Everyone thinks that their college was the most magical place in the country, but let's face it: not all college towns are created equal... even though I think we all know Atlanta is clearly the best. But luckily for our future relationships with people who didn't attend our alma maters, Travel + Leisure took the time to rank the 20 best college towns in the country. If the results are in your favor, feel free to wave this article in your opponent's face next time someone dares to claim their college experience was more fun than yours.
All joking aside, deciding what college to attend can be life-changing. Your choice in school may not necessarily affect your income later in life, but pretty much any graduate will tell you that student life varies greatly from campus to campus across the country. The massive partying-and-football culture of the University of Florida is hugely different from the progressive, socially-conscious atmosphere of the University of Santa Cruz. Location is also a huge factor in university culture — nobody wants to be stuck in the same few buildings for four years straight, unable to leave because there's nothing to do outside campus. They get enough of that during finals.
So what makes a good college town? It boils down to cheap food, dive bars, and coffee, which is possibly the least surprising news I've read all day. Are you wondering how your alma mater stacks up against the competition yet?
Let's find out.
1. Syracuse, NY
Voted number one by Travel + Leisure readers for pizza and hamburgers, number two for coffee, and number four for food trucks and beer, Syracuse has everything a college student could ever want. Plus, you know, it's got some cool historical sites as well.
2. Lafayette, LA
This Southern town came in second overall, but it's the clear winner of things to do off campus. It ranked number one for live music and number two for its nightclubs. If partying isn't your thing, it also has some seriously cool bookstores, like the locally-run Alexander Books.
3. Charlottesville, VA
Downtown Charlottesville may be beautiful, but that's not the only thing going for this college town. It was voted most intelligent by readers, and there's plenty of alcohol to be had at bars along the Corner.
4. Fort Collins, CO
Colorado is known for its beautiful scenery, but this city was voted number five for "wild weekends." With plenty of breweries and food trucks around town in addition to an annual bike race, it would be hard to get bored.
5. Duluth, MN
Canal Park, located on the waterfront of Lake Superior, is a huge tourist draw for this Minnesota town. It's the perfect place to grab a beer from one of many local breweries and watch the ships sail past.
6. Saratoga Springs, NY
You've probably heard of Saratoga Springs' famous racetrack, where tourists still place bets on horses every season. For students who stay on campus between semesters, the city also hosts the New York City Ballet every summer.
7. Asheville, NC
The Biltmore Estate isn't the only draw for this beautiful mountain town. It's a unique place, voted number five for quirkiness in the country, and it also has a diverse music scene.