It’s obvious what Boston, New York City, and other major urban locales teeming with college students offer to the casual traveler. Although the secondary education market is a large piece of the fabric of these cities, there is so much more happening around the area that the campuses play a much smaller role.
This is not the case for other locales where the college or university is the lifeblood of the economy and tourism. The types of towns that you are led believe are good for frat parties and cow tipping and little else. We’re here to tell you that the “little else” is a lie – there’s a whole lot happening in these college towns beyond first impressions and final exams.
(University of Colorado)
College 101: Though the University of Colorado has a few campuses, UC Boulder is the flagship. Over 150 academic programs are offered to the 30, 000 strong student population. Their sports teams, known as the Buffaloes, compete in 9 NCAA sports in the Pac-12 conference. The university has been affiliated with 18 astronauts as either students or faculty. Known as one of the thirty “Public Ivy League Schools”, UC was created five months BEFORE Colorado was admitted to the union in 1876. On campus, there are more than 300 student clubs and organizations, and close to 40 fraternities and sororities.
A Secondary Education: Boulder is picturesque. Surrounded by the majestic Rocky Mountains, the area is truly a sight for sore eyes. With over 80 miles of biking and walking trails available it has a strong focus on fitness, in fact the entire city is all about being healthy. Most of the top attractions in Boulder on TripAdvisor are outdoor activities. Boulder features some of the top yoga studios (Yoga Workshop for one) in the country, as well as enough rock climbing spots (Climb Sanitas or Flagstaff are the best) to please even the most expert of mountaineers. The farm-to-table movement is strong here, as many restaurants embrace local, seasonal, and artisanal cooking. For the intellectual, Boulder offers independent bookstores that sell rare works. At the Colorado Shakespeare Festival you can watch a play under the stars and the Colorado Music Festival performs in a wooden auditorium almost a hundred years old. Boulder has been named as one of the best art towns in the country with plenty of galleries in the downtown area. For shopping, the Pearl Street Mall is “the heart and soul of Boulder” and where 85% of stores are independently owned. Pearl Street Mall is also the place to watch Boulder’s street performers.
College 101: Immediately upon entering the quad of JMU, you know you’re at one of the most beautiful schools in the country. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 18, 107, and the campus size is 721 acres with around 30 residence halls. The school’s mascot, the Duke Dog, has its own ferocious statue encased in bronze outside the athletic center. The school’s namesake (James Madison) has his own statue on campus too. Maybe the coolest student organization option available: the scuba diving club. This area of the JMU website talks about some really fascinating campus myths, including the massive “kissing rock” that was used as cover for adventurous coeds in the early days of the university, and is said to be able to predict marriages. The Edith J. Carrier Arboretum is a must-see botanical garden on the campus.
A Secondary Education: Harrisonburg is a gorgeous Virginia city with ample hiking and biking areas – especially in the Shenandoah Valley. Visit the newly revamped, historic downtown Harrisonburg with some free time for shopping and top restaurants. For more casual eats, Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint is a favorite of locals and students alike. Backcountry Bar is a popular watering hole too. For more pure fun in the outdoors, head over to Purcell Park and stop by Klines Dairy Bar afterward for a refreshing dessert. Just outside the area the Massanutten Skyline Drive is a road trip through the mountains and national park that showcases the beauty of the area.
(University of Wisconsin)
College 101: The numbers surrounding UW-Madison are staggering. Try over 900 acres of campus, 800 student organizations, and an enrollment of over 42, 000. The school’s scale is so big that the campus has its own police force, food service, hospital, gymnasium, botanical gardens, public artworks, power facilities, and an on-campus dairy plant. As with the University of Colorado, sports are a major attraction for UW students. With the Badgers playing in Division 1 (Big Ten Conference), they are consistently superb, especially the men’s basketball team. There are over 40 club teams and 35 intramural teams for students to enjoy too. They offer some very cool academic schools such as linguistics, and zoology, but UW-M is most famous for its incredible teaching program. Social life on campus is quite lively and there’s always something to do.