If perfection exists, it exists in college football towns on Saturdays in the fall.
There’s this energy that hits you from the moment you step foot in one of them, inspiring a Mad Max oh what a day, what a lovely day!-type feeling.
You tailgate, make a pilgrimage to the stadium, enjoy four quarters of awesomeness and then, hopefully, have a joyous night out celebrating a victory.
It certainly feels like perfection.
You’re going to want to feel that as much as possible this fall.
Of course, you want to feel that in the town that calls itself home to your school, but it’s pretty nice to feel it in others, too.
If you decide to try to feel it in other towns, the following 25 are the ones to do it in.
Here are America’s Top 25 College Football Towns.
25. Los Angeles, Calif.
So this isn’t really a “college football town.” It’s the second-biggest city in the United States.
There’s some good college football in the City of Angels, though, and a pretty good inner-city rivalry to go with it.
Experiencing your favorite sport in one of the most glamorous places in the country can be pretty fun.
24. Charlottesville, Va. (Virginia)
You might not see a great game here, but you will see one of the most beautiful college campuses in the world.
Charlottesville has plenty to offer, including a whole lot of history.
23. Tempe, Ariz. (Arizona State)
Arizona State is consistently voted one of the best party schools in the country for a reason.
If you can’t enjoy yourself here, there’s probably something wrong.
22. Gainesville, Fla. (Florida)
There’s not a ton to do in Gainesville. It’s pretty much Florida’s campus and not much else. But that’s OK.
This town boasts one of the top programs in the country and a very big student body. Good times will be had.
21. Norman, Okla. (Oklahoma)
Similar to Gainesville, this is a pretty small town that blows up on game days. The Sooners are elite again, too, so this fall (Week 3 against Ohio State, perhaps) isn’t a bad time to check out what Norman, Okla. has to offer.
The Campus Corner area is a fun one.
20. Seattle, Wash. (Washington)
Ever experience college football, Pacific Northwest-style? You need to.
Washington has one of the coolest stadiums and tailgating scenes (water, boats!) in all the land.
It’s different, but an awesome time.
Next: No. 19 >>>19. Nashville, Tenn. (Vanderbilt)
If Vanderbilt ever gets good at football, this is a college football town (city, really) that would skyrocket up this list.
Nashville is a place trending upward in almost every way and despite a lack of passion for its college football program, it’s still an awesome place to enjoy a fall weekend.
Be sure to enjoy some hot chicken and maybe some country music while you’re there.
18. Chapel Hill, North Carolina (North Carolina)
The Tar Heels’ campus is one of the best in the country and Chapel Hill has a ton to offer, too - great weather, really good food, nice bar/restaurant scene.
Franklin Street is the place to be here.
And UNC’s starting to get pretty, pretty good on the gridiron, too.
17. College Station, Texas (Texas A&M)
Like a couple other places on this list (Gainesville, Norman) there’s not a ton going on in Aggie-land, but it comes alive for football weekends.
The food is good (get some Texas barbecue) and there’s a decent music scene at the bars.
The Midnight Yell and Texas A&M’s tradition is what really has College Station up at No. 17.
16. Lincoln, Neb. (Nebraska)
The capital city of Nebraska, there’s an OK downtown area (check out the Haymarket District).
What’s great about Lincoln, though, is 1. The Huskers’ tradition - they’ve sold out every game since the 1960s and 2. The friendliness of the fan base. You won’t meet a kinder group of opposing fans than the one Nebraska boasts.
15. South Bend, Ind. (Notre Dame)
South Bend is kind of Charlottesville, Va. with better football tradition and less to do around town.
Like UVA, Notre Dame sits on one of the most-picturesque college campuses in the world.
Getting the chance to watch one of the most-historic teams in the sport is pretty cool, as well.
Next: No. 14 >>>14. Auburn, Ala. (Auburn)
Auburn is small. Really small. It wouldn’t really exist if not for the university. But that’s part of what makes it special.
It’s literally a college town. And the football there has been pretty great the last decade or so.
Be sure to check out Toomer’s Corner.
Just don’t poison the oak trees.
13. State College, Pa.
If you’re going here, make sure you book your hotel far in advance. There aren’t a ton of options and if you wait too long, you’ll be stuck staying somewhere 30-40 minutes outside of the campus (which makes living it up a little difficult).
The game-day experience is pretty great, though. The stadium is on this huge patch of rolling fields, which makes tailgating easy and a lot of fun.
Try and go when Penn State’s having a white out. The atmosphere inside Beaver Stadium is unlike anything in the sport.
12. Knoxville, Tenn. (Tennessee)
One of the biggest college towns in the SEC, Knoxville has more to offer than most of its competitors. You can do anything from white water rafting to hiking a mountain to tailgating on a boat on the Tennessee River.
If you want to go to a game this season, make it this one: Oct. 15 vs. Alabama.
This might be the year the Volunteers finally knock off the rival Crimson Tide.
11. Eugene, Ore. (Oregon)
Probably the most-underrated college football town on this list, not a lot of people have made the trek out to Eugene, Ore.
Those who have rave about it, though. The city’s developing and the student body knows how to have a good time.
Oregon’s stadium, Autzen Stadium, is one of the loudest in the country.
10. Tallahassee, Fla. (Florida State)
You can have a good time here regardless of age. Florida’s state capital has a pretty solid professional population, along with a great student body.
The beach is only an hour away, and there's some pretty terrific night life, too. College Town provides visitors with everything they need in terms of food and drink. With an amazing view of Doak Campbell Stadium, Madison Social is the perfect happy hour spot. And don't forget the high-quality football.
You might be watching a College Football Playoff team if you visit this fall.
Next: No. 9 >>>
9. Clemson, South Carolina (Clemson)
This is a college football town worth visiting just for the “most exciting 25 seconds in football,” as proclaimed by Brent Musberger.
Clemson has the best stadium entrance in college football, but it’s also got a ton of charm.
It has pretty much everything you could want in a small college town.
8. Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Alabama)
Alabama is college football, so of course the town home to the Crimson Tide, Tuscaloosa, finds a spot in our top 10.
You’ll see an awesome football team and a great game-day atmosphere, but make sure you get some barbecue when you’re there.
Dreamland is my personal favorite. The sauce and the sweet tea are to die for.
7. Columbus, Ohio (Ohio State)
This is a college football town located in the biggest city in Ohio. The Buckeyes’ campus (The Oval and Mirror Lake are the spots to check out) is an easy cab ride (or walk, if you’re up for it) from the Short North and downtown areas, which offer a ton to do.
If you’re there on a fall Saturday, though, High Street and Lane Avenue are the only locations you need to know about.
Thurman’s (as seen on Man vs. Food) is probably the restaurant most tourists want to go to, but be ready to wait in line. It’s certainly worth it, though.
6. Ann Arbor, Mich. (Michigan)
Sorry, Buckeye fans, but Ann Arbor is slightly better than your beloved Columbus.
They’re pretty similar, though. Both college football towns at heart in cities that have more to offer than just football.
The food scene is pretty incredible here, as pointed out by Buzzfeed.
Next: No. 5 >>>5. Baton Rouge, La. (LSU)
The Tigers’ playing arena - Tiger Stadium - provides for possibly the best atmosphere in college football. So if the in-game experience is priority No. 1, Baton Rouge might want to top your list, too.
Especially if you’re going for a night game.
The food here is great, too, and you’ll struggle to find a more-diverse restaurant scene.
With Baton Rouge being Louisiana’s capital, there’s more than just the campus area, too.
It’s close to New Orleans, too, so you could even spend Friday night there and then make the drive up on Saturday morning. Many do.
Next: No. 4 >>>
4. Austin, Texas (Texas)
This is a city that tops many of the “best in America” lists, so, yeah, it’s up there on our best college football towns list, too.
It might boast the nightlife scene of any in our top 25.
Just find your way to 6th street.
Texas’ football team has been known to be pretty good, too. Not so much lately, but that’s soon to change. You’ll have a great time regardless.
Next: No. 3 >>>
3. Oxford, Miss. (Ole Miss)
We can talk about Oxford’s small-town charm, the pretty campus and the solid bar/restaurant options, but Ole Miss’ college football town is up here for pretty much one reason: The Grove.
It’s the best tailgating scene in America.
You need to experience it.
Ole Miss’ games against Alabama have been pretty magical lately, so maybe head down for a contest against the Crimson Tide. You’ll probably see a heck of an ending.
Next: No. 2 >>>
2. Athens, Ga. (Georgia)
The best of the SEC comes most alive in Athens, Ga., which has an incredible bar/restaurant/music scene.
The natural scenery is just as good, too. The East Georgia mountains provide a pretty awesome backdrop for a college football weekend.
Maybe you’ll get to see Ludacris perform, too.
You can’t have a more enjoyable college football weekend than the one you can experience in Athens, Ga.
Next: No. 1 >>>
1. Madison, Wisc. (Wisconsin)
Unless you’re in Madison, of course.
Yes, a northern, Big Ten school is home to the best college football town in America.
It’s tough to describe the near-perfection of Madison in words, so we’ll just let the Badgers talk for themselves.
“The Nation’s Best College Town - Madison, Wisc.”
Which of these will you be visiting this fall?
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