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5 Coolest College Towns in New England

Steeped in tradition and rustic charm, New England has been a scenic backdrop to college life for generations. School spirit runs deep at the hundreds of colleges and universities sprinkled throughout the region. Whether you’re visiting for a graduation, parents weekend, guided tour, or for the next four years, these five college towns in New England offer plenty of activity both in and outside the classroom.

credit: Jared and Corin Flickr (cc by 2.0)
credit: Jared and Corin Flickr (cc by 2.0)

Hanover, New Hampshire

Home to Dartmouth College, Hanover is consistently rated among the top places to live in the United States, let alone New England. One reason? Big city culture in a town of 12,000. Feed your inner scientist with a visit to the Montshire Museum of Science — its 140 exhibits are easily enough to fill at least a full day. If art’s more your thing, find your way to the Hood Museum of Art. Acquisitions date back to 1772, just three years after the founding of Dartmouth College. Among the most prized pieces are six Assyrian stone reliefs from the palace of Ashurnasirpal that date from around 900 BCE. Top Hanover Hotels: Considering proximity to Dartmouth and overall comfort and coolness, we recommend Hanover Inn and Sixth South St. Hotel. Cross the border into Vermont and grab a beer brewed just for you at Norwich Inn. A few miles further down the road, Quechee Inn at Marshland Farm offers gourmet dining with a relaxed country vibe.

New Haven, Connecticut

With Yale, Southern Connecticut State University, University of New Haven, Gateway Community College and more nestled in New Haven, there’s not a corner of the town that’s not overflowing with collegiate spirit. Yale Rep, Yale School of Music, and a variety of other venues combined offer art events almost daily. The New Haven Museum is worth a visit to learn more about the rich history in the New Haven area. For an upscale meal, dine at Heirloom at The Study at Yale or for a more casual slice, try a student favorite, BAR. Top New Haven Hotels: Make your visit more enjoyable at these hotels near New Haven.

Burlington, Vermont

Burlington has a lot to boast about as home to University of Vermont, Burlington College, and Champlain College. Take a stroll at Waterfront Park, the Church Street Marketplace, or enjoy the view of Lake Champlain from the Burlington Bike Path. For foodies and outdoorsman alike, check out Vermont Guided Tours for a multitude of tour options ranging from wine and beer to snowshoeing and hot chocolate. For those who think a bit more outside the box, visit the World’s Tallest Filing Cabinet! Where to stay in Burlington: Be right in the thick of the city center at Hotel Vermont or relax on the scenic edge of town at Essex Resort and Spa.

Boston, Massachusetts

Sailing on the Charles River in Boston
Photo: MA Office of Travel and Tourism

Boston is touted as an international center of higher education and medicine, with a long list of colleges in and around the city. There’s never a dull moment, with sophisticated dining and cultural options around every corner. Our picks? Fenway Park, Museum of Fine Arts, the New England Holocaust Memorial, Boston Public Garden and any of the fine walking and even running tours offered throughout the city. Oysters are a must in Boston — try Island Creek Oyster Bar, Neptune Oyster, or B&G Oysters for the best around. Top Boston Hotels: There are plenty to pick from, and one for every type of traveler. Explore your options with Boston Harbor Hotel, Colonnade Hotel, Inn at Longwood Medical, Fifteen Beacon, Beacon Inn, or the Omni Parker House. Each has unique lodging options, from waterfront accommodations to locations along the Freedom Trail.

Providence, Rhode Island

Founded in 1636, Providence is one of the oldest cities in the country. Brown University began the tradition of education early on in 1764 and it has been going strong ever since. Providence has long been known for its creative culture, offering events like Waterfire and museums like the Culinary Arts Museum at Johnson and Wales University. Top Providence Hotels: The Radisson Hotel Providence Airport offers a prime location for air travelers to and from tours or other campus events. The Historic Jacob Hill Inn offers scenic luxury and some of the best French toast around. These five might be some of the coolest college towns in New England, but the competition is stiff — with hundreds of schools, it’s impossible to name every educational epicenter. If we missed your school or your town, tell us what makes it special on Facebook or Twitter!

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