Each week, we'll be featuring a place of interest around Cleveland, site of Gay Games IX in 2014. Cleveland, Akron, and Northeast Ohio are great places to visit, and are also great places from which to experience some of the finest destinations in the USA and Canada.
This week we're featuring five places to go from Travel+Leisure's "Coolest College Towns" feature, from which we quote below:
American "college towns" are special places: peaceful, beautiful, set in lovely natural settings, socially progressive, offering a rich cultural life belied by the number of residents (students and local "townies"), they are great places to visit and enjoy another side of America.
On a recent afternoon along Church Street in Burlington, VT, young aspiring actors recited passages from Shakespeare’s Henry V as jugglers, break-dancers, and blowers of didgeridoos displayed their skills nearby, creating a visual and aural cacophony. Just another day in a thriving college town—this one happening to be home to the University of Vermont.
There are notable distinctions between college towns and other American cities. In the student-centric spots, bicycles seem to outnumber cars. Affordable restaurants serve up authentic cuisines from all around the world. The streets are densely packed with businesses, making for a highly pedestrian-friendly environment. Nature is usually accentuated: the shimmering Lake Champlain, backdropped by a sawtooth silhouette of peaks, forms the western edge of Burlington. Madison, WI, is situated on an isthmus between two lakes that draw hordes of hikers and bikers. Boulder, CO, is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream.
And don’t forget the bars. Each of these locales offers plenty of opportunities for imbibing, many of them ideal for both people-watching and soaking in the scenery. It’s hard to beat sunset cocktails at Austin’s Oasis, where tiered decks jut from a 450-foot-high cliff over Lake Travis.
These attractions are mainly geared toward the students, naturally, but they can be readily enjoyed by those with no homework assignments or college connections. After all, few sports experiences can top the rafter-shaking raucousness in Chapel Hill, NC, during a Tar Heels basketball game. Many schools benefit from world-class art collections in glittering facilities designed by marquee architects; Chapel Hill’s Ackland Art Museum, featuring a wing by Polshek Partnership, tempts visitors with Warhols, Titians, and Dalís in a way that many university-less cities cannot.
The performing arts also abound. Most campuses host an array of dance, theater, and performing arts to rival a season at Lincoln Center. Not to mention rock. This fall, for instance, the Boulder Theater, near the University of Colorado, will host the Psychedelic Furs, Aimee Mann, and Dinosaur Jr.
So, as students zip up their backpacks for a return to the classroom, it’s a good time for any traveler to pack up a trunk and visit one of these bustling campus locations. Just don’t count on peace and quiet if you go to bed early.
Although Oberlin is not on Travel+Leisure's list, is could be! "Ohio's Best College Town" is the home of one of the most progressive colleges in the country, Oberlin College, the first institution of higher education in the US to regularly admit women and African Americans.
Oberlin (pop. 8,200) has it all - the quiet air of a small town combined with the art, music and culture of a big city. Often called "the most cosmopolitan small town in America," the community was founded in 1833 - at the same time as Oberlin College, one of the nation's leading liberal arts colleges and the first institution of higher education to open its doors to all students regardless of color. Not far from the shore of Lake Erie and a half-hour from Cleveland, Oberlin boasts a vibrant downtown shopping district, tree-lined streets, world-class restaurants and beautiful parks.
More info HERE.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
University of Michigan
Home of the University of Michigan, one the top institutions of higher education in the country, Ann Arbor is located about an hour west of Detroit.
If a town’s name references trees, it’s a good bet nature will figure prominently. At the lush, 123-acre Nichols Arboretum, gravel paths wind past blazes of yellow, pink, and white peonies and the occasional reclining student.
The “Arb” is also frequently the setting for Shakespeare stagings. Slake your thirst amid more flora at Dominick’s, whose garden is ideal for enjoying any of the 10 local microbrews on tap.
Local Taste: Apart from the various Wolverines sports teams, the pride of Ann Arbor is Zingerman’s Roadhouse, where the rooftop vintage neon sign reads “Really Good American Food.” And that’s what you’ll get, of every type, from New Mexican chiles to oysters from Apalachicola, FL.
More info HERE.
University of Virginia
The music scene was fertile here even B.D.M.B.—that is, before the Dave Matthews Band, which formed in Charlottesville in the early 1990s. These days, alternative rock, country, and reggae acts—as well as, of course, jam bands—get crowds moving at the Charlottesville Pavilion, the Paramount Theater, and even Scott Stadium, where U2 arrives in October. But the best performances may lurk along the brick sidewalks of the postcard-perfect downtown, in tiny venues like Miller’s, a former drugstore that’s now known for jazz and blues. When the music’s over, be sure to get a good look at the Thomas Jefferson–planned campus and explore a Blue Ridge Mountain trail.
Local Taste: Matthews, who was born in Johannesburg, might enjoy the “boerie burgers” at the Shebeen, a South African restaurant.
More info HERE .
University of Wisconsin
Like oases in deserts, college towns in the Midwest can be refreshing splashes of hustle and bustle amid the plains. The Wisconsin capital squeezes cafés, art galleries, and the César Pelli–designed Madison Museum of Contemporary Art onto an invigorating pedestrian-only thoroughfare. In warm weather, the museum’s roof is the setting for concerts and films. Elsewhere are found lively neighborhood block parties, like the Atwood Summerfest, which annually offers rock bands on multiple stages. And there’s no shortage of aquatic fun: the city is located on an isthmus between a pair of glittering lakes.
Local Taste: L’Etoile Restaurant is the region’s slow-food mecca.
More info HERE.
Also in this zone, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
University of Vermont
College towns don’t get more scenic than Burlington, where a 7.5-mile bike path on old railroad beds provides wind-riffled views of Lake Champlain. It’s understandable, then, that outdoor activities figure prominently here. Rent a kayak from Umiak to explore bays fringed with pines, or hike Burrow’s Trail to the summit of nearby Camel’s Hump, whose bald-faced 4,083-foot summit offers living-map panoramas.
Local Taste: Dine on local delicacies at the Green Room, which offers locavore favorites like Vermont lamb braised with green peppercorns.
More info HERE.