Life and living: School’s in session: What’s cooking off-campus in these college towns

Whether you’re a college football fanatic, into the arts and music scene, or looking for a new weekend getaway, these college towns have much more to offer than academics. Plan an overnight visit or spend a weekend in any of these places and immerse yourself in the culture, hospitality and charm of America’s college towns.

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Situated across the Charles River from Boston, Cambridge is a town of both academic brilliance and historical significance. It’s not only home to renowned institutions like MIT and Harvard University, but it’s full of world-class museums and delectable dining. Take a stroll through Harvard Square and Harvard Yard, explore the graffiti art of Modica Way, or cycle down the Charles River Bike Path for scenic university and water views.

Charlottesville, Virginia

Charlottesville boasts the University of Virginia, founded by Thomas Jefferson. It’s also a city that lives and breathes history, natural beauty and academic excellence. Pay a visit to Jefferson’s Monticello plantation, roam the charming downtown pedestrian mall and imbibe Virginia’s premier wines. Hike local trails to view the gorgeous scenery or catch a classic movie at the historic Paramount Theater.

Boulder, Colorado

Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, Boulder—home to the University of Colorado—welcomes both academics and thrill-seeking adventurers. Take in the scenic backdrop of the Flatirons, check out Old Main, tour the Museum of Boulder, hike (or bike) along numerous scenic trails and mosey down Pearl Street, sipping a coffee or tasting a local microbrew.

Madison, Wisconsin

The lively city of Madison constantly buzzes with breweries, trendy restaurants and a thriving art scene. While Madison may be home to the University of Wisconsin, it’s not just a city for students. Participate in a log rolling contest, enjoy the local ice cream shop at the Memorial Union Terrace, take in a concert on Capitol Square, sail through five different lakes, and grab a basket of Wisconsin’s best cuisine—cheese curds.

Oxford, Mississippi

Oxford is steeped in Southern charm, literary brilliance and rich history. With the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) at its heart, visitors can explore the historic square, indulge in Southern cuisine, view William Faulkner’s antebellum home (Rowan Oak), explore the world’s most extensive collection of blues records at the Blues Archive and, if you’re in town during football season, experience the finest in Southern tailgating at The Grove.

Berkeley, California

With the San Francisco Bay as its backdrop, Berkeley attracts a melting pot of cultural diversity and ideas and is home to the University of California, Berkeley. Letting your imagination run free is highly encouraged. Explore the Berkeley Art Museum, take a stroll down Telegraph Avenue and satisfy your inner foodie with a wide range of eclectic eateries, all within walking distance of the university.

Ann Arbor, Michigan

If you’re ready to experience gridiron action and brilliant minds, Ann Arbor is the place to be. It’s the setting that includes the University of Michigan, where spectators can take in a Wolverines football game at the iconic “Big House” in the fall. Outside of athletics and academics, visitors can explore the active downtown scene, discover new and old at the many museums scattered around the university or uncover your favorite new-to-you book at one of over 30 independent bookstores.

Burlington, Vermont

Ensconced by the shores of stunning Lake Champlain, Burlington is a blend of beauty and farm-fresh goodness. The University of Vermont sets the stage for adventure with its proximity to the lively Church Street Marketplace. Grab a ride on a ferry across Lake Champlain, create your own adventure on the Burlington Bike Path and savor the flavors of farm-to-table cuisine.

Ithaca, New York

Be amazed by the serene beauty of the jaw-dropping gorges and cascading waterfalls of Ithaca. This charming college town—home to Cornell University and Ithaca College—adds a little Ivy League charm to its picturesque landscapes. Walk through the bustling Ithaca Farmers Market on the weekends, experience a scale model of the solar system through the Sagan Planet Walk or sip your way through specialty wines at Ports of New York.

Athens, Georgia

Located 60 miles northeast of Atlanta, the college town of Athens is a cultural hotspot full of creativity, musicality and ever-present Southern hospitality. Home to the University of Georgia, a vibrant downtown scene sits across the street from the north campus. Attend a football game “Between the Hedges,” take in a concert at the storied Georgia Theater, grab a picture with the bulldog statues scattered throughout the town or enjoy a local brew.

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