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21 Towns Like Ann Arbor

Discover 21 of the best towns similar to Ann Arbor that are rich in culture, arts, and have high ranks on the diversity list. These towns are also known for their prestigious schools and picturesque surroundings.

Aerial view of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Ann Arbor, Michigan’s culturally rich town, tops several lists of the best to live in. With the sound of jazz notes and the smell of authentic foods permeating the air, it’s easy to see why this student haven is so sought after. It is not the #1 city for student sports or #2 in the top 100 places to live by chance.

Ann Arbor, Michigan, is known as ‘Tree Town’ with over 50 000 trees around the city. It is rich in arts, culture and ranks high on the diversity list. It boasts over 300 restaurants, over 30 independent book shops.

Ann Arbor is known for its bustling social environment, good work opportunities, a reasonable cost of living, and excellent academic stature. It has a population of over 123 000, with a median income of  $65,745. Because of the famous University of Michigan, it’s ranked as the most educated town in the USA. If you are looking for similarities, here are 21 towns like Ann Arbor.

East Lansing, Michigan

Historic buildings in East Lansing, Michigan.

The lush and tree-rich town of East Lansing shares a few similarities to Ann Arbor. It centers around education with the Michigan State University, a veterinary school, two law schools, and two medical schools. On the cultural side, East Lansing hosts several festivals throughout the year and boasts 24 parks and over 14 miles of bike lanes.  

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If you love art and history, not to worry, there are performing theatres and museums open to visitors who want to experience the local culture. East Lansing is not solely invested in the arts, but it has a vested interest in tech and research companies; it was one of the first towns to supply high-speed internet since the late 1990s.

This well-established college town has well-integrated neighborhoods with plenty of outdoor activities, and many urban renewal projects take place each year. An automotive giant, General Motors is one of the larger employers that call East Lansing home. The permanent population is around 48,000, and the student population is 50,000, while the median family income is around $ 85 377.

Click here to access East Lansing’s official town website to learn more about this lush town and its similarities to Ann Arbor.

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Bryant-Denny Stadium at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

Along the banks of the wide Black Warrior River lies the beautiful town of Tuscaloosa. It is ranked as one of the 100 best towns for students to live in the USA. Most of the attention and hustle is around the University of Alabama. They are also famous for their successful sports teams and, The Houndstooth Sports Bar being voted the nation’s best college sports bar.

Tuscaloosa has a vibrant arts, culture, and music scene. Regular live shows host well-known and local acts and theaters, galleries, and museums to visit.  If you love the outdoors, you can enjoy one of the parks listed on this site. There are numerous activities for you to enjoy, from swimming, archery, dog walking, jogging, football, fishing, and hiking.

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From an employment perspective, automotive giant Mercedes Benz has an assembly plant in Tuscaloosa, and if you need new tires, BF Goodrich has you covered! The population in Tuscaloosa is 99,390, and the student population is 43,209. The median household income is $45,268.

Click here to access the Tuscaloosa town official website to learn more about this beautiful town and its similarities to Ann Arbor.

Bozeman, Montana

Aerial view of the landscape in Bozeman, Montana.

Surrounded by magnificent mountains lies the town of Bozeman. Famous for the unprecedented number of outdoor activities and the Montana State University, it is not hard to see why this college town is like Ann Arbor. Bozeman is the town for you if you are born for the outdoors.

Activities such as skiing, fly fishing, hiking, snowboarding, rock climbing, and camping are just some of what Bozeman has to offer. Summer or Winter, there is a restaurant to satisfy your hunger with dozens of restaurants ready to serve.

On the cultural scene, Bozeman does not stand back at all. There are at least 10 galleries and several live music venues, which is not surprising given that Gibson Guitars Corp builds their acoustic guitars there.

A large number of technology companies have made Bozeman their headquarters. The population is 53,293 and growing steadily. The student population is 16,692, and the median household income is $66397, making Bozeman a great place to stay.

Click here to access the official Bozeman town website to learn more about this gorgeous town and its similarities to Ann Arbor.

San Luis Obispo, CA

Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, California.

With historical Native American and Spanish sites, San Luis Obispo is one of the oldest towns in California. The famous California Polytechnic State University beckons bright and culturally diverse students to the town each fall.

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San Luis Obispo is also famous for the Bike Happening every first Thursday of the month, where hundreds of cyclists ride around the town center. There are many outdoor activities, such as golf, skateboarding, swimming, hiking, and exploring the underground city tunnels – that is, if you are brave enough!

San Luis Obispo stretches over a large metropolitan area and contains several high-profile employers such as Tenet Healthcare, the Polytechnic University, and Pacific Gas & Electric. The population is 47, 302 and the student population is 21,447, while the median household income is $73,518.

Click here to access the official San Luis Obispo website and learn more about this lush town and its similarities to Ann Arbor.

Eugene, Oregon

Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon.

If you are into “just doing it,” then check out the town of Eugene, Oregon. The hometown of Nike has some of the best outdoor sports available. What better place to test their sports and footwear? If you prefer chilling, you can sit back and check out the views of Mout Pisagh and Skinner Butte.

The University of Oregon is famous for being an arboretum, diverse, inclusive, and the thousands of ducks nesting on the university grounds. Yes, that’s correct. It’s all about trees and that Duck Life! This picturesque town is breathtaking.

Creative expression is the heartbeat of Eugene, with street art everywhere. If you prefer more classical art, there is the opera or the symphony to enjoy. At the local county fair, you can enjoy all manner of foods and crafts are offered.  

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Eugene is a town full of large employers such as the schools, Nike Factory, the University, and Peace Health Medical Group that support the economy.

The current population is 176,464, and the student population is 30,223, while the median household income is $50,962.

Click here to access the official website for Eugene, Oregon, and learn more about the similarities to Ann Arbor.

Fayetteville, Arkansas

Historical square downtown in Fayetteville, Northwest Arkansas.

Fayetteville ranks very high in towns to attend school, college, or retire. Like Ann Arbor, it boasts many qualities that are sought after, such as good education, diverse cultural views, great music, and excellent food.

The University of Arkansas adds to the popularity of Fayetteville, and the students participate in many social and cultural events. The Ozarks give Fayetteville a view like no other and is a popular holiday destination for students.

Large corporations like Walmart are some of the employers in the town. The population is 89,540, and the student population is 29,068, while the median household income is $67,191.

 Click here to access the official Fayetteville website to learn more about what they offer and see how similar it is to Ann Arbor.

Oxford, Mississippi

Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence in the campus of the University of Mississippi.

If you love the idea of Southern hospitality and soul food, then Oxford, Mississippi is the place to be. The music filling the air and its incredible nightlife will remind you of Ann Arbor. The architecture of Oxford adds to its charm and is ranked as a top college town in the USA.

The town is surrounded by lush green trees providing ample shade to picnic under in Summer, or you can sit and enjoy the sunset on your verandah. Activities like cycling, swimming, and dog walking are just some of what you can enjoy in Oxford.

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The Ole Miss or Mississippi University adjacent to Oxford is well known for its academic achievements and sports excellence. The population of Oxford is 28,996, and the student population is 21,856. The main employers are the University, Walmart, Caterpillar, and Baptist Memorial Hospital.

The median household income in Oxford is $44,283.

Click here to access the official Oxford town website to learn more about this Southern belle and its similarities to Ann Arbor.

Cedar Falls, Iowa

Illuminated pedestrian walkway on the W 4th Street Bridge over the Cedar River in Downtown Waterloo, Iowa.

With a dense, lush suburban feel, Cedar Falls in Iowa is a town that balances the suburban dream with the advances of modern technology with ease. The downtown area teems with food outlets and live-music venues.  

Outdoor activities include horse riding trails, golf, camping, fishing, hiking, or give the Escapology Live Game a try. If you love a good beer, CedarFalls boasts a couple of craft breweries where you can stop in for a tasting. Great local food outlets are in no short supply either.

The University of Northern Iowa, Paramount Barco, and Lincoln Savings Bank are some of the largest employers. The population is 40,713, and the student population is 8,304, while the median household income is higher than the average at $91,029.

Click here to access the official Cedar Falls website to see what this progressive town offers and how much it is like Ann Arbor.

Logan, Utah

Wind caves in Logan, Utah during winter.

Being in the top 25 unique American towns list is no mean feat. Logan has all the right stuff about culture, music, arts, and food. To top that off, unmatched natural surroundings and a strong religious presence. The large Latter Day Saints church presence is unmistakable.

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One of Utah’s best farmer’s markets is in Logan, and it’s open every Saturday for most of the year. Logan hosts the Utah Festival Opera and several other activities you can access here on the music side. If it’s nature and the outdoors you love, then Logan has what you need. Hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and camping can be enjoyed close to the town.  

Logan is more rugged and may not be for everyone, but its natural beauty and mountains in the distance are breathtaking. The Utah State University is among the largest employers in the town, alongside Space Dynamics and Schreiber Foods.

The population of Logan is 50,863, and the student population is 27,932 students, while the median household income is around $41,833.

Click here to access the Logan, Utah official website to learn more about this breathtaking town and its similarities with Ann Arbor.

Lawrence, Kansas

Robert J Dole Institute of Politics in Lawrence, Kansas.

Two great universities grace Lawrence, Kansas. The Haskell Indian Nations University & the University of Kansas. The student life in Lawrence is exciting and diverse. The livability of Lawrence is very high not only for students but also for those wishing to retire. It’s ranked in the top 100 towns to retire.

The Lawrence music scene is lauded as the most critical between Denver, Colorado, and Chicago, Illinois. There is a bustling live music scene and festivals to choose from. If you need to break away, there are many activities you can enjoy. Active sports include beach volleyball at the lake, horseriding, fishing, hiking, galleries, and museums.  

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The population in Lawrence is just over 96,369, and the student population is 27,685 at both universities. The largest employers in Lawrence are the Universities Maximus, LMH Health, and Hallmark Cards. 

Click here to access the official Logan, Kansas website or here to access the Explore Logan website to learn more about this diverse town and its similarities to Ann Arbor.

Amherst, Massachusetts

University of Massachusetts Campus pond with old chapel in the background.

Amherst, Massachusetts, is located in Happy Valley and is home to some of the top-tier schools in the USA. Most notably the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Hampshire College. The natural beauty of Amherst is widely spoken about. Rolling hills, farmland, and food to write home about.

If you see a future in politics, then Amherst might be the place for you. Amherst is named as a center of liberal politics, and there will be plenty of debating going in. If you are more inclined to let the music do the talking, you can visit any number of live music venues such as you will find in Ann Arbor and get your fill of folk music or soothing jazz.

Many famous and prominent people live in Amherst due to its diversity policy. Currently, the population is 39,263, and the student population is around 24,233. The median household income is $52,537 a year, which is over $ 20,000 per year higher than the American average, making Amherst MA an ideal place to live.

Click here to access the official Amherst Massachusetts website to learn more about this tranquil town and its similarities to Ann Arbor.

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Columbia, Missouri

Historic columns during twilight in Columbia, Missouri.

Located in central Missouri lies the town of Colombia. A culture-rich town filled with history and natural beauty. The Museum of Art and Archaeology exhibits ancient Roman and Greek art and many European paintings.

At the main campus of the University of Colombia, you can take a walk through the Francis Quadrangle that contains six stone columns, beautifully manicured lawns, the Mizzou Botanical Gardens, and many landmark buildings.

Eastward of the campus lies Stephens Lake Park, where you can picnic, play on the lake beach or take a stroll on the boardwalk. There are multiple hiking trails around the lake. In town, several well-known venues that host a variety of jazz and indie artists and restaurants offer a wide variety of foods.

The population of Columbia is 124,519, and the student population is 31,089, while the median household income is $51,276.

Click here to access the official Columbia, Missouri website to learn more about this beautiful town and its similarities to Ann Arbor.

Lincoln, Nebraska

Lincoln skyline and Nebraska State Capitol during sunset.

Lincoln in Nebraska has topped the list as the Happiest & Healthiest City. It is known widely as Silicon Prairie due to the numerous tech companies that set up offices there. Apart from that, there is excellent education, health services, and fantastic employment opportunities.

Lincoln is a center for culture, food, and music lovers in Nebraska. The well-known University of Nebraska is one of the higher education facilities in town, and it’s safe to assume that student life is buzzing.

There are many outdoor activities to partake in, such as cave tours, bike trails, rail trails, hiking, zoo visits, walking through the Sunken Gardens, playing golf, picnics, and dog walking.

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The largest employers are the University, the local government, Duncan Aviation, Railcrew Express, and NelNet. The population in Lincoln is 293,446, and the student population is 24,431, while the median household income is $61,539.

Click here to access the official Lincoln, Nebraska website to learn more about this proud and historic town and its similarities to Ann Arbor.

Cambridge, Massachusetts

City skyline at twilight in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The name Cambridge needs no further introductions. It elicits images of educational grandeur and splendor. The cream of the nation’s education crop. Besides Cambridge College, there is also Harvard University, MIT or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Longy School of Music of Bard College.

Top education is at the helm in Cambridge. Still, as if that was not sufficient, the top employers in Cambridge are Google, Pfizer, Novartis, Amazon, Sanofi, and many more. That combines the country’s greatest minds and technology companies in one town.

You can visit the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory if you feel like a leisurely activity. If you want to train your brain further, visit any think tank institutes. Due to all the educational and forward-thinking data and biotech companies in Cambridge, the town has received a 100% for walkability. Because of all the students, the music and culture scene is vibrant and diverse.

The population of Cambridge is 119,192, and the student population is well over 50,000, while the median household income is $103,154.

Click here to access the official Cambridge website to learn more about this phenomenal town and its similarities to Ann Arbor.

Hartford, Connecticut

Downtown city skyline on the river in Hartford, Connecticut.

When you hear the name Hartford you think of Trinity College, the University of Connecticut Law School, and the fact that for its size, the town of Hartford is considered an economic powerhouse.

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With many historical attractions like the oldest public art museum in the nation, the oldest public park in the nation, the Wadsworth Antheneum, and the second oldest secondary school in the nation, Hartford is a gem to explore.

One famous resident of Hartford, Mark Twain, donated his house to the town and turned it into a museum open to the public. Definitely worth visiting if you’re in Hartford.

Besides the music and creative scene, museums and galleries, there are many outdoor activities to enjoy besides the music and creative scene. Kayaking, fishing, picnics in any well-maintained public parks, and much more.

The largest employers are Lincoln National Corporation, the universities, Aetna, and United Healthcare. The population is 121,203, and the student population is around 22,000, while the median household income is $36,278.

Click here and here to access the official Hartford websites to learn more about this historic town and all it has to offer and its similarities to Ann Arbor.

Blacksburg, Virginia

Backpackers enjoy view from Mcafee Knob rock ledge landmark in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Blacksburg, Virginia, has a large student population from Radford University, Virginia Tech, and its surroundings. The town is geared up towards college and student life. The town might be small, but it is forward-thinking in the technological field.

Since 1991 Blacksburg has been the home of the BEV or Blacksburg Electronic Village that sees many high-tech firms that scoop up top graduates from the area. Because of this, there are over 150 restaurants in town, several pubs, clothing boutiques, and art galleries.

You can explore the Allegheny or Blue Ridge mountains, hiking or mountain biking for outdoor activities. There is fishing, camping and much more.

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The population of Blacksburg is 43,735, and the student population is around 28,000, while the median income is $71,637.

Click here to access the official Blacksburg website and here to learn more about this bustling student town and what it has to offer, and its similarities to Ann Arbor.

Champaign-Urbana, Illinois

JUNE 2, 2018: Boneyard Creek and campus buildings in Champaign-Urbana Illinois.

Known as one of the greenest cities in the USA with an emphasized urban feel rather than a city. It has that All-American traditional vibe in the scattered suburbs and many surrounding farms that supply produce.

The public University of Illinois has a sprawling campus where the Spurlock Museum displays cultural artifacts. The Krannert Museum displays their vast ancient and modern collections if you love art. There is a lively music scene and food culture with many events on the calendar.

The town has a great walkability rating and many outdoor activities to enjoy. The population of Champaign-Urbana is 90,739, and the student population is 56,257, while the median income is $53,081.

Click here to access the official Champaign-Urbana website to learn more about this exciting town and its offerings and similarities to Ann Arbor.

Gainesville, Florida

Downtown cityscape at twilight in Gainesville. Florida.

Gainesville is located in Northern Florida and is home to the well-known University of Florida. The beautiful campus houses the Florida Museum of Natural History, with many artifacts and fossils on display.

For the nature enthusiast, the Butterfly Rainforest is something to witness. Hundreds of free-flying butterfly species share this space with numerous birds. For the history and art enthusiast, there is the famous Matheson Museum or the Harn Museum of Art to explore. 

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The climate is great, with beautiful weather all year. Lots of outdoor activities and watersports can be enjoyed. The population is 134,661, and the student population is 60,613 students making up nearly half of the town residents.

Click here to access the official Gaineswill website to learn more about this busy town and what it has to offer as well as its similarities to Ann Arbor.

Iowa City, Iowa

Des Moines Iowa skyline and public park in Iowa, City.

As the only UNESCO city of literature in North America, it’s safe to say the town has produced connections to some of the most influential writers of our time. The town hosts the Iowa City Book Festival, The Literary Walk, and The Iowa Writers Conference to keep the bibliophiles satisfied.

The residents of Iowa love getting involved in community projects such as the Dance Marathon hosted by the University of Iowa to raise funds for sick children. No wonder that has gained the University the title of Top Party School in the USA.

Outdoor activities include running trails, golf, horse riding, swimming, and hiking. The population in Iowa City is 73,998, and the student population is around 38,000, while the median household income is $60,523.

Click here to access the official Iowa city website to learn more about this proactive city and what it has to offer, and its similarities to Ann Arbor.

State College, Pennsylvania

Campus of Penn State University, in State College, Pennsylvania.

Surrounded by rolling hills and endless cornfields lies the small town of State College. Known widely as the smartest town in the US and one of the safest to live in. It also boasts one of the country’s busiest music scenes and diverse cultural mixes, so it is similar to Ann Arbor in many ways.

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If you love the college town feel with a busy social calendar, then State College is the place to be. The town is obsessed with football and is all loyal supporters of the Penn State football team. Penn State University needs no introduction as an educational powerhouse and is less than 15 miles from most towns in Pennsylvania.

The population is 161,953, and the student population is 41,808, while the median household income is $34,005.

Click here to access the official State College website to see what this sports-loving town offers and its similarities to Ann Arbor.

Boulder, Colorado

Pearl Street Mall with mountain view in Boulder, Colorado.

With unmatched views of the Flatirons lies the small town of Boulder. It can boast as one of the nation’s foodiest towns, the brainiest city, the best town for outdoor activities. The town has a great public transport system, hundreds of miles of cycling pathways, and is completely walkable.

Boulder, like Ann Arbor, offers many outdoor activities like camping, river rafting, kayaking, hiking, and more. There are several science institutes in Boulder, like the Geological Society of America and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Boulder is the perfect place for students and postgraduates to live and work. The population is 108,250, and the student population is over 70,000, while the median household income is $93,237.

Click here to access the official Boulder Colorado website to learn more about what it offers and its similarities to Ann Arbor. 

References:

Livability: THE 2020 TOP 100 BEST PLACES TO LIVE IN AMERICA

City of East Lansing

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Montana State University

Visit Tuscaloosa

City of San Luis Obispo, CA

Visit San Luis Obispo: BIKE NIGHT

Fayetteville, AR

Oxford, Mississippi

Cedar Falls, IA

Amherst, MA

Museum of Art and Archaeology

City of Lincoln, NE

Blacksburg, VA

Radford University

Florida Museum

City of Gainesville

State College, PA