Most Scenic College Towns

It’s okay to judge these college cities based solely on their looks.

By Sydney Nikols | April 21, 2014

Photo: Thinkstock

You can get a good education in a lot of college towns, but few towns allow you to study next to a stunning waterfall or write papers overlooking ocean views. Sure, you don’t need to do these things to succeed, but as a self-respecting person, why not give yourself the option? Below are six college towns that you may know little about, but that you’ll definitely want to see.

Boulder, CO

Scenic Rating: 2 Cheers
The Scenery: This town, home to the University of Colorado, Boulder, is known for its mountainous terrain, expansive parks, and scenic drives, making it the perfect place for hiking, biking, and probably drinking (just a guess).
Our Picturesque Pick: Bald Mountain Scenic Area offers a panoramic view of Boulder, and the word “scenic” is literally in its name. Need any more convincing?

Students can take a walk through downtown Boulder.

Charlottsville, VA

Scenic Rating: 3 Cheers
The Scenery: Charlottesville, where the University of Virginia is located, boasts consistently beautiful weather, clean air, and a stunning location that surrounds the Rivanna River and rests in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This might explain why two U.S. presidents (Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe) thought it was cool enough to live here, and also why it was named the number one city to live in by Yahoo.
Our Picturesque Pick: Skyline Drive runs through the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains and through Shenandoah National Park. Anyone up for a casual Sunday drive?

Annapolis, MD

Scenic Rating: 1 Cheer
The Scenery: This capital city, home to St. John's College and the United States Naval Academy, is situated on the Chesapeake Bay at the mouth of the Severn River. Its perfect location and conditions for boating have given it the nickname “America’s Sailing Capital.” Spending your college years on a yacht probably isn’t the worst choice you could make.
Our Picturesque Pick: Take a sailboat tour of the Chesapeake Bay and contemplate how hard your life is.

Sunset in Annapolis should never be missed!

Logan, UT

Scenic Rating: 3 Cheers
The Scenery: Provided you don’t hate going outside, you’ll appreciate Logan’s location in the green Cache Valley along the beautiful Bear Lake. As a student at Utah State University, you can camp, hike, fish, boat, or bike – just beware that whatever you do, your surroundings are bound to be annoyingly stunning.
Our Picturesque Pick: The Logan Canyon National Scenic Byway delivers the perfect mixture of river and canyon views. We recommend road tripping in the fall when the trees are at their most awe-inspiring.

San Luis Obispo, CA

Scenic Rating: 2 Cheers
The Scenery: Named one of the prettiest towns in America by Forbes, San Luis Obispo, home to California Polytechnic State University, is nestled next to the California coast as well as one of the state’s major wine regions. Yes, this means exactly what you’re thinking: ocean and vineyard views. Raise your hand if you’re shocked that it’s known as the happiest city in America.
Our Picturesque Pick: If you hike up Valencia Peak you’ll be rewarded with 360-degree views of the Central Coast. It’s kind of like trekking up a mountain to find a jolly Santa Claus bearing gifts.

Located near many gorgeous destinations, SLO is also near Morro Bay, pictured here.

Olympia, WA

Scenic Rating: 3 Cheers
The Scenery: This capital city represents Washington State at its best – think lush trees, breathtaking waterfalls, and perfect views of both the Olympic Mountains and the Puget Sound. All things considering, we think we can forgive Evergreen State College students for being so obsessed with nature.
Our Picturesque Pick: Picnic in Madison Scenic Park where you’ll get to enjoy views of Olympia, the Black Hills, and the Capitol building. Again, this place has the word “scenic” in it, so…you do the math.

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