Linnaeus Aboretum on the campus of Gustavus Adolphus College. Image credit Ken Wolter via Shutterstock.

Best College Towns In Minnesota

Take a journey into Minnesota and explore some of the best college towns this state offers. Unveil a tapestry of vibrant energy, intellectual offerings, and endless charm. St. Paul, the state capital, exudes grandeur with institutions like Macalester College and the University of St. Thomas. Then there is the city of Minneapolis, its twin city, and a bustling hub with the University of Minnesota, taking center stage amidst thriving art scenes and lively neighborhoods. Further south lie the cities of Northfield and Moorhead, which offer their opportunities. Each college town in Minnesota unfolds its unique story, making this exploration an extraordinary journey of discovery and inspiration. 


Tate Laboratory on the campus of the University of Minnesota on the campus of the University of Minnesota, the 6th largest university in the USA.
Tate Laboratory on the University of Minnesota campus. Image credit Ken Wolter via Shutterstock.

Home to the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a city filled with vibrancy and attractions for everyone. Visit and enjoy the largest mall in the United States, the Mall of America, with over 500 stores to shop from. For little fun, sports fans can catch a game at the famous U.S. Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Vikings. You can also enjoy the world-renowned art collections at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Nature lovers can bask in the abundant green spaces and parks like the Chain of Lakes, which offers boating, swimming, and biking. Stop and take a selfie at the iconic Stone Arch Bridge and the Spoonbridge and Cherry Sculpture at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. This is only half of Minneapolis' offerings as a college town and intriguing vacation destination. Come out and enjoy this active and exciting city.

St. Paul

Como Zoo and Conservatory during the summer in St. Paul,
Como Zoo and Conservatory during the summer in St. Paul. Image credit KARI K via Shutterstock.

One-half of the Twin Cities, St. Paul, Minnesota, is along the Mississippi River and is Minnesota's second-largest city. It is also home to Macalester College and the University of St. Thomas. This allows students and visitors to explore and enjoy numerous lakes and parks, like Como Park. This park features a zoo, a conservatory, and scenic trails for walking and biking. Visitors can learn about the state's past by visiting the nearby Minnesota History Center. Take solace in art by checking out the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Visitors and students can also spend the night in the Lowertown neighborhood, the hot spot for bars, restaurants, and breweries. St. Paul's warm hospitality and diverse attractions make it an excellent college town to explore.


Aerial view of Mankato, Minnesota at dusk.
Aerial view of Mankato, Minnesota at dusk.

As home to Minnesota State University, Mankato, Minnesota, exudes an enriching blend of education, nightlife, and nature. Mankato offers a vibrant educational environment with cultural events, lectures, and art exhibitions. Explore beautiful Minnesota State Park, where stunning waterfalls and picturesque hiking trails await. As the sun sets in Mankato, the city's nightlife offers students and visitors an eclectic mix of bars and live music Stop by the historic downtown and explore the various boutiques and restaurants that add to Mankato's charm. Whether visitors choose to star gaze at Sibley Park or explore the vibrant city scene, Mankato promises its visitors and student population an all-encompassing journey that captivates the mind, heart, and soul.

St. Cloud

Fountain and flowers in The Clemens Gardens in St. Cloud, Minnesota
The Clemens Gardens in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

St. Cloud, Minnesota, nestled along the Mississippi River, offers a vibrant college-town experience. Home to St. Cloud State University, this city provides various opportunities and amenities that cater to its college population. With a plethora of local eateries, like Olde Brick House, and trendy coffee shops, such as Korppi Coffee + Bakeshop, students can easily find their favorite hangout spots. The city also boasts a vibrant arts and culture scene, with numerous theaters and galleries showcasing local talent. Those that enjoy the outdoors can explore the scenic surrounding landscapes, including nearby Munsinger and Clemens Gardens. Additionally, St. Cloud offers a variety of fulfilling attractions and opportunities, ensuring students and visitors enjoy their experience.


Entrance sign and trademark logo to Winona State University.
Entrance sign and trademark logo to Winona State University. Image credit Ken Wolter via Shutterstock.

Situated in southeastern Minnesota, Winona, Minnesota, boasts an excellent college-town atmosphere waiting to be explored. Home to Winona State University and Saint Mary's University, visitors can immerse themselves in stunning natural beauty from Lake Winona to Garvin Heights Park. There are plenty of outdoor activities for visitors in these destinations, like scenic walking trails and various water activities at Great River Bluffs State Park. Immerse yourself in the city's rich history by exploring well-preserved architecture and cultural landmarks like the Polish Cultural Institute and Museum. Head out on the town when the sun sets in Winona. Socialize at local bars, pubs, and live music venues that offer music, drinks, and vibrant fun.

St. Peter

 Entrance sign and Old Main clock on the campus of Gustavus Adolphus College.
 Entrance sign and Old Main clock on the campus of Gustavus Adolphus College. Image credit Ken Holter via Shutterstock.

A hidden gem approximately 60 miles southwest of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, St. Peter, Minnesota, is a serene and picturesque destination, home to the tight-knit community and rich heritage of Gustavus Adolphus College. Visitors and students alike can explore the city's vibrant cultural scene by visiting the Arts Center of Saint Peter and the Treaty Site History Center, showcasing the city's artistic and historical splendor. For those looking for a little solace, retreat to the serene oasis of the Linnaeus Arboretum, which offers outdoor enthusiasts various activities. St. Peter will leave a lasting impression on all who visit and stay. So come and embark on an extraordinary academic adventure in this hidden gem. 


Aerial view of Moorhead, Minnesota on the Red River during Autumn
Aerial view of Moorhead, Minnesota on the Red River.

Located adjacent to the North Dakota border, Moorhead, Minnesota, lies directly across the Red River from Fargo, North Dakota. Home to a distinction of Minnesota State University and Concordia College, the city pulsates with youthful energy. Take a glimpse into the region's heritage by visiting the historic Hjemkomst Center, featuring a full-scale replica of a Viking ship. Nature enthusiasts can explore the tranquility of the Bluestem Prairie Scientific and Natural Area or stroll along the scenic Riverfront Park. With a downtown filled with eclectic eateries and local shops, Moorhead provides endless opportunities for exploration and discovery. Travelers and students have the opportunity to create cherished memories in this hidden gem of Minnesota. 


Skinner Memorial Chapel on the campus of Carleton College.
Skinner Memorial Chapel on the campus of Carleton College. Image credit Ken Wolter via Shutterstock.

Like stepping into a storybook setting, Northfield, Minnesota, is where charm and history intertwine to create an enchanting experience. Home to two renowned liberal arts institutions- Carleton College and St. Olaf College, Northfield is not short of vibrant energy. The city is famously linked to the attempted bank robbery by Jesse James, showcased through Northfields vibrant art scene at the Northfield Arts Guild and the annual Defeat of Jesse James Days, a lively festival honoring the legendary past. Take a break from history and explore nature in the serene Carleton College Arboretum and the scenic Cannon River, perfect for leisurely walks and peaceful reflections. With more than small-town charm, Northfield is the perfect blend of history, nature, and artistic spirit.


Intriguing, inspiring, and filled with boundless opportunities, exploring some of the best college towns in Minnesota will be a journey like no other. From the historical charm of St. Paul to the vibrant energy of Minneapolis, each city has something to offer visitors. Northfield's quaint allure and Moorhead's welcoming embrace add to the tapestry of experiences. These towns offer more than just education; they offer a glimpse into the heart and soul of the state, where students and residents thrive. 

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