The Mid-Atlantic region of the United States is known for its coastal beauty and some of the prettiest beaches and tastiest seafood in the nation can be found between New York and Virginia. There is plenty to do here besides sample the local crab cakes, however. For those looking to pursue the next step in their education, the Mid-Atlantic has a number of excellent places to its credit which aim to offer a full student experience outside of classroom hours. Enjoying one’s environment while also pursuing higher education in these east coast towns.
Syracuse, New York
Halfway between the major North American hub cities of New York and Toronto, Syracuse is a college town which is known for its proximity to New York State lakefronts combined with the many things for students to do in town. There are eight colleges and universities here, including the eponymously named Syracuse University, leading to the city’s youthful atmosphere. The Great New York State Fair, for example, is 13 days of food, exhibits, and other entertainment. There is always something going on in Syracuse, and that is without mentioning the great outdoors. Adirondack Park and its six million acres are two hours away by car as are the Catskill Mountains. The Finger Lakes are roughly 75 minutes away by car as well.
Morgantown, West Virginia
Found in north-central West Virginia, Morgantown rests on the shifting banks of The Mon river and is home to West Virginia University. The city has nearly 30,000 residents but that number doubles in during the academic term. Morgantown is well adapted to meet the needs of its student population and even has a tone-of-a-kind transit system which is free to them. Movoto, the real estate aggregator, called Morgantown the “Most Exciting Place in West Virginia,” due to its nightlife and bustling downtown area. Get in the school spirit at a football or basketball game at the university campus or attend a show at The Met playhouse. There are over 35 restaurants, cafes, clubs, and taverns in Morgantown. Most of all, the city is eminently walkable.
New Brunswick, New Jersey
Known as “The Hub City,” New Brunswick is home to the state’s oldest post-secondary institution, Rutgers University. The campuses are beautiful and worth exploring. Take a walk through Voorhees Mall and walk along College Avenue to get the authentic Rutgers experience. The Rutgers football team is steadily improving their on-field performance, but the atmosphere and tailgates at games are consistently Division I material. Rutgers Gardens is a seriously underrated attraction, but this gives the garden a secluded feel. Stop by the bright flower beds here or hike between the bamboo shoots. There is even a farmer’s market hosted here! They say laughter is the best medicine; visit the Stress Factory, a popular comedy club in town, for a reprieve from the daily grind of student life.
State College, Pennsylvania
With an unassuming name like State College, one might initially believe this Pennsylvania town is as lackluster as its name. This could not be farther from the truth, however, as State College was voted the third best college town in the country by the American Institute for Economic Research. Students attending Pennsylvania State University often describe the town’s atmosphere as carefree and diverse. The football fandom is palpable here, and State College’s arts scene is a standout as well. Events like the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts are held each July and Penn State even hosts an annual 46-hour dance marathon for charity. It is this off-beat and unique vibe which makes State College so desirable amongst students.
There are several colleges in Fairfax, including George Mason University and the Volgenau School of Engineering. Besides its institutions, this northern Virginia gem is a lovely combination of city and suburb where students will find all the creature comforts of urban life close at hand. The Mosaic District and Fairfax Corner are shopping centers complete with movie theaters and national retailers. The city is near to Washington, D.C., making internships and work placements in the nation’s capital simple. Burke Lake Park offers a lovely way to decompress and detox. Mini golf, camping, fishing, and boating are all popular activities at this 888 acre oasis.
Ithaca, New York
Home to Cornell University and Ithaca College, the winters here can be unpleasant but there is plenty to keep hardy students engaged all year. Cafes in Ithaca are plentiful and the perfect place for students to hunker down and crank out term papers. There are plenty of museums in Ithaca like the Sciencenter and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art. Students who appreciate the theater will want to visit the Hangar Theater, a unique venue which was a former airport hangar. The city hosts festivals aplenty as well. Apple, chili, dragon boat, and music festivals are just a few of the events held in Ithaca throughout the year.
The Brandywine Valley’s biggest college town is host to the University of Delaware and so much more. There are slightly more than 31,000 residents in Newark and over 12,000 acres of public parkland. That is nearly half an acre per person! Obviously, recreational activities are what make Newark standout from the competition. Hiking in Newark is a typical passtime for students and residents alike, while bike riders will appreciate the many trails and paths nearby. Craving the nightlife of a major metropolis? Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington are all nearby. There are plenty of events in Newark proper however, including an Oktoberfest celebration. Wunderbar!
Southern Living called Blacksburg the “Best College Town in the South,” and Businessweek said it was the best place to raise kids in the country. With such ringing endorsements, it is hard to argue with Blacksburg as an ideal college town. Students at Virginia Tech will appreciate the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains nearby and all of the recreational activities they provide. Camping and hiking through the Appalachian mountain range is a fabulous way to unwind away from the hi-tech headaches waiting back on campus. Walk the College Avenue Promenade, a picturesque pedestrian mall at the heart of Blacksburg’s downtown area. Eat, shop, and explore the more than 150 establishments. In the spring, the Fork and Cork festival is a fan-favorite, as is the Annual Chocolate Festival. And we have not even mentioned the excitement which emerges each football season yet. Go Hokies!
Binghamton, New York
Found near the Pennsylvania border, this New York town is host to Binghamton University, the number one ranked public university in the state. The food here is great and the city even has a weeklong event called restaurant week where three-course meals are offered around Binghamton for a set price. Best of all, the proceeds go to charity. Binghamton is also home to the spiedie sandwich, wingfest, and more. Events are hard to miss in the city also. Whether it’s open mic comedy shows at nearby cafes to concerts at the Floyd L. Maines Veteran Memorial Arena, Binghamton has plenty going on. Head to the many parks and gardens in the city for a digital detox, or even visit the university campus and its 182-acre nature preserve. At night, Binghamton’s many clubs, breweries, and hookah bars beckon boisterous students looking to unwind.
Students in the Mid-Atlantic have a bevy of excellent school choices which combine the region’s best institutions with engaging cities and towns. There are amazing college towns in the Mid-Atlantic. There are on-campus nature preserves for students needing to destress and bustling downtown areas when it is time to go out and cut loose. There are groundbreaking transit systems and palpable senses of school pride ready to sweep up freshmen at their first football game. When it comes to studying in the Mid-Atlantic region, be sure to take a look at these college towns.