, a thriving collegiate community can greatly enhance the quality of life of whatever town it is in.
But not all college atmospheres are created equal. The best college towns will provide the perfect mix of intellectual curiosity and tomfoolery. As long as you’re willing to put up with occasional spectacles of public drunkenness, then the following cities are the best college towns to search for apartments for rent.
6. Boulder, CO
Home of: University of Colorado
Nestled snugly at the base of the Rocky Mountains, Boulder, Colorado is an outdoorsman’s paradise. Boulder boasts some of the nation’s best rock climbing. Top notch hiking and mountain biking opportunities abound in the nearby foothills. In the summer, thrill seekers flock to the Boulder area for White Water River rafting, while anglers seek out its excellent fishing streams. And of course, Boulder offers perhaps some of the best skiing in the nation.
With the whirlwind of outdoor opportunities around Boulder, it can be easy to overlook the fact that the urban atmosphere of Denver is just a 30 minute drive to the South. Boulder offers something for everyone; just don’t let the altitude get to you!
For your intellectual side: The Boulder International Film Festival every February is quickly becoming one of the nation’s most respected film symposiums. Grab some popcorn and catch a glimpse of the world’s next great flicks at the BIFF.
For your wild side:
The annual cannabis celebration on the academic quad at the University of Colorado is unofficially one of the largest… um… what was I talking about?
5. Boston, MA
Home of: Harvard University, Boston College, and many more
With over 100 universities in its greater metropolitan area, Boston can be looked at as the academic capital of America. The sheer volume of college students in the city is astounding- over a third of Boston’s population is college students. But there’s much more to Beantown than just its universities. Boston is one of the oldest cities in America and is steeped in revolutionary history. The centrally located Boston Common is one of the nicest urban parks in America, and offers an idyllic setting for an afternoon stroll on your lunch break. Also make sure to dabble in the local cuisine; Boston is home to some of the world’s best clam chowder. Throw in an excellent public transit system, and you’ve got all the fixings of a great college town.
For your intellectual side:
Take a walk along the famous Freedom Trail. This 2.5 mile stroll through Boston stops at many of the city’s most historic sites, like the site of the Boston Massacre, the Paul Revere House, and the Bunker Hill Monument.
For your wild side:
You haven’t fully experienced Beantown until you’ve gone on a full-fledged Irish pub crawl. Start at the Black Rose, one of Boston’s most famous pubs, and let the Guinness signs guide you all around the city.
4. Iowa City, IA
Home of: University of Iowa
Iowa City is one of America’s hidden gems. While the plains of Iowa can be a wee bit cold and barren in the winter, the constant string of events and activities can get anyone’s blood pumping. Aside from a great collegiate athletics scene with the hometown Hawkeyes, Iowa City contains one of the most reputable literary communities in all of America. The Iowa Writer’s workshop, part of the University’s Creative Writing program, boasts an alumni list that reads like the who’s who of contemporary American literature, including such authors as Kurt Vonnegut, Flannery O’Conner, and John Irving. Top it off with the fact that Forbes recently named Iowa City as one of the Nation’s best cities for doing business and you’ve got one truly fantastic town.
For Your Intellectual Side: Get involved in Iowa City’s political scene. Due to the Iowa’s early caucus for the presidential election, Iowa City is frequent stop for presidential hopefuls on the campaign trail.
For Your Wild Side:
Iowa Hawkeyes football fans are known for waking up at the crack of dawn to start tailgating. Go to the Iowa-Iowa St. pregame party and really let your black-and-gold shine.
3. Hanover, NH
Home of: Dartmouth College
If you’re looking to live in a small town, then Hanover, New Hampshire might be just the spot for you. What this town lacks in population, it makes up for in beauty. From the carefully manicured lawns at Dartmouth, to the exquisite fall foliage, to the classic New England brick architecture, the entire town of Hanover looks like it was ripped from a postcard. And don’t let the small town aspect make you think there’s little to do here- with Dartmouth’s $2.8 billion endowment, the university lures a nonstop stream of important people to give speeches or performances on campus. Luckily, the houses don’t cost quite that much- Hanover’s rural location makes it so there are plenty of apartments for rent in the general area.
For Your Intellectual Side: Unleash your inner Thoreau by hiking the Appalachian Trail, a portion of which runs directly through the Hanover town center.
For Your Wild Side:
Dartmouth’s Greek culture provided the inspiration for the cornerstone text of college partying, National Lampoon’s Animal House. Something tells us you won’t have to look hard for a good toga party.
2. Madison, WI
Home of: The University of Wisconsin
If you feel the pull of the Great White North, then Madison, Wisconsin is the place you’ll want to call home. Those who are willing to put up with sub-zero temperatures in the winter are rewarded by summer climes that average in the mid-80s. The University of Wisconsin is a central aspect of the city, but there is plenty of life off campus. Madison is the state capital of Wisconsin, so there are plenty of government-related events that happen in town. Situated amongst four lakes, Madison also offers plenty of water related recreations like sailing and waterskiing in the summer. The cherry on top of Madison is that it’s one of the safest cities in America, making it a prime candidate for a place to raise a family.
For Your Intellectual Side: Make sure to visit the Sugar Maple traditional Music Festival, where you can learn about the oft-overlooked northern music culture. Take part in the annual barn dance; you won’t believe what you’ve been missing.
For your wild side:
Wisconsin is consistently featured in Playboy’s annual “Top 10 Party Schools” list. It seems like the snow doesn’t put a damper on any rabble rousing in Madison.
1. Austin, TX
Home of: University of Texas
While a city the size of Austin might stretch the traditional definition of a “college town,” spend one day there and you’ll realize that this proud city completely revolves around the University of Texas. The university boasts a world renowned academic curriculum, and perhaps an even more prestigious athletic program. Austin is also known to have a very young and eclectic populous, as evidenced by the common “Keep Austin Weird” bumper sticker. Many view Austin as the Silicon Valley of the South, as its thriving technology industry causes the whole town to feel like it’s on the cutting edge. Unlike Silicon Valley, Austin’s property values are relatively low, so it’s easy to find cheap apartments for rent. Throw in a very highly rated public school system, and it’s clear why Austin is the best college town in America.
For your intellectual side: Austin has the outstanding distinction of hosting two massive music festivals each year. For your more intellectual side, experience the South by Southwest Festival, a 5 day annual event in March that features hundreds of renowned bands performing in small venues around Austin.
For Your Wild Side:
The Austin City Limits Music Festival. This outdoor festival in October draws over 65,000 people for three consecutive days to see famous bands strut their stuff in concert.