While we’ve long known that the University of Tennessee and University of Mississippi draw large amounts of Memphis-based students each year, there are three other colleges very much on the radar for Memphians. These are Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas; University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia; and University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where the Razorbacks reign supreme. We asked locals for the inside scoop on these cool college towns so that drop-off weekend, or game-day weekend, is smooth and enjoyable for all. Here’s where to go and what to do!
Fort Worth, TX
Fort Worth, TX represents an idyllic marriage between thriving metropolis and Texan charm. Home of the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs, Fort Worth offers a 32-block, glowing downtown known as Sundance Square, as well as a world-renowned Museum District, over 40 miles of trails and the historic Stockyards. “The Fort,” as locals affectionately call it, weaves school spirit together with friendly charm to create a city definitely worth a visit.
Dine: Who doesn’t love brunch? Known as the “Local’s Living Room,” Brewed boasts a chef-inspired seasonal menu that specializes in fried chicken & biscuits with house-made gravy. The vibes of the restaurant are eclectic and homey, encouraging patrons to eat, drink, and gather at all hours. For an up-scale dinner instead, try the outdoor terrace at Grace, in the heart of downtown. Finally, you can’t leave Texas without the good ole’ Tex-Mex that The Original, Joe T Garcia’s, and Salsa Limón offer. Pair dishes with a refreshing margarita, and Fort Worth will be yours for the taking!
Shop: Just down the road from TCU is University Park Village, an outdoor mall that houses popular stores like Anthropologie, Kendra Scott, and Michael Kors, but for something a little more local, you can’t beat a trip to the Stockyards. There, you’ll find custom-made cowboy boots, hats, and accessories from legendary leather workers such as Justin’s and Leddy’s.
Stay: For your overnight stay, you can’t beat the Omni Fort Worth, complete with a spa, restaurants and a rooftop pool. If a quaint B&B is more your style, however, check out the Azalea Plantation, nestled just outside of Sundance Square.
In addition to the student-led rituals at the University of Georgia, Athens offers everything you would want by way of Southern tradition and excitement. Strolling around the Botanical Gardens, wandering in the historic house museums and exploring creative art galleries are all convenient options in this Southern city.
Dine: Whatever your palate craves, Athens has a restaurant that can surpass your expectations. Visit the multiple award-winning Five & Ten for brunch, dinner or, on Tuesdays, for their weekly “Ramen Night.” Another Athens favorite is the Normal Bar, which is one of Southern Living’s “Best Bars in the South.” Have a drink on the patio or grab a burger at the bar, because it’s a place you’ll feel at home as soon as you step in the door. Lastly, you can’t leave a city without a hearty brunch. For this college town’s classic, head to Independent Baking Co. You’ll smell every bread in the book and be tempted to taste each one of them as well!
Shop: For a shopping experience that matches the creative and artistic vibes of the city, explore Agora Vintage. It’s a locally-owned boutique that sells designer vintage clothing. For a wider variety of eclectic gifts, try the downtown Athens area for a mix of specialty shops and studios, or Five Points for shops hidden inside a mix of homes from the 1920s and 30s. If mainstream luxury is more your style, stroll to Georgia Square Mall for all your department store thrills.
Stay: The most eclectic hotel, The Graduate, is overflowing with personality having been renovated from an old blacksmith shop. It is located within walking distance of both downtown and UGA and features adorable boutique-style rooms. It is a true gem in this college town.
This little corner of the Natural State has more to offer than just traditional college vibes on the campus of The University of Arkansas. Filled with rich culture and history, Fayetteville is nestled beneath the gorgeous backdrop of the Ozark foothills. With over 4,000 acres of parkland, lakes and rivers, the breathtaking scenery is ideal for hiking, bird watching, fishing, water sports and more. It’s easy to plan an itinerary when the destination is a mix of an outdoorsman’s paradise and a shopper’s dream.
Dine: Here, there’s something to satisfy every appetite. James at the Mill is your first stop. It offers a fabulous twist on contemporary American flavors with French influences and a building with a spa-like atmosphere. For the all-natural folks in the city, try the Greenhouse Grille, which uses all local and organic ingredients to create dishes that are flavorful and unique. They even grow many of the salad greens in the backyard garden! Lastly, before you leave this little mountain town, drop by one of the many fresh bakery and coffee shop combos, like Little Bread Company, Bliss Cupcakes or Onyx Coffee Lab, for a sweet treat.
Shop: Downtown Fayetteville is home to several trendy vintage shops. From indie to antique, this area of town has definitely mastered a unique and local style vibe. Lola Boutique and Grey Dog are just a few examples, offering apparel, gifts and accessories. If big name brands suit your style, head to Pinnacle Hills Promenade for a more typical mall-like experience.
Stay: In Fayetteville, The Pratt Place Inn is a gorgeous Southern mansion that is as cozy as it is convenient. Sitting atop a hill, it’s completed by a second story, wrap-around porch. Also on the grounds is a recently renovated event barn that is a stunning place for weddings or other events. Another option is the Chancellor Hotel, which has a more commercial feel while still unique to Fayetteville.
Inundated with culture, charm and the friendliest locals around, these three college towns will be the perfect home away from home. Enjoy your visits and relish the community, wherever your student is attending.
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