3 Pretty College Towns Worth a Visit

Whether or not you’re dropping off the kids, these towns are chock-full of charm.

By Kathryn O’Shea-Evans

The best way to enjoy back-to-school season could be visiting a campus entirely for fun—no syllabus in sight. Here, what to do in three of America’s loveliest college towns.

Southern Comfort in Savannah, Georgia

The home of SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) is among the chicest cities south of the Mason-Dixon Line, combining Spanish moss and cobblestoned streets with a top-notch food-and-drink scene. Savannah restaurateur-of-note Anthony Debreceny recently launched Australia-inspired pub The Fitzroy (9 Drayton St.; 912-210-5980; brunch for two, $20*), where your brunch might include a brioche-crusted chicken schnitzel or a mascarpone-and-ricotta hotcake served with microflowers. Another stop to indulge in: the just-opened Savannah Spirits (120 Whitaker St.; 912-349-7251; drinks for two, $24) distillery, partially housed in an 1870 coffee-roasting factory, where the rum is a nod to Savannah’s original rumrunners.

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Mountain Marvels in Missoula, Montana

The town that writer Norman Maclean (and later, Brad Pitt) made famous with A River Runs Through It makes the list because of its charming leafy streets and the cinematic University of Montana, whose campus sits in the foothills of the Bitterroot Mountains. You can kick things off with a huckleberry danish at Bernice’s Bakery (190 S. Third St.; 406-728-1358; breakfast for two, $20) before putting on your hiking boots. The switchback-laden three-quarter-mile hike up Mount Sentinel to the giant M overlooking Missoula has been a student favorite since 1908.

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Get Literary in Oxford, Mississippi

The University of Mississippi—more often called Ole Miss—is set in a tiny town full of centuries-old buildings. Bibliophiles have plenty of reasons to visit, starting with Rowan Oak (916 Old Taylor Rd., 622-234-3284; admission, $5 a person, cash only), William Faulkner’s home. The writer lived here for more than four decades, and you can still see the plots to some of his novels handwritten on the walls. Square Books (160 Courthouse Sq.; 662-236-2262), a trio of indie bookshops on Oxford’s circa-1837 main square, has been an institution since 1979 and hosts more than 150 author readings a year. You may want to consider joining its first-edition book club to receive a monthly new release signed by the author. Early adopters have signed first editions of John Grisham’s The Client, Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain, and Amy Tan’s The Hundred Secret Senses, to name just a few.

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  • *Estimated meal prices do not include drinks, tax, or tip.
  • NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
  • Published: September 2018