We’ve selected some of our favorite small towns, some true hidden gems of the South. We looked for schools beloved by their fan bases and their alumni, and schools exploring truly exciting academics and research that promise to reach the wider world. We defined “small town” as a city of 350,000 people or less: places in which the college is a driving force in the character of the town.
There’s something magnetic about a college town. Lazy days on the quad followed by homemade ice cream in the town square; the excitement of game day punctuated by school colors draping the city streets; the chance to bump elbows with the leaders of tomorrow over a cappuccino at the local coffee shop. A small town can be a fabulous place to study (there’s plenty to do without big-city distractions) and an idyllic place to live. Small college towns are also among our very favorite places in the South to visit. A weekend trip can bring all the pomp and circumstance of football season in the South, an afternoon spent in charming boutiques and lovely historic theaters, and maybe a picnic on the green. It can be a lovely place to reconnect with family, a spouse, or even with yourself.