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Don't get us wrong, we did our fair share of studying (and we have the journalism degree to prove it). With that said, our fondest college memories aren’t about the classes…they’re about all the epic stuff that went down around our old stompin’ grounds. But college towns offer way more than proximity to a university campus—these spots are buzzing with youthful energy and fun things to do.

Looking to relocate or planning a getaway aimed at reliving those glory days as a bright-eyed coed? Ahead, our picks for the 25 best college towns in America.

RELATED: 51 College Graduation Gifts for the Class of 2021

best college towns in america madison wi
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Situated on a breathtaking strip of land between two lakes, Madison is the ultimate waterfront destination. With that comes ample opportunities to grab a beer with fellow Badgers or kick back and watch the boats sail by from Memorial Union Terrace. Another major selling point? A walkable downtown area that’s packed with independently-owned shops, cafes, art galleries and bars.

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best college towns in america ann arbor mi
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We don't even mind the frigid winters in Ann Arbor (not when there’s a plethora of cozy University Michigan hoodies for sale at the bookstore). From an unending lineup of greasy late-night food spots to a 123-acre conservatory lovingly named the Arb and the thrill of football games, we totally get why over 44,000 Wolverines bleed maize and blue.

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Stately brick buildings and leaf trees line Oxford, a quaint town near Hueston Woods State Park. On Saturday mornings, you can find Miami University students brunching at Patterson's Cafe or eating the famous mac 'n' cheese bites burger (yep, that’s a thing) at Mac & Joe's. For healthier fare, mosey over to the weekly farmer's market.

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best college towns in america bloomington in
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Quarry cliff diving, a nearby state park and multitudes of local breweries make the forested town of Bloomington a definite frontrunner—and Indiana University students agree. Catch them cooling off with a post-lecture dip in Lake Monroe or tossing back pints at Kilroy's, one of the most popular bars in the country.

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best college towns in america charlottesville va
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Whoa, UVA students are seriously lucky. The historic Thomas Jefferson-designed campus is close to the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains, Monticello and Shenandoah National Park. There’s also an open-air pavilion for live music on the Downtown Mall, plus plenty of art galleries and restaurants for the Cavaliers to enjoy.

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best college towns in america fayetteville ar
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Three cheers for the Razorbacks! The hometown of the University of Arkansas entices prospective students and travelers alike with a multitude of live music spots on Dickson Street, a growing arts community and some of the best diners in the country. Chocolate gravy from Rolling Pin Cafe, anyone?

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best college towns in america tuscaloosa al
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The roars of “roll, tide, roll” are pretty much the only thing you’ll hear during football season when thousands of crimson-and-houndstooth-clad students and alumni pack Bryant-Denny Stadium. Besides grilling, tailgating and watching ‘Bama dominate on the field, Tuscaloosa is a great place to admire the antebellum architecture and sample tasty Southern fare.

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best college towns in america athens ga
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The University of Georgia is yet another football powerhouse, and with that comes all the tailgating and fanfare you’d expect. But this good-time city also boasts more bars per capita than anywhere else in the United States. The best hangover cure after a long night of celebrating the latest Bulldog victory? Fried chicken and biscuits smothered in gravy.

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best college towns in america fort collins co
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It’s pretty obvious how Fort Collins landed on the list as one of the best places to live in the United States. This fast-growing city brims with craft breweries, local eateries and outdoor activities. Colorado State University, a strong sense of community and 300 days of sunshine also help earn Fort Collins an A+ grade.

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best college towns in america burlington vt
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Burlington appeals to students, gourmands and nature lovers alike. Everywhere you look, you can glimpse Vermont's scenic Green Mountain range. Lake Champlain is yet another scenic attraction. The artisanal food and shops selling handmade furniture aren’t too shabby either.

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best college towns in america austin tx
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Austin ranks among one of the most desirable places to live in the entire country. This hip and happening city is home of the University of Texas as well as some of the most vibrant nightlife around. From live music venues to bars housed in historic bungalows on Rainey Street, ATX residents (and visitors) have it made. Add to that the city’s mouthwatering BBQ and proximity to picturesque Lake Austin, and, well, we just might make the move ourselves.

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best college towns in america berkeley ca
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Perched on the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay, Berkeley is a vibrant Bay area city known for left-leaning politics, activism and a young, creative vibe. Nightlife consists of more than just frat parties at the University of California, Berkeley where students have a variable playground of art and culture at their fingertips. And a mild climate means it’s possible to commune with nature year-round.

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Nike HQ and the University of Oregon—what more do you need? "Just do it" jokes aside, Eugene can also brag about having some of the best kayaking and hiking in the country. Add to that, biking along the two rivers that flow through vineyard-filled Willamette Valley. Totally worth dealing with a few rain showers, right?

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best college towns in america columbia mo
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More than just a place to see (and hear) 30,000 Tigers fans cheering on game day, Columbia is a Midwestern cultural mecca chock full of museums and artsy film festivals, plus a hip downtown area. This central Missouri city also wins points for its cool underground music scene, landmark buildings and the Insta-worthy Mizzou Botanic Garden.

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best college towns in america gainesville fl
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According to residents, the orange sun and blue sky are proof that God is a Gator fan. Whether or not you believe all that, it’s impossible to deny that Gainesville has school spirit in spades. Besides Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (aka the Swamp), the University of Florida’s sprawling turf includes the Butterfly Rainforest and Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park.

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best college towns in america chapel hill nc
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University of North Carolina Tarheels live it up in this mural-covered town. In addition to the Morehead Planetarium & Science Center and the Ackland Art Museum, the area’s amazing soul food restaurants are not to be missed. In fact, with some of the most delicious cuisine in the country, Chapel Hill is quickly becoming a foodie hotspot.

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best college towns in america state college pa
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The town of State College is a winner in our book—and 46,000 undergrads would surely agree. The formula for success? Equal parts school spirit, a legit football legacy (over 100,000 die-hard fans pack Beaver Stadium on game day) and a vibrant downtown. Nightlife, dining, museums and events abound. Visiting in July? Be sure to check out the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts.

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best college towns in america corvallis or
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Who wouldn’t be thrilled to be surrounded by great food, beautiful scenery and nice people? On the booze front, take your pick of local breweries, wineries and pubs. For some fresh air, lace up your hiking boots and head to Bald Hill Natural Area. Or kick back and relax with a picnic in Avery Park. But really, is it too late to apply to Oregon State University? (Asking for a friend.)

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best college towns in america palo alto ca
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While not a college town in the traditional sense, there's a reason (alright, many) why this tech hub has some of the most expensive real estate in the country. It’s packed with great shops, restaurants and bars. Not to mention, Stanford University’s seriously impressive Romanesque-style buildings. And, of course, you can’t swing an iPhone charger without hitting a company that might just have your post-collegiate dream job.

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best college towns in america annapolis md
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Ahoy, United States Naval Academy (and St. John's College). Steeped in history and colonial charm, Annapolis is a haven of 18th-century architecture, seafood joints and maritime pursuits. Wander the cobblestoned streets, scarf down some crab cakes at City Dock or watch a yacht-filled sunset over the Severn River near the Chesapeake Bay.

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best college towns in america ithaca ny
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The ultimate college town, Ithaca is home to Cornell University and more than 23,000 Ivy Leaguers. In between cram sessions, students steal away to Buttermilk Falls and Robert H. Treman State Park. When the frigid winter months roll in, the spate of downtown bars—Ithaca Ale House and Red's Place to name a few—are cozy, coed-approved spots to escape the cold.

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best college towns in america boulder co
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It must be near impossible to carve out time to study when the splendor of the outdoors is calling. Colorado University students get to partake in everything the Rocky Mountain region has to offer, from hiking and skiing to concerts at the nearby Red Rocks Amphitheatre. That’s even before factoring in the tempting farm-to-table restaurants, galleries and artsy boutiques on Pearl Street.

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Iowa State University/Facebook

23. AMES, IA

Ames buzzes with the excitement of Iowa State University, one of the largest schools in the country. Residents dig the small-town vibe and big-city energy. Recent grads will be pleased to hear that a bunch of big employers—like 3M and the U.S. Department of Agriculture—have offices in Ames. The cost of living is relatively low, too.

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best college towns in america missoula mt
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Come for the University of Montana, stay for the outdoor adventure—trout fishing on Clark Fork River, hiking to the top of Mount Sentinel and exploring Rattlesnake National Recreation Area & Wilderness. On the entertainment front, there’s a burgeoning craft beer scene and tons of live music. For a dose of nostalgia, stop by the hand-carved carousel.

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best college towns in america knoxville tn
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All the excitement of a city with a sense of small-town Southern hospitality and access to nature—it doesn’t get better than Knoxville. Highlights include the Tennessee River, historic Market Square and a prime location close to the Smoky Mountains. Oh, and did we mention the annual Bacon Festival? OK, Big Orange, you win.

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