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America's Coolest College Towns

Sather Tower, Berkeley, California

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Berkeley, CA (University of California)

If coffee shops define a good college town, Berkeley has the competition beat. Some host bands, others show art, many sell fair-trade blends, and most offer a space where it’s okay to relax for hours. “It’s kind of a universal hangout place, not just for professors and students,” says Erik Hvezda, a barista at Brewed Awakening. Many residents prefer the crackle of vinyl to MP3s; pick up some LPs at the well-stocked Amoeba Music on Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley’s festive commercial strip. In the heart of campus, the 61-bell carillon provides the tunes atop 307-foot Sather Tower, which also offers stunning panoramas of San Francisco Bay.

Local Taste: For brunch, fit in with the crunchy crowd by ordering a tofu scramble at Venus. For some local suds, stop in for pints at the festive Pyramid Brewery.

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