Five perfect college towns - Page 2

Editor's Note: This story was originally published on August 14, 2007. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: activity, arts and culture, Berkeley, Boulder, Burlington, destination, family travel, Kate H. Knapp, Madison, Northampton, student travel.

Berkeley, California

When it comes to college towns, Berkeley made the mold. With its stunning location on San Francisco Bay, this small town was built around the University of California. Within its 18 square miles, locals can participate in countless activities, including fishing off Berkeley Pier, rock climbing at one of the many rock parks, or bird-watching at the Aquatic Park.

The downtown area maintains its independent spirit by rejecting most things corporate. Its refusal to allow copycat chains has given the town a unique look, and makes for great shopping. Dining in Berkeley can also be a cultural experience, with cuisines ranging in ethnicity from Hawaiian to Mediterranean.


Serving as a safe haven for intellectual, creative, and contrarian ideas, Berkeley has been the backdrop for many historical movements, including anti-war protests and just about any kind of rally concerning injustices in the world. This welcoming of diversity has given Berkeley its spirit, making it an ideal place to be for those who want to change the world.

Burlington, Vermont

Once home to the jam band Phish, and not too far away from the Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Factory, Burlington possesses a certain natural hippie vibe. This is apparent in the laid-back atmosphere and the locals' friendly disposition. With several colleges in the surrounding area, the University of Vermont takes the cake as the biggest and most well-known, with more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

Although it's Vermont's largest city, with a population of about 40,000, Burlington maintains a distinctive college-town attitude. On any given day, the downtown pedestrian mall is filled with street performers and visitors enjoying the many sidewalk cafes. The shops lining Church Street sell everything from music to art to jewelry, and there's a mall in the center of town to cut down on any other shopping errands.

Located on the shores of Lake Champlain, with the Green Mountains as the backdrop, Burlington initially wins visitors with its natural beauty. Many people come to participate in outdoor activities such as kayaking, fishing, hiking, and skiing. They choose to stay for the neighborly attitude, independent spirit, and day-to-day education found in all aspects of the area.

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