Discover Ohio: Athens is the Best College Town in the State

By Nick Clarkson on August 12, 2017 at 9:04 am
You're welcome, Joe Burrow.

Welcome to the Discover Ohio series! Every week, we'll unpack the best parts about the Buckeye State by determining Ohio's best name, history, food and more.

Best College Town: Athens

Yes, Joe Burrow, this is in fact an article awarding your neighbor, Athens, Ohio, as the top college town in the Buckeye State. You can thank a handful of 12th Warriors (and what I assume are Ohio University alumni) for the nomination this week.

Home to nearly 24,000 citizens, Athens rests along the Hocking River in central Athens County in southeastern Ohio. The town was officially established in 1797 by a group of European settlers following the Revolutionary War, and in 220 years, has racked up an impressive amount of history.

That's not what we're here to discuss, however, as this piece is more focused on an institution created seven years later: Ohio University.

OU is the oldest college in the state, and was established in 1804 due to federal government requirements stating that the Ohio Company of Associates had to establish an institution of higher education within its land grant. With that, the university was born, and immediately set upon creating a fascinating past for itself.

Ohio University first offered classes in 1809. Originally, Ohio University offered more of a high school course of study than a full college education. The main reason for this was the lack of a skilled faculty. Rather than consisting of specialists in their respective fields, the instructors at Ohio University generally had a basic education in a wide variety of topics. In 1822, Ohio University began to offer a traditional college program. By 1886, the university had 496 graduates, with twenty-six men and eleven women then currently enrolled

Now in 2017 Ohio U currently has over 28,000 students enrolled, with an additional 10,000 taking classes at its branch campuses. The university is also the town's largest employer, and is a short distance from the center of downtown.

In regards to it being voted "best college town in the state," Athens provides a great cultural mix for any student attending the university. From the local bars and restaurants to the bustling music and arts scene, the town is the perfect example of urban and rural living coming together.

Ohio University is best known for its social life within the city limits, and is regularly voted as one of the nation's top party schools. The school has more bars near campus than any other Ohio MAC school, is well known for two things: Halloween and its "fests."

HallOUween is an annual block party that is basically just complete chaos with a large amount of alcohol involved, much like Saturdays in Columbus. Additionally, Ohio University hosts a number of large-scale festivals during its "fest season" that allow all Bobcats and Bobkittens to see just how much Natural Light they can consume in a specific amount of time.

Along with events such as Palmer Fest, Mill Fest and High Fest, the institution has held #Fest, the nation's largest collegiate music festival, every year since 2004. It hosts some of the biggest names in rap, pop and EDM music, and regularly has over 15,000 people in attendance.

I am extremely happy and satisfied with my decision to attend the greatest university in the world, but if I ever needed a weekend away to drown my sorrows in beer, liquor and boxed wine, I know exactly where to go. If you've made some memories at one of these events or while at OU, reminisce in the comment section below.

Other "Best College Town" Nominees
  • Oxford (Miami University)
  • Yellow Springs (Antioch College)
  • Oberlin (Oberlin College)
  • Bowling Green (Bowling Green State University)

Next week Discover Ohio will determine the best sports city in the state, and because I believe this is a massive toss up, I ask for your assistance in making my choice.

Please leave your nomination for next week's superlative in the comments below, and after reading this piece, meet me on Court Street this spring during Fest season. I'll be the one drinking.

View 49 Comments