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America's Coolest College Towns

Paramount, Charlottesville, Virginia

David Lamb Photography, 2005

Charlottesville, VA (University of Virginia)

The music scene was fertile here B.D.M.B.—that is, before the Dave Matthews Band, which formed in Charlottesville in the early 1990s. These days, alternative rock, country, and reggae acts—as well as, of course, jam bands—get crowds moving at the Charlottesville Pavilion, the Paramount Theater, and even Scott Stadium, where U2 arrives in October. But the best performances may lurk along the brick sidewalks of the postcard-perfect downtown, in tiny venues like Miller’s, a former drugstore that’s now known for jazz and blues. When the music’s over, be sure to get a good look at the Thomas Jefferson–planned campus and explore a Blue Ridge Mountain trail.

Local Taste: Matthews, who was born in Johannesburg, might enjoy the “boerie burgers” at the Shebeen, a South African restaurant.

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