America might be brimming with beautiful college towns, but only a few collegiate burgs have the perfect mix of booze, fun and beauty to rank as America’s best. Here is TheDC’s official list of colleges that have attractions for party-lovers, families, outdoorsy granola eaters and history buffs alike.
Burlington, Vermont might be a hippie city filled with University of Vermont stoners, but if you look past the haze of weed, you’ll find a city filled with unrivaled bars, killer sailing and great coffee. And to boot, the city looks like Norman Rockwell painted it.
Best Bar: Burlington’s got some great bars that range from ratchet college hangouts to classy digs that serve Old Fashions and Mint Juleps. But one of its best alcoholic attractions only takes place once a year in the dead of winter: Hotel Vermont’s Ice Bar. Typically on a weekend in February, Hotel Vermont turns into an actual boozy ice castle filled with ice sculptures, ice shot glasses, and yes, miniature ice slides flowing with vodka shots.
Non-boozy destinations and attractions: Burlington is nestled right on Lake Champlain, which means in addition to kayaking, swimming and other water-related revelry, the collegiate city has some damn good sailing. So the morning after a night of drinking, go charter a boat, hoist the sails and take in the beauty of Burlington from the water. And after pretending to be Vermont’s Captain Ahab, you can always end the day with a thick-cut, locally raised steak at one of Burlington’s many restaurants.
Arguably, the greatest college town — and perhaps greatest American city — is Boston, Massachusetts. Serving as a hub during America’s founding (when Harvard University was turned into a barracks for the Continental Army), Boston has always held a quintessentially American feel. And the city has kept this tradition with wicked bars and party scenes, stellar sporting events and, well, just being badass.
Best Bar: Known as a bar where you can either have raucous fun with friends, or chill on the sidelines and people watch, Dillon’s Restaurant & Bar in Back Bay is the watering hole for college students and Bostonians alike.
Non-boozy Destinations And Attractions: Boston and sporting events are spiritually intertwined and eternally bound. So if you want to forgo a night of drinking, hit up Fenway Park or TD Garden and catch a game. Another bonus is Boston is a walkable city, so you get to spend that cab fare on a lobster roll while you stroll through Boston Common.
Boulder, Colorado: Where the Rocky Mountains meet the Great Plains, and where University of Colorado at Boulder students and tourists get blazed, get drunk and have fun.
Best Bar: World Famous Dark Horse Bar and Grill is known as a kitsch bar that is decorated from floor to ceiling in turn-of-the-century antiques and Hollywood memorabilia. The bar’s ceiling is covered in topsy-turvy, upside down antiques and movie props, while the rest of the bar looks like an old-timey saloon.
Non-boozy Destinations And Attractions: If you have a hankering for the great outdoors, Boulder is the place that makes the outdoors great. The Flatirons in Boulder National Park is every hiker and mountain climber’s daydream. And for the less adventurous (read: less fit) Boulder visitors, Eldorado Canyon is an easy climb with great views.