The results are in and Ann Arbor, the home of the University of Michigan, has been voted one of the top college towns in America by Travel and Leisure.
A college town offers a balance of educational and social opportunities, allowing the students and the residents who live there to have unique social interactions and show pride for the school or schools and the town itself.
Ann Arbor is One of the Best College Towns in America
While it is one of Michigan’s most popular college towns, Ann Arbor was ultimately chosen by T + L for its famous campus and bustling downtown.
Another destination with a rather large college student population is Ann Arbor, the home of the University of Michigan. Like other large university towns, the center of life here is the university’s sports teams, specifically its football team, which has the most all-time wins in college history. However, there is also a very lovely downtown area with great restaurants like The Black Pearl and funky cocktail bars like Nightcap.– Travel and Leisure
The University of Michigan, better known as “U of M” or simply just “Michigan,” is the state’s biggest college with an annual enrollment of more than 50,000 students. The school was established in 1817, 20 years before Michigan became a state and 34 years before Ann Arbor became a city.
In some circles, U of M is known as “Harvard of the Midwest” and is well-known for its successful athletic programs, and highly-rated academic programs. Visitors to campus can pass by the Big House, where the Michigan football team plays, or visit Yost Arena or Crisler Center, where the school’s hockey and basketball teams play.
Visitors can also stop into Michigan’s law library (reminiscent of Hogwarts) or head to South University Avenue. This is known as the “student downtown,” and beckons students with cozy coffee shops and eateries offering $1 pizza slices.
More Midwest College Towns
T + L’s list of the best college towns runs coast to coast. Berkley, California, and Tempe, Arizona were among the selections on the West Coast; and Boston and Burlington, Vermont were among the East Coast choices.
Ann Arbor was among a handful of Midwest schools chosen and Austin, Texas, Gainesville, Florida, and Tuscaloosa, Alabama among the southern cities selected. U of M’s Midwest brethren on T + L’s list of college towns include Madison, Wisconsin, Iowa City, Iowa, and Lincoln, Nebraska.
With more than 200 miles of biking trails and five lakes within the city, the home of the University of Wisconsin is an outdoor enthusiasts’ paradise. Madison is also a college student’s dream with more than 10 colleges in the city, including the state’s flagship school. The city is also a hopping spot for foodies with many trendy restaurants that pay homage to Midwest classics.
Iowa City, Iowa
Aspiring writers flock to the University of Iowa for its esteemed writing program, which has helped the city earn a City of Literature designation from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Residents and visitors alike are advised to stop at Prarie Lights, a renowned local bookstore that regularly hosts readings by visiting authors.
The home of the University of Nebraska is also home to Nebraska Wesleyan University and Union College. This makes Nebraska’s capital city the center of a melting pot of youthful college students, but the city also has a fun nightlife scene, making Lincoln a unique place where academics meet leisure. Lincoln has something for everyone to enjoy, including unique museums, lively music venues, and hidden gems.
More to See & Do in Ann Arbor
Some visitors call it Ann Arbor, some call it A2 or A-Squared, while others call it Tree Town. No matter what it’s called, it’s a vibrant city that’s way more than a college town.
Students, residents, and out-of-town visitors have no shortage of options in Ann Arbor, whether they’re looking for local shops, good food options, or interesting experiences.
Explore the Outdoors in Ann Arbor
It’s no surprise that a city known as “Tree Town” offers plenty of outdoor activities. Those who want to experience the beauty of Ann Arbor and the surrounding area can visit the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market for the freshest produce, kayak the Huron River for unbelievably scenic views, or immerse themselves in nature at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum.
Indulge in Tasty Food at an Ann Arbor Restaurant
Ann Arbor is a blend of a historic small town and a bustling, vibrant bigger city, and its restaurants reflect that eclectic vibe. Hungry customers can find something to satisfy every tastebud, whether they’re trying something new or sitting down to a favorite meal.
A trip through Ann Arbor isn’t complete without a trip to Zingerman’s. This iconic deli has become a brand in Ann Arbor and is well known for its sandwiches.
Metzger’s German Restaurant is another iconic Ann Arbor eatery and serves authentic German cuisine, including Rouladen, Sauerbraten, and Schnitzel.
Sava is one of Ann Arbor’s most spirited restaurants, known for its eclectic menu and modern decor. Sava is open for lunch, dinner, and brunch, so there are plenty of options available any time of day.
Quench Your Thirst at an Ann Arbor Brewery
After a fun day exploring the city, visitors who want to cool off can take a seat at an Ann Arbor brewery and relax with a tasty brew. The number of breweries in town keeps growing, giving thirsty customers more options to choose from.
Enjoy Some Inexpensive Family Fun
There’s a lot to see and do in Ann Arbor, but visitors can experience the city without spending too much. Ann Arbor has free museums, a free science and nature center, and the arboretum is also free, so families can easily have an inexpensive, fun-filled day.
Step Back in Time at Nickels Arcade
Ann Arbor visitors can visit the heart of the city and take a step back in time in the covered downtown shopping district known as Nickels Arcade. This historic shopping area was established in 1917 and still houses some of the city’s oldest retail businesses.
Find Something Special in Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor stands out as one of the top college towns in the United States, offering a diverse array of experiences for students, residents, and day visitors alike. With a wide range of free attractions, eclectic eateries, and opportunities for outdoor recreation, Ann Arbor is a reminder of just how fun a college town can be.